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Thread: Classical influences in popular music

  1. #16
    Member Mayerl's Avatar
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    Thank you, Yagan Kiely, it's way past time that due credit was given to George Martin, and not just for the Classical influences found in Beatles music.
    Without him --- well who knows?

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    Member kiwipolish's Avatar
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    Classical influences found in Beatles music.
    The Beatles are classical music. When visiting a few music CD shops worldwide, I saw them classified under "Classical". Admittedly, these shops had no (or very little) music older than the Beatles'.

    Quotations of earlier music or use of earlier styles had always occurred and will always be occurring, because this is what music is about. Some musicians like to give sometimes a touch of "old" in order to sound interesting or to prove that they know their classics. That happens in any type of music.

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    Beatles classical?

    King Crimson or The Doors are much more classical than beatles, they are just hippies

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    There are many people who are entirely unaware of any distinction between the terms "classic" and "Classical". The filing of Beatles records under "Classical" is a clear example. People watch Classic FM TV and expect Classical music; they will usually be disappointed.
    Prog Rock may have generated some long and quite scintillating pieces - ones that spring to mind are "Supper's Ready" by Genesis, "Lizard" by King Crimson, "Echoes" by Pink Floyd, "Passion Play" by Jethro Tull, "The Gates Of Delirium" by Yes, and "Eruption" by Focus - but they are not organised in a Classical manner. Plus, many of us have heard pieces of flashy, pretentious, shallow, overblown widdling that sounds a bit like something by Bach, who didn't write Classical music. Very sad.
    BUT there is one piece that I know of that comes close: King Crimson's "Starless" on the "Red" album. It loosely conforms to sonata form. Rather than straining for effect, it achieves an intensity, a kind of bleak majesty, that is exceptional in the rock idiom. It does this by means of a roughly Classical way of using its themes.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
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    Member kiwipolish's Avatar
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    The truth is that the English language (as French or Italian, to my knowledge) lack a proper term to describe accurately what most of us mean by "classical music".

    In Polish (which I happen to speak as well), there is a great expression: muzyka powazna, which means "serious music". That's what we should be using in English, and it would avoid any misunderstandings.

  6. #21
    Member Mayerl's Avatar
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    Couldn't agree more, Kiwipolish. Over the last few years, particularly since the advent of Classic FM in the UK, the words classic and classical have been subjected to serious misuse and abuse.
    I tend to use the word "serious" instead of classical, but just to play Devil's Advocate, it could be said that most "composers" of any age were perfectly serious when they put pen to paper, whatever the end result may have sounded like. The word is however, a more acceptable alternative.

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    I personally find the term "serious music" ridiculous. I mean, classical music can be lighthearted too, sometimes even humorous - most symphonies afterall have a "joke" movement (scherzos don't need to be lighthearted or humorous but often are, as the name scherzo implies). Mozart actually made a composition he called "A Musical Joke" and Haydn was known for his musical humor as well. And on the other hand, popular music (widely understood) can be deadly serious at times.

    However I must admit that the other alternatives aren't much better. Classical music is very confusing term - it can be music from the classical era, it can mean music from baroque, classical plus romantic era, it can even include modernism there. Probably someone even uses it to refer to "classics" of music, in which case they would probably include some popular music and exclude some normally understood as "classical" music.

    The term "(western) art music" is pretty bad too since it would imply that popular music (in the wide sense again) cannot be art. I find that kind of thinking arrogant, elitist and simply false.
    Last edited by Dim7; Jun-24-2009 at 23:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwipolish View Post
    In Polish (which I happen to speak as well), there is a great expression: muzyka powazna, which means "serious music". That's what we should be using in English, and it would avoid any misunderstandings.
    Absolutely. But it offends our sense of class independence here in the united states. After all, some idiot who knows three chords is serious too, and equally so because he's equal and free and stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yagan Kiely View Post
    A large amount of the classical influence on the Beatles was due to their producer George martin who was himself classically trained.
    Could we end this myth please. I respect George Martin but as George Martin has manhy times the Beatles were the greatest songwriters ever. Yes at the start George Martin influenced them to think classically but not when it came to Classical Indian and Avant Music. The only reason there is strings on "Yesterday" is because George Martin noticed "Yesterday" sounded classical at first. There are so many songs that have classical influence that George Martin had nothing to with like "For No One", "Martha My Dear", Blackbird", and "Because".

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    As someone who has crossed back and forth and now straddles the classical and pop divide, I'm particularly interested in artists of today that show a real understanding of classical music in their rock and pop output. Not surprisingly you find these are at least part classically trained.

    Rufus Wainwright is the first name that comes to mind. Sophisticated melodic lines, all kinds of classical pastiches and homages in his songs. It's well-known that Verdi is his musical hero. He's the essential artist if you want to explore classically-tinged pop music. His latest offering, premiered this year at the Manchester Festival was a 19th century-style French opera.

