What exactly characterizes classical music?

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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Nonamel » Thu Nov 21, 2002 10:47 pm

A writer once described how he lost his life to Classical Music.<BR>The Anonymous writer wrote<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR> "The Beginning, the Middle, the End,<BR>they bring and tell yet don't forgive me; the greed has come I see, the chances are gone that were given to me; I fall into darkness as if 'twere a sea, yet softly plays the melody<BR> Ohh, that sweet soft melody... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P> he claimed that his obsessions with Classical Music took away his life, and that he would have had it no other way. In it's very essence, Classical music is that.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby priya978 » Fri Nov 22, 2002 11:52 pm

That probably has something to do with a lot, or a few, composers ended up going crazy.<BR>Who was this person anyway?
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby brickroot » Sun Nov 24, 2002 6:35 pm

Who cares if it's considered "Classical" or not? I do not believe that entire college courses are devoted to determining this-that is quite ridiculous actually.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby sean10700 » Wed Dec 18, 2002 1:29 pm

Old topic - but it keeps popping every day for various reasons ... with all that's written in this thread about what is and what isn't considered classical, and the book definitions, and the generally accepted principles that define what is considered classical, why give in and play requests that by your very definitions aren't classical? I've come to use the term "Classical Lite" to define a certain number of pieces played each day on b.com. Don't get me wrong - I love the station, and what it stands for. I turn on b.com in the morning before I even think about checking e-mail. Even before coffee!<P>At the very least, certain requests should be restricted by a "play no more than once every 30 days" or something. Certain requests should be refused altogether in the interest of keeping your broadcast pure. Certainly any other classical music station does that, though they don't have the "request" issue to deal with.<P>I imagine most listeners of b.com love the variety - one gets exposed to virtually every corner of the classical music world in a typical day. I disagree with the notion that because there's overwhelming support for playing bagpipes, CC, John Williams, etc. that all those genres must be played. Isn't beethoven.com a classical music station? :confused:
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby OperaTenor » Wed Dec 18, 2002 1:56 pm

"At the very least, certain requests should be restricted by a "play no more than once every 30 days" or something. Certain requests should be refused altogether in the interest of keeping your broadcast pure. Certainly any other classical music station does that, though they don't have the "request" issue to deal with."<P> <P> :p<p>[ 12-18-2002: Message edited by: JimB ]
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby EricMichaels » Wed Dec 18, 2002 3:16 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by sean10700:<BR><STRONG>...why give in and play requests that by your very definitions aren't classical? <P>...Certain requests should be refused altogether in the interest of keeping your broadcast pure. Certainly any other classical music station does that, though they don't have the "request" issue to deal with. </STRONG><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Ah, but we're not just any other classical station...<P>This is a lovely discussion (in the eight different places it's cropped up on the board), and everyone's doing a fine job arguing both sides, but I wanted to address one of your common points, Sean:<BR>You assume that the only reason we play some of these pieces that depart from the classical canon is that we get requests for them. That's not the only reason. If we really didn't think that a particular piece fit the image of the station, we wouldn't play it. We want Charlotte, Bocelli, Bond, Hector the Hero, the Canadian Brass, symphonic rock, etc. on the station because it defines us as "Classical Music Without The Attitude."<BR>If we felt the least bit guilty about departing from the norm, we wouldn't have Film at 11, the 2:00 and Saturday Matinees, or Nicole's Four Play. We would have never tried the 5 O'Clock Rock or Classical Comedy. Bending the rules makes us different, and the majority of our listeners find the difference refreshing.<BR>Individual instances of these departures are by request, but their appearance on the station in the first place is by design.<P> :D
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Rustle » Wed Dec 18, 2002 3:47 pm

