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Yo-Yo Ma Sorta Pulled an Asslee Simpson at the Inauguration

| Filed under: Music MinuteBarack Obama


Pop tarts aren't the only ones who rely on pre-recorded audio for performances!

The superstar quartet comprised of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill reportsused a previously recorded audio tape for the broadcast of Barack Obama's inauguration ceremonies.

A mouthpiece for the inauguration committee said the weather was to blame. Uh huh!

"They were very insistent on playing live until it became clear that it would be too cold," says the rep/

Apparently, instruments don't totally stay on tune in the chilly weather.

But, people sitting up close apparently heard the musicians play, but their instruments weren't amplified.

Violinist Perlman told a reporter, "It would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way. This occasion's got to be perfect. You can't have any slip-ups."

However, the Marine Band did indeed perform live, said the inauguration committee PR person.

Guess brass instruments do better in cold weather?

[Image via AP.]

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131 comments to “Yo-Yo Ma Sorta Pulled an Asslee Simpson at the Inauguration”

More comments: [1] 2 »

  1. 1

    you spelled ashelEE wrong! its LEE at the end. not LEY.

  2. 2

    the cold weather makes the wood shrink and the strings go out of tune…..

    string instruments are very volatile…..

  3. 3

    it's true …
    strings need to stay warm in order to stay in tune
    if the weather had been too cold
    the strings could have snapped
    or broken

  4. 4

    He's also gotton a nose job and had a kid with a rock star.

  5. 5

    it's true. even the trumpets announcing every person entering were out of tune.
    it was for the best. the strings could have snapped as well.
    perfectly acceptable.

  6. 6

    Just the start of smoke & mirrors.

  7. 7

    What a bunch of yo-yos.

  8. 8

    Re: Flyshortii90 – Both wrong, Asslee.

  9. 9

    yeah don't give them too much of a hard time MARIO!! Stringed instruments are very tricky in extreme temperatures.. so it was a choice a recorded performance or a crappy one that everyone would be talking about.. yah sometimes u gotta make hard choices as a musician!

  10. 10

    If they did play live and something went wrong, Perez would bitch about that too.
    I thought toddlers were aware that string instruments are volatile.

  11. 11

    If you were not a product of this mindless generation, you would know that string instruments, and especially those of the quality that those people play, are worth sometimes millions of doillars and would never be played out in cold air. Beyond the fact that it would be poor sound at best, it would destroy them. So your comment about the "mouth piece followed with a snide Uh huh, only shows YOUR ignorance, yet again.

  12. 12

    That's classy-ical!At least Urthea Franklin-as bad as she was-did it live!

  13. 13

    True artists don't have a need to fake anything. They perform live @ the drop of a hat.

  14. 14

    OBAMAMANIA musical gaffe!

  15. 15

    oh cool

  16. 16

    Yes, Perez. Wooden string instruments such as violoncellos and violins do not fare very well in cold weather. I'm surprised Ma and Perlman even agreed to bring their priceless instruments outside in such weather–there's a huge risk that they can crack. It's happened to my cello more than once and its a costly repair.

  17. 17

    cold weather does make instruments sound like shit, and brass instruments do much better than strings because you blow into them (keeping them warm)… once they're warmed up and tuned, they'll be fine as long as they continue to blow into the instrument

  18. 18

    In the words of our mentor, "WHO CARES?" They are the professional musicians, they know their instruments & their cracft. Slow "news" day, Perez?

  19. 19

    wow perez…of all people to spell her name wrong.

  20. 20

    obviously you had not exposure to music as a child….the clarinet is especially susceptible to being out of tune in cold weather! They probably had the in tune version playing behind them anyway. btw, brass do keep tune in cold weather better than other instruments!

  21. 21

    Re: 7kimba8 – Well O.K. I'm not an expert on expensive instruments thanks for the information.But they still look really stupid "Acting" it out like they really are playing.Just que the tape .

  22. 22

    do the fukin HO/down…heheheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    now we can also call them mommiefukdearest fuker..hehehehe
    where is
    my harrybalsax….gotta go for a couple hours, then I'll be back to jump on you..
    bye La Diva honey..take care of harry while I'm gone..heheeeee

  23. 23

    Re: Serenityflying – Your name reminds me of one of my fave movies! :)

  24. 24

    More like they pulled a Britney…. Sarahjay are you out there?

  25. 25

    Who cares? In order for the instruments to stay in tune and sound good, it would have had to be warmer. Also, their freezing hands wouldn't have done very good playing either. Recording it was really the better option. We know these guys are amazing musicians, unlike Ashlee Simpson, they have nothing to prove. More power to them!

  26. 26

    Its true. stringed instruments are very delicate.

