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Thread: Is this classical music? Why or why not?

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    Question Is this classical music? Why or why not?

    Hello, i barely joined this forum and i have had something bother me for the past couple of days. I really enjoy listening to folk metal and melodic death metal. I know metal has a ton of genres and it took me a while to find the genre that i like. When i really started to get into music i always knew i had a taste for classical music, but i didn't know anything about it. I tried listening to some stuff on the radio, but it just wasn't something i enjoyed. A couple of days ago i was talking to an online friend and she told me about a band she liked, and i was like "wow...this is amazing." It was exactly what i've been searching for.

    http://www.myspace.com/nachtreich

    It's pretty obvious to me that they have classical influences, but what kind of music would it be categorized as? Is it classical music? I asked on yahoo answers and they said it wasn't but didn't give me an explanation of what genre it is. The third song on the list i know has some guitar riffs in it, but the other 3, what kind of music are they? Does classical music have sub-genres just like heavy metal? I'm pretty sure a lot of you know about music, so hopefully you guys can help me out, thank you .

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    Senior Member Herzeleide's Avatar
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    It's not classical, and wouldn't be performed by contemporary classical music ensembles such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta etc. Don't be fooled by the instrumentation. It's really more like folk.

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Smells like cheese.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I wouldn't not call it classical per se, but it's definitely influenced by classical music. In fact, it's my opinion that tracks 1, 2 and 4 sound very classical. What's that you say...it sounds like folk? Well, maybe a little. Simple tunes, ostinato piano accompaniment. OK. But Brahm's Hungarian Dances and Bartok's Romanian Dances are considered classical, but have very obvious folk influence!

    The third track has an electic guitar. The presence of that instrument alone will prevent it from ever being considered classical. I wonder why that is. The Ondes martinot, Theremin and keyboard have been used in "classical" music from Varese to Messiaen to Stockhausen. These are electric instruments too. Yet the afore-mentioned are "classical" composers. Something, I guess, about the electric guitar that is a deal breaker.

    So, I dunno. It's not classical music, at least in the "traditional" sense. But I wouldn't dismiss it completely. And by the way, I'm not saying that I like this...I actually found it to be dull for my tastes.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Herzeleide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    I wouldn't not call it classical per se, but it's definitely influenced by classical music. In fact, it's my opinion that tracks 1, 2 and 4 sound very classical.
    No they don't. They're harmonically and motivically static. The second one for example, consists of one idea repeated a few times over, then another idea repeated a few times over, then another idea repeated a few times over etc. ad nauseam.

    Once again, please do not be fooled by the instrumentation. The music sounds nothing like common-practice-period classical music, nor Early or Modern music.

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    This definitely is NOT classical music. Nowhere near it.

    These pieces aren't even close to classical. There's no motivic development, really no rhythmic structure, and most importantly it is just dull and rather lifeless.

    Like someone mentioned above, this would NEVER be played in a symphony hall and if it was I would demand my money back, because this is just terrible.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    It's pretty and I enjoy it a lot. But I wouldn't call it classical. Classical has - as mentioned above - motivic development, that is, the composer puts forth an idea, maybe presents it a couple of times, and then works it this way and that, turns it upside down, or inside out, or puts it in new keys or plays a different idea against it, etc. In other words gives it a thorough work out.

    Now a piece doesn't have to do all that to be good, but it has to do that to be classical usually (Ravel's Bolero and Pachelbel's Canon nothwithstanding)..

    I would almost categorize the pieces as post-rock or even (shudder) new age, but not nearly as cheesy as new age. In many ways they remind me of soundtrack music, but on a chamber scale rather than an orchestral scale.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    The third track has an electic guitar. The presence of that instrument alone will prevent it from ever being considered classical. I wonder why that is. The Ondes martinot, Theremin and keyboard have been used in "classical" music from Varese to Messiaen to Stockhausen. These are electric instruments too. Yet the afore-mentioned are "classical" composers. Something, I guess, about the electric guitar that is a deal breaker.
    It's becasue we don't often think outside the box. The electric guitar is one of the most expressive instruments ever invented. I know many will cringe on reading this, but it's true! So why not use it for classical - aside from the very real problem of volume? But that could be easily solved by just turning the thing down from 11 to 1, and sacrificing feedback effects perhaps.

