TED Conversations

Steven Truong


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Why is it that classical music is now ignored by the majority of society?

Sure, classical music still exists and is still evolving with new compositions. However, this perennial genre of music has been evidently on the decline with the rise of other types of music that is unfortunately promoted over classical music. I understand that with new generations come new tastes due to media and pop culture, but classical music has been preserved prominently from the Baroque period (1600s) well into the Contemporary and Late Romantic era (late 1800s- 1970s ish). I feel as though classical music should be integrated into education (it is in orchestra, choir, band etc) as a core subject as art is necessary along with athletics to foster a well balanced student. Unfortunately, this antiquated music is left behind and I am afraid that it will one day vanish as the number of composers are dwindling. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Aug 2 2013: Classical music has NEVER been popular. Just because a piece has strings and woodwinds and is 100 years old does not make it classical. The pop music from the 19th century has been forgotten. The pop music from the 20th century hasn't yet, because the people who listened to it are still alive.

    That being said, I think what you are talking about has to do with the rise of the working class. Less educated people with less sophisticated tastes have more power in society at large, and greater power to influence culture. 200 years ago the upper class set the standards for artistic taste. We now live in a society where the lower classes (and youth especially) make these determinations.
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      Aug 3 2013: I read your comment and I thought someone opened a window because I felt a breath of fresh air.
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    Jul 22 2013: Mostly the lost interest in classical music has to do with women. Specifically younger women. I do not mean this in a sexist point of view either. I'm just saying that us younger guys are trying to meet these attractive women and if you pull up in your car bumping classical music the women will laugh at you. Also, have you seen the way women dance at clubs? Women run shit, and there will be no classical music at dance clubs lmao! So the trend goes on and music will be faded into history. I love classical in the car though, always will. Thanks for the question
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      Jul 24 2013: "Dude !" You are like totally dating the wrong girls. I've met some of the smokinest chicks at the library. Try going to the opera someday, all those slinky dresses, yazzooo dude. More cleavage than a cheer leader convention, and only mildly buzzed on cabernet instead of Jaegermeister shots. Believe it or not, I have scored at the library, and the symphony more than any drunken loud nightclub, "no joke". besides the chicks you meet there actually won't make you want to kill yourself the minute they open their mouth. Chicks with brains are sexy as hell. That's all there is to it. If you like your women loud, rowdy, drunk and passed out when you get them back to the boudoir. Keep clubbing. If you want real ecstasy, and romance with a live breathing coherent "wooooooman". Dig the Symphony, or the opera. I'm telling you man. Listen to me. prepare for a wild ride. My advice, Go for the cello players, they rock. Just keep this quiet I don't want you amateurs stealing my secrets : )
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        Jul 24 2013: Your secret is out Peter!!!
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          Jul 24 2013: I have so many secrets. Which one are we talking about. I swear I didn't have anything to do with it.
          I was home at the time watching TED talks : ) "You'll never pin this one on me copa!"

          I hope I haven't offended to many people. I was just getting started.

          Please excuse me if I,ve said anything that upset you. It's only partly a joke. There are a lot of hot chicks at the opera. I was just trying to help the poor suffering kid. Laugh with me mary. I mean no harm, and i'm really not that bad hahahaha." I'm harmless as a butterfly.
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        Jul 25 2013: I thought your reply, as well as Juan's were all in good fun.

        You haven't offended anyone Peter, at least I hope not.

        Not everyone understand humorous comments.......but I think I do. :)

        And look at this nickel knowledge I found online:

        "Butterflies may cause generalized pruriginous skin lesions of an urticarial or oedematous type (Quincke's oedema), sometimes accompanied by conjunctivitis. This is the more scientific way of saying butterflies may give you a rash. It's not life threatening, but it would be painful and unpleasant to experience."

        Hexapodas are not as harmless as I thought.......I have just undergone a paradigm shift in my view of butterflies. :)
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          Jul 25 2013: (Quincke's oedema) ??? Holly frijoles, that doesn't sound good at all! Now i'm afraid to go out of the house. I thought I looked up weird stuff, oh man. Now when your in your garden you'll be all paranoid, poison butterflies, next it will be (lachanophobia)that's fear of vegetables: (
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        Jul 25 2013: oooooh.....beware of the big tomatoe.....LOL

        Have a great day Peter!!!
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      Jul 31 2013: "I'm just saying that us younger guys are trying to meet these attractive women and if you pull up in your car bumping classical music the women will laugh at you. "

      However, if you take a woman to a "fine" Restaurant and they're booming techno or Justin B, she might rethink your judgement in restaurants...and her taste in dates.
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    Aug 3 2013: I'm sorry, but surely you must realize that the proper way (the unbiased way) to ask this question is to say: "Is classical music now ignored by the majority of society?" Because unless you've spoken with the majority of society, you don't know that it is. Anyone coming across your conversation has to assume that classical music is ignored by the majority of society before they can narrow themselves into the confines of your question. That's my thought on this.
    • Aug 10 2013: Yeah, it sure is a common mistake we all make from time to time.

