Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Robin Thicke Hit Benefits Canadian Composer's 'Blurred Lines'
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 04:00 PM
Thousands of R&B fans hoping to find Robin Thicke’s mega-hit "Blurred Lines" have been unexpectedly treated to a violin and harpsichord duet by 86-year-old Canadian composer John Beckwith – also called Blurred Lines.
Staff at Centrediscs, a Canadian contemporary music label, noticed last week that the slow and somber 10-minute composition had been streamed several thousand times. "I was looking at our digital sales report from Naxos,” said Allegra Young, a Centrediscs label manager. "I noticed that there was a CD streamed over 4,000 times, which is unusual for one released in 2010."
Thicke fans evidently stumbled across Beckwith's hit on Spotify, which calls up searched titles irrespective of genre.
Yet similarities between the two pieces of music – and their creators – end there. Thicke's chart-topping hit first gained notoriety with a video featuring assorted scantily clad models; the song was featured in Miley Cyrus's raunchy twerking performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday and has clocked up more 15 million views on YouTube.
Beckwith’s Blurred Lines (1997) explores non-traditional textures and techniques on both the harpsichord and violin. A detuned violin is intended to evoke a 19th century Swedish hardanger fiddle. The quiet, somewhat eerie piece has gained another thousand streams after the CBC posted it on their website last week.
"It’s a very odd situation, but it’s nice that some people get to hear my piece that otherwise wouldn’t," Beckwith told the Toronto Star.
Listen to Beckwith’s version here. Below: Robin Thicke performs on NBC's Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza on July 30, 2013 (Shutterstock/Debby Wong)