Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 70

Thread: How Do We Define "Classical"

  1. #1
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,491
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default How Do We Define "Classical"

    I brought this issue up on another classical music site relative to the "non-classical" music we were listening to. Among my collection of music I have folk songs arranged by Vaughan-Williams, compositions by Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven, Bartok, etc... inspired by... or based upon folk music and dances. I have medieval music that in many ways might be defined as "folk music". And then I have music such as Balinese Gamelan, Indian Ragas, Japanese Shakuhachi, etc... Do we define these as "classical"? If so... what makes them different from Celtic Music or the other folk musics of Europe or traditional Bluegrass... or even Jazz, pre-corporate Rock, Gospel, Blues... or Some Guy's beloved techno-"noise"? What make Satie or Gerschwin "classical" and not Ellington? And if Ellington IS "classical", why not Elvis or Frank Sinatra?

    This should lead to some interesting discussion... if not debate.:lol2:

  2. #2
    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    1,002
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    16

    Default

    Classical is composed by individuals. It does not change. It is considered art and a higher form of expression than pure entertainment.

    Folk music can composed by more than one person. It can change, be played in different arrangements. It's purpose is entertainment and cultural identity.

    Short answer: Classical = Art, Other music = entertainment.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

  3. #3
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,481
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    This was discussed milion times before.

    Anyway:

    I would define classical music as spine of European musical culture. Classical music is not music from 100, 200, 300 years ago, it's music that evolved from tradition, tradition that begins with early music (renaissance, baroque) and hopefully will continue as long as people (or world, I can imagine classical music continued by mosquitoes, chinchillas or rabbits) will exist.

    So what makes classical music classical is coming straight from tradition which adopted all the best things about European music - instruments, kinds of ensambles, musical forms and structures, philosophies and aesthetics.

    The spine grow into new moss all the time (what a metaphor, gentlemen!), so it's often difficult (or impossible) to tell if the new thing belongs to classical music or not while it sprouts. Maybe it's sad, maybe it's unjust, but we can tell it for sure after generation passes away.

    In Ravel's and Debussy's times people were not certain if they are classical composers. Now we can tell it for sure. It depends on whether new thing will became part of this long-bearded tradition or not, if the classical genre will absorb, accept and digest it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dmg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    535
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    But I am entertained by Beethoven, and I see a GWAR performance as art...

    Formerly, I'd see anything that cannot be classified as anything else as 'Classical'. If it does not fit in:

    • Jazz
    • Ragtime
    • Folk
    • Avante Garde
    • Rock & Roll
    • Blues
    • Swing
    • Anything else


    ...then it was Classical.

    Now, I don't know necessarily that music can be lumped into definite classifications, period. When symphonies can be composed with electronic trance influence, or concertos composed with jazz influence, or rock concerts performed with full orchestras, where do we draw the line? I could take a rock song & arrange it into a chamber music or orchestral setting. Is it still rock?

    I sometimes read people on this message board define 'film music' as a genre, yet film music can be beautifully orchestrated, or it can be rock & roll, jazz, swing, electronic, or any mixture of the above.

    Sometimes I wonder if there's some sort of human instinct to lump everything into solid categories (music, race, clouds, etc.) and if that instinct is a boon or a bane...

  5. #5
    some guy
    Guest

    Default

    I know how beloved St's strawmen are, but how he even found the straw to make up "Some Guy's beloved techno-'noise'" is beyond me.

    It's true that some of the music I listen to is referred to descriptively (i.e., not derogatorily) as "noise."

    But none of the music I listen to could by any stretch be called "techno." Just not something I like at all. Might as well have said "Some Guy's beloved country-western 'avant garde'".

    Otherwise, this discussion will generate quite a lot of heat, I'm sure, just what we need in these cold summer months, but very little light. And any light will be quickly extinguished, I'm sure. But let's just see....

    First of all, especially for those who have this vision of the slow and steady progression of "classical music" from ancient times, when was the term "classical music" first coined? (Extra credit: where was in coined? and, since this board is conducted mostly in English, when did the term get to England?)

    Second, for those who inevitably bring up the "Classical Era" in conversations of this sort, what were Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven called by their contemporaries?

    Third, which kinds of music that we call "classical" today were not considered classical when the term was first coined?

    And fourth, for those who are only interested in what the word means (can be made to mean) today, what is the cost, intellectually and philosophically, of retrofitting various musics written before the term was coined to be "classical"?

    Otomo Yoshihide has very little in common with Josquin de Prez, but more with him than with Justin Timberlake. I wonder, however, if anyone but a record producer or a music store would have any real need to have a category which covers both Otomo and Josquin but excludes Justin. A need beyond having heated arguments, that is.

    For real heat, I would think the "good" and "bad" categories would be much more productive!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Mancunia
    Posts
    1,725
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    For real heat, I would think the "good" and "bad" categories would be much more productive!!


    Short answer: Anything that features Will Smith a.k.a The Fresh Prince = good music
    Anything that doesn't feature Will Smith = bad music.

    But none of the music I listen to could by any stretch be called "techno
    You love the hardcore Belgian techno scene.

    Check it out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQJRwqk6cvs

    Now what's the difference between eRikm and that?


  7. #7
    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    6,928
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    It's really a spectrum, but we have to try to categorize in order to communicate.

    For me classical music may have certain attributes that do not necessarily define it, but the more of these attributes it has, the closer to classical a piece is on the spectrum. For instance:

    1. It is often (but certainly not always) played with piano, bowed strings, and a few other acoustic instruments. I hasten to add that I get angry at people who hear a violin and assume it must be classical however. Likewise synthesizer does not equate to pop. These are merely vague rules of thumb.