      This kind of common error happens to be quite general.
      We'd never find out unless someone with keen obsevation corrects it for us.
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        Aug 11 2013: Your reply almost makes it sound like you are, in part, suggesting I was being a keen observer. No one has ever suggested I'm keen in any way, and either way one would be mistaken.

        Nor do I think it is about being a keen observer, which would take too time and talent, but about getting into the habit of checking the premises of all questions and un-asking the question if necessary. What does the question presuppose? What does it assume?

        For someone like me, who has trouble answering a lot of questions, this is a habit I happily formed.
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    Jul 23 2013: (Ok, brace yourself, major generalization coming :D)

    Look at current music scene, you have people like Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj... these people are current 'Kings and Queens' of this industry. These folks are talentless and clueless but they are given praise and a LOT of money by industry controllers. I think as each generation passes we Human Beings are becoming dumber and tasteless-
    "Why is it that classical music is now ignored by the majority of society?"
    Because majority of society is stupid.
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      Jul 25 2013: Do you know how many people HATE JB, lil W, gaga and nicki??? Everyone know they are shit but just because of some reasons their music is widely spread so they are at the top now.

      JB is primarily because he is a talented kid but now is a major douche and its only young teen girls that like him.
      Lil Wayne is famous because he is a douche too.
      gaga is famous because she is unique and weird.
      nicki is just BS.

      Its crazy how mainstream music is shit. Everyone is suddently soo stupid.
  • Aug 16 2013: To realize why classical music is being replaced by the more urban genres we have to first realize what intrigued or rather attracted people to classical music in the first place. It is known that music relates to life and life to music, so you'd obviously like the mode of music that you can (or you think you can) relate to. But then what happens is commercialization... music was never about a string of symmetrical melodies it was much more- it was passion toil etc. etc. But nowadays passion, toil and all such emotions of altruism and stuff don't ring a bell... It is more about outlook and style.

    And lets be fair with it.. classical music is complicated. And when it comes to the opinion of the youngsters.. It would be a rare finding to see a youngster or adolescent go to attend a classical function by their own free -will, unless bribed for the same (or even reprimanded otherwise).

    Well here's a link to what i read on The Huffington Post- http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/alexander-rankine/classical-music-young-people_b_2921810.html?just_reloaded=1
    Maybe this help. Cheers!
    • Aug 16 2013: Absolutely informative, Arijit, thanks for that article!
      I found it most poignant, that the writer said teens are sheep, and that they don't listen to classical music, because their peers don't.
      Although the majority is probably so, I simply can't imagine that ALL teens are incapable of individual thought and taste. Yesterday, I heard about a 24-year-old classical harpist, Remy van Kesteren, who just won the USA International Harp Competition. I was also happy to read this article in the Telegraph about 'Why Young People Still Care About Classical Music':
      I wonder, with the current pre-fab, artificial, pop-music culture, that young people are getting hungry for a musical counter-movement, taking them back to the roots of music - dynamics, acoustics, authenticity.
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        Aug 16 2013: "I wonder, with the current pre-fab, artificial, pop-music culture, that young people are getting hungry for a musical counter-movement, taking them back to the roots of music - dynamics, acoustics, authenticity. "

        Let's hope in some ways it does Lizanne...........how ya doin?

        Your comment brought to mind one of your very first TED convo's...remember?

        Although I, like many on here, enjoy classical music, the pop culture goes for what's in style....and what's in style, is a reflection of society as a whole.......what I notice is that as we get older we appreciate the finer things in life.............i.e "classical music". Of course, this is just my opinion, and my observations from my community.

        Other fine things in life..........family, friendships, wine, quiet time LOL

        Yesterday I heard an NPR show on why beer is slowly decreasing in it's popularity in America.
        The person being interviewed mentioned that as Americans get older, they go for the "fine" things in life.........wine being one of them. And what goes better with classical music, than a nice glass of wine?

