Updated: Feb 21
As I was undergoing research into new composers and repertoire, I came across a forum that started on a simple question: Why be interested in Classical music?
At first, I was staring blankly at the screen in total disbelief that such a question could exist. As I thought about it, it became a credible and valid question increasingly. Like any genre of music, it is too easy (and quite unfair) to generalise a whole genre of music and dismiss it just because of one song.
Often times, music is categorized and associated by areas of society, backgrounds and maybe just personality and personal taste.
We could say that Rock such as Metal is loud, Pop is glossed and commercial, Classical is academic and privileged. When we take a minute to actually look past stereotypes and explore a little further; we realize the truth and see a completely different picture.
As far as Classical goes, maybe we got swept up by soundtracks by John Williams such as Star Wars, ET or Harry Potter. Possibly iconic soundtracks in video games that would have been heavily influenced by Classical. The iconic Rondo Alla Turca by Mozart that comes and goes in many forms such as a mobile phone ring tone. The instantly recognisable dramatic sound of Beethoven's Symphony no. 5. The calming sound of a Chopin Nocturne. Or we just want to chill out to piano music by Ludovico Einaudi.
I came into music actually by accident, but I can't remember a time where my life wasn't influenced by this kind of music that just can take us to different places and inspire us to explore new places. I will delve into such reasons why it's possible. Hopefully, I can prompt you the reader to come up with other reasons that Classical music pulled you in for the first time:
The Strong Connections
If you ever remember your favourite music from a movie, a video game, TV series. More than likely it would have come from a style of this genre. The best part is that this music can be catchy, exciting, mysterious, dark, upbeat and happy. Something that you've always remembered and taken you back. This genre of music has something for everyone.
If you ever played in a group or orchestra, no doubt you would have fun memories of playing music with a lot of like-minded people. You'll meet many friends, have many things in common, and it becomes like a family environment. Plus with classical, you can fit in as many players as you like—no limitations in numbers like what a band might have. So there is always this positive connection to playing an instrument.
We might say that we don't like a certain genre of music. But how do we really know if we haven't really experienced it.
Of course, Pop and Rock songs are instantly relatable simply because they have lyrics; words and stories we immediately understand. Sometimes it's nice to make our own story that may not contain words but produces many personal images in our minds. I think it would be safe to say that a lot of Pop songs are often focused about relationships (and contemplating bad or broken up ones).
Classical is not just about emotions or words: it tells a story through changing moods or sets a scene (is there any other genre that can really do this?). There are also examples that create an impression such as places like an ocean, a festival in Spain or a haunted house. It stands to reason as to why Classical is mainly used as soundtrack music. As it simply tells the story more than the words of acting itself.
There can be instruments such as piano, violin, cello, organ which could be regarded as the most technically tricky instruments in western music. Plus of course, the challenging repertoire that requires the most practiced and honed of technical mastery. But to overcome these challenges gives us a great sense of accomplishment and achievement.
In doing so, it inspires us to go further, exploring and doing more than we expected. As musicians- because there is so much music and composers to explore: there is always something to do, and you'll never get bored.
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