May 04, 2016

The Piano Guys: The Jungle Book / Sarabande (Mayan Style)


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The quest to serenade the Seven Wonders continues…

A few years back we set what seemed at the time an impossible goal: to film music videos on all Seven Wonders of the World. Now we are nearly half-way there. We started by scaling the Great Wall of China, performing in feng shui fashion “Kung Fu Panda” in harmony with Chopin: Next we paid homage to the Christ Redeemer Statue in Rio, Brazil, dedicating “Gabriel’s Oboe” (from “The Mission” soundtrack) coupled with the beloved hymn “How Great Thou Art:”

And now we present the third Wonder, Chichén Itzá.

Thus far our tradition has been to mix timeless classical music with contemporary film scores. We also love infusing local and historical culture in our arrangements. For this Wonder we wanted to stay true to this tradition while simultaneously nailing “jungle harmony,” as a famous cartoon bear once coined in…Disney’s Jungle Book! But in this decision we were confronted with an entangling challenge — to effectively blend the cacophony of Disney Jazz, classical music, Mayan heritage, all while making it epic enough to be filmed in front of a massively-historic, world-renowned stone temple!

First, it was vital that we carefully, thoughtfully pay proper respect to the “wonder” of “El Castillo,” its surrounding artifacts, and the Mayan spirit that pervades Chichén Itzá. The Mayans were an incredible people — adept astronomers, unprecedented builders, and incomparable artisans. Their ability to use architecture in an acoustic way especially impresses us. For instance, you can stand upon a step at one end of the plaza and be heard clearly on a step at the opposite end. The Mayans also used instrumental music more here:

Filming it in just the right vein was just as challenging. We wish to sincerely express our deepest gratitude to the National Archeology and History Institute ( and Cultur Yucatan ( for allowing us the profound privilege of filming at Chichén Itzá.

Were it not for them and their warm hospitality this video shoot would not have been possible.

When visiting Chichén Itzá, we recommend staying here:

We also wish to thank our second filming location, Xcaret (where we filmed the jungle river and stage scenes). Xcaret is a fun-filled family friendly park built right in the middle of the jungle that immerses you in cultural food, entertainment, and adventure. Check it out here:
Mexico's Majestic Paradise:

Steve is playing the most recent addition to his cello family, “Maya,” hand painted in Mayan hieroglyphic style by Juleez (Julie Borden) just for this video. Her uniquely creative masterpieces are only matched by her equally vibrant spirit and enthusiasm for musically influenced art. See more of her instrument artwork here: Thank you, Julie!


"My Own Home" and "Bear Necessities" from “The Jungle Book” movie soundtrack written by Robert and Richard Sherman and Terry Gilkyson, respectively
“Sarabande,” movement four of “Keyboard suite in D minor” (HWV 437) written by George Frideric Handel

Piano Guys arrangement produced by Al van der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson
and written by Al van der Beek, Jon Schmidt & Steven Sharp Nelson
Performed by
Jon Schmidt: piano
Steven Sharp Nelson: cello, percussion, piano
Al van der Beek: vocal textures, percussion
Record label: Sony Masterworks
Fernando S. Gallegos: Traditional Mayan instruments
Recorded mixed and mastered by Al van der Beek at TPG studios in Utah
Video produced and filmed by Paul Anderson & Shaye Scott
Edited by Shaye Scott
Photography, Behind the Scenes: Kyle Fisher
Location Manager: Omar Yair
Special Thanks: Israel & Jamaica
Nathan Christopherson: Animal Special Effects  

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