If you have been to a baseball game recently, at any level, you are probably familiar with "walk-up music." Prior to each at-bat, the batter has music played as he walks from the on-deck circle to the batter's box. This music somehow fits his personality or means something to him....I'm not really sure. Let me take a short side trip here...I am of the opinion that the fan experience at big-league ballparks has eroded due to the constant barrage of loud music, sound effects, lights and fireworks. I just want to sit and enjoy the game, keep score, have a beer and take in the game. I don't like being constantly prodded to "get loud" or "make some noise." Today's stadiums have incredible PA systems that they use at full volume, blasting rock-rap-country music before, during, and after the game...and the walk-up songs. But that's just me and I'm probably just an old-fogey by now.
Walk-up music is big business now too. MLB has a database of players' walk-up songs, and streaming sites like Spotify have walk-up music playlists.
Can classical music be used as walk-up music? Of course! I have not heard it personally, but I did read that a few years ago, Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers used a section of Mozart's Requiem as his walk-up song. Pretty cool. Other writers have taken a stab at picking classical walk-up music. Here are some of my suggestions.
1. Strauss. The opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra, better known as the music from 2001 A Space Odyssey. This is a pretty obvious choice...it is powerful, well known and inspirational. The basses enter at a low register, and played through these huge PA Systems, it might scare the opposing team and give the batter an edge.
2. Handel. The Hallelujah Chorus. If you go into the batter's box feeling like you are the Savior, this is the song for you.
3. Satie. Gymnopedie no. 1. A different approach here...going the opposite direction of getting fired up or hyped. This may lull the pitcher into a calm state that takes some heat off his fastball.
4. Gershwin. Clarinet intro to Rhapsody in Blue. Such an iconic sound...the long glissando of the clarinet is so edgy and ballsy. It has swagger. It has confidence.
5. Messiaen. Canteyodjaya (Piano). This may freak everyone out with its percussive dissonances. The batter may get one in the ear, but at least he would get on base.
6. Vivaldi. Juditha Triumphans-Arma, Caedes, Vindictae, Furores. A rousing call to arms...big drums and majestic trumpets. Should inspire any hitter to stretch a single into a double, or even steal home.
7. Mussorgsky. Pictures at an Exhibition-No. 6 Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle-the trumpet excerpt. This is a very high, shrill, staccato trumpet...very grating. It will get under the pitcher's skin and cause him to lose his cool. Take your base.The trumpet excerpt starts at 0:43.
8. Varese. Poeme Electronique. Another sure fire way to freak out the pitcher...and everyone in the stadium, including your own team. I would recommend laying down a bunt...chances are no one would react and you could circle the bases uncontested.
9. Bruckner. Symphony No. 8-4th movement-opening. Majestic, intense, powerful. One of the greatest symphonies of all time, the opening statement of the 4th mvt says "I am going to take you deep motherfucker."
10. Gregorian Chant-Liturgy of St. Anthony. "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on Earth." The quiet chanting of monks may be the greatest of all walk-up music. We would all benefit. I know I would.
On November 9, 1976, Mike Douglas had 3 guests on his show; Kenny Rogers, Jimmy "JJ" Walker, and Frank Zappa. Talk about an eclectic group! During his segment with Frank Zappa, Mike Douglas asked him what kind of music he liked to listen to when he wanted to relax. He also posed the same question to his other guests.
Zappa: When I want to relax a lot, I'll listen to classical music.
Douglas: What specifically?
Zappa: Well, the stuff that puts me into the most dreamlike state would be something like Anton Webern-string quartets or maybe I'll listen to Elliot Carter's string quartets.
Douglas (to Kenny Rogers): What do you listen to? You love music and you were really tuned into Frank a moment ago...
Rogers: The thing is, I really enjoy all kinds of music. You really have to have at least some...not necessarily understanding...but some relationship to all types of music. But I, like Frank, listen to classical music. Bach just does it for me.
Douglas: What about you Jimmy?
Walker: If I'm working, there are two things I listen to which is going to sound weird...is Segovia and then there's the rock thing. The main rock thing I listen to is James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.
Three very different men, yet they all share a love for classical music. That's cool.