        Oh, and a bubble bath.....

        http://magdalenaponsort.wordpress.com (15 dec.)
        • Aug 16 2013: Doin' great, Mary! (Kids just started school, daughter just turned 7, husband has a rotary cuff tear... busy busy busy!)
          Indeed, that conversation seems so long ago now - did you ever get an answer to your letter?

          What classical music needs, is to get 'back in style'. It seems to me to be associated with stuffy tweed-jacket-with-corduroy-elbow-pads-wearing intellectuals or high-society, when there is nothing stuffy about it! According to this, Classical music can be sexy!
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        Aug 16 2013: YUP....some even seem to think that classical music is only for white people.....go figure.....

        That link you provided is superb.
        Boy, it would have been nice to sit in THAT audience!!

        School starts on Monday here.....we are all ready to go.....spent the week buying school supplies.

        Oh, and that reminds me, there is a teacher I know who plays classical music to the kids who have to stay after school in detention (elementary kids)......I don't know what to make of that.......I've never asked him if he does it to give the kids culture, or to torture them......I've always given him the benefit of the doubt.

        Classical music is really beautiful......I hope anyone reading through this conversation will be inspired to listen more to it.

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    Aug 1 2013: I think buy-in-large people often look at music as a way to express themselves. That's why music is an identity of a generation, so when the new generation come, they will try to separate with the old, set in motion the "any where but here" notion. That means the music quality is the least of what matter.
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      Aug 3 2013: Might your cousin be the Cheshire cat?
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        Aug 3 2013: May be...Is it also a cat, then it is my cousin :)))))))
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          Aug 3 2013: oqu3hneroij;'GL/KASDFGL;KJN;ADFGoanl;dsfgn
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          Aug 3 2013: My cat, Odin, just wrote that to test you. We both want to know if what you are saying is true.... a Jellicle cat should understand that....
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        Aug 3 2013: :)))) I'm sorry :)) I saw him around, but I didn't know his name :)))
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          Aug 3 2013: Jellicle is the third name that all cats have that only cats know...
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        Aug 3 2013: And I'm also obsess about cats, just not as quite powerful as you are :)))))))))))
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          Aug 3 2013: It's based on a book of poems by T.S. Eliot that someone decided to turn into a musical rater than create something entirely new...
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        Aug 3 2013: are you upsetting because I don't recognize Cheshire? ;)))) we cat lover can be unusual from time to time, :))) I like it.
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          Aug 3 2013: Cheshire!?!?! Really, the cat from Alice and the Adventures in Wonderland?
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          Aug 3 2013: My cat's name is Odin, do you recognize that? My dogs names' are Buster and Marven but I didn't name either of them so I don't know where their names come from or what they mean.
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        Aug 3 2013: Great! but how is that explain the unpopularity of classical music among the world population, I mean it isn't quite as popular as pop music.
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          Aug 3 2013: Give me one statistic that proves that definitively.
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        Aug 3 2013: I am a cat soul that trap in human form, nurture by human so human is all I know. But I am a cat nonetheless. :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
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          Aug 3 2013: I literally just discovered it only lets me thumbs-up a comment once.
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        Aug 3 2013: If you focus you can see the distinctive mood from each famous song in this example changing over a period of time. You can see the circle that some time repeat as confident -> naive -> misterious -> and so on....which the point is the evolution of girl choosing their identity to differentiate themselves from the earlier generation, to create variety in order to prove they are a worthy mate, the later generation seem to be more interesting compare to the old ones until the circle start again.
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        Aug 3 2013: People listen to music because they enjoy it, some time, it is because your friend is also listen to it, it's how people socialize. And in order to socialize efficiently, they have to create a unique identity to prove their uniqueness. Simply put, a rapper won't listen to classical music, and classical-er won't do the reverse thing. Some time it's not about the quality of the music.
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        Aug 3 2013: What i mean is, it's great to be wise and able to understand the greatness of classical music, but showing that you do not having the same interest with your class mate, it decrease the chance of you making any friend at all for being boring and accused of being a old class woman.
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        Aug 3 2013: I MEAN SOME PEOPLE LOVE HARD CORE RAP MUSIC!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!!! AND RAP MUSIC IS .....STUPID!!!!! and not having realize the greatness of classical music is just making rap all that much better than any thing else!!! And they won't know it until they try it, and I won't likely to listen to most of the rap music any time soon. For being a classical music lover, wouldn't you agree that make you feel more intellectual just to doing the simple task of listen to a recorded piece of music?
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        Aug 3 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOZb7KeJUQ8 History of Western Music in 16 Genres, each and every has its own uniqueness, see the point I am trying to make here?
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    Jul 31 2013: Hi Steven.

