Talk:Classical music

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How did this label come about? Is there any source, please? And is it reasonable to use it - or should it be called something else? Judging from the quotations that allegedly critisize the modernist view the authors mentioned here do not use that terminology...

For instance - a quotation ascribed to Beethoven is that of "what do I care about his lousy violin when the Spirit speaks to me". Could modernism then start with Beethoven? In that case we should definitely call it something else. "View of the modern ages" would, however, be very different and maybe suitable, but maybe not handy either. Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen (talk) 15:57, 5 January 2012 (UTC)carlbn

This section needs to be significantly extended to cover the following matters:

1. The History of the Modernist Approach.

1a) For example, there were artists at least a century ago advocating this approach (though in some cases - Anton Rubinstein, as I recall - he often did not not conform to his own precepts). And we know that some composers wanted this approach to be used, whereas others did not (as evidenced by their performances).

1b) Also, who, in modern times, are, and have been, the principal advocates of this approach which can be summed-up as “the score, the whole score, and nothing but the score” and the exclusion of personal interpretation.

There are a number of issues that need to be discussed. For example:

2. The difference between a score and music (the map versus the territory?). Do you want to simply play a score (a wholly mechanical, and repeatable, process), or perform music? The two are quite different.

3. The impossibility of including in a score, which is essentially digital in nature, all facets of music which is analogue in nature.

4. Notations:

4a) How does one get rid of personal interpretation when many notations in a score are not absolute and therefore have to depend on personal opinion?

4b) The fact that the meaning of specific notations has changed over the years and from composer to composer.

4c) The likelihood that some composers would have omitted notations that would have been understood at that time as being automatically included because of the nature of the work.

4d) There are notations whose meaning is not understood.

5. The Score:

5a) The fact that some composers, when acting as exponents of their own compositions, did not follow their own composition’s score. For example, the tempi used by Elgar, as a conductor, often varied from those in his scores. Rachmininov, as a pianist, didn’t always follow his own scores. And why ‘approved’ performances of Rachmaninov’s works don’t accord with the composer’s own performances which surely must have represented what he wanted?

5b) Which score? Why do proponents of the modernist approach approve performances which do not even use the composer’s score, but later ‘editions’ by pupils and others? For example, I know of only one performer today, Angela Lear, who actually uses original scores by Chopin himself. The differences, for example in the case of the Etudes Op 10 and 25, are significant.

5c) What do proponents of the modernist approach advocate in the case of works by Bruckner, where virtually all performances use the ‘editions’ by others?

6. The Instrument:

6a) The fact that concert pitch has varied over the centuries. Shouldn’t instruments be retuned to conform to the modernist approach?

6b) Then there is the lack of authentic instruments. Playing Chopin on a modern piano is essentially a transcription of the music that Chopin wrote for his Playel. What does the modernist approach advocate in such cases.

7. Tempi:

7a) What does an exponent do in the case of lack of metronome markings if wishing to avoid personal interpretation?

7b) It is known that some composers did not have accurate metronomes. How can personal interpretation be avoided?

Tony (talk) 09:12, 13 July 2013 (UTC)


I often see in western music related articles (and not only in Wikipedia) that there's little or no room to improvisation in classical music. For the sake of the argument, I won't consider what happened to classical music up to Liszt, but what about the French organ school? There is a firm, stablished and abundant amount of improvisation in that school which can be traced to César Franck and the 19th century, and whoever goes to a mass in France will eventually hear an improvisation. Bruno Gripp (talk) 20:13, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

sure, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all freely improvised as several accounts state. What we have as composition is a particular recording of one such performance, edited and polished. Make no mistake: staff notation was the first form of audio recording. I really find this silly: "The most outstanding characteristic of classical music is that the repertoire tends to be written down in musical notation, creating a musical part or score." It's like saying the most outstanding characteristic of pop music is that it tends to be written down in multitrack audio recordings. (talk) 18:57, 20 February 2014 (UTC)


Is this article called classical music or western classical music? (talk) 15:13, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

It should be western classical music. (talk)

In China, Chinese food is just called "food." In the Western world, western civilization is called "civilization as we know it." Since this is the English-language Wikipedia, we call western art music by whatever name it is commonly known in English-speaking countries. Zyxwv99 (talk) 14:24, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Pardon my french, but Zyxwv99 is full of s**t. Look at the English-language Wikipedia article on Food to see why. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Steppenwolf29 (talkcontribs) 07:54, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

this should be western classical. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:58, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Major cut[edit]

I've cut the following paragraph which had opened the section 'Instrumentation':

Classical music is often distinguished by its wide use of instruments of varying tones and pitches to create a deep, rich sound. The different movements of classical music were affected largely by the invention and modification of instruments throughout time. While classical music has no "set" of instruments required to fulfill certain standards, composers wrote for orchestras, wind ensembles, or various combinations of instruments for chamber music. Not to be forgotten is the human voice, which has invented its own series of classical music, the Opera. It was not uncommon for classical composers to also write solo pieces for a specific instrument, accompanied by piano or whatever group the composer deemed fit.

