At Popped String, we’re excited to be getting into all different types of pop music, from recent R&B to moody tango classics. A little while ago, we put the finishing touches on a string quartet version of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys.  The vocal gymnastics and repeating piano rhythm in the song create some nice passages for strings to really dig into.

And then, when you’re given the task of arranging one of the most covered pop songs of all time, which version do you work off of? Bésame Mucho” was written in 1940 by songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. No matter which version you listen to, this fantastic song is so swoony and romantic that you can’t help being put under its spell. We felt like the entire process of arranging it for string quartet was a dream filled with lovers tango dancing by the banks of the river in a misty evening with the lights of the city reflecting off of gently rocking waves. Or maybe we’ve seen too many classic movie musicals.

So do we work from an instrumental accordion version when arranging it? Or from Tino Rossi’s luscious 1945 French version? Marta Mirska’s darkly emotional 1947 Polish version? Plácido Domingo’s 1980s disco version (that sounds a little like “The Phantom of the Opera”)??? One of Cesária Évora’s emotional covers? We chose to go with a more modern feel, following the Andrea Bocelli recording closely. The turns of the classical guitar in this version were well suited to strings. But this song is so iconic, that maybe a little of all of the versions comes across in our string quartet arrangement. However, if you really want an arrangement of this song that follows another version specifically, that’s no problem. We do rearrangements. Email us to find out more!

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