    I think this may be helpful to your topic:
    (Listen especially from about 4:20 - 6:30 min)
    .......a lot to do with media overload
  • Jul 26 2013: Steven, you should read the book This Is Your Brain on Music. It does a fair job of explaining why most people don't like classical. The gist of it is that classical music is very complex, and most people don't like things (music, movies, books, whatever) that are either too complex or too simplistic. Children have a hard time appreciating classical music because their brains are not equipped to deal with its complexity. Conversely music that is made for children tends to annoy adults because it's too simple.

    Note that just because I'm conceding that classical music is more complex doesn't mean I think it's superior. I think if you choose your music based on its technical merit, you're entirely missing the point. Music should be about feeling. I'm not a classical fan myself.
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      Aug 3 2013: Ever read "Musicophilia" (sp?) by Oliver Sacks? He has a TED talk I haven't seen yet, but it's not on that, I don't think. Still, I've read most of his books and that one is pretty insightful.
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      Aug 3 2013: Lee It's a well documented fact that babies do like certain classical compositions. It has been discovered that the music that approximates the heartbeat of babies soothes them. something to do with the sound of their mother's heartbeat while baby was in the womb. Also if a youngster is exposed to classical music from the womb onwards they grow to appreciate it during their life.
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    Jul 21 2013: I couldn't agree more with you Steven. Classical music is one of our best tools for balance and harmony. Ben Zander's words live with me every day and I took the vow he spoke of that day when I watched his talkin 2008. Here is another gem for your collection;
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    Jul 20 2013: becasue the world is going in the hole, white trash attracts white trash, this generation dont listen to the baby boomers, its the kids problem when they grow up fo rnot listening.
    • Jul 21 2013: World going down a hole seems a little bit "sky is falling" to be honest. Okay, what's the worst case scenario if every 10-20 year old today never actively searched for classic music anytime in their life?

      Seriously, what's the worst that could happen?

      I'm intrigued what is the problem these 'kids' will have if they don't listen?

      I think you're overstating the negative consequences that will happen if classical music becomes even less popular.
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    Jul 20 2013: Well~ There are plenty of reasons why general public have ignored classical music. But more precise words is, they couldn't receive opportunities to hear and meet classical music.

    First of all, we are exposed to hear pop or another funnier programs more than encounter classical music by media. People want to see making them pleasant or sensational scenes. That's also why movie directors tends to produce their movie violent, sexual, bloody. Furthermore other genres promote their strengths by programs which use the shapes of competitions(E.g. American Got talent), dramas(E.g. american drama,'Glee'), movies, even some variety programs.
    My point is, it's really hard to find attractive points from the classical music. People are easily receive their culture from their surroundings, especially from the media. I think this is the first problem we should solve.

    And second, people include me think that classical music is only for the royal class. To be a specialist of classical music, for example the instruments of horn, cello, etc, is actually not easy to be. To achieve that high level of this classical music, they needs a lot of incidentals and because of that, tickets for a performance should be high prices. It means only people who is so called 'royal class' can go there.

    In short worlds, accessibility is the main reason why people ignore that.
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      Jul 22 2013: Your comment made me stop and think things over. I don't think it's about accessibility. That's close, though. It's about timing. It takes time to develop an appreciation. Over the course of that time you have to make effort in the form of active listening, as another commentator pointed out.

      As this commentator, meaning me, not that other commentator, pointed out, we live in a quick-fix, instant-gratification, short-attention span world. Like Abstract art or Victorian novels, whatever takes time has to compete with all the things you yourself pointed out that don't take time, or, in other words, are more accessible time-wise, meaning x amount of effort during y amount of time equals z amount of enjoyment or appreciation.

