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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021


The quick answer is, "No" - but it requires thinking through what classical music is.

Is it the music of Old Europe? I ask this because the blues, jazz, country, and rock all originated in the United States. If you eliminate not only those genres but all of their influence, what you're left with (in the West) is the music of Old Europe. Is that what classical music is? If so, then classical music only exists as a very large but closed catalogue, handed down through the centuries, beginning about 500 CE and ending, let's arbitrarily say, with the death of Johannes Brahms in 1897.

But some modern composers think classical music doesn't have to be kept in that cage. They bring in other influences, for example indie rock, and electronica, and traditional music from non-European cultures. For these visionaries, classical music continually evolves, and can only be enriched by contact with new ways of making beauty with sound. Some of these composers are discussed here:
https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/top-10-young-composers-who-are-redefining-classical-music/

I would include some 20th century composers as falling into the same category as the young composers discussed in the above article. The most famous and obvious is Igor Stravinsky.

And what of movie soundtracks? When I asked my daughter if classical music was dead, she said, "No, because we still hear it in movies." I think a lot of us, myself included, would agree with that conclusion. I would merely add that movie soundtracks represent another evolution of classical, indeed another fusion of classical with something else: it's a fusion with cinematography! I think it's crucial, and exciting, to remember that. Movie soundtracks contribute to the telling of a visual story! Is this new? Actually, no. Ballet has a soundtrack, and opera does as well. Yet cinematography differs from ballet, and differs from opera as well. It's the third evolution of musical storytelling! (I consider Broadway musicals to be an offshoot of opera, differing only in superficial ways, driven more by popular taste than by any serious aesthetic philosophy. Thus we have ballet, opera/Broadway, and cinematography.)

So is classical music dead? No, it's forever evolving.



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Superman's Pal

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,768


What is classical music? Is it a certain technique of composing? Is it anything written for a symphony orchestra? Or is it married to a certain era of history?

Like you said, movie scores seem like the modern equivalent. Usually written for an orchestra, usually instrumental pieces. They usually lack the verse-chorus structure of pop songs, featuring longer movements, character motifs and such. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman might be the modern Beethovens. Why don't I know any female composers?

Didn't some of the classical composers write their scores for operas and plays as well?

Then you've got the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Mannheim Steamroller keeping it alive.

Your post reminds me of Mr. Holland's Opus in which he pens "The American Symphony" which attempts to bring moderns American styles (or instruments) into his symphony.

I don't know if that's what you mean exactly.


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zvelf


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


The easy answer to this is no. Classical music originated in Europe, but it spread to the United States quickly (relative to the limitations of travel and communication at the time), notably with the establishment of the New York Philharmonic in 1842. Brahms was not an endpoint at all. Big names like Bela Bartok, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Sergei Prokofiev, Giacomo Puccini, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens, Erik Satie, and Jean Sibelius all came after Brahms. In the United States, classical composers include Samuel Barber, John Cage, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin (who was also a jazz and show tunes composer), and notably still alive are all of these American classical minimalist composers: John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young.

And yes, film music is a branch of classical music. The aforementioned Glass is a prime example of a classical composer who also did many film scores. SP mentioned some, but other notable film composers include John Barry, Carter Burwell, Georges Delerue, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Bernard Herrmann, Joe Hisaishi, Michael Nyman, Alan Silvestri, Max Steiner, and Dimitri Tiomkin. You can see and hear some of their film music regularly performed by symphony orchestras across the world. For example, here is a fun Lang Lang performance of Silvestri with full orchestra:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q69DgizZjM





How to make an entrance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49xWJJvpjzI
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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    What is classical music? Is it a certain technique of composing? Is it anything written for a symphony orchestra? Or is it married to a certain era of history?



Exactly! Which answer we pick is crucial to any subsequent discussion. I almost want to say, "I know it when I hear it," but I guess that's a cop-out.

If we say classical music is anything written for a symphony orchestra, then we're faced with what to say about heavy metal songs which have been adapted to a symphonic format. Example: Led Zeppelin's Kashmir.
https://youtu.be/vgvdZsxc8fM

We also need to remember that a great wealth of classical music has been written for a single instrument, or for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine instruments.

If we say classical is married to a certain era of history, then we're faced with what to say about young classical composers active today. Example: Alma Deutscher.
https://youtu.be/W0xMpLXQNvM



    Quote:
    Like you said, movie scores seem like the modern equivalent. Usually written for an orchestra, usually instrumental pieces. They usually lack the verse-chorus structure of pop songs, featuring longer movements, character motifs and such. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman might be the modern Beethovens...



In my opinion, they absolutely are!



    Quote:
    Didn't some of the classical composers write their scores for operas and plays as well?



