Music education always & always looking forward.

Classical Samples in Evanescence's "Lacrymosa"

I can't quite explain it, and I would have never predicted it in 2003, but my students continue to be obsessed with Evanescence.  "Bring Me to Life" has remained a misunderstood girl anthem for over a decade, and for many of my middle school kids, it has lost none of its potency.  Of course, for a lot of music fans, Evanescence was and may still be the height of uncoolness, but you cannot argue with teens (or The Internet, apparently -- the amount of fan-created Evanescence content on the web does not correspond at all with their level of cultural impact in any measurable way).  Their passion holds.  For many of them, Evanescence is a gateway to harder rock.  Thus, playing this particular tune in class might win you over a lot of young students.

Further note to the haters: this was yet another song that I found to be far more complex than I had originally given credit.  You've got some symmetrical compound meter in there, as well as a meter change right before the bridge.  Some pretty structurally sound songwriting involved here.  Give credit where credit is due.

And if you ever wanted flute, violin, or even trombone transcriptions/arrangements of every Evanescence song possible, you're in luck: thanks Kashala Jacobsen!  (I actually think this is a really rad way to get your students into transcription!!  Share away!!!!)

"Lacrymosa" - Evanescence

Intro: Termed as a “gothic metal” band, Evanescence attained huge popularity in 2003 on the strength of their single “Bring Me to Life” and their album Fallen. Vocalist Amy Lee’s distinctive timbre in contrast to the heavy guitar and drums of the group distinguished the band from many popular acts of the time. The group won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2004. “Lacrymosa” appears on the band’s 2006 album The Open Door.

Analysis: The song is named after the movement of Mozart's Requiem Mass that it samples. The first indication of Mozart that is heard is the violins playing the opening strains of "Lacrymosa" at the very start of the song.  This is followed by a sample of the first sung phrase of the movement (beginning with the word "lacrymosa") as the chorus section begins (:37).  The samples of choirs singing continue throughout the song, with Amy Lee's vocals mixed to the forefront.  The Evanescence song also follows the same 12/8 meter as is found in the original "Lacrymosa" movement (although arrangements found online use a 3/4 time signature), but the meter of the song changes at the bridge (1:50 in this video recording), moving from the duple-triple feel of 12/8 (symmetrical compound meter) to duple-duple meter in 4/4 (symmetrical simple meter), with the eighth note pulse remaining steady.  The original 12/8 and the Mozart samples return at 2:33 in this recording, with a guitar solo and a reiteration of the song's chorus.

Considerations for Teaching: This song is an excellent example of connecting classical music to modern popular music, especially as the Mozart movement is about crying (the literal translation of "Lacrymosa"), and Evanescence was occassionally considered a part of the subgenre of rock termed "emo" at the height of their popularity. In my personal experience as well, teenage girls still respond very strongly to Amy Lee's voice and lyrics, even more than 10 years after their popularity peaked.

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