      In a physical sense, with libraries and the internet, its more accessible, historically speaking, to expose oneself to classical music. An individual isn't being raised on a farm and walking to a one room school house and doing their lessons with chalk on slate. You said, "There are plenty of reasons why (the) general public have ignored classical music" but I think the excuse that general public would give me (or at least those that don't cop to not caring for it and not wanting to care for it) is "they couldn't receive opportunities to hear and meet classical music.'
  • Jul 20 2013: My opinion is that classical music is too complex for people to play or listen to.Also there are a greater number of music genres since those earlier centuries where orchestrated music thrived.We have become accustomed to simple patterns and melodies which are more pleasing for us to hear and play.As a guitar and violin player myself,I equally enjoy all types of music.Bach is harder to play than a three chord Elvis song but each are pleasant to listen to for me.
  • Jul 19 2013: Great question. I honestly, don't konw I still go to NPR to listen to some classical music, but maybe it is because many schools no longer have a music program thus the exposure to Classical music was deleted. You are holding a guitar, find a way to bring it back in the background while playing a unique tune. You could be the change the world is looking for.
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    Jul 18 2013: It is not taught in our schools as a process through history, but as an elective by choice. So sad!!
    • Jul 21 2013: Okay, pretend I'm the head of the board of education. Make your case for why classical music should be compulsory at high schools? and merits favour over the study of pop music, jazz, hip hop, dance, art history, film history, drama and stand up comedy history
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        Jul 21 2013: The history of music is not a mandatory in educating our children is what I have stated. I have not stated that it should, until now. It is usually an elective course study. Music and the arts should/could be taught outside just the creative box. It, in my opinion, is a teaching of the soul of mankind from the classical and be bop to the hip hop. The emotion of music brought down through evolution is a highly regarded ability and a profitable career choice for a few. Rap came from one tap of a drum in it's early beginnings. One note leads to another. While rhythm can not be taught to some, the beat should still be heard. Without Tribal beats and Chopin there may not have ever been a Tupac. Creative arts should be a mandatory course of study in my opinion, or as you say, compulsory to our children today.
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        Jul 21 2013: All children deserve an education in our musical tradition, and CM is obviously a large part of that. No need to "favour" CM over other forms, but since it's so central to our music a child will have a lifetime of joy from being taught how to understand and appreciate it.
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    Jul 17 2013: The first thought that came to my mind: because they haven't watched Benjamin Zander!

    But upon further analysis:

    1. Kids view classical music as old stuff. Perhaps listening to classical is sort of like going to an art museum and not as engaging as pop music, which they can dance and sing along to.

    2. A lot of the magic from classical comes from the instrument. The feeling of striking keys or strumming isn't necessarily available to everyone. Even if you could afford one, it might not be on your list up with gas and groceries.

    3. It's sort of hard to engage in a conversation about classical music without being very knowledgeable.

    Possible conversation:
    Me: I play piano.
    Joe: Oh I play piano too!
    Me: Cool! What's your favorite piece?
    Joe: Uh it's the one that goes dun dun dun ba dum. Nocturne Opus. (hmmm) Number (idk). But I know it's by Chopin!
    Me: Way to be specific about the piece... (walks away)

    4. Many people simply haven't discovered it. Their exposure is limited to Fur Elise and the Nutcracker.

    Just some reasons. Makes me sad writing this being a enthusiast myself.
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      Jul 17 2013: I totally agree with you on how its become old simply due to limited exposure to each coming generation, its just unfortunate that such a quintessential part of culture is being left in the dust.
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    Aug 16 2013: probably for reasons similar to why the classics and other great works of fiction only take up a small sections of major books store chains....but I can understand the appeal for entertainment in the realm of fiction

    What I can't abide is this - In a B&N not long ago I counted the shelves, comparing the philosophy section to religion and new age mumbo jumbo, and the ratio was something like 1 to 12, with the pseudo-spiritual nonsense winning by a mile...I see no reason for this to change....
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      Aug 16 2013: Peter, just today we were discussing a wonderful outing to an estate that is opening it's doors to the public over the weekend for free entrance.

      Everyone who we mentioned the outing to, kind of begged off from attending.
      And we came to the conclusion that most people today want to be entertained.

      They want to sit and enjoy someone else doing the work to entertain them.....even if they have to pay.
      They do not want to walk around and learn anything from the past....they want to move forward....
      It takes effort to entertain oneself with cultural pursuits (museums, exhibits. classic works of
      literature, etc).......this is kind of sad......if you think about it.

      Let's hope that those of us who appreciate things like classical music, continue to freely share these wonderful experiences with others.
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    Aug 12 2013: Classical is so sublime that it is barely noticeable in the pace of modern society, but it is everywhere. Where ever you go you can still find a classical station on the radio. These days orchestras and symphonies get most of their work from those giant mega multi national production studios and elite intellectual happenings, so they tend to get invited to the really good parties.
  • Aug 12 2013: Because it's elite and irrelevant. When "classical" music was in its heyday, when it was beloved by all, it was the "pop music" of the time. Ordinary people came out to listen to it. Now, it's merely a rarified diversion for the elite, defined by education, wealth, or both. As such a thing, it is now irrelevant to society at large. It will continue its boutique existence, but it will never become anything more. Indeed, the word "classical" reeks of elitism. It's not for the ordinary, the peasants. Classical music is for the lovers of classical things, those who exist on such lofty planes.