I know Mozart definitely did. Also Stravinsky and Debussy both wrote ballets.



    Quote:
    Then you've got the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Mannheim Steamroller keeping it alive.



I'm listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as I type this! (Alexa is such a useful gizmo.) Where Led Zeppelin "classicalized" their rock songs, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra "rockified" classical works (with a great deal of artistic license). This is their take on (or response to) Beethoven's 5th symphony.
https://youtu.be/DsxzBCr2zNM



    Quote:
    Your post reminds me of Mr. Holland's Opus in which he pens "The American Symphony" which attempts to bring moderns American styles (or instruments) into his symphony.



    Quote:
    I don't know if that's what you mean exactly.



It fits beautifully into our discussion! Here's "An American Symphony" played by young people scattered geographically and brought together virtually during the height of Covid (September 7, 2020).
https://youtu.be/9jEL71g6gWA

For some reason that piece made me think of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", composed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1942, when the USA had recently entered World War II.
https://youtu.be/HKgk6G0lekQ

Here's Emerson, Lake and Palmer "rockifying" it.
https://youtu.be/c2zurZig4L8




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zvelf


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008



    Quote:

      Quote:
      What is classical music? Is it a certain technique of composing? Is it anything written for a symphony orchestra? Or is it married to a certain era of history?



    Quote:

    Exactly! Which answer we pick is crucial to any subsequent discussion. I almost want to say, "I know it when I hear it," but I guess that's a cop-out.



    Quote:
    If we say classical music is anything written for a symphony orchestra, then we're faced with what to say about heavy metal songs which have been adapted to a symphonic format. Example: Led Zeppelin's Kashmir.
    https://youtu.be/vgvdZsxc8fM



    Quote:
    We also need to remember that a great wealth of classical music has been written for a single instrument, or for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine instruments.



    Quote:
    If we say classical is married to a certain era of history, then we're faced with what to say about young classical composers active today. Example: Alma Deutscher.
    https://youtu.be/W0xMpLXQNvM


Every musical genre is married to a certain era of history, but to define classical music, I think it's better to describe how it works within a certain tradition as week as in terms of formal music composition. Classical is more complicated than popular music, which mostly uses ABA structure and just a few chord progressions. Jazz is also more complicated than pop/rock/R&B, etc. but jazz has its own idioms that classical music doesn’t generally use as well as jazz placing a strong emphasis on improvisation, which is generally anathema to classical except in the case of cadenzas. There are also certain defined classical forms such that if you compose a symphony, a concerto, a sonata, a suite, or a tone poem with traditional classical instruments of strings, brass, and percussion, the understanding is that you are creating a classical composition.





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Superman's Pal

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,768



    Quote:
    If we say classical music is anything written for a symphony orchestra, then we're faced with what to say about heavy metal songs which have been adapted to a symphonic format. Example: Led Zeppelin's Kashmir.
    https://youtu.be/vgvdZsxc8fM

When I think of metal & symphonic I always go to Metallica's S&M (Symphony & Metallica) and my favorite song from that project:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6ScxmFRU74


    Quote:
    We also need to remember that a great wealth of classical music has been written for a single instrument, or for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine instruments.

I seem to remember listening to some string quartets in college, I had a music appreciation for beginners type of class.

It makes me think of this lady I found on YouTube, she's probably in no way classical since she's rearranging 80s tv theme songs on the cello:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYf595EJAc4

And I keep seeing these guys, 2Cellos, updating rock songs. Or maybe downdating? I love to see the bowstrings come apart.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT3SBzmDxGk

But I could really go off on covers from another genre. In the last couple of years I've been listening to a lot of pop songs redone in the bluegrass style. Speaking of string quartets.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdAyO1_0noM


    Quote:
    If we say classical is married to a certain era of history, then we're faced with what to say about young classical composers active today. Example: Alma Deutscher.
    https://youtu.be/W0xMpLXQNvM

In theater, they always told us not to explain your work ahead of time. But it's great to see such a young artist with such a talent.

Which is why I love Bo Burnham.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1BneeJTDcU


    Quote:
    Like you said, movie scores seem like the modern equivalent. Usually written for an orchestra, usually instrumental pieces. They usually lack the verse-chorus structure of pop songs, featuring longer movements, character motifs and such. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman might be the modern Beethovens...



    Quote:

    In my opinion, they absolutely are!


One of my favorite performances of Leone's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enuOArEfqGo

Of course Metallica used to open every concert with "The Ecstacy of Gold." They probably still do.


    Quote:


      Quote:
      Didn't some of the classical composers write their scores for operas and plays as well?



    Quote:

    I know Mozart definitely did. Also Stravinsky and Debussy both wrote ballets.