  27. 27

    string instruments are sensitive to cold weather, brass not so much. There you go again Pezass acting like you know something about something you know jack shit about.

    Pezass sucks!

  28. 28

    He pulled a britney spears.

  29. 29

    Re: Charmer

    It's one of mine too. Hence why I chose the name. :D

  30. 30

    And yes Mario wood expand's and contract's in cold weather perhaps you would have known this if you stayed a wake in science class.

  31. 31

    Re: harrybalsac – You know it Harry. I especially can't wait for the fucking terrorists to show up after they shut down Club Gitmo.

  32. 32

    the ones saying it was unacceptable to do are the ones who have never played an instrument. Even Brass instruments need to be kept warm during cold weather in order to stay in tune. String and woodwind instruments are even more touchy and go out of tune much easier

  33. 33

    i played a stringed instrument since i could practically walk until about middle school, and everything said is complete truth…cold weather can cause pegs to completely unravel…now complete unraveling is like several inches in movement, but literally just a millimeter in circular displacement causes the string to go out of tune

  34. 34

    brass instruments can be out of tune in cold weather, but you can tune accordingly.

  35. 35

    Of course brass is different - wood and strings are more prone to go out of tune in very cold weather.

  36. 36

    Actually yeah.. woodwind and string instruments are really sensitive to weather. It changes the timbre and the tuning a bit. So finicky.
    Brass, not so much.

  37. 37

    they are right about cold weather affecting the instruments, they HAD to play to a recorded track. to remain flawless.

  38. Yaya says – reply to this


    Brass instruments are able to play in pretty much any kind of weather, woodwind and string instruments are soooooo hard to keep in tune in cold weather. I play the clarinet and I speak from experience. I am no master, but I do know that it is hard to do, even if you are a master.

  39. 39

    Re: LaDiva is sizzling….

    you're a moron who's just trying to sound more "in tune" than you really are.

    its also really common for people who've never played instruments to not know how they'd respond in cold weather conditions. i'm not surprised to hear about that, it was so cold, I'm amazed they were even playing at all!

  40. 40

    As a violinist, I can say that definitely performing in cold weather is bad for the instrument and can cause it to go out of tune, and brass instruments are pretty much unaffected by cold weather.

  41. 41

    I normally don't like to comment on these posts…but if you do read all of these comments Perez, I do hope you do a little more research before judging ever post you make. Only because it just makes you look dumb, and no one likes that.

    Stringed instruments are insanely temperamental in cold weather. Brass instruments, no where near as touchy in weather changes. There's no way that they really could have played outside on a January day without hurting the instruments/tuning/etc

  42. 42

    totally. the wood starts to contract. the pegs which are also made of wood shrinks in the holes and the strings will loosen and go out of tune. wood instrument are most finicky. it's really bad already for them to be out in such cold weather.

  43. 43

    Re: .perezhilton.com – Can't believe they only made one season of that show -same with Jericho.

  44. 44

    who fucking cares?

  45. 45

    I was wondering how they were going to play their expensive instruments in negative degree weather!! The strings would have snapped and it would have been disaster

  46. 46

    It's always interesting to see when non-musicians weigh in on actual musicians (not singers, mind you) are forced to play to pre-recorded music. Strings and woodwinds are not compatible with cold weather. And it sucks to play a brass instrument in the cold, but it can be done if you warm it up and tune it correctly. Please report on something you know something about.

  47. 47

    That's true that brass instruments do hold up better in cold weather. String instruments are much more fragile.

  48. 48

    they're right…better a recording than a completely flat performance. Instruments sound horrible in cold temperatures…and unlike Ashley, they are real talented musicians.

  49. DaLa says – reply to this


    Perez, are you an idiot?! Of course string instruments are affected by frigid weather (and brass are not, duh!).

  50. 50

    Re: mixtaperapture – agree completely!

  51. 51

    i feel like such a nerd saying this. i play the cello. and definitely string insturments slip much more easily than brass. its also a lot harder to tune strings when they slip. haha :]

  52. 52

    Re: annieb5678 – Blahhh blahh blah.. Go shut the fuck up you stupid moron….

  53. 53

    I wouldn't have chanced it either..
    being a violinist….(not really as i'm not classicaly trained… nor am i a pro)
    i understand. it's really critical to take care of the stringed istruments. Those cello's & violins are probably 100s of yeas old… since as i see it, the older the better sound.
    They could have easily broken them, had they have played live…..

  54. 54

    Re: SheriMoonFireFly – Bye sheri

  55. 55

    Agree with everyone else…those who don't play instruments (so obviously Perez) don't know how bad they can get in the cold. I'm a clarinetist and had to play in the cold for marching band. Needless to say no sound came out of my instrument for close to 3 months.