    As for the number of composers "dwindling", I weep no tears for them. As academic music (a far more accurate term than "classical") has come through the decades, it has become more and more repulsive to "uneducated" ears. The response of the alleged "composers" has not been to respond to the audience but demand the audience accommodate the composers' narcissism. If you make art just for oneself, one has no right complain if nobody else likes it. Ultimately, it becomes so "personal" that it's just a form of masturbation.

    I would also argue vehemently against your dating of the Romantic Era, late or not. The Romantic Era was killed by the First World War. After that, academic music went in entirely different directions.
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      Aug 15 2013: I would consider Bryan's comment quite irreverent and without the proper understanding of music as an art.
      One of the most basic elements of classical music is the performers dexterity and outstanding dominance of the instruments.
      I really would like to see one of our "actual pop artists" doing a decent interpretation of Rachmaninoff, Bach or any other great Master!
      Classical music is of a highly ordered architecture. Far beyond the massive intellectually poor individuals. But it is also far away from the current citizen whose emotional capacity has been reduced to the extreme lack of expression found in current pop music.
      Today's compositions plainly depend on crude lyrics to express something. People is limited as to perceive the subtle and fluid moods described by intense or sublime musical passages.
      In that sense, our societies have stepped backwards.
      On thing need to be stated clearly is: It is not a "fortune" or a great attribute of our current mass society to be insensitive, intellectually and artistically poor endowed.
      Definitely speaking of "masturbation" regarding classical music is actually a mirror of the current poorly endowed minds which "masturbate" themselves listening for hours to endless monotonic noises, currently defined as "music".
      It is also an act of masturbation to write such thing to detract the sublime.
      Of course it has happened before. Great libraries were burn by the ignorant. Astonishing works of art were destroyed by crude political interests and now, it is plain ignorance who wants to destroy what definitely is beyond his limited understanding.
      • Aug 15 2013: Ah, yes, and the fact that I played in an orchestra for 7 years and sang in a chamber choir for 2 years means that I can't know anything. Yes, I am irreverent--I earned it. I saw the pretension and twaddle for what it is from the inside. Out-of-touch elitism. In this day and age, academic music generally amounts to a circle-jerk.
        • Aug 15 2013: Oh Bryan!
          That was classic!
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          Aug 15 2013: Bryan: Your response is not really connected to my comment. What is evident is you were immersed in a GROUP which might consist of not real musicians but a snob guild. That is possible.
          If we accept you are really a musician as pretended, are you positive you were a good one or maybe the ""orchestra" was not really pleased with your performance, making it a difficult atmosphere to dwell in?
          Anyway, a personal experience, which looks more like a psychological trauma, has NOTHING to do with the beauty, complexity and extreme expression found in all musical master pieces.
          I know about bad football players which speak bad of the sport, bad architects which speak bad of the Parthenon and bad painters wihch constantly detract Michael Angelo for his work!
      • Aug 15 2013: The musicians weren't the snobs. It was the non-musicians who had no real understanding of music but thought themselves to be OH, SO VERY SUPERIOR to the hoi-polloi. The elitists would have been outraged at how eclectic musicians' tastes are. Academic music has become nothing more than an echo chamber--a terrarium of music with no actual attachment to the outside world. The vigor of the Classical and Romantic eras is gone. The Modern era, with such titans as Ives and even lesser lights (but still lights, nonetheless) Cage, is winding down. All that is left is a carefully embalmed mummy of music, worshiped by a self-selecting priesthood.
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          Aug 15 2013: Oh... Well! You are now rerouting your views!
          AS I notice, the main subject from the OP is CLASSICAL music and not "academic" music, (If there is such thing), as I understand the music academy tries to develop a strong understanding of the Musical Arts, also concentrating in producing good or excellent performers.

          I would agree, sometimes, maybe many, the newbie musicians (students) will produce things, under the classical norms and schemes, which might be dull, unattractive and even boring. Agree!
          And their family and friends will exclaim with gestures of admiration, which could be understood as "snobbish" , but are actually a polarized reaction by love and enthusiasm!

          But I insist; we are not really talking of school music or "academic" music as you baptized it. The question originally was "Why (TRUE) classical music is becoming of less interest to the current society. (My own version of the question)
      • Aug 16 2013: Mike... (Let me make it clear to you that I do not bear an apathy to classical music but), but the question here is not- "What is classical music?". The whole topic is about why do masses not bear affinity for the same...

