Classical Music

Grounds for modern sound, complex, meaningful, unique

May 27, 2023


The genre of classical music holds many connotations, and for some reason, they are not always positive. I have heard on countless occasions how classical music is boring, often too long and disengaging, and is only for nerds. While classical music is an acquired taste that often appeals to individuals that play an instrument or are involved in music, the genre’s wide and diverse range is an excellent way to learn more about the history of music and to discover a brand new interest. 

Classical music is a superior genre to modern pop music not only due to its complexity, but also its influence. Classical music structurally has more chord, melody, and harmony variations than pop music, and that wide range of possibilities opens the genre to all people with varying musical tastes. Pop music has become so repetitive and manufactured that every song has the same chord progression that fails to grasp my attention in the same  meaningful way a more complicated piece of music can. Now, that is not to paint a snobby image of classical music: complexity does not always mean better, but when you hear a layered, harmonic, and emotional piece like Chopin’s “Nocturne No.” 1 in B Flat Minor, it is hard to compare it to the banal 4 guitar chords of Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.” Orchestra and Band director Brian Lukkasson expresses, “people don’t have as much patience with classical music… People just treat it like it’s study music to have on in the background… so their brain never fully engages with it.”

In fact, practically every pop song has some influence from classical music.The main takeaway from modern music: it’s less original than classical music. “Pachabel’s Canon,” composed in 1680, is a widely known piece but it may be more familiar in Maroon 5’s 2019 “Memories.” The piano in the song is a copy of “Pachabel’s Canon,” with slight rhythm changes. Even John Williams, creator of the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Jaws scores, took more than an inspiration from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in his “Star Wars Suite.” 

This is not to say that pop music is terrible. I likely listen more to modern songs than classical music on a daily basis, and classical music has its flaws. “Classical music gets a bad rep as being boring because it’s slower, it takes longer for an idea to get across.” Lukkasson says. Another concern is that most classical music is written by old, white men. While those concerns are valid, they change when you look away from the more commonly known composers. Music is viewed in an inherently Eurocentric way where many of the pieces followed similar styles and motifs. The Baroque Era (music made in the 1600s) and the Romantic Era (music from the 19th century) are time periods that only reflect how music changed in Europe. However, these vague terms do not encompass the jazz revolution, indigenous music, and eclectic styles of music that may not fall into pop or the constraints of “proper” classical music. There is music from all over the world waiting to be discovered if you just look past the symphonies and concertos of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Look into Florence Price, Edmond Dédé, and Clara Schumann, and as you research more contemporary music, listen to George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, and Margaret Bonds. 

There is a world of music over 500 years old that can be discovered simply on your phone. All it takes is a click to move past the uniformity of Coldplay songs (good as though they may be) and there are pieces of all styles, instruments – not just guitar, drums, and voice – and for all emotions. Who would’ve thought that music could accurately express in your mind what a bumblebee buzzing looks like (Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov) or what a boat in the sea sounds like (Une Barque sur l’Océan, Ravel)? While my experience playing piano for many years may grant me a bias towards classical music,music is for everyone; it would be a shame if we locked ourselves out of a rich history of art that influenced almost every piece of music we have today. It’s amazing to close my eyes after school or to read a book while the beautiful notes wash over me. There is a certain beauty in listening to a piece that is more than six minutes long. Don’t let the long name and run time, and age of the piece deter you. Just start the music and let yourself settle into the bliss of artistry at work.


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