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We have a similar station to CFM in Toronto. It's mission is to help it's listeners "unwind, de-stress and chill out", or some such drivel.

The interesting thing is how limiting that objective is: they wind up playing the same pieces over and over. For instance, lots of Vivaldi, but only the four seasons. Lots of Saint-Saens, but nothing as strenuous as the Organ Symphony. Instead, rondo capriccioso every day. You get my drift.

Whether classical music is exciting or relaxing is like how you listen to or play the Goldberg Variations. Did poor insomniac Mr. Goldberg listen to the music in the hopes of being lulled to sleep? There are some fairly soporific performances that subscribe to that view. Or did he listen for the fun of unravelling each variation? ("I'm up anyway so I may as well try to figure this music out?") Sure enough, lots of performances out there that delight in the wit, sparkle and fun of Bach's genius.

Unfortunately, I think what gets lost when the radio stations adopt "the most relaxing music in the world" angle, is the idea that most classical music is just plain fun, even when dramatic or angst ridden.
 

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Never met anyone that liked classical music who wanted to be relaxed by it.
We’re doing a documentary about why classical music isn’t popular for school and we did random interviews on the streets. It seems most people that listen to CM do it because it relaxes them for sleep or studying
 

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Whether classical music is exciting or relaxing is like how you listen to or play the Goldberg Variations. Did poor insomniac Mr. Goldberg listen to the music in the hopes of being lulled to sleep? There are some fairly soporific performances that subscribe to that view. Or did he listen for the fun of unravelling each variation?
Goldberg would have been the keyboard player, not the insomniac. The whole story is highly dubious (Goldberg was only about 15 and it seems more likely that one point of the Goldbergs might have been to serve as a virtuoso demonstration piece for Wilhelm Friedemann, most likely all this was secondary, though) but even if there is a relation to the insomnia there is an alternative reading that the music was not to put the count to sleep but to entertain him while he was awake anyway.
 

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We’re doing a documentary about why classical music isn’t popular for school and we did random interviews on the streets. It seems most people that listen to CM do it because it relaxes them for sleep or studying
Are the CM enthusiasts listening to it because it's relaxing, or is that the casual listeners?
 

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If relaxation leads to lethargy and sleep, I wonder if any composer actually wrote his/her music in order to "relax" someone. Classical music, especially, I suggest, is full of tensions and surprises: modulations, cross-currents, pauses, dynamic changes .... The list goes on.
Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is relaxing, of course. Or is it? Maybe that opening movement has a quiet, ruminative nature, but there are delightful tension causers throughout. And, importantly, the first movement was never meant to stand alone. What follows that Adagio sostenuto is anything but relaxing music.
Classical music is generally based upon contrasts. Even as someone suggests that second movements tend to be "relaxing" we realize that they are but a part of the larger whole, and a part of the contrast. Few, if any, relaxing second movements are free of their tension elements.
In any case, I, for one, do not turn to classical music for purposes of seeking a state of lethargy or sleep. My wife once remarked that much of the music I listen to tends to be "noisy". Indeed, I prefer music, and my art in general, to be a spur to emotional and intellectual reaction. I don't attend the theatre in order to fall asleep, I don't promenade through art museums with any fear that I might collapse in a fit of sheer somnolence, and I certainly don't listen to music seeking to deny those forces of life which make living so exuberant. Heavy metal rock music tends to bore me. I suspect that it would well serve to put me to sleep, though I've never prescribed it to myself as a sleep agent. And there remains a certain Iron Maiden album I purchased years ago which I have never been able to listen to completely through, sides A and B. I recall my first listen took me into about the middle of track 2 on side A before I became totally frustrated by the crappiness of what I was hearing that I halted the record in mid-play, and every so often (every several years or so) I take down that disc and pop it onto my turntable, convinced that it could not have been as bad as I remember it being those previous times when I attempted a hearing. But, to date, I have never been disappointed about the accuracy of my initial judgment, nor have I yet managed to listen to the entire disc through once. I suspect I will continue on this mission, but I now wonder: if I do ever get to the end of the Iron Maiden album in a single listening session, will I still be awake when the needle hits the runout groove?
With classical music I have no such concern. It's music to stay awake with, no matter what the instrumentation, the tempo, the dynamics, or the "relaxation" level.
 

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How do you define “relaxing”? Is background music at a cocktail party relaxing? Some composers wrote music for essentially that purpose. Unwinding after a stressful day? I can do that to some classical music - it mostly depends on the instrument(s) I am listening to, some classical guitar works for example (or some hornless jazz).
 

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"John Brunning presents our brand new programme - two hours of relaxing classics to help you wind-down at the end of each day."

"un-wind "

"Annie-Marie Minhall presents the perfect blend of classical music to make your weekend a relaxing one."


etc etc etc...

I'm sick of Classic FM, and how it has shoved a flippin' great syringe in to the heart of Classical music's image and sucked out of all the passion, vigour, bombast, fireworks, dazzling virtuosity and thunderous power.

There 's always that poxy woman, the one with the really annoying "smiling while talking" voice constantly wittering on about "relaxing and unwinding" with the world's most "beautiful music".

They could have focussed on the great dramatic power, the profound nature of much of the music, the darkness, the light, the endless nuances, the incredible complexity, vibrancy, the awe inspiring genius behind the greatest compositions.

But no.

It's about how "relaxing" it is.

What they are saying is they think that your brain is too small to buy in to all the passion and the huge emotional scale of classical music, so we're going to concentrate our marketing on the bits that will put you in to a stupor, or help you "clear out your mind" while doing your homework.

The best music stirs the soul. It doesn't give it a blanket and hot water bottle.

(BTW - hello!)
ClassicFM is certainly irritating, but as others have said, some people do find some CM relaxing to listen to.
 
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