The first sentence is meaningless (it could equally apply to prog rock, for instance); the second sentence is entirely contentious; the third verges on illiteracy; the fourth is both irrelevant and misleading (what about the cantata, or Lieder, for instance?). So it goes on, without any citations to be seen: I think it better junked, and have gone ahead and done so. Alfietucker (talk) 21:01, 20 February 2010 (UTC)


Should "Impressionist" really be part of the table at the top (entitled "Periods of European art music")? I see it more as a school of music - and really a school of just two composers: Ravel and Debussy - and not a period. If we included it, wouldn't we also have to include the Twelve-tone or Serialist schools as well? Squandermania (talk) 18:42, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

I agree. Which 'impressionist' composer was writing until 1940 anyway?!Matt.kaner (talk) 02:59, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

so,what mean classical music? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:06, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't understand, yet! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:07, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Link-farm clear-out[edit]

I've just removed a load of external links which in my view and per WP:External links don't belong here. The sites are full of ads and add nothing to the reader's understanding of the topic. These are the ones that have been removed (complete with blurbs):

Voceditenore (talk) 16:06, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Image for Page[edit]

Can an image be added to represent Classic music? Facebook is linked with and uses Wikipedia, and when there's no image a generic one is used that is unrelated to music. If an image of sheet music or a music note graphic were added to the top, it would be automatically added to Facebook as a thumbnail/icon. An image at Wikimedia Commons would probably work. J-klem (talk) 22:05, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

I like the new image with multiple composers J-klem (talk) 05:14, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
The problem is now solved again. --Peoplefromarizona (talk) 23:57, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Changes to Classical music[edit]

I've reverted these two edits by two different IPs [1], [2] but someone might wish to check if any of the changes were in fact valid ones. Voceditenore (talk) 08:47, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

This leaves less room for practices...[edit]

Not only is this partially incorrect (or at the least misleading), since improvisation (see the cadenza for example) was prominent in classical music up to the 19th century, but also has a slightly derogatory tone. If any comparison should be made with the music of other cultures, more care should be taken to offer a balanced view. While admittedly the structure of Western classical music is more structured (rigid, even), it should also be argued/presented that its complexity, richness, and theory is (in general) significantly greater than any other historical form of music. Noldorin (talk) 03:54, 13 April 2011 (UTC

Snorting music[edit]

Can anyone identify this piece of classical music, played as an accompaniment to cocaine snorting buddies from Russian series Brigada in this episode [3]? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tigerjojo98 (talkcontribs)

Yep, it's "Anitra's Dance" from Grieg's incidental music for Peer Gynt. (By the way you can ask general questions like this at the Reference Desk (Humanities) where there's a lot of people whose hobby it is to answer stuff like this -- sometimes you get a faster response that way). Antandrus (talk) 04:36, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

The external link contents has limited availability outside Europe.[edit]

For full disclosure, it must be stated that link contents for EU use only, together with the link. Ideally frustrated links must be avoided. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 13:35, 13 September 2011

Classical music and the Liberalization of the Arts, 1965-[edit]

In 1965 with the establishment of The National Endowment for the Arts, and consequent Liberalization of the Arts, it was expected that Classical music will also re-invent itself, just like the Visual Arts, and will become part of the Industrialization of the Arts. In the attempt for re-invention and becoming to be part of the Industrialization was overlooked the fact that there is a major difference in the consumption. While the Visual Arts supported by the NEA, with public money grew by the use of again public money from the cultural milieu on all levels, and as such, it was not dependent on the support of public at all. Public had no say in the Visual Arts.