    Perhaps lesser known but with a huge cult following, is Sufjan Stevens. His varied output combines folk and pop with meticulous arrangements of strings, horns, background vocals. Great polyphony on some tracks. His Illinois CD is endlessly inventive and richly rewarding. His next work is his first almost-classical piece, due out in October.

    As with Rufus Wainwright's opera, I don't think Sufjan's first classical effort will rock the classical world in the slightest, but in both cases, these are talented multi-faceted composers, seemingly too artistic for mainstream rock and pop.
    Last edited by Alexander; Sep-22-2009 at 00:26.

  11. #26
    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Surely, the majority of pop music is influenced by classical music in some way, in that most music in the charts is built on the foundations of diatonic harmony and melody-dominated homophony. But both the terms 'classical' and 'pop' are very vague.

    The most obvoius influence of classical is in stuff like Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker and other neo-classical shredders who basically played Bach licks on distorted guitars. I find this kind of thing very cheesy.

    As people have said a lot of the prog rock bands consisted of musicians from classically trained backgrounds and many of them releases purely classical work as solo artists. E.g. Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe from Yes. But many prog bands were equally influenced by jazz and folk, like Soft Machine, Caravan, Jethro Tull and loads of the Canterbury bands.

    Frank Zappa is a good example of someone mixed a lot of influences into his work and he composed some proper classical work as well. He was heavily influenced by Varese and his rhythmic experimentations alongside Stravinsky. I do like FZ but I'd would have liked it if he wrote more instrumental pieces, a la Hot Rats, over his comedy rock stuff. I remember hearing he did a version of Ravel's Bolero as well.

    I disagree with notion of classical music being referred to as 'serious music'. It's no more serious than any other form of music. There may be less outright crap music in the classical realm than the pop, but its no more serious or higher art. Actually, I struggle to think of any great composer with no good works whereas I can think of plenty of big bands that I pretty much hate like Keane, Linkin Park and a host of others.

  12. #27
    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dim7 View Post
    I personally find the term "serious music" ridiculous. I mean, classical music can be lighthearted too, sometimes even humorous - most symphonies after all have a "joke" movement (scherzos don't need to be lighthearted or humorous but often are, as the name scherzo implies). Mozart actually made a composition he called "A Musical Joke" and Haydn was known for his musical humor as well. And on the other hand, popular music (widely understood) can be deadly serious at times.

    However I must admit that the other alternatives aren't much better. Classical music is very confusing term - it can be music from the classical era, it can mean music from baroque, classical plus romantic era, it can even include modernism there. Probably someone even uses it to refer to "classics" of music, in which case they would probably include some popular music and exclude some normally understood as "classical" music.

    The term "(western) art music" is pretty bad too since it would imply that popular music (in the wide sense again) cannot be art. I find that kind of thinking arrogant, elitist and simply false.
    I guess you wouldn't call it "serious" music, then. How about "actual" music? That's basically the difference between Marc Andre Hamelin and Gene Simmons.
    "Your mathematics are correct, but your physics are abominable..." Einstein

  13. #28
    Junior Member Herr Direktor's Avatar
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    Simply put - there would be no "rock" or "popular" music today without Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, et al. Surely the Beatles were greatly influenced by classical music, as were many other bands.

    Since the Beatles have been discussed to death in this topic, how about we all give a listen to the Symphonic Music of Yes. Great stuff.

    http://www.amazon.com/Symphonic-Musi...6354783&sr=8-1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RADx0BHoipw

    HD

  14. #29
    Super Moderator jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herr Direktor View Post
    Simply put - there would be no "rock" or "popular" music today without Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, et al. Surely the Beatles were greatly influenced by classical music, as were many other bands.
    Although some Beatles and post-Beatles music would have been different without classical music, there would have been rock music anyway. Rock is influenced/based on the blues, black gospel, r&b (not the schlock that is called r&b today of course) and even country music which have little (if anything) to do with classical music.

    And although classical music no doubt has had a major influence on some rock music (especially prog-rock) - if one accepts that folk music was the pop music of old one can also argue that "pop" has influenced classical since so many composers have integrated folk tunes into their compositions.

  15. #30
    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Although some Beatles and post-Beatles music would have been different without classical music, there would have been rock music anyway. Rock is influenced/based on the blues, black gospel, r&b (not the schlock that is called r&b today of course) and even country music which have little (if anything) to do with classical music.
    Blues, black gospel, r&b and country music especially wouldn't have been what they are today without the golden years. It's just a fact. Classical music also wouldn't be quite the same if it weren't for the folk music of the Greeks (especially the Greeks), Hebrews, Egyptians, Moors (early Islam people who conquered Spain and introduced many stringed instruments and several trademark concepts of Spanish music), Spaniards, Dutch, and Russians.

    We wouldn't even have much of an idea of a universal scale, a mode system, chord progressions, chromaticism, and compositional elements without classical music. Just because it sounds different upon a first hearing, and archaic in a bad way (in my opinion), it doesn't mean that current pop music doesn't owe it's sense of form, compositional methods (things as simple as dynamic shifts) to it's predecessors (and superiors).
    "Your mathematics are correct, but your physics are abominable..." Einstein

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