A forum for discussing everything related to Asian string instrumentalists, the instruments themselves and their repertoire.
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If you don't already know who the two people in the above photo are and listen to classical music, you probably live under a proverbial rock. Australian violinists turned YouTube sensation Brett Yang (right) and Eddy Chen (left), otherwise known by their YouTube channel TwoSet Violin, may have changed the world of classical music forever. Nearing two million subscribers, which may be the highest-ranked classical music commentary channel on YouTube, Brett and Eddy have toured Europe, Asia and America with their musical comedy, appeared numerous times with top musicians such as Ray Chen and Hillary Hahn, become living Internet memes through an untrackable amount of fan art, and accrued more nicknames than Jay-Z.
TwoSet originally began in 2013 posting videos of pop songs played on the violin, attempting to copy something they had seen other violinists do. After watching some of Ray Chen's comedy videos (posted here), they changed the content of their videos and took off. Like all great YouTube personalities, Brett and Eddy have found a way to become famous for just being themselves. They are probably at their best when mocking bad violin playing. They regularly react to depictions of violinists in TV and film, especially in Asian media. They respond to these videos as viscerally as a group of American college students watching football. Particularly poignant reactions are augmented with video effects that make full use of Internet meme language. They have filmed themselves playing instruments with rubber chickens. They have an inexplicable hatred of violas. Their offical sub on Reddit is full of cornball insider conservatory humor: https://www.reddit.com/r/lingling40hrs/ They may have a hand signal (I still haven't figured out yet).
TwoSet seems to have broken open an untapped niche: the collective animus of the conservatory musician forced to spend the best hours of each day preserving a centuries-old art form in relative seclusion, as the world around them becomes more instant, more digital, and more direct all the time. But they could not have become what they are if they were not credentialed members of that community--Brett and Eddy are conservatory-trained musicians who have played in professional orchestras. Their satire comes from an informed place, and they make real points about music and musical ability. One of their memes is "Ling Ling," the Asian prodigy with the tiger mom who practices forty hours a day. There is an undeniable racial tinge to the meme, but the advice is sound: you shouldn't practice forty hours a day. Other catchphrases of theirs that rightly mock certain ways of thinking among musical aspirants are: "geniuses are born not made" and "if you can play it slowly, you can play it quickly."
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of highly skilled Asian instrumentalists. But there is only one TwoSet Violin. (Or is it two?)
The most viewed TwoSet video, in which they critique a man who claims to have the world record for the fastest rendition of "Flight of the Bumblebee":
"Guess the Violinist" with Ray Chen:
TwoSet watch a 10-year old Asian violinist compete in the junior division of the Yehuda Menuhin Violin Competition. There is a mixture of awe with the satire:
In this Sestercentennial of Beethoven's birth, the classical concert of the year may have just been TwoSet's live-streamed performance of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto to approximately 40,000 viewers. What began as a joke has become a new performance milestone for classical music in the digital age and is appropriately full of chaos. [edit: Andrea Bocelli's Easter Sunday concert from Milan during the COVID-19 pandemic just livestreamed to 2.8 million viewers 4/15/20] Brett and Eddy talk over each other's playing and in-between the movements and plow through the occasional mistake or memory slip. The performance marks the channel reaching two million subscribers:
Brett and Eddy just posted a surprisingly honest and candid video about their experience growing up in a Western country in the wake of the recent spate of anti-Asian violence:
TwoSet was just name-dropped in a New York Post article about classical music in the age of social media. You wonder why they didn't just do an article about the original classical memesters?
https://nypost.com/2021/08/12/tiktok-is ... cal-music/
https://nypost.com/2021/08/12/tiktok-is ... cal-music/
Thanks to TikTok, Gen Z is getting down with Beethoven and Bach
By Noah Sheidlower
August 12, 2021 5:34pm Updated
Spencer Rubin amassed 32.5 million views and 867,000 followers on TikTok for his relatable and comedic videos. However, the Long Island native is not performing choreographed dances or posting about intimate relationships — he plays the oboe.
Rubin, 17, studies classical oboe at Juilliard Pre-College. He is one of a handful of influencers who have built their platforms around classical music.
“I think that with social media, we’re able to de-stigmatize the sense that classical music is super fancy and needs to be perfect,” Rubin told The Post.
“One of the main ways to keep classical music alive is to just keep people talking about it, and so if we can do that through social media, I think it’s a great way to get more people involved,” he added.
For many Gen Zers and millennials, their Spotify playlists have more Beethoven than Taylor Swift. Thanks to content creators including TwoSet Violin — a classical music comedy duo with 3.21 million YouTuber subscribers and 757,200 fans on TikTok — people have gravitated toward the genre that many still view as elitist and inaccessible.
According to joint research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, French music streaming service Deezer and British Phonographic Industry (BPI) in 2020, 34% of those streaming classical music from 2019 to 2020 were 18 to 25, and classical streams by listeners under 35 rose by 17%. A decade ago, only a tenth of classical listeners were under 30, according to BPI data. On Spotify, Bach had 7.2 million monthly listeners, while Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin all had over 6 million.
“Rather than tying the music to a physical venue that might be perceived as inaccessible and representative of an elitist past, the direct availability online means that the potential audience is exponentially expanded,” Kurt Nikkanen, a violin soloist and concertmaster with the New York City Ballet, told The Post. “Anyone, not just big-name artists, can stream content at any time and reach an audience, comprised of anyone with an internet connection.”
Nathan Chan, 27, assistant principal cellist at the Seattle Symphony, posts “warm, exciting, relatable” cello content on his TikTok.
“It was really important to reach folks that were on sort of the fringe of [liking] classical music, people who listen to classical music while they say, ‘I like it because it calms me down I find it very relaxing,'” said Chan.
For Chan, social media is a way to explore his personal creative side and help more and more people discover classical music during its “renaissance era.”
“Our attention is being demanded by so many different things on social media, the news, and, in a way, classical music bucks that trend” by asking people to just slow down and listen, he added.
Chan noted that he’s seen people make the genre “more transparent” through videos in which musicians explain their playing process and creators put cool graphics that mimic the music. Rubin added that he’s seen people on social media incorporate famous composers into jokes or memes, which leads viewers to learn more about their works.
For Rubin, using TikTok is a way to make classical music more relatable and meaningful.
“I try to demonstrate things that a lot of classical musicians might go through that maybe other people might not understand,” said Rubin, who posts quick skits about life as an oboist. “It allows people who aren’t classical musicians to see a little bit into our entire world and see what we actually deal with … breaking down that barrier between people thinking ‘all we do is practice and we don’t have any personality.'”