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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Classical Music Is The Best

          Anyone who has been a regular reader of my blog will probably be aware that I love music--all kinds of music.  Over the past month I have even gone so far as to temporarily turn this space into a music blog as I name off my lists of favorite music albums.  Then taking it a step further, I expound on my lists and talk about the music that I have reluctantly left off of the lists.   So far I have looked lovingly on rock, country, jazz, and other styles of music and have promised more to come.  But this week I have focused on the best music--classical.  And yes, I will stand by my premise:

Classical music as a genre is superior to all other forms of music.

           I am certainly not saying that any of the other many genres of music are bad or have no value, but I am saying that much of what is considered good or great classical music will have more staying power than the popular music of the past 150 years and contributes more to the human spirit and intellect than most popular music.  Likewise, I will not argue that all music that is included under the label of "classical music" is particularly good or with lasting value because there is bad music in any genre.  I will suggest that generally speaking classical music is timeless.

            Most of what I would call "pop" music is of a particular age and represents that age much like a historical document that might include a movie, a periodical or news article, or a cartoon (such as a political cartoon or other drawn media).   These musical pieces depict ideas and popular fads of an era and usually sound dated when performed later.  For example, we might enjoy singing or hearing "Oh, Susannah" or "My Darling Clementine", but lyrically they are historical relics and musically they sound old-fashioned.

           Granted, that to the trained ear, different categories of classical music can usually be associated with particular eras and can be dated, but most people who are not educated about classical  music cannot distinguish one from another even though the differences are pretty obvious and identifiable.  And this is part of the argument.  Listening to and appreciating classical music is far more intellectually challenging than most pop music which is another indication of its superiority.

           In all fairness, I will concede that much jazz and progressive rock music almost attains the level of great classical music and indeed could eventually be fit into the broad genre label of classical, but currently the label "classical" often has a negative connotation to many music listeners.

           Let me frame this argument another way.  Which of the following are better if rated by quality:  William Shakespeare or People magazine?   A low budget film with bad acting or a respected film by a great director?   McDonald's or a Wolfgang Puck restaurant?  A painting by Rembrandt or a velvet elvis?

           I'm tossing it to you now.  Do you think any other genres are superior or equal to classical?  I'm not talking about preferences or taste.  I understand that many will say they just like another form better, but why?   Why would you not like classical and like country, rock, or some other genre better?  And other than just "liking" it, how can you argue that your listening preferences are not inferior to classical music?   And finally, are classical music fans snobs?








18 comments:

  1. I love all kind of music too, as I feel every music style fits a different occasion;)
    But classical is on top of my list. I reached this point by music evolution; I went from liking sugar sweet pop to all kind of twisted variations of any dance beat and ended up with old classics, as I grew older too.;)
    Thank you for your kind visit and comment,
    xo

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  2. I as you know have a varied liking to music, Oh I get teased for my liking of Daniel O Donnell, but as I have done each list you have put up I have come to the conclusion that classical mucic is in my opinion the best. I was classically trained as a child and doing the classical list this week has given me a renewed interest.
    Just listening to some of my choices and yours I have come to realise I have spent many years away from the "roots" of my musical background,

    Have a lovely day.
    Yvonne,

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  3. I think it depends on how complex the music.

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  4. You mentioned prog rock - I believe if famous composers were alive today, that is what the music would sound like. If you think about the complexity and strenth of classical music, it's easy to see the transformation into prog rock. Listen to Dream Theater, Rush, and especially Trans Siberian Orchestra and you'll hear the influence of classical music.

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  5. Uh, Wow. Alex said almost exactly what I was going to say...uh, ditto?

    Love classical music!

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  6. classical music is "classical" for a reason. Harmonies and emotion, not to mention skill of the musician (and of course composer) is phenomenal.

    While I do love other types of music, much of the music composed today is churned out production music made to sell. A flash in the pan, with singers who don't understand building the feeling of a piece (all they do is sing triple forte all the time).

    And don't get me started on RAP! UUUGGGHHH!!

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  7. Not all of them, of course, but yes, many lovers of Classical music are snobs. They like thinking of themselves as music elites (Fraser and Niles Crane-like people).

    What a lot of folks tend to overlook is that Classical music was the "pop" music of its day. So, let's not get too carried away.

    I do like some Classical music, although I have not studied the subject, so I am not able to give the title of a piece when I hear it (other than a few of the most well known like, say, Clair de Lune, Beethoven's 5th Symphony, or the William Tell Overture). And I do recognize that some of the Christmas music I dearly love is based on Classical pieces. So, I have nothing negative to say about Classical music, But...

    the highest quality Jazz will endure for as long as the highest quality Classical will. Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Nat King Cole et al., will be remembered for as long as Beethoven and Mozart are.

    True, much of the “pop” music of the 20th and 21st Century – put together like prefab homes - is destined to be forgotten. But the great architecture of Schubert and Goodman will be preserved.

    ~ “Lonesome Dogg” McD-Fens

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  8. Zuzana -- I do think appreciation of classical often comes with musical maturity.

    Yvonne -- Sometimes I've gone through phases of the styles that I focus on and always come back to classical. I tend to want to listen to classical most of the time now when I'm listening to music. I'm glad your interest has been rekindled.

    Diane -- sometimes--- however complexity is not always a factor. Much of the most beautiful classical music is very simple while some complex classical, jazz, or other styles get to be so much that it becomes too much to enjoy.

    Alex -- I agree. Prog rock is more closely related to what we traditionally think of as classical music, than some of the serious modern work that gets put under the label of "classical".

    Hannah -- great! Another vote for classical. I thought I was going to get more resistance on my premise.

    Sig -- What'd you have to bring up rap for? Are you trying to ruin my day? Don't get you started? Don't get me started!
    I think you and I have very similar musical tastes.