Quite contrary, the Classical music depended very much on the paying audience, and as such on the public approval. Any attempts to re-invent the Classical form has failed due to the fact that any new form presented to the public 'en force' have reflected in empty auditoriums. The appearance of success was tried by shuffling the new form(s) placing them at the beginning, in between or at the appendage of the main event. The later, resulted in massive early leaving of attendees. These facts were presented to me in the past by my wife Danica Betakova, an ardent attendee of Classical performances at the National Art Center in Ottawa for many years, herself educated in Classical music, piano teacher, church organist +++ Rasto Hlavina (talk) 14:39, 5 January 2012 (UTC)


I'm surprised this hasn't rankled anyone:

classical concertgoers and CD buyers are not all upper class

Any thoughts on how better to refute the misperception of classical music and high society? Greg 22:34, 10 February 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dwegowy (talkcontribs)
It might also be a good idea to mention that many famous composers came from poor backgrounds, and that concerts with classical music are not overpriced, unlike many concerts with popular music. --Toccata quarta (talk) 16:00, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
That's true. One could also mention that top popular performers make way more money than top classical performers, and certainly composers. One thing that would be useful, and on a quick google I was unable to find it, would be demographic data on those attending classical concerts. Not age data, which is easy to find, but income data. Antandrus (talk) 16:24, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
The following looks interesting: --Toccata quarta (talk) 18:10, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Non-western Classical Music[edit]

It is indubitable that South Asia has highly developed forms of classical music (This may well be true for other Eastern cultures as well, but I'm not knowledgeable on that question.). It's appalling that the Wikipedia article on Classical Music says that this is an exclusively Western form. Until someone carries out a rewrite of the article, I propose that at least the title be changed to "Western Classical Music".

Please note that I am distinguishing folk/native music (which is a part of all cultures) from classical music. See Indian Classical Music. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Steppenwolf29 (talkcontribs) 00:32, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

It is very Eurocentric to use "Classical" Which has a meaning and "Music" which has a meaning to only discuss Europe. Does Africa not have a classical tradition in Mali and Ethiopia which is "classical"? --Inayity (talk) 17:06, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

very eurocentric article. ignorance of other streams amongst the westerners is not an excuse to usurp all claims about classical music unto themselves. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:00, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

"Eurocentrism is evil" drama is not going to convince many. Please see the discussions on this talk page and its archives. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:15, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. Favonian (talk) 09:22, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Classical musicWestern Classical Music – This page talks specifically about Western classical music and not about classical music in general. Hence its name should be changed to Western Classical Music to remove ambiguity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BigMak2027 (talkcontribs) 06:45 22 July 2012

