Metallica’s ‘One’ on viola da gamba sounds absolutely phenomenal

19 July 2019, 12:16

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Who knew a metal classic could sound so good on an old Renaissance string instrument?

Metallica are big classical music fans – they recorded their album S&M with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999, and to celebrate that album’s 20th anniversary they performed a one-off show with the orchestra and its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas

So, it's no surprise that the classical music world returns that love. The viola da gamba really is an underrated instrument. Also known simply as the viol, the instrument first appeared in Europe in the late 15th century – before the violin, viola and the cello. ‘Viola da gamba’ literally means ‘viol for the leg’ in Italian, which explains why they are held between the legs like a cello, rather than under the chin like a violin.

Although the viola da gamba was one of the most popular Renaissance and Baroque instruments, we don’t pay it as much attention as other members of the string family.

But this guy might be about to change all of that... Robert Smith’s arrangement of ‘One’ by Metallica has brought the viola da gamba back into the spotlight. 

This classic metal tune sounds rich and meaty on seven strings – could this bring about the return of the old Baroque instrument?



Find Robert Smith on YouTube for more videos.

Speaking of epic classical Metallica covers… remember that time when Rachel Barton Pine played ‘One’ on her 300-year-old violin?