A Brief Guide To Classical Music.. Can It Get You There?


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Classical music is a very interesting title for music written and composed years ago or just the other day. Sadly, many people look at classical music and particularly the idea of attending a classical concert as something only the ‘fur and pearls’ brigade would be interested in.. the guys that would likely step over the homeless on their way into the carpeted foyers without even noticing the person at their feet!

One thing is for sure… classical music belongs to us all, doesn’t really have any borders or social barriers except for the ones we, as individuals might want to construct. Nope… it’s the music that matters and whether we realize it or not, we have all been inspired, moved, or gently persuaded by classical music throughout our lives in the form of film and TV soundtracks, commercials, jingles and God knows what else!

Do we have to ‘study’ classical music to be able to appreciate its immense value to our hearts and minds? Of course we don’t… what a stupid question! Do we need to know anything about the composer behind the music…? Nope! Ok… but classical music is for the ‘horsey set’ and not for the rest of us isn’t it? Nope!

Classical music is, as I have said, something we bump into on an almost daily basis and we can take it or leave it in very much the same way as we do with other musical forms and genres but it’s handy to understand a few things that kinda explain why it can often be perceived as less popular and/or ‘different’.

Let’s take the most popular classical composers that include, for example; Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and hmmm maybe Strauss, Bach, or Paganini. The first thing to get straight is that they all have silly names let’s be honest! Nicknames would not help these guys either… ‘Mozzy’, Beety’ Paggi’ ‘Tchai or Tchivvy’ just would not work. Pictures or paintings of these guys does not help in the slightest as, if you check them out, they look like podgy, pale, serious types from some European King’s ancient Court.

I personally am not impressed that such and such a composer may have written their first score as an embryo or as a guy deprived of one or more senses. It is the music they composed and how well instrumentalists or orchestras in more modern times manage to present it in their performances. The Billy Bob Round Thing Orchestra for instance, covering a Mozart violin concerto might sound great, but Maggie’s Fleeting String Thing Quartet may have done something spellbinding! And… that’s the thing with any form or genre of music… composers and performers can spellbind you from what they do with classical instruments or with a Fender Stratocaster! Either way… music is THE BEST - as Frank Zappa pointed out, and all we have to do is listen!

So what else? Well… you can get a decent and probably unmarked boxed classical collection from a second hand shop or thrift store for relative pennies. It’s not so easy to do with popular rock!!! If you are scared… just do what I did; recognize the decent record label (Phillips, EMI, Naxos, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon etc), see what it says on the box, liner notes or whatever, and if it ‘looks’ good… get it!

On the other hand, you might want to go online and listen to some samples of recordings at a number of decent sites to give you some idea of what’s available and more to the point… what you may have been missing! You can also ask the guys n the store to let you hear bits OR if you are concerned about picking up ‘the wrong thing’ then get something like Absolute Classics or a Classical compilation to start you off.

Eventually, you’ll get to know who’s great and who’s a bit weird. After a while, you’ll know the ‘real’ difference between things performed by a full orchestra, symphony, quartets, and chamber music.

Generally, classical music really can be breathtaking. It may have its roots back in the King’s Court or in some New York basement in the 1940s, or, it could well have been composed, recorded and produced completely digitally from beginning to end just a few months ago… either way… it’s what sounds good to your ears folks and so try not to turn your nose up at it but give it a chance and I guarantee… you’ll get to love it with an insatiable appetite for more and more and…!

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