    STMc -- Well, some jazz afficianados are also very snobbish about their music, or so I've found in my experience. The difference concerning Jazz is that it is more based on the spontaneous performance, thus the recording and recreation of the piece will often vary. Classical is the preservation of the originally composed piece and performance recreations are usually only subtly different based on the conductor or artists interpretation. The line starts getting blurred with a group like the Don Ellis Orchestra or other big bands that play off of arrangements -- is it really jazz, only related to jazz by sound, or is it closer to classical? An example would be Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" which is categorized under classical, but also considered in the genre of jazz. Or what about something like Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick"? It's kind of like rock but it also almost comes across like a classical work--will there be ensembles a hundred years from now continuing to perform "Thick as a Brick" in its original complete form?

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  9. I agree that Classical is the best music overall.

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  10. Yo! R-LEE-B ~

    “Well, some jazz afficianados are also very snobbish about their music, or so I've found in my experience.”

    I agree. I would never argue against that. My experience teaches me that Classical music fans are even worse, but indeed, there are snobs to be found in both groups. And according to my friend DiscConnected, snobs can be found in the Prog Rock fan base too, although I wouldn’t know about that because I wouldn’t even be caught dead rubbing elbows with Prog Rock fans.

    “The difference concerning Jazz is that it is more based on the spontaneous performance, thus the recording and recreation of the piece will often vary. Classical is the preservation of the originally composed piece and performance recreations are usually only subtly different based on the conductor or artists interpretation.”

    Well, yes, that may often be true but not always. I’m sure that every note of the “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” soundtrack was scripted, to name but one. But regardless, I don’t see what difference that makes in a discussion of which genre is superior or will be remembered longer. I don’t think my recorded versions of Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” or Davis and Evans’ “Porgy And Bess” score are going to change anytime soon. Once the piece has been recorded, THAT’S how it will be remembered. Unless another Jazz artist records their own version, but still, the piece will be recognizable.

    ”The line starts getting blurred with a group like the Don Ellis Orchestra or other big bands that play off of arrangements -- is it really jazz, only related to jazz by sound, or is it closer to classical?”

    To humorously steal a line from Louis Armstrong: “If you have to ask what Jazz is, you'll never know.”

    ”An example would be Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" which is categorized under classical, but also considered in the genre of jazz.”

    Well, I would argue that “Rhapsody In Blue” by Gershwin is still “Rhapsody In Blue” by Glenn Miller. The fact that it might be considered Classical OR Jazz probably only strengthens my argument that Classical, as a genre, is NOT superior to Jazz (and vice versa).

    ”Or what about something like Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick"? It's kind of like rock but it also almost comes across like a classical work--will there be ensembles a hundred years from now continuing to perform "Thick as a Brick" in its original complete form?”

    Jethro who?
    Well, frankly, I question whether even Jethro Tull will be remembered a hundred years from now, let alone “Thick As A Brick”. But time will tell, eh?

    The bottom line is simply that I do not believe that Classical, as a type of music, is superior to Jazz, or even superior to a good deal of Rock, as types of music go. The best in each category will survive. And if staying power is the true test of greatness, then how can one genre be called “better” than another if the best in each is fondly remembered? And if staying power is NOT the true test of greatness, then what is?

    Good discussion, Brother!

    ~ “Lonesome Dogg” McD-Fens

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  11. I agree, Classical tops them all. I think there are some others that are pretty timeless, like some of the jazz, etc. that some comments mentioned. But Classical always comes out on top in my book.
    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  12. Oh I agree completely with you Arlie. Right now I am stuck in a Jazzy mood. I tend to hold on to a particular type of music for a month and then I switch. Next month it may be rock,classical or swing (another one of my favorites).
    And we are so blessed to have a multitude of choices!
    Love Di ♥

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  13. I'm another music lover. Anything that has lasted for over 100 years is obviously seriously good stuff! I think so many music forms owe their roots to classical.

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  14. StMc -- Hey! don't be dissing prog rock! I like it, but then again I think it's pretty closely related to classical. And some of the origins might be attributed to things like the BeachBoys "Good Vibrations" or even the music of the Beatles, Zombies, and Kinks. It's hard to say what of the past century's music will be remembered a hundred years from now, but it's certain that classical's got a pretty good track record for endurance.

    Karen -- Thanks for your support of classical music.

    Diana -- I tend to get on kicks like that too. And I keep a broad spectrum of music in my collection. Then there's alway internet radio that has a never ending variety of music.

    Jemi-- You're right. If it wasn't appealing to listeners somewhere it would disappear. I think classical's here to stay.

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  15. I do like classic, however, for listening purposes I'll add pop, country, and rock to the mix. Quite often our symphony will play with a pop artist, and the mix is fantastic.

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  16. Lynn -- Here in L.A. many pop artists do concerts with the L.A.Symphony or other orchestras. Frequently they are at the Hollywood Bowl with an accompanying fireworks show. I've never gone to any of these but it would be pretty cool.

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  17. Lee - I adore all the music you have on your player - it's the "pop" of classical and I don't consider myself a "snob" just a died in the wool lover of classical music. :) It's music that has stood the test of time.

    Loved when you wrote, " Let me frame this argument another way. Which of the following are better if rated by quality: William Shakespeare or People magazine? A low budget film with bad acting or a respected film by a great director? McDonald's or a Wolfgang Puck restaurant? A painting by Rembrandt or a velvet elvis?" - Oh, did I get a good laugh out of that!

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  18. Paula -- Thank you and I with you in how I feel about classical. I don't denigrate anyone for a different standard of quality. I am entertained by a velvet Elvis and I eat at and enjoy McDonald's more than is good for me, but I have to put it all in a realistic perspective of what each thing is and its value to humanity.

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Lee