I know it's not classical, but one my favorite movies scores of recent years is Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5S6s5dZXNM
https://youtu.be/vlEN8svyHj8


    Quote:


      Quote:
      Then you've got the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Mannheim Steamroller keeping it alive.



    Quote:

    I'm listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as I type this! (Alexa is such a useful gizmo.) Where Led Zeppelin "classicalized" their rock songs, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra "rockified" classical works (with a great deal of artistic license). This is their take on (or response to) Beethoven's 5th symphony.
    https://youtu.be/DsxzBCr2zNM


I always loved TSO's "Carol of the Bells."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A

And Walter Murphy's Beethoven's 5th. \:\)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAuqQr5YtjY



    Quote:
    For some reason that piece made me think of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", composed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1942, when the USA had recently entered World War II.
    https://youtu.be/HKgk6G0lekQ





I mostly remember it was used in the end of "Predator" and McTiernan called it "Fanfare For the Common Mercenary." I don't know if it was a reworked version or just a library version. It doesn't seem to appear on Alan Silvestri's soundtrack for the movie.
https://youtu.be/NYPm2PajO80?t=36

But then, maybe classical will never die:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM



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???


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


Classical music does not just mean symphonies and orchestras.

It was a term coined specifically to refer to that type of music, created before the rise of the music industry i.e, before recording.

It was done by... snobs, who were less than trilled about different types of music taking becoming popular with people. Especially sine music like Blues and Jazz have roots in American folk music. So, the common people were deciding the popularity of music, instead of former taste makers.

So, it has more to do with when, not what.

Think of it like this, there is no new classic rock. The term specifically refers to music from the 50s-70s. Not even necessarily the 50s, or all of the 70s.

The 80s and 90s are further from now than that classic rock era was when the term was coined, but people are not rushing to call music form those decades classic rock.

There are two interesting elements to this...

1) It proved that those snobs were ultimately wrong. At the time classic music was being produced they looked down on folk music as being lesser, and and it being far more influential with it often being tied to cultural studies.

Also, because Blues not only came from folk music, but was one of those early music types they wanted to brand as lesser, and became the most influential music ever.

It spawned R & B, and Rock music. Adding more blues in varying forms gave us the Rolling Stones, and psychedelic, both of which were influences on early punk bands like MC5 and the Stooges, as well as early Metal like Steppen Wolf and Black Sabbath,

Blues was also the roots of funk, which is what led to rap.

Also country music came form folk music, which means that that the very music they thought as lesser became the most versatile and dominant form of music ever, through its decedents.


2) that similar versions of that type of gatekeeping would keep happening over time, in various degrees.

Some of it was generational, with Greatest generation jazz nuts hating rock, those same baby boomers who defended rock hating their kids and rap, or pre-war jazz fans having contempt for the likes of Miles Davis and Coltrane and visa versa (look up the jazz term 'moldy fig')


Other far more sinister As Bob Dylan once pointed out, in the early 60s as rock n roll became established through white musicians, many record store owners did weird stuff. Namely, having music that was very similar being designated as Rock n' Roll if the artist was white and R & B if they were black.


The very idea of classical music is the grandfather of every music snob, parent telling their kid to turn down the racket, race based music marketing and blocking, and high school clique defined by the type of music they listened to


So, is classical music dead?

It is more like the old rich curmudgeon on the hill that never leaves their home, and dislikes their kids and grand kids for mixing with the new money and less well-off.


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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    Classical music does not just mean symphonies and orchestras.



    Quote:
    It was a term coined specifically to refer to that type of music, created before the rise of the music industry i.e, before recording.



Do you have a link to where I can learn more about that? It has some plausibility, I'll grant you, since the modern understanding of "classical music" seems to have coalesced in the 19th century, which was the century the phonograph was invented - but the timing seems a little dicey, since the phonograph was invented in 1877, which was rather late in the 19th century.



    Quote:
    It was done by... snobs, who were less than thrilled about different types of music taking becoming popular with people. Especially sine music like Blues and Jazz have roots in American folk music. So, the common people were deciding the popularity of music, instead of former taste makers.



I can readily believe all of that. Got a link?



    Quote:
    So, it has more to do with when, not what.



I think also where. Classical music is the only category of Western music that didn't originate in the United States.



    Quote:
    Think of it like this, there is no new classic rock. The term specifically refers to music from the 50s-70s. Not even necessarily the 50s, or all of the 70s.



    Quote:
    The 80s and 90s are further from now than that classic rock era was when the term was coined, but people are not rushing to call music form those decades classic rock.



True. I actually like the comic book "age" model, applied to rock like so: Rock's Golden Age was the 50s; its Silver Age was the 60s and 70s; and its Bronze Age was the 80s. Rock then died and rose from the dead as modern heavy metal, a term I use to encompass the main variants, such as death metal, thrash metal, black metal, and doom metal.