  56. 56

    thats actually legit. instruments sound shitty if its too cold outside, and like it said in the article, its gotta be perfect. so who gives a shit? the new prez already screwed up the vows.

  57. 57

    Stings sharpen in cold weather, woodwind flatten so the strings vs the clarinet would have sounded hideous. With the brass band they're all the same family (ish) so it would not make nearly as much difference.

  58. 58

    I don't normally comment, but people are acting like they were fake-playing…..they weren't, Perez even says that those close enough could hear them playing live, they just amplified a prerecorder version and WITH it, perfectly in-sync. It happens all the time, have you ever seen a music video????? The music is recorded in the studio, singers are lip-syncing in the video. Not that big of a deal. And if you watched the coverage closely, they mentioned that Yo Yo did NOT bring out his priceless 200 year old wood cello, in fact, it wasn't even wood, it was Carbon Fiber.

    Non-Musicians shouldn't be commenting on this….

  59. 59

    Perez- why do you critiize every thing about this President? Did you think Hillary would become president and do anything differently? Remember it was her husband that started the 'don't ask don't tell" B.S. Give him a chance.

  60. 60

    Yeah…I play cello and you have to be really intense about temperature. The wood shifts due to heat. So, at the top of the cello there are tuning pegs and if the wood expands, those tuning pegs won't hold and will constantly slip. Plus it will give the cello a compeltly different sound. I once played cello in Mexico and could not keep a steady pitch to save my life because of all the humidity. So it makes sense that they 'faked it'.

  61. 61

    the wood expands orcontracts with the weather, therefore making the strings not stay in tune!

  62. 62

    Being a music major, I did notice that the marine band sounded out of tune. Obviously not terribly, but I noticed it. Brass instruments generally do better in the cold weather than woodwinds (clarinets) do. I play clarinet and I can say with years of marching band experience that cold weather plus wooden clarinet equals VERY SHARP! It probably would have sounded terrible. It's still kinda funny though that they had to play a recording, thank god they had one available.

  63. 63

    Actually, Perez, it makes perfect sense to use a recording in order to protect the instruments. And yes, brass instruments (originally designed for use during battle in all kinds of weather), do hold up better and are less likely to be damaged, even though tuning can still be an issue. So don't hate on my musical heroes!

  64. 64

    MARIO you are an imbicile… you blab on and on about music like you are some kind of connoisseur … and it is common knowledge that stringed instruments need to be fine tuned very precisely… and the cold weather wreaks havoc on the strings- they'll go out of tune almost instantly. i bet you can't even read music either. i'm a violinist and a bassist… never played a brass or a woodwind so i can't speak for any of the band instruments…. or doubt their capability or inability to stay in tune.

    you're lame for undermining such geniuses… they shouldn't be on this site. these people are too good for you & out of your league. don't bring them up again.

  65. 65

    It's true…it happens to string instruments with cold AND hot weather.

  66. 66

    Re: hat_and_tie – I think this comment just shrunk Harry's wood.

  67. 67

    Its a simple fact that fine wooden instruments sound very different in intensely cold weather or hot weather. And that would include the oboe or alto clarinet that was part of the combo.
    The music was lovely and enjoyed by all in attendance - I was there, I know.
    Fox News (aka the Jerry Springer of "news") had this as their lead story - ohhh, how awful . . .
    Fox news reporters - I can only guess - have never been to the Symphony or Opera — they sound to be more of the Hoe Down in an unheated barn type of folk that would not realize this simple fact.

  68. 68

    perez u dumb asshole! instruments DO get fucked up in cold weather! i would know! i play instruments and they get out of tune once the weather gets cold!

  69. 69

    Re: sexy biotch – Obama did not screw up - Justice Roberts did. Obama had memorized it correctly, Roberts made the error, and Obama paused as he knew it was incorrect.

  70. 70

    Someone tell me — is it Ho Down — or Hoe Down? You know, when hillbillies get together with a fiddle and dance? I don't know how its spelled — not something I've ever done.

  71. 71

    bunch of nerdy music snobs

  72. 72

    Yea like everybody else is saying…if it's cold instruments never stay in tune and it would've sounded god awful

  73. 73

    Brass instruments do fine in cold weather. Any stringed instrument does not.

  74. 74

    Metal does not expand and shrink like wood does. It's harder for them to go out of tune (although they do go out of tune in cold weather as well). I don't blame them for not wanting to ruin the experience in front of millions of people with an out of tune instrument. If I owned a Stratavarious like Perlman does, I would make sure it was always kept in a climent controlled case.

