Jump to content

My Muse Paper

Juicy Boy

Recommended Posts

My band teacher recently asked us to write a one-page paper comparing a classical composer to a modern artist. I chose Rachmaninoff and- who else?- Muse. I would like to share my paper and ask for any suggestions (grammatical or otherwise). I do believe I went a bit overboard on length. He didn't want too much. Ah well, he's not impressed much by Muse yet (he calls them "The Muse Band" just to grind my gears:rolleyes:), so this may change his mind The paper is as follows:


Muse: The Rachmaninoff of Rock

Few groups fuse both old and new with the same creative flair as the Teignmouth, Devon trio that is Muse. Relatively unknown in the United States, Muse regularly fills out stadiums in Europe (they were the first act to sell out the newly reconstructed Wembley Stadium). Their creative process has taken them on a journey from humble beginnings as a Radiohead-esque indie band, to classically infused, riff-based progressive, and finally into a bombastic, space opera, conspiratorial rock group whose works are featured in all forms of media. To trace this journey, it is necessary to both look at Muse’s influences and to trace the path that comprised it.

Muse began in the seaside town of Teignmouth in 1994. Comprised of Matthew Bellamy (guitar, vocals, piano), Dominic Howard (percussion), and Christopher Wolstenholme (bass), their promising future began at a battle of the bands concert in which they won first prize after destroying the stage and their equipment, Pete Townshend style (though at the time they performed under the name “Rocket Baby Dolls”). After several EPs and singles, the band released their first full album, “Showbiz,” in 1999. At the time, they were dismissed as simply another “Radiohead rip-off.” This notion was quickly dispelled with the release of their sophomoric effort in 2001’s “Origin of Symmetry.” This sweeping, classically inspired space-rock symphony produced such gems as “Plug in Baby” and “Bliss,” among others, and is still lauded by some fans to be their best work to date. Their third effort, 2003’s “Absolution,” found the band further refining their sound into a much more rock inspired theme, as songs like “Hysteria” and “Stockholm Syndrome” demonstrate. With three albums and an already critically acclaimed live act, the trio could have rested upon their laurels for quite some time. However, they did far from that.

More recent times have shown Muse evolving into a much different beast than what they first appeared to be. Lyrical themes have become increasingly complex, usually pertaining to government conspiracies or intergalactic dramas, and what once was more blended rock is now separating into unique branches: Queen inspired, classical piano ballads; electronic beats; and pure new progressive rock tunes are all given due time in the spotlight. This increasingly diverse repertoire was well-defined in both 2006’s “Black Holes and Revelations” and 2009’s “The Resistance.” The Martian riddled “Knights of Cydonia” still showed the rockier side of the group, while the three part, twelve minute extraterrestrial epic, “Exogenesis Symphony” has offered a glimpse of the direction Muse are likely to take in the future. It is a future that they are all-too-ready to face.

Aside from modern artists like Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, and U2, Muse borrows heavily from classical composers: Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky chief among them. Bellamy is a piano virtuoso and self-admitted fan of classical composers (though he considers Rachmaninoff his favorite). “With Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Chopin, there’s a mystery to the music, it’s much more abstract and much more able to stimulate your imagination,” he’s said of his influences. Rachmaninoff’s inspiration to Bellamy can be seen in songs such as “Space Dementia” and "Megalomania," both of which begin with piano parts quite reminiscent of his “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor,” as well as the complicated piano solo of “Butterflies and Hurricanes.” Muse often employ Rachmaninoff’s work during live shows, and their newest single, “Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever),” includes a slightly modified version of "Adagio Sostenuto" as its outro. An able pianist, Bellamy has stated that he is nowhere in Rachmaninoff’s league, though he hopes to soon reach it.

Music, like fashion, is cyclical. What was in style in the past will eventually come back around. For Rachmaninoff, his creativity and talent are both recycled and expanded upon by Bellamy, Howard, and Wolstenholme and presented anew to a fresh generation of listeners. One day in the future, perhaps, someone will be inspired by their grandfather’s dusty copy of “Absolution,” and begin the cycle again. For now, however, from the opening arpeggio of “Sunburn” to the final chords of the “Exogenesis,” Muse have carried on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s legacy, and until they release their last album, he will most likely remain one of the many muses of Muse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

in the fourth paragraph: Piano Concerto*, not Piano Concert. ;)

Speaking of which, the concerto most likely inspired Megalomania as well... the first minute sounds very similar, and the modified version of Adagio Sostenuto featured in NSC is from its second movement.


Though it's a bit of a personal thing, I feel the introduction to Muse's general style could be shortened in favor of more elaboration on Rachmaninoff's presence in Muse's music—maybe even some insight into Rachmaninoff's own style? Then again, it is only a one page paper. :p In general I like it. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...