Western classical music may not have universal appeal, but if you have ever watched a classical orchestra concert, you were probably impressed by the skills of the soloist. Soloists are the stars of the show – the virtuosos who put in ten thousand hours of practice to belt out complex notes and make their instruments sing with emotion. You may shout “Encore!” and give them a standing ovation, but how much of what you saw was an illusion? Let the “classical comedy” duo TwoSet Violin tell you.
In this cheeky video sketch about the idiosyncrasies of solo musicians, a “performance stage presence expert specialist” teaches a struggling violinist handy tips on how to “look just like a world-class musician”, even if he does not have the skills. Why? Because “90% of audience members have no clue what to listen out for in a classical performance”. All a musician needs is a handful of tricks to feign confidence and passion on stage, and the audience will lap it up.
(Pro tip for non-musicians watching the video: “Forte” and “piano” are music terms for loud and soft; the “scroll” is the end of a violin’s fingerboard; a “second violinist” is someone who plays in the second violin section of the orchestra – the section that typically plays notes that are lower in pitch than the “first violins”.)
TwoSet Violin was created by young Australian violinists Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, with the aim of making classical music relatable to everyone through humour. Their YouTube content is an assortment of whacky videos targeting both musicians and non-musicians. But they are at their best while poking fun at the stereotypes and quirks of the Western classical world which explains their wild popularity among young musicians around the world.
To sample the best of Brett and Eddy’s shenanigans, I recommend watching their musical charades series, like this one on guessing animal sounds on the violin.
Or, here’s their popular Ling Ling Workout challenges, in which renowned violinists play classical pieces with added handicaps, like playing on just one string or playing while dancing.