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Classical Infusion: Chopin and Muse

I’ll cut right to the chase – I absolutely adore classical music. But around the office, I’m proudly known as "the metal guy." Because I have such a diverse array of musical interests – I love Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as much as Slayer – nothing gets me more excited than when two seemingly antithetical music worlds collide. I’m here today not to share a heavy metal instance of classical music quotation, but a rock one – more specifically, progressive rock.

The British trio Muse has taken the world by storm particularly in the latter half of its decorated twenty-two year existence. You may remember them from their 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony performance; their song “Survival” was chosen as the official song for the Games. If you missed that performance, it’s possible that you’ve heard their ubiquitous 2009 song “Uprising” in a number of places.

However, today, I want to share with you another track from that album, The Resistance, entitled “United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage.” To briefly summarize, songwriter and frontman Matt Bellamy once again takes a politically poignant stance, this time bringing into question the ethics of lengthy wars. The first section of this song, “United States of Eurasia,” is basically a loud, boisterous rock anthem against “the man.” To abruptly juxtapose this seething stadium rock madness, Bellamy quotes Chopin’s placidly soaring “Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2,” which comprises the “Collateral Damage” portion of the song.

It’s not so much a brief, subtle musical quote as it is Bellamy playing a large portion of the nocturne; he takes some artistic liberties by altering a few notes and adding a string section – I don’t think Chopin would mind.

You can check out that track here – I’ll be back soon with more classical tunes in rock music. They’re not so different!

Muse: "The United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage"


Colin Brumley is the Music Director for CRB.