This topic has the propensity to be super huge. I mean, there are just so many Dutch musicians that are probably worth mentioning, and I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t had the chance to fully vet them all! But I did discover a few who are now my new favorite thing.
So, let’s just go with general genres on this one, starting from the beginning-ish. When it comes to classical music, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck composed over 70 keyboard pieces and a number of other vocal pieces during the latter part of the 1500s. Willem Pijper is often considered one of the more important composers of Dutch classical music, especially of early 20th century music. Louis Andriessen is a late 20th century composer who composed a number of large-scale works, whose influence ranges from Stravinsky to Count Basie.
When it comes to folk music, the Dutch focus on the bass line rather than the melody line so much. This is especially true for dance music; cloggers wearing wooden clogs listen to the bass line for their cues. This type of clogging is a cultural highlight, and unlike other clogging traditions where just the sole of the shoe is wooden, the Dutch decided to outdo them and made the entire shoe out of wood. The shoes are definitely used as a percussion instrument. (I used to have a pair when I was a kid.) There was a folk music revival of sorts in the 1970s but has since waned, even though a roots rock still exists.
Like many of its neighbors, the Netherlands has been interested and excelled at jazz music since the mid-20th century. Willem Breuker was a bandleader and composer, but he also played saxophone and bass clarinet (I didn’t know anyone admitted to that—I’m kidding! Sheesh.). Misha Mengelberg is a jazz pianist and composer. He has worked and performed with Han Bennink, a noted jazz drummer and percussionist. I love the video (posted above) showing Han using a pizza box and the chair as percussion instruments. Music is everywhere, my friends.
There has certainly been an array of rock bands to come out of the Netherlands. One of the most famous bands known in the US and internationally is Golden Earring. They did one of my favorite songs, “Radar Love.” Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex were born in the Netherlands before moving to the US when they were kids. Of course, the Netherlands also has their own metal and punk rock bands that have quite an underground following. During the 1990s, the indie rock scene started to grow, and I regret that I didn’t have time this week to really take a good listen to some of these bands. One rock band I came across that I like very much is Urban Dance Squad. Their rock rap style influenced bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Electronic music jumped off in the 1990s, and today Dutch DJs are among some of the hottest DJs in the world. Names like Tiësto, Afrojack, Sander van Doorn, Alice Dee Jay, Armin van Buuren and others consistently come up on “Best Of” lists. All of those names are ones I’m familiar with since I’ve been a huge fan of trance and techno for a long time, and my husband is a house and minimal house fan.
While there are definitely examples of other styles of rap and hip-hop represented in the Netherlands, I’m glad to see that one of my favorite genres, jazz hip-hop (or sometimes categorized as acid jazz) is alive and well in the Netherlands. One of the top hip-hop producers Nicolay hooked up with American rapper Phonte to create The Foreign Exchange. I checked them out on Spotify, and they’ve got some really great stuff. I might consider downloading some of their albums the next time I get paid. Another Dutch duo I fell in love with is Pete Philly & Perquisite. In fact, I downloaded two of their albums and have been playing it non-stop. I appreciate the merging of classical, jazz, and hip-hop. And they do it well. I can’t wait until it gets warm so I can roll my windows down and blast this. (If he or they ever perform with Sampa the Great, I’m done. My life will be complete.)
Up next: the food