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?


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    Jul 17 2013: For my education, Steven, just what exactly is it that makes music "classical"?

    It does seem that modern pop has many elements of classical. For example, think of the rock group Yes, doesn't that music have some connection to classical?

    Why would people prefer modern pop? Well, the groups are smaller, perhaps people enjoy that. For example, if you watch the Rolling Stones, and they only have five members, you can slightly feel like you know each member and his personality. In a 50 or 100 person orchestra, it's not the same. Also, people might enjoy the electric aspect of modern music, I mean electric guitars, keyboards, and so on. Electric sounds have some excitement.

    Also, modern pop is a little more earthy than what I think of as classical music, which is a more formal and reserved. People might enjoy that as well. In fact, two or three hundred years ago, I wonder what people did when they really wanted to get more wild in public? Seems like we get more wild now in public, it might be because of population pressures, there are more people on earth now than there were two or three hundred years ago.
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      Jul 17 2013: I absolutely love and think that your question is ingenious! In my opinion, classical music just has that certain spark to it. Compared to pop and rock, it is similar in that it has chord progressions (i.e. C to A to G etc) but I feel as though classical music in general is more complex? Sure classical music has its simple 2 minute waltzes but the master-works that we talk about like say Elgar's Cello Concerto or Corregliano's Fern Hill have such an emotional appeal to them when listened to with intention. I am not implying that "modern" music is not emotionally appealing but subjectively to me (and many other classical peers of mine), classical music just has this quality of it, I can't explain....But I absolutely adore your question!

      Regarding your take on why people prefer "modern" music....I agree with you on that this new wave of music is appealing and that the more lax style of music is able to accustom a more diverse audience. Unfortunately, to enjoy classical music, I feel it takes more effort to appreciate the music and get emotions out of it than to listen to a modern work.

      Haha and back then I'm sure Bach was like the rock and roll of his time or so...and to have fun they probably had a festive dance...hmmm its funny thinking about this since parties back then were kind of formal and so a waltz would be the equivalent of today's dancing? (how do we dance today actually?)
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        Jul 18 2013: Well, another point, Steven, is that an awful lot of classical music lacks somebody singing, doesn't it? I'm sure people enjoy the singers, such as Mick Jagger. I know I do.

        Yes, it's a good question why these days we like speed. That's one of the main differences, isn't it, that rock is fast. Maybe we feel like a fast song is giving us more information in the same amount of time.

        Actually, rock is probably more sexual than classical, right? That's another good question, why sex has become more open. The best I can think of is the increasing global population, that when we have to live with more people we're more aware of all their aspects, including their sexuality.
        • Jul 21 2013: Talking about speed, we all live in countries categorized as developed, developing and underdeveloped. The first two (which actually constitute the internet) have societies living a fast paced life. Hearing to fast paced fun music makes them able to keep up with the rythm of everyday life and gives listeners the ability to relieve the stress. I don't think it's strange that most people hearing to classical music are old or at least people who don't have as much concerns as working people which lead me in thinking of classical music as a type of music for rich or old people who have decreased levels of stress.

          As for me I really love classical music when i need something to get in the mood of deep philosophical thoughts about my future or when i want to cover noises which interrupt me from my work

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