The sound that connects Stravinsky to Bruno Mars

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, May 15, 2018
  • It’s an 1980s pop music cliche that dates back to 1910.

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    If you listen to the first few seconds of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” (hint: listen to the Cardi B remix) you’ll hear a sound that immediately creates a sense of 80s hip-hop nostalgia. Yes, Cardi B’s flow is very Roxanne Shante, but the sound that drives that nostalgia home isn’t actually from the 1980s.

    Robert Fink and the inventor of the Fairlight CMI, Peter Vogel, help me tell the story of the orchestra hit - a sound that was first heard in 1910 at the Paris Opera where the famed 20th century Russian composer Stravinsky debuted his first hit, The Firebird.

    The video above is, in short, a history of the original orchestra hit sample from The Firebird Suite to the 1982 hit “Planet Rock” to “Finesse.” And as a treat, here’s a playlist of way more songs with orchestra hits than you probably wanted.  


    Fairlight CMI app: Peter Vogel CMI by Peter Vogel Instruments Pty Ltd

    Robert Fink's paper:

    Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs.

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  • Vox

     (May 15, 2018)

    The '80s were a golden age of musical experimentation. Watch the Earworm episode on how a recording accident led to one of the decade's most iconic sounds:

  • elbronto26

     (Dec 11, 2018)

    Peter Gabriel plays a vital part in both videos. No coincidence.

  • Klausvans

     (Nov 24, 2018)

    I think not only the '80s have been an age of musical experimantation in pop music! What about the '70s then??!!! The end of the '60 and avove all the '70s was the decade in which the experimentation in pop music had the real pitch!

  • xWood4000

     (May 15, 2018)

    These music explanations are great.

  • Morgan Robinson

     (Dec 5, 2018)

    Why does so much of music history sound like a drunken story that shouldn't go anywhere, but inadvertently makes you rethink you entire life?

  • zodiacfml

     (Dec 5, 2018)

    Nice but Bruno's Finesse is not only that sound.

  • Mark Hatlestad

     (May 15, 2018)

    Fun fact: Stravinsky was born when Brahms was writing symphonies, and died after the Beetles broke up.Thanks for the excellent video!

  • Jrexx28

     (Apr 6, 2019)

    What's Beetles I only know the Beatles

  • 1UpsForLife

     (May 16, 2018)

    Beetles lol

  • afro curly girl

     (May 15, 2018)

    Earworm is my favorite show on Vox. This was amazing, thank you.

  • Cap'n Grim

     (Jun 8, 2018)


  • afro curly girl

     (May 19, 2018)

    victor noagbodji 😊

  • Cris Blyth

     (May 19, 2018)

    Last night I had some young musicians visiting my studio. I started by showing them this fantastic video - They were intrigued and had their eyes glued. When it got to the Fairlight part they were amazed that this machine existed way before they were born. As they watched, I started removing the dust covers of my equipment.. and the real moment was when I uncovered my CMI and drew their attention with an 'ahem...'. They freaked out.. it was a classic moment. THEN I showed them a floppy disk with the OR...

  • Marlo F

     (Apr 3, 2019)

    can I come hang out

  • Michael Barreto

     (Mar 28, 2019)

    We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy! (Obligatory Wayne’s World reference)


     (May 15, 2018)

    Lets not forget the most iconic song of them all, Crank Dat Soulja Boy

  • Lagiar hurlorage

     (Mar 19, 2019)

    Ikr not even a mention ? Smh

  • Fin The Human

     (Jan 28, 2019)

    +Julian Morrisco Do yourself a big favor and avoid listening it. No orchestral hit could improve the song unless it is stretched along the whole song and completely covers it up

  • Lashan

     (May 15, 2018)

    So weirdly proud that an instrument made by an Australian literally defined the sound of the 80s. We've invented some good stuff hey?

  • Samuel Dukes

     (Feb 17, 2019)

    Lachi James d🏀⚽️⚽️⚽️👾👾👾👾👾👾👾⚽️⚽️⚽️🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀❤️

  • Samuel Dukes

     (Feb 17, 2019)

    Lachi James fdytgggferk

  • Sophia Neilsson

     (May 15, 2018)

    This makes my inner music student overwhelmingly happy

  • williehopscotch

     (Apr 7, 2019)

    You're gorgeous!

  • Izhaan Ahmed

     (May 27, 2018)

    what an unnecessarily stupid way to deal with someone on the internet. 99% of people who type comments do it without carefully considering what they are saying

  • Emilio Doménech

     (May 15, 2018)

    Best show on YouTube. And I'm not that into music anyway, but this is SO good.

  • teeny

     (Jul 4, 2018)

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Trap Haus I dont understand people who arent into music...But, this is really killing. Sorry bruh

  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Trap Haus

     (Jul 4, 2018)

    "not that into music anyway" ..which is why you think this is "SO good". Lmao

  • xisumavoid

     (May 15, 2018)

    Ive also heard the orchestral hits referred to as a "stab" in music production, primarily when its not an actual orchestra but a loud sound with fast attack and short decay! Great video btw, fascinating! well presented :-)

  • PowdaToastFace Killah

     (Dec 4, 2018)

    Lots of stabs in '80s hip hop especially Rick Rubin and Marley Marl produced stuff

  • Strike Ecozzocn

     (Dec 2, 2018)

    Very interesting X!