    Quote:
    There are two interesting elements to this...



    Quote:
    1) It proved that those snobs were ultimately wrong. At the time classic music was being produced they looked down on folk music as being lesser, and and it being far more influential with it often being tied to cultural studies.



    Quote:
    Also, because Blues not only came from folk music, but was one of those early music types they wanted to brand as lesser, and became the most influential music ever.



    Quote:
    It spawned R & B, and Rock music. Adding more blues in varying forms gave us the Rolling Stones, and psychedelic, both of which were influences on early punk bands like MC5 and the Stooges, as well as early Metal like Steppen Wolf and Black Sabbath,



    Quote:
    Blues was also the roots of funk, which is what led to rap.



    Quote:
    Also country music came form folk music, which means that that the very music they thought as lesser became the most versatile and dominant form of music ever, through its decedents.



I don't think the snobs were wrong. They predicted with perfect accuracy that the music coming out of the United States would conquer Western culture. This is what they feared, and what they feared has come to pass. In fact, the music coming out of the United States even conquered the Middle and Far East, as evidenced by such phenomena as K-Pop, J-Pop, and I-Pop. BUT - and this is very important - the serpent eats its tail. People in the United States are avid consumers of popular music from all around the world.



    Quote:

    2) that similar versions of that type of gatekeeping would keep happening over time, in various degrees.



    Quote:
    Some of it was generational, with Greatest generation jazz nuts hating rock, those same baby boomers who defended rock hating their kids and rap, or pre-war jazz fans having contempt for the likes of Miles Davis and Coltrane and visa versa (look up the jazz term 'moldy fig')



I sometimes think all fans of any art form are predisposed to be snobs. What they like is beautiful, good and true. What they don't like is ugly, bad and false. The antidote is to force oneself to embrace eclecticism. I myself am an eclectic. There are pockets of popular music that nauseate me, but these are far outweighed by the vast bulk of popular music that I have learned to appreciate and enjoy. For me, at first, eclecticism was an act of self-discipline. It has now become second nature to me. I look for what is beautiful, good and true in any form of music that I hear.



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Dakota


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008



    Quote:
    The quick answer is, "No" - but it requires thinking through what classical music is.



    Quote:
    Is it the music of Old Europe? I ask this because the blues, jazz, country, and rock all originated in the United States. If you eliminate not only those genres but all of their influence, what you're left with (in the West) is the music of Old Europe. Is that what classical music is? If so, then classical music only exists as a very large but closed catalogue, handed down through the centuries, beginning about 500 CE and ending, let's arbitrarily say, with the death of Johannes Brahms in 1897.






    Quote:
    I would include some 20th century composers as falling into the same category as the young composers discussed in the above article. The most famous and obvious is Igor Stravinsky.



    Quote:
    And what of movie soundtracks? When I asked my daughter if classical music was dead, she said, "No, because we still hear it in movies." I think a lot of us, myself included, would agree with that conclusion. I would merely add that movie soundtracks represent another evolution of classical, indeed another fusion of classical with something else: it's a fusion with cinematography! I think it's crucial, and exciting, to remember that. Movie soundtracks contribute to the telling of a visual story! Is this new? Actually, no. Ballet has a soundtrack, and opera does as well. Yet cinematography differs from ballet, and differs from opera as well. It's the third evolution of musical storytelling! (I consider Broadway musicals to be an offshoot of opera, differing only in superficial ways, driven more by popular taste than by any serious aesthetic philosophy. Thus we have ballet, opera/Broadway, and cinematography.)



    Quote:
    So is classical music dead? No, it's forever evolving.


My daughters graduated from high school a few years ago having played in both Concert Band and Marching Band each year. There were multiple times in their seasonal concerts when they played a piece written in the last five years, and I think one was written within the past year (at that time).

So within that world, it is definitely not dead.


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swmcbf


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,086


The musical equivalent of each generation saying " You darn kids get off my lawn". \(\?\)


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The Avenger


Location: New Jersey
Member Since: Thu Dec 02, 2021



    Quote:
    My daughters graduated from high school a few years ago having played in both Concert Band and Marching Band each year. There were multiple times in their seasonal concerts when they played a piece written in the last five years, and I think one was written within the past year (at that time).



    Quote:
    So within that world, it is definitely not dead.



You and I are living parallel lives! My two daughters likewise played in both Concert Band and Marching Band while in high school!

One question being considered in this thread is, "What is classical music?" I find myself sympathetic to the idea that anything a marching band plays would be classical music. Yet I don't think I would be making a valid statement if I said that. Some of what marching bands play could be described as "elevator music"; I.e., instrumental versions of pop songs that originally had vocals.

What sort of songs were the recently composed tunes your daughters played?




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