        Classical music is an art. Agreed. But it does not mean that the one who is more into popular music lacks understanding or intellect... or is uneducated. Classical music is of a highly ordered architecture... True. YUet you can't deny the fact that the composers who produce popular music do not toil hard to make something appealing to the audience... or even something that they can relate to.

        I believe that the choice of musical genres... Is just like the choice of one's own religion. We can't say which is better... and it does not matter as well... All that matters is what attracts us.
  • Aug 9 2013: Has classical music ever been popular with the general public? I happen to love classical music but look at the history. Music was supported by rich patrons and presented to large audiences of the rich with very few of the others.

    The growth of the middle class started in the late 19th century also saw the growth of other means of getting music other than live. If you look at the earlier recordings, a lot of was classical but as the cost came down. more people got devices and demanded the music they got in the music halls and vaudeville.

    I think the same percentage of people listen to classical music as before. I would argue that it is growing because of the growth of people who have heard classical music. The problem is we all listen to a lot of different musics.
    • Aug 12 2013: That distinction depends on the individual society. England and English-speaking countries certainly follow this model. England never had a strong orchestral tradition. Germany and Austria, on the other hand, had an extremely vigorous orchestral tradition, each little town having its own that put on regular shows, up until they were co-opted and drained of life in the 1930s by the German government.
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    Aug 6 2013: It's a matter of money, and profit. Also has I red above, a matter of sex appeal.
    Classic music does not appear in sexy and explicit behaviours. It's also a racial issue. Brands use music to communicate with the masses. The masses are less independent in tastes, and more influenced. Also is connected with education. With family behaviours and identity. Also the cool culture left classical music behind, and classical music is not a prime time event. Classical musical does not apply to the Super Bawl. We are dealing with a world crisis. It's global and transversal.
    • Aug 12 2013: Your language proves my point about elitism and "classical" music.
    • Aug 16 2013: I agree, Patricia, that all these things - money, commercialism, sex appeal, upbringing - play a big role in the popularity of classical music. I also think there are, like Bryan says, some 'out-there' classical composers who are stretching the boundaries of music in order to create something new out of a genre that is fine the way it is, ala: 'Don't fix it if it ain't broken'.
      Sadly, classical music, as well as just about any other non-mainstream genre, has it hard these days. When is the last time you heard about an awesome new jazz fusion combo? Music has been lowered to a level that does not intrigue its listeners. It's like you say, all about money and profit. Classical music has the ability to make people think, send chills down their spines, reminds them of those the miss, conjures up emotions they don't feel like feeling. I don't agree that it is elitist, though. Just because certain people are not aware of classical music, doesn't mean they wouldn't appreciate it if they heard it. This is indeed where upbringing comes in. Not all of us were brought up with a wide range of musical genres.

      {edit - typos!}
  • Aug 5 2013: You may be right, but I am in high school and I've loved classical music for as long as I can remember so your model might be more successful but there is a necessity to have a more in depth path for students who are fascinated by classical music at that age. Then again, I have always been an exceedingly mature child so you I applaud your reference to maturity rather than age.
  • Aug 3 2013: I agree, it's majorly lack of education. In my elementary school, mandatory instrumental education consisted of one year of instruments and in that amount of time no student can come to love an instrument well enough. Most students quit because you don't sound good when playing an instrument for only one year. Those who continue to enjoy classical music more. I play cello & piano and that experience of performing for others and myself has helped me tap into the emotion of great works of classical music. I also conjecture that the majority of people who dislike classical music haven't heard all it has to offer. They generalize it as Fur Elise and Turkish Rondo and have not delved deep enough to reveal truly magnificent pieces such as Gymnopedie and Claire De Lune. In sixth grade, my teacher made the entire class sit quietly and listen to classical music and then discuss the emotion of the piece afterward. I think this was an extremley effective way of learning about classical music because it gives instant gratification and connection to the intended and unintended consequences of the music.
    • Aug 5 2013: I agree that the level of appreciation of classical music might co-enside with the level of musical education.

      However, I also feel that the level of maturity is an important factor. Children are forced to take in certain pieces of classical music which they couldn't possibly truly comprehend at their age. Own example: I was thought to play Bach and, as a kid, found it really boring. As the years passed and my appreciation of music in general grew, I finally came to understand what a genius he was.