  75. 75

    yeah it's true, they go out of tune

    "guess brass instruments do better in cold weather"
    actually, no

    no they don't

  76. 76

    Oh, it was Yo-Yo Ma … I thought it was Yo Mama …

  77. 77

    That's actually true….I played in my middle and high school orchestra and instruments can't be stored in too hot or cold places…I don't really care if they played over a track, I already know that Yo yo ma and Perlman are amazing…

  78. 78

    Give them a break..they are world-class musicians who are very skilled in what they do. It's true that string instruments don't stay in tune in cold weather. Even my guitars suffer..in my basement. When it's the winter time, my basement is super cold. I'll tune them, and half an hour later, they'll be out of tune again.

  79. 79

    thank you (seriously) for not being too harsh and judgy….YES, stringed instruments are very sensitive to changes in temperature - hot, cold…they can go out randomly which would be awful at the inauguration. Band/brass instruments I assume do better as they stay in tune? I can't say, I don't know much about them.

  80. 80

    perez, you know nothing about tuning instruments
    so please refrain from sounding like an idiot

  81. 81

    You obviously don't know much about musical instruments - cold weather is awful for strings and even worst for brass instruments.

  82. 82

    Okay he's a gossip columnist, who cares if he didn't research stringed instruments and how they fair in cold weather?

  83. Sweet says – reply to this


    No, they didn't pull an Asslee… They actually played their instruments, but if you've ever played a hand crafted wooden instrument, the weather makes it a real possibility that strings could snap or become out of tune.

  84. 84

    No instrument does well in the cold.

  85. 85

    Any instrument would have been horrid to play out there, anyways.
    Brass will stick to your face!
    Strings will shrink and break.
    Not a good thing.

  86. 86

    Who cares if it was pre-recorded.

  87. 87

    uhhh hello? string instruments are THE MOST temperamental instruments, especially under changing weather conditions. they're playing on violins/cellos that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - they can't afford to ruin them.

  88. 88

    Re: alexalovesperez – we hit on him because he is being critical of some of the best musicians in the world and comparing them to ashlee simpson.
    I would also think in weather like this the wind would make a difference on what was being picked up on the mike and also, if you slightly misplace your fingers, the notes will not be right and with the freezing cold, this could definitely happen.

  89. SJB says – reply to this


    Ok you really are as uneducated as I had thought. YES dumbass strings do NOT respond to cold, a brass instrument doesn't have STRINGS. Hence why you don't see STRINGS players out playing for football games. It's a marching BAND.
    And how dare you even somewhat compare Yo-Yo Ma to ASLEE SIMPSON!? How incredibly insulting to someone who actually has talent!?
    Scraping the bottom of the barrel for BS stories lately. What Dita Von Teese and Katy Perry didn't fart today so you have nothing but this to report?!
    UGH tick tick tick you're at 14 mins of your 15, you better hold on tight because you're schtick is getting tired. Anyone can write about random shit that is incredibly unimportant.

  90. SJB says – reply to this


    Re: sexy biotch – Dumbass…. Obama didn't screw up, Roberts did… and it's an OATH not a vow LMAO DUH

  91. 91

    I was thinking watching the performance, "isn't it too cold??" I agree with caileigh and Cecily. Even pre-recorded they sounded magificent. Brava!

  92. 92

    Re: i8carrotcake – Man, I was wondering !! I was just curious — given the situation — if the really precious strat was home in it case, safe and sound — and what we saw was a good, but lower rated instrument . . .

  93. 93

    It would sound horrible if they didn't play with a prerecorded tape! Musical instruments go out of tune very easily in the cold. We wouldn't have wanted to look back at such a historical day and replay a tape where the music was not in tune.

  94. 94

    I loved the song that was played. It was an amazing day.

  95. 95

    thats like music 101….you dont play a stringed instrument in the cold unless you want to ruin it…….read a book, perez

  96. 96

    Of course! It's common logic. Wood (which a violin and cello would in fact be made of) expands and shrinks depending on the weather. A hot day would see the wood expand, and a cold day would see the wood shrink. This movement would affect the tension on the strings-the amount of tension being what keeps them in tune. Thus, the intonation would be adversely affected. Any seasoned string instrument player knows this common sense fact, and also knows how their particular instrument will be affected by extreme changes in temp. Naturally, instruments made of a metal will not experience nearly the same degree in fluctuation that the wood instruments would experience. Not to mention their intonation has nothing to do whatsoever with the amount of tension on a string. DUH!
    Trust me, Perlman and Ma are two incredible musicians who were 100% correct in their judgment call. Any stringed instrument player would have been remiss not to make the same call.

  97. 97

    Wood contracts and expands with temperature changes

  98. 98

    sting instruments strings can break in the cold too.

  99. 99

    i still love yo-yo ma

  100. 100

    As a musician MYSELF , I played violin for a while and I know they don't work well in the cold.

    The wood strinks, the strings go out of tune, its that simple.
    String instruments are extremely sensitive to tempurature.

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