    I saw Terry Riley play a piano concerto he had just written (this was, I don't know 7 years ago maybe) with the Paul Drescher Electro-Acoustic Enemble accompanying. As I recall there was some electric guitar involved in some of the pieces presented. It was quite an event I can tell you! Anyway - few would argue that Terry Riley isn't a classical composer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    It's becasue we don't often think outside the box. The electric guitar is one of the most expressive instruments ever invented. I know many will cringe on reading this, but it's true! So why not use it for classical - aside from the very real problem of volume? But that could be easily solved by just turning the thing down from 11 to 1, and sacrificing feedback effects perhaps.
    Thank you Weston for this post! I couldn't agree more.

    Being a guitarist myself and have been for around 19 years, I truly think the electric guitar is one of the most controversial instruments in music.

    The electric guitar can be used in classical music. Just as long as you don't hit the distortion pedal, then it becomes a totally different element altogether, BUT you can use effects like delay and reverb to give more body to the electric guitar's tone.

    There are all kinds of reverbs that can be used like hall, church, room, plate settings which give it a different kind of ambience. Reverb and delay help give the guitar more sustain.

    As far as volume, I use a volume pedal to control the volume instead of wearing out the knobs on my guitar. You can also use the volume pedal to create volume swells and get a really cool violin, cello, and synth type of attack and add this with some hall reverb and a repeating delay and you have a recipe for a thing of beauty.

    Modern classical music should use the electric guitar more, however I think the guitarist needs to leave the distortion pedal at home.

    I mostly work in a small group setting like a quintet or quartet, but if I become a composer of more larger scale works, then I would incorporate the electric guitar into the composition, but in a very subtle way.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTech82 View Post
    This definitely is NOT classical music. Nowhere near it.

    These pieces aren't even close to classical. There's no motivic development, really no rhythmic structure, and most importantly it is just dull and rather lifeless.

    Like someone mentioned above, this would NEVER be played in a symphony hall and if it was I would demand my money back, because this is just terrible.
    "Dull and lifeless" should not disqualify it from being classical. I agree that this Nachtreich music is dull and lifeless, but that should not be the thing that disqualifies it. There's a a lot of dull and lifeless Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chopin, but these composers' "classical credentials" are never in question! So it goes...

    No motivic development? I'll buy that. But where is the motivic development in Glass or Adams? One could argue that minimalist classical composers have little to none of that, yet they are, yes, "classical." And Cage...now tell me, where is the motivic development in most of Cage? But how many in here would defend him as a true classical composer till the end? I'd bet a lot. So that doesn't really seem to matter.

    I disgaree on the "no rhythmic structure" comment. All music has some type of rhythmic strcuture. But just because it's an ostinato/repeated rhythym, it doens't mean its' structureless. Just, um, repetitive, as most rock music (and a lot of classical) is wont to be.

    I agree that it would likely never be peformed by an honest-to-goodness classical ensemble because it is rather lousy music...but hell...Schonberg is performed, as is Stockhausen, so why not?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    "Dull and lifeless" should not disqualify it from being classical. I agree that this Nachtreich music is dull and lifeless, but that should not be the thing that disqualifies it. There's a a lot of dull and lifeless Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chopin, but these composers' "classical credentials" are never in question! So it goes...

    No motivic development? I'll buy that. But where is the motivic development in Glass or Adams? One could argue that minimalist classical composers have little to none of that, yet they are, yes, "classical." And Cage...now tell me, where is the motivic development in most of Cage? But how many in here would defend him as a true classical composer till the end? I'd bet a lot. So that doesn't really seem to matter.

    I disgaree on the "no rhythmic structure" comment. All music has some type of rhythmic strcuture. But just because it's an ostinato/repeated rhythym, it doens't mean its' structureless. Just, um, repetitive, as most rock music (and a lot of classical) is wont to be.

    I agree that it would likely never be peformed by an honest-to-goodness classical ensemble because it is rather lousy music...but hell...Schonberg is performed, as is Stockhausen, so why not?

