Neoclassical dark wave refers to a music genre within the dark wave movement. It is characterized by the use of ethereal atmosphere and angelic female voices but also adds strong influences from classical music. Neoclassical dark wave is distinct from the art music form known as neoclassical music, a style of classical music dating from the early twentieth century. In the context of popular music, the term 'neoclassical' is frequently used to refer to music influenced by classical (including elements from the baroque, classical, romantic, impressionistic music), including styles like neoclassical dark wave as well as neoclassical metal, and neoclassical new age.
References to classical music by popular music as a major influence had been first used by music artists dating from the mid-1970s at the beginnings of the new age music movement.
In the middle of the 1980s, the bands Dead Can Dance and In the Nursery released influential albums which essentially laid the foundations of the Neoclassical dark wave genre. In 1985 Dead Can Dance released Spleen and Ideal, which initiated the band's 'medieval European sound.' In 1987 In the Nursery released Stormhorse, which exhibited a bold, cinematic style and a symphonic/post-industrial sound lending itself to 'being envisioned as backing music for a dramatic epic.' This music, 'clearly more inspired by the classical than the rock tradition, had a melancholy, visionary and sometimes nostalgic quality'.
Neoclassical dark wave makes frequent use of formal styles associated with orchestral music as well as chamber music. Many bands utilize orchestra-derived synthesizer samples, while some better-known groups such as Elend make use of chamber orchestras and other acoustic instruments. Vocals in the genre can also vary. Some bands such as Les Secrets de Morphée make use of opera-like vocals, or in the case of Camerata Mediolanense, madrigal-like vocals. Others such as Autunna et sa Rose utilize contemporary classical chamber music vocalise together with spoken dramatic monologue. Several other bands in the genre such as H.E.R.R. are notable for using a martial approach, including the heavy use of snare drum and militaristic themes. Finally, there are in the genre a small number of purely instrumental groups.
^"About Amethystium". Ramfjord Music. Retrieved September 3, 2013. "Amethystium is the soundtrack to a journey – between light and darkness, humanity and fantasy. A dreamy fusion of ambient electronica, world music and neoclassical darkwave, the music walks a tight-rope between bliss and melancholy, taking you on an emotive escape from the ordinary."
^"Amber Asylum". Profound Lore Records. Retrieved June 16, 2008. "One of the most respected and influential acts that have emerged from the neo-classical/gothic/ambient/and post-rock alternative scene..."
^www.kogaionon.com. "Projekt Artist: Arcana". Projekt darkwave shop. Retrieved June 16, 2008. "...one of the leading bands in the neoclassical genre."
^Marks, Peter. "Review of Time". Release Music Magazine. Retrieved June 16, 2008. "For the first half of the 1990s, this band were in the vanguard of the neo-classical movement..."
^"Projekt Artist: Mirabilis". Projekt darkwave shop. Retrieved June 16, 2008. "Mirabilis is the neo-classical/ethereal musical project started by Dru Allen of This Ascension and Summer Bowman of the Machine in the Garden."