Hmmm Interesting topic. I'm not sure who said it, maybe Dave C., but the idea that Classical music is not as dependant upon melody as pop music is. I would have to argue against that... Mozart could produce great melodies in his sleep, but his accompaniments aren't much to shake a stick at. Isn't he a classical composer? Of course not many can create melodies like he did, but melody was truly the strong point of his music. <P>Also... classical music must be written down... planned from beginning to end? What if, just what if we could go back to Bach's time and listen to him improvise a fugue. What would we be listening to? Jazz? I guess I was under the impression that music is the sound we hear, not the little dots on the page. The little dots guide the performers to produce the sounds that the composer intended, but the actual music lives in the moment it is performed. Dots or not, music is music.<P>One more point... unless my musicology profs were wrong, weren't many of the classics we enjoy today originally "pop-esque"? I recall stories of Liszt throwing his gloves to an audience of screaming/fainting young ladies, Oratorios/operas being performed to a house of talking/drinking/card-playing folks, major composers premiering their works in coffee houses... And now we hold on to these works as gems of the repertoire, when it seems they were intended for popular enjoyment. <P>I know, I know, the bulk of what we call classical was written for the concert hall or for the church. I just see flaws in the defining-classical-music logic and have to throw in my 2 cents.<P>So, I'm curious B.com staff, what genre would you each define the music of John Cage? Why? How about Frank Zappa? Or Geroge Gershwin? I'm sure you can see where I'm headed... I don't really have a firm opinion on the definition of what classical music is. I'm also not trying to grill you guys. I'm just curious. <P>My final thought. (Phew) Maybe it would be easier to define music by how good we think it is. I think that's what a few of us here were getting at. Music with depth. Something you listen to 150 times and still find new things to like about it. That's why Beethoven is the man, and Anderson is not. One could argue all day whether or not Anderson is really classical music, but the fact is that he's fun to listen to. If you heard a work of his 150 times, you just might scream. Anyway... there's some pop music that I find rather great composing, and some classical music that just plain stinks. Maybe we should move the focus to what is good music, rather than try to draw a line in the sea. <P>So there you have it. My thoughts. If nothing else to add more confusion to an already confusing topic.<P>R
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Bones » Wed Dec 18, 2002 4:05 pm

To paraphrase a quote from a former Supreme Court Justice (who was referring to pornography)...<P>Classical Music? I can't give a good definition, but I know it when I hear it.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby OperaTenor » Wed Dec 18, 2002 4:57 pm

Boy Sean, did you ever open the proverbial can of worms! :p
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby shostakovich » Wed Dec 18, 2002 5:25 pm

The problem with defining classical music (or music, or art) is that the definition (if it were ever established) would change in time.<P>One restrictive definition is "music of the classical period in Europe (1750??-1825??)". Then there's music in classical form or style (symphony, concerto, quartet, etc). And there's also music that lasts (Brandenburgs, Don Giovanni, the Eroica, The Planets, Christmas carols?? --- gag!!, etc).<P>Let me attempt a "current rule of thumb" (subject to periodic change) that incorporates the 3 meanings of "classic". <P>Classical music is written to be performed indefinitely, sounding the same each time. (This eliminates most, if not all, pop, rock, folk, etc, which is not always written, and is almost always PERFORMER-ORIENTED). It must survive its creator, and be documented (by publisher or recording --- since CDs are forever) TODAY. <P>Using this rule of thumb, Leroy Anderson's music is classical. John Rutter's is not (but likely will be). Eric, when you play music of Korngold, it's classical, but music of Elfman is not.<P>The above rule is pretty good ( :) :cool: ) for determining what is or is not "classical". It is not meant to be a deterrant to enjoying any piece of music. It's just good to be able to distinguish what you are listening to.<BR>Shos<P>PS: Donna, this should make you very happy.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby audiogirl » Wed Dec 18, 2002 5:29 pm

Eric, if I may paraphrase Billy Joel: Don't go changin' to try and please (us).....<P>B.com is imperfectly perfect.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Nicole Marie » Thu Dec 19, 2002 1:16 pm

Hey Rustle!<P>Actually classical music (in the beginning) was not completely written down. Composers would give an idea, wrote in some notes and left it up to the musicians to fill in the blanks. Also many of today's contemporary composers still write in that style. There are also examples from Mahler and a few others who left some sections of their compositions open to interpretation. Even solo sections in pieces like violin concertos etc. the soloist is asked to add in there own flavor. Classical music is not always set in stone.<P>As for Sean's posting right before Eric's. Some of the points I made out in my original post are my own personal opinions. For example my statement, "they are not called classical, it's classical crossover. Where they've crossed over is another story." That's my opinion but what we do at Beethoven is something a little different. <P>We play all styles of classical music. Bach, Mozart, Glass, film music, we also play artists like Bocelli, Il Giardino Armonico, LSO, Church etc. We play it all I guess is the best way of saying it. But yes we do stay on the fun and up side of classical music. But we still are classical music, just because we don't play every single Goldberg Variation doesn't make us non-classical. I'll go to bat any day over that one.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby barfle » Thu Dec 19, 2002 1:58 pm

Rustle, when you say classical music must be written down, I might refer you to Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto. The second movement has very little written down - it appears to be intended for improvisation.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Rustle » Thu Dec 19, 2002 2:14 pm

Hi Nicole. Yes, I agree, music doesn't need to be written down. I just read what I wrote yesterday, and it does seem that I'm saying otherwise. Sorry. I was trying to make a point that hearing a Bach improvised fugue IS classical, and therefore classical music need not be notated. This contrary to Dave C when he wrote<P>"the main thing that distinguishes western classical music from other styles of music is the fact that classical music is notated; it exists in "hard-copy" somewhere as a score that lives independent of the composer and can be given life at any time by the interpretation of musicians."<P>My point with Gershwin is that he is crossover composer. He mixes jazz with the symphony. Do we cosider American in Paris classical or crossover classical? I know, comparing American in Paris with a Bond arrangement is apples and oranges, but I believe they were both created for the same purpose... to sell to the average listeners. Just something to ponder... Anyway... this gets to my whole point that maybe we should focus on whether music is good artistic composition or not. We can debate all day whether or not the dances from Bernstein's On the Town are classical music or not, but who cares, they're good music. <P>Personally, I really appreciate your station. You play the meat and potatoes of the classical rep, AND are not afraid to play the fun stuff. (as the classical stations WITH attitude are) Granted, I may never study how Leroy Anderson makes use of secondary dominants, I certainly enjoy Sleigh Ride every now and again. Bravo to you and all of B.com. <P>R
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Nicole Marie » Thu Dec 19, 2002 2:42 pm

Rustle - Gottcha! It's all coming clear now. And I have to agree with you on your last posting, thanks for the support!
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby shostakovich » Thu Dec 19, 2002 8:36 pm

Hey, guys. My rule of thumb (too bad there's no icon for "breaks arm patting self on back") makes things sooooo clear. Improvisation is not classical. For instance, while Mozart was free to create cadenzas (and hence had to be alive) for his concerti the music was not "classical". (It REALLY wasn't because the later musicologists who defined "classical period" and "classical style" were a long way from being born.) When Beethoven wrote down some cadenzas for Mozart concerti the concerti were "classical" but the cadenzas were not. Now, when the concerti are performed including SOME written cadenza by a dead guy, they are classical. See, no problem. ;) <BR>Shos<P>PS: Rustle, it's not possible to hear a Bach improvised fugue.
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby Rustle » Fri Dec 20, 2002 10:29 am

Shos, interesting rule of thumb. I've got to admire it's precision. Hopefully I've got this right: "Classical" music is classical when it is concrete. It's notated. It should be performed the same each time. It's like a book as opposed to a story made up on the spot. I can respect that. <P>And yes, I realize that we can't hear Bach improvise a fugue. He's dead. There are organists today talented enough to improvise a fugue, but I used the hypothetical Bach example to make a stronger point. I assumed most would agree that hearing Bach would be hearing "classical" music, regardless of whether there was music in front of him. <P>I still feel that it doesn't need to be notated to fit in my personal definition of what classical music is. But hey, that's just me.<P>Just for fun... How many notes would one have to miss in a performance of Bach's first Cello Suite before it stops being Bach's first Cello Suite? <P>R
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Dec 20, 2002 2:54 pm

Shos, is that your personal qualification, or is it a standard yardstick? I haven't heard that distinction before, but it does make sense, albeit maybe a little rigid.<P>Then of course, to parallel Rustle's question, How is the listener to know, if they have no other reference, whether the music is notated or improvised?<P>As inviting as the logic of your definition is, I'm stickin' with my earlier (broader) definition. It's my personal feeling on the subject, and I have nothing to base it on. :) :D
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby shostakovich » Fri Dec 20, 2002 9:46 pm

Hi Rustle and Jim. I just created the rule to fit the 3 meanings of the word "classical" (or "classic"). It works for me, but I don't expect any text-books to be revised because of it. By my rule, a listener would have to know whether what he/she is hearing was precisely notated (by a dead guy) or not. He/she would not need to know that to enjoy it.<P>As for Bach cello suites, I have no comment. They bring bad memories. My wife and I used to play bridge with another couple. They usually had on some music at their house. Great! Till one day they played the cello suites one after another. My nerves were shattered. With due respect for the great Bach, the more notes missed the better. I can't listen to them without getting unnerved.<BR>Shos<p>[ 12-20-2002: Message edited by: shostakovich ]
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Re: What exactly characterizes classical music?

Postby OperaTenor » Mon Dec 23, 2002 6:46 pm

You know, Shos, while we're on the subject of Bach (I know I'm gonna get nailed for saying this), with a few very noteworthy exceptions, most of his work sounds to me like the musical equivalent of long division. Perhaps I don't have the patience for it, but Lord knows I've tried. Large doses tend to leave my nerves a bit raw as well. :p
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