  • Oppose. Wikipedia needs an article titled "Classical music", so if there is a problem, it should be addressed by altering article text here (e.g. by adding a section "Non-Western Classical music"?). GFHandel   20:59, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The default meaning of 'classical music' is Western. Rothorpe (talk) 21:08, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is the English Wikipedia. In English "Western classical music" is the default meaning of "Classical music" and the most likely seach terrm for the primary subject of this article. Observe the overwhelming number of English book titles which use the term in this sense: [4], [5]. The term, "Western classical music" is generally used only in contexts where it is being explictly discussed in relation to classical music in other cultures or where it is being compared to other types of western music., e.g. [6]. If by any chance this were to be moved, then "Classical music" should be the redirect, not a disambiguation page. Over 7000 articles (not mention templates, portals, and talk pages) currently link to this page in the sense of "western classical music". - Voceditenore (talk) 07:04, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the reasons mentioned by Voceditenore.—Toccata quarta (talk) 07:52, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose – for all the reasons above; I think this has been discussed before. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 09:32, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Voceditenore. The hatnote at the top of the article referring to List of classical and art music traditions is sufficient for readers looking for other classical traditions, but in English language the term "classical music" generally refers to the Western tradition covered by this article. --Deskford (talk) 09:38, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support fixes WP:Systematic bias. A stubby overview article can be created in its place, and left to grow. This is the same as the US vs UK primacy on generic terms that have different meanings in the two places. In this case it is European vs the rest of the world. -- (talk) 03:57, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Er, no - it's not European vs the rest of the world. North America, and it seems Japan are also part of this conspiracy to call Bach, Beethoven et al 'classical' (heard of Sony Classical?). btw I'm fairly neutral about what should happen, though I'm inclined to think most people will be expecting to find those composers under 'Classical music'. Alfietucker (talk) 08:10, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
But you are still only looking at the consequences of Western dominance. Popular culture defined by the West. So dont quote Japan. But say Classical music in India store, which has a population of 1 billion. What does it mean? These are worldview issues. and authors here being English speaking and Western have a bias. --Inayity (talk) 17:12, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is English Wikipedia, and in English "classical music" almost invariably means what is described here. I'm usually the first to oppose systemic bias, but not when it's overruled by common sense. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:17, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support Move It is very Eurocentric to use "Classical" Which has a meaning and "Music" which has a meaning to only discuss Europe. Does Africa not have a classical tradition in Mali and Ethiopia which is "classical"? This vote is biased also because it mainly has contributions from advocates of Western Classical music. I understand wiki naming conventions but this is not a Worldview. Classical Indian music, Classical Malian music, Classical Chinese music are equally valid. Worlview is also a criteria for wikipedia. There is an inherent circular logic, "all the books say Western classical", where are all these books made? Sure in Japan they say it, but that is the cultural hegemony of the West. If we do not move it, the lead should accommodate for other traditions. AT least --Inayity (talk) 17:09, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
This is not about worldviews, but about the English language.—Toccata quarta (talk) 18:14, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Just to add, there's a fundamental difference between 'Classical Music' and 'Classical Indian music', 'Classical Malian music' et al. 'Classical Music' may well trace its roots to Europe, but where exactly? And today it is a type of music which has been enriched by the contributions of many nations, and has become something of a lingua franca around the world. Even in communist China mass choruses sing in 'classical' (or if you prefer 'western-style') harmonisation. So yes, 'Classical music' originated from Europe, but it's everyone's property now - just as electricity is. Alfietucker (talk) 19:02, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
@Alfietucker, I dont think you seem to realize the world does not orbit around Europe. In the Malian language (Bambara) the word "Classical" has always been used to denote Malian music, now we have documents of 13th century Timbuktu talking about the Classical Music of the Royal Malian courts. Let us remember 13th Century Mali is not a product of Europe, In India the same, this is not a case of copy Europe. And this title propagates that Eurocentric superiority myth that everything starts from Europe and filters down. In Ethiopia Yared created an Ethiopian classical tradition long before Europe started conquering the term. (for historical perspective)--Inayity (talk) 09:26, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
@Inayity - are you saying that the 13th-century Malians literally called their music "Classical"? Obviously not - this is a translation of a roughly equivalent term. Besides, this totally misses the point I was making. No sensible person would dream of suggesting that Malian, Indian or any other 'classical' music rooted in those countries 'copied' European music: they are quite distinct and independent phenomena, but they are, relatively speaking, much more 'local' in that they have not similarly spread around the world and become a lingua franca as 'classical music' (as in music which has evolved from a Western European practice) has. That's the difference. We know when music by the Beatles has been influenced by Indian raga music - it's a touch of local colour. But most people seem quite oblivious that popular music and indeed a lot of so-called 'world music' is underpinned by the harmonic practices of 'classical music', so ubiquitous is its language. Alfietucker (talk) 15:18, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Sure Europe invented everything and we all wait on its genius = Eurocentric, forgetting the outside influences that shaped European arts and culture, just as the cultures of India were impacted upon by Europe, the was an reverse impact. Yared pre-dates Bach, in Amharic ancient script it is a "classical" music. --Inayity (talk) 09:12, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Is there any evidence whatsoever that Yared's music had any impact on the world of music outside Ethiopia? I'm not even asking whether it has become as widespread as what is generally known as "classical music". I note, too, that nowhere in the Yared article is he even described as "classical" (even in the sense of Indian "classical" music, which is a living tradition - an important distinction; is Yared's music still performed?). As I keep explaining, "classical music" is a phenomenon which transcends any particular country. It, if you like, "infected" all of Europe before travelling further overseas. There has not been any similar musical phenomenon. Alfietucker (talk) 10:41, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes Yared is still used today. No it is not as influential like Western Classical music. please see my suggestion so we can focus on the issue of naming or adjusting the lead (per my suggestion). --Inayity (talk) 13:55, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support move to Western classical music (lowercase). I think the systemic bias people have a point. There are any number of classical music traditions around the world. Just because most English-language sources imply "Western" when they say "classical music" doesn't mean we should. And in fact, many sources do not merely imply "Western" - there are over 25,000 results in a Google Books search for "Western classical music". It's an established term, it's more precise, and it counters systemic bias. Dohn joe (talk) 19:25, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Please read WP:DUE.—Toccata quarta (talk) 19:31, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree - when our article on classical music ignores the classical music traditions of the billion people living in the Indian subcontinent, we are giving undue weight to Western music. Dohn joe (talk) 19:42, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
You say: "Just because most English-language sources imply "Western" when they say "classical music" doesn't mean we should". Yes, it does: that's due weight. Rothorpe (talk) 20:28, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
But the point is, there is a vast amount of "classical music" that is entirely ignored by this article. Either it should be entirely overhauled to include the classical music of India, Persia/Iran, etc. - or the title should change to reflect the actual contents of the article. That is where WP:DUE fits in. Dohn joe (talk) 22:37, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Other music traditions are not ignored in this article; music of different cultural origins and traditions is mentioned in the lead, the most prominent position possible. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:54, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
The article begins: "Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music". This definition excludes the rest of the world's traditions. I repeat - either this article should be entirely overhauled to include the full gamut of classical music, or the title should change to reflect the actual contents of the article. To do otherwise gives undue weight to Western music and misleads our readers into believing that "classical music" = "Western classical music" - which is what we tell them expressly at the beginning. Dohn joe (talk) 04:52, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
i agree with Joe, And I add the lead is so problematic and undue weight. Why not be more worldview and inclusive. And have a direct link (disambiguous) to other classical world traditions?--Inayity (talk) 09:26, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
"Why not be more worldview [sic] and inclusive." Because of WP:V. Most reliable sources use "classical music" and "Western classical music" as synonyms. Stop using emotional arguments.—Toccata quarta (talk) 10:00, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In the English language the use of "classical music" by far mostly refers to "western classical music". The vast majority of English speakers will think of the western tradition when using the term. This may of course be different in other languages, but this is the English wikipedia. With that said, perhaps the disambig link to other classical traditions could be made more visible by being moved to the first position of the disambig links. Also, perhaps the lead could be more accommodating to other traditions, as Inayity suggested, though I'm not sure exactly how. --Danmuz (talk) 11:17, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Another point to keep in mind is WP:PTOPIC.—Toccata quarta (talk) 14:14, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