      I would propose that elementary music education should start with the easy, popular stuff. After mastering such music, one could realize why is classical music considered the to be amazing.
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    Aug 3 2013: You know, it was the 1960's when students in British coeds started rebelling at Oxford and elsewhere to teach modern literature, because their syllabus stopped at 1900. And yet what came after we now consider classics. I literally need not mention names to prove my point. Same with classical music. A hundred years from now.... lines blur, sheet music goes bleary, weary, teary-eyed with time....human existence on a long enough (aka prosperous and f-ing lucky enough) time scale and all will be forgotten.

    Do you even any conception Steven Truong what it must have been like for those cavemen and cavewomen to blow through hollow bones and then drill in holes and create notes that were in pitch?!?!?! How tremendous, how unfathomable, how unbelievable? In birds, yes, in their voices, yes, but now out of dead bones? This? This heavenly sweet and mysterious sound? And yet that is absolutely ignored by a 99.9% majority of culture, you classical enthusiasts included.
  • Aug 2 2013: Because music, as all art does, reflects our society and our culture. Right now, the relatively new genres of electronica and such reflect our society's overwhelming use of electronic devices. There are new methods of creating music now, where centuries ago in Europe, musicians had only strings, woodwinds, or percussion instruments available to them.

    Over centuries and millennia, it's true that many forms of music have probably disappeared. So have many forms of art. But I don't this this is something to be mourned. If anything, it's something to be celebrated. Would we want to live in a static society, one that never changes, never improves, never succeeds, never fails? No, of course not.

    Our changing styles of music reflects the dynamic nature of our culture. There is no such thing as a style of music necessary to forming a well-balanced student. There is only change.
  • Jul 31 2013: ...classical is the base of every music...today is the time for fast and moving feets only...more to releasing pressure less going deeper into life and emotions...

    ....when this pressure and fast life will take a halt everybody move to basics....without classic no other music can exist...they are all just the offspring of it...at infant, toddling and youth every child creates an attraction...

    With regards

    Manish Kumar Aggarwal
    The Mindfood Chef
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    Jul 30 2013: it is ignored.
    The majority of todays 'stars' know not much about music and singing. Nowadays we have technology that makes 'stars' and almost everyone can sing . So young people do not appreciate those who have a real talent.
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      Aug 3 2013: Yes, BUT....the majority of "today's stars" may not know much about classical music (or realize how they are influenced by it), but a majority of the stars does not equal the majority of people. Your comment that young people do not appreciate those who have a real talent just upset all the young people who DO appreciate real talent.

      Hey, come on, Maja, you humble bumblebee, why you gottta sting people like me that way?
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    Jul 30 2013: I think classical music is something like documentaries, or thick classic literature, or good wine, or proper charcuterie boards, or going on a portage--there needs to be proper induction into it, or else, people don't get the appeal. Then there are Teflon philistines like me :( no matter what you do.

    Despite being the guest to numerous operas in life with older friends, and having parents who play classical music often, I don't naturally gravitate towards it myself. I still don't get it. Except for the really well known compositions, maybe the musical progression has an unpredictable algorithm that doesn't stick well (?) I've really enjoyed the TED talks that have attempted to reveal the magic behind this. It is a goal in life to understand what the big deal was with Wagner.
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      Aug 3 2013: I honestly don't know how you got 100+ TED Creds and put "documentaries" in that list. I see your "BBA from York University; B.Ed from University of Toronto; M.Ed from University of Toronto" and I add a BS in classical music AND documentaries.
    • Aug 5 2013: There's a telling discussion of Beethoven's 5th in here someplace... it is a long docu:
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        Aug 6 2013: fabulous! thank you so much for this! am gonna watch all 6!
        • Aug 7 2013: It's classic itself in that you get new things from watching more than once (even though it's soo huge). I read the book several times ages ago, since it's been available on youtube I've only watched it twice(:). I shall view it again, but I think this time I have to break it down into smaller sections.
          Enjoy! and thanks for the reply etc :).
  • Jul 27 2013: There was a power failure yesterday, and we had to light candles, I felt like Mozart reading my music theory book.

    Simply put times change.

    I'd also add, that the demise is vastly overrated, go and watch a movie, see how much old and new classical music is in them.

    Simply put times change.
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    Jul 27 2013: I agree that music should be an integral part of every learner's experience. Classical music needs to be listened to in a context. And, for the most part, the context for classical music has weakened over the last two decades. Ironically, classical music is thriving in Asia, particularly in China. Soon, we will have to "import" talent from those countries to keep this form alive.