Synching Music At The Inauguration

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

NPR's Scott Simon takes a moment to note that because of the cold weather at the inauguration this week, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues were forced to "fake" their live performance while a taped version was played.

(Soundbite of music)


Yo-Yo Ma and friends played "Air and Simple Gifts" at President Obama's inauguration, sort of. Inauguration officials worried that Tuesday's frigid temperatures could snap piano and cello strings. So as the classical quartet went through the motions, an official played a recording the musicians had made two days earlier. This string synching is actually what millions of people heard on the mall and around the world.

A broken string was just not an option, Yo-Yo Ma told the New York Times. It could have been a disaster if we had done it any other way, Itzhak Perlman added. This isn't a matter of Milli Vanilli, said an inauguration official, speaking of the old pop group that lost a Grammy after it was revealed that they had merely lip-synced their songs. But the U.S. Marine Corps band played live. Imagine how the Army, in fact the Russian Army would kid them if the Marines had said it was too cold to play. But if Chief Justice John Roberts had prerecorded the oath of office, he wouldn't have had to do it the second time.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.