    What matters is acknowledging classical music from non-classical music, which is what this poster has asked of us, in which I happily answered his question.

    Drop the whole Schoenberg and Cage argument that's a dead horse that I don't feel like reviving, because both of us are on the same page with that topic and it's not wise to hijack this guy's thread, because of some stupid argument that does nothing but bring people and what they like down.

    Getting back to this guy's question, this is NOT classical, because for starters of the way the piece is arranged and the lack of motivic development within the piece.

    By the way, dull, boring, and lifeless were just my opinions and should only be taken that way. They were not meant to flare up some kind of half-cocked argument from you, Tapkaara. There's plenty of dull and boring pieces and Sibelius has done plenty of them as have pretty much all classical composers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    The third track has an elect[r]ic guitar. The presence of that instrument alone will prevent it from ever being considered classical. I wonder why that is?
    But it isn't. Even if you don't include people like Keith Rowe and Francisco Lopez (to name only two out of dozens), there still remains several pieces by Alfred Schnittke with electric guitar in them. And Andre Previn's Guitar Concerto has parts for electric guitar and electric bass.

    I don't see how the distortion pedal could be a disqualifier, either. Or why the volume would need to be turned down. (I guess I'm coming up, again, against definitions of "classical music" that don't correspond with my experience of this multi-genre'd beast!) I do agree, though, that what the original poster posted wasn't "classical," not because I hated it--I did--but because it has a distinctly pop sound to it. New age. Easy listening.

    Glass and Reich may not have "motivic development," but their music has a seriousness of purpose that the fairly superficial music in the clip does not have.

    (I hate everything I've written about why this isn't classical, by the way, but it's late, and I spend all day as it is listening to, thinking about, and writing about music. These forums are a sort of busman's holiday for me. I think it may just come down to a sense. An expert in any field gets a feel for what is spurious and what is genuine, a sense that might be difficult to define satisfactorily, but is real nevertheless.)

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Jtech said: "By the way, dull, boring, and lifeless were just my opinions and should only be taken that way. They were not meant to flare up some kind of half-cocked argument from you, Tapkaara. There's plenty of dull and boring pieces and Sibelius has done plenty of them as have pretty much all classical composers. "

    Not trying to flare up any arguments, but it's true, "dull, boring, lifeless" can be said about a lot of music (classical, rock, pop, R&B, whatever) and most composers/writers are not immune to the occasional flop. I would say Sibelius never wrote anything boring, but I am waaaay too biased when it comes to him, so that should be noted!

    Some Guy said: "Glass and Reich may not have "motivic development," but their music has a seriousness of purpose that the fairly superficial music in the clip does not have. "

    I would agree. I like Glass quite a bit, as I do Adams. Reich I am less familar with, but I like what I have heard. Indeed, within the Minimalist idiom, "motivic development" is not usually an outstanding feature. And that's OK. That's why it is Minimalism and not Classicism. It's a different school of thought, and thus serves a different purpose musically. I know a lot of folks do not like Glass and Adams because the say it's too repetitive. Well, duh! But again, you are right, Some Guy. Good minimalist music can survive and be worthy of being called "good" if it is done with taste, true artistry and sense of purpose, regardless of whether of not it contains "motivic development." These are qualities, I'm afraid, these music clips lack.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Herzeleide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    I don't see how the distortion pedal could be a disqualifier, either. Or why the volume would need to be turned down. (I guess I'm coming up, again, against definitions of "classical music" that don't correspond with my experience of this multi-genre'd beast!) I do agree, though, that what the original poster posted wasn't "classical," not because I hated it--I did--but because it has a distinctly pop sound to it. New age. Easy listening.
    Nail + head.

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    Senior Member Herzeleide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    I agree that this Nachtreich music is dull and lifeless, but that should not be the thing that disqualifies it. There's a a lot of dull and lifeless Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chopin, but these composers' "classical credentials" are never in question!
    Ahem. Please do not compare the likes of Schubert, Mendelssohn and Chopin with such rubbish as 'Nachtreich'! Even at their worse their music is 100 times more interesting.

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