    2. A strong beat may be slightly less important in classical than in other genres, hence drums (or percussive-like sounds if the piece is electronic) are used as accents rather than as the backbone of a piece.

    3. Overall form or structure may be more important in classical and also the clever manipulation of form and structure whereas other genres may have simpler structures to quickly get the idea across.

    4. It is more often a direct descendant of the Western music tradition begun with Gregorian chants or maybe even descended from the Greek and Roman traditions.

    5. It is often more than 100 years old - or if it is less than 100 years old it is not aiming for mass market appeal.

    etc, etc. I'm sure you can think of a number of other attributes. So the more of these attributes present the more firmly on the side of classical I would categorize a piece. The dividing line is often arbitrary even in my own collection, where I put Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto into my classical lists, but Emerson, Lake and Palmer are not. Wendy Carlos gets ranked among the classical composers but Vangelis does not, though both have made fine electronic soundtracks.

  8. #8
    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Ohio, USA
    Posts
    3,787
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    168

    Default

    I agree to all said so far. It really is about style.

    The opposite of "classical" I would call "popular," because it doesn't have the same lasting impression on many generations the way "classical" does. Sure, there is "classic pop," that is, popular music that becomes classic, but then that would be differentiated from classical music by its style.
    "Music is an art, and art is forever. Music should not succumb to fashion, which is passing and forgotten."
    Glazunov


    Join TC's Official Russian Composer Fanclub!

    Oh, and, here's my professional website!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Il Seraglio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Durham, UK
    Posts
    404
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Elgar View Post
    Classical is composed by individuals. It does not change. It is considered art and a higher form of expression than pure entertainment.

    Folk music can composed by more than one person. It can change, be played in different arrangements. It's purpose is entertainment and cultural identity.

    Short answer: Classical = Art, Other music = entertainment.
    What about Brahms and Schumann's collaborations? You'd be hard-pressed to call that folk music.

  10. #10
    some guy
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    You love the hardcore Belgian techno scene.

    Check it out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQJRwqk6cvs

    Now what's the difference between eRikm and that?

    You can't be serious. How much eRikm have you heard? (Do you really find any of his stuff even remotely like that Belgian techno???)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWXyLRT81-o

  11. #11
    Senior Member Grosse Fugue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester,UK/Memphis, Tn USA
    Posts
    172
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    I agree to all said so far. It really is about style.

    The opposite of "classical" I would call "popular," because it doesn't have the same lasting impression on many generations the way "classical" does. Sure, there is "classic pop," that is, popular music that becomes classic, but then that would be differentiated from classical music by its style.
    Remember that classical used to be "popular" Peasants would hum the arias of Puccini. To me the style of music discussed here is Western music (but not always by western artists or composers)that is in a certain tradition. We can draw a line with developments in Baroque taken into "classical" and beyond, with further developments and reactions along the way.

    Also I would say to a certain extent classical is whatever it is understood that a person means when they say classical. Usage decided meaning I would say.

    There are classical traditions in other cultures but when most people, even outside the West, say 'classical' they mean Bach and Beethoven and the rest of them. We are getting into a very technical area. For the most part we all know what is meant by the statement,"Bellini was a classical composer who is now decomposing."


    I can't believe I made that joke on a classical music forum

  12. #12
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,491
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    Short answer: Classical = Art, Other music = entertainment

    From what I have gleaned, a great deal of what we define as "classical music" was intended primarily as entertainment. But by being entertainment we do not exclude the possibility of something also being art. Shakespeare, by all accounts, was quite entertaining... and popular enough as an entertainer to retire quite wealthy. The Magic Flute is eminently entertaining... does that make it lesser art?

  13. #13
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,491
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    I would define classical music as spine of European musical culture.

    So Indian music, Japanese music, Gamelan, etc... are not "classical music"... perhaps mere "ethnic music"? And those composers who break from the European tradition? Wouldn't that include Schoenberg, Berg, Cage, Glass, Murail, etc... as well as Ellington... perhaps in some ways more than Ellington? So we must wait to see what the European tradition... if such survives... accepts of the music of the last 100 years? But then again... isn't something like American Bluegrass deeply rooted in music from the British Isles... or are we suggesting that only some of the European tradition counts as "classical"? So how do we clearly define that?

  14. #14
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,491
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    For real heat, I would think the "good" and "bad" categories would be much more productive!!

    But hasn't Argus and others (I hesitate to say yourself) suggested that there is no "good" nor "bad" ("but thinking makes it so"?)

  15. #15
    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    7,491
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default

    I agree to all said so far. It really is about style.

    The opposite of "classical" I would call "popular," because it doesn't have the same lasting impression on many generations the way "classical" does. Sure, there is "classic pop," that is, popular music that becomes classic, but then that would be differentiated from classical music by its style.


    How do you define that "style". There is a world of difference between Perotin, Mozart, Wagner, Schoenberg, Gerschwin, Penderecki, Philip Glass, and Osvaldo Golijov. If we suggest that we can only define something as "classical" music if it survives... (How long exactly? Elvis, Duke Ellington and hank Williams still resonate with an audience that is probably quite a bit larger than the audience for Gesualdo or Monteverdi)... are you then suggesting that Philip Glass, John Cage, Penderecki, Ligeti, etc... do not qualify as "classical" composers?

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •