Is classical music relevant to the rock music we listen to today?

August 20, 2006 7 Comments
rock music
hayley asked:

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7 Comments to “Is classical music relevant to the rock music we listen to today?”
  1. Well, quite frankly, unless one is vehemently close-minded, one should have the ability to apply all music principals on all musics.

    What I mean to say is yes, your education will help you. Without a hair of a doubt.

  2. Miriam H says:

    I could say very cynically that because the general public doesn’t have very much music knowledge and gets fed music with extremely simplistic structure actually *knowing* much about music is a disadvantage to you… but I’d hate to believe that true. It’d be very depressing.

    Listen to some progressive rock, like Yes in the 70′s. You’ll hear the influence of symphonic music.

    Anything can give you inspiration for what you want to do. If you want to write music, you should listen to a wide variety of styles because even if you don’t want to write in whatever style, you may find something you like and can build upon.

  3. sept0988 says:

    An understanding of classical music will help you get a long way in realizing how rock, pop, alternative, and even some R&B and hip-hop music.

    In a nutshell, older classical music that is primarily Western (more or less meaning Europe, or at least not Asia) has paved the way for newer music in terms of chord structures, rhythm ideas, and overall form of style.

    A perfect example- Mozart used the idea of different sections in his music, like the A section, or B section, etc. Today’s rock music uses exactly the same idea of this, where there is an intro, a verse, then a chorus, a bridge, and a recapitulation of the chorus.

    It’s extremely complex how this all works, and it really makes more sense if you take a music history course.

    To answer your second question, if your music program professors are smart enough to bring you outside of studying composers from only the Baroque and classical eras, then you should be in good hands in terms of understanding how earlier music has evolved over time, bringing the same basic concepts with it as it goes along.

    Sorry this is such a long answer, but I hope it helps.

  4. Doc Watson says:

    Is it really relevant to today’s rock music? Not really.

    And here is the reasons why:

    Damn near anyone can pick up a guitar, learn three cords, and ‘write’ and ‘play’ rock music. It really doesn’t take all that much skill to do so. And all you have to do to write pop lyrics is have enough song-writing skills to rhyme ‘love’ with ‘dove’.

    However, let’s say you want to write a fully orchestrated concerto, learning three cords on a guitar won’t get you very far. Try learning how to write and score music for 80 separate instruments, learning counter-point, half-notes, etc.

    However, a truly gifted musician and composer who can write and understand a broad spectrum of music can create a rather unique rock sound and take rock to a higher level. Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, ELO, Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield, etc. have done so.

    But the general rock buying public isn’t interested in intelligent, original music and profound lyrics. If they were Leonard Cohen and John Cage would easily out-sell the Jonus Brothers and NIN.

    I’m not a snub. I’m being honest here. There is nothing wrong with either genre and I get as much enjoyment from listening to David Bowie as I do Beethoven. I also am a big fan of intelligent, poetic lyrics (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, etc.) and still, other times, I like to be rocked to the soul by Counting Crows or Rush or ZZ Top.

    The point is, unless you want to try to take basic three-cord rock to a higher level (like out-doing ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’) then there’s little reason for you to spend a lot of time learning the skill levels required to play or compose classical music. You have to decide if you want your music to make people want to actually think or make them want to boogie down. It’s kind of hard to do both on the basic level of pop and rock.

  5. Sky H says:

    Honestly, it is not relevant.

    If all you want to do is to compose rock music, what you need is a guitar and a big amp. Some chemical substances are known to help too.

    However, there is a chance your school program will open your mind to different -and better- music. So I’d say yes, apply for the program -with a little luck you will NOT end up composing rock music.

  6. Ted F says:

    Oh my god yes. Now, not saying that you will be using the Bach-Chorale style to write metal music, but classical music invented the chord structures found in modern music (such as the “root, 6, 4, 5″ chord progression that’s found in almost every doo-wop song ever written). Besides that, Classical music (especially Bach with his fugues) made popular the harmonic minor scale that is frequently used by Major metal artists such as Iron Maiden (The Tale of the Lost Mariner), Steve Vai (Speed Metal Symphony), Extreme (Play With Me), and especially Yngwie Malmsteen; Malmsteen’s “I Am A Viking” basically pays tribute to that scale. Some things, however, come from beyond the realm of classical music. The blue note (the augmented 4th/diminished 5th) was NEVER EVER used in Classical music (with a few exceptions) because baroque and classical composers thought it to be a “satanic” note, if you will. So, if you want to apply what you learned in classical training, think about this: Bach on speed, acid, and coke. Keep in mind the minor scales and modes used in classical harmony, but throw the principles of proximity and the rules of parallelism out the window. Like I Said before, listen to Yngwie Malmsteen’s “I Am A Viking” off his album “Marching Out” to get a start. Hope this helped!

  7. goesslry says:

    The answer is most definitely yes. Classical music is the basis for all music we here today. Take rock music for example: Your basic rock or pop song is composed of a verse, then refrain, verse, refrain, bridge/modulation, refrain. This is pure music theory. By studying the music theory behind this simple formula, you will understand why the chords work the way they work, why they sound the way they do, and where the music can lead you. You can also learn alternative progressions, rather than just the standard I-IV-V-I progression.

    On top of this, by knowing music theory, you will be able to look at any piece of music and be able to analyze it. For example, you will be able to tell where the bridge is by a quick glance, what the song sounds like, and also be able to easily find mistakes.

    All the good rock, alternative and other popular musicians have a good sense of classical music. I know of many who have, or currently study classical music, and classical voice training, including Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper, Christina Aguilera, and Billie Joe Armstrong (Lead for Green Day). They have spoken numerous times about the value of knowing about classical music and theory.

    Also, by knowing about music theory and they historical progression of music, you will be able to further explore in your compositions to provide for unique compositions that can define you on a higher level, rather than just the standard “norm” in the current music scenes.

    Hope this helps.

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