  • Suggestion - I can agree only with some of the arguments. The popularity, the standard way of titling a page. But then I think the solution is to alter the lead, to explain the concerns raised here.i.e. "Classical music commonly refers to the Western Classical traditions as distinct from other classical world traditions" Classical uppercase vs. classical lowercase. --Inayity (talk) 09:12, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, except isn't that more or less what the present lead does anyway? (In first sentence: "art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music"; second para of lead: "European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century".) Alfietucker (talk) 14:08, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Then maybe a disambig link in the hatnote to other traditions.--Inayity (talk) 06:53, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
I think it's there in the current hatnote: "For other 'classical' and art music traditions, see List of classical and art music traditions." Alfietucker (talk) 08:00, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose As mentioned above, in the English-language WP, Western classical music is almost invariably the primary topic. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 16:40, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment Not sure about this... It's true that the term "classical music" (originally a commercial label, I believe) commonly refers to the Western tradition. Usages such as "Indian classical music" are also common in absolute if not relative terms (3,020 out of 76,400; 4%). Similarly, googling "chinese classical music" doesn't primarily evoke Lang Lang and his many colleagues. So I'd vote Western classical music for precision, but Classical music for COMMONNAME considerations. One for WP:AT pundits, imo. —MistyMorn (talk) 18:15, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The hatnote clarifies what the article is about, the default meaning. It's an article with many links, keep simple, establish a redirect if you feel it's needed, --Gerda Arendt (talk) 12:23, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- Rothorpe, above, said it briefly and well. Opus33 (talk) 20:23, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose Toru Takemitsu (Japan), Tan Dun, Chen Qigang (Chinese), Tôn-Thất Tiết (French), Isang Yun (Korean) are all "classical" composers - in the sense of a genre link back to the consciously "classical" Haydn & co., wheras gagaku (Japan), ca trù (Vietnam), samul nori (Korea), yayue (China) etc. are what Garland calls "traditional" not "classical". In ictu oculi (talk) 04:03, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

"Commercialism" (aka poorly-cited POV rant)[edit]

Certain staples of classical music are often used commercially (either in advertising or in movie soundtracks). In television commercials, several passages have become clichéd, particularly the opening of Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra (made famous in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey) and the opening section "O Fortuna" of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, often used in the Horror genre to denote demonic powers; other examples include the Dies Irae from the Verdi Requiem, Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, the opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee", and excerpts of Aaron Copland's Rodeo. Shawn Vancour argues that the commercialization of classical music in the early 20th century served to harm the music industry through inadequate representation.[1]
Similarly, movies and television often revert to standard, clichéd snatches of classical music to convey refinement or opulence: some of the most-often heard pieces in this category include Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain (as orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov), and Rossini's William Tell Overture.

There is a lot of POV language in that section (it uses "cliched" so much it almost becomes a cliche itself), the various claims about use and implication of particular scores are - while probably true - not supported by cites to show they are significant, and the one cited claim (that some guy I've never heard of thinks commercialization is bad) is unaccessible without a log-in, so I can't tell if it is a reliable source, or a well-established opinion, or a fringe view. While I'm sure a lot could be written, the section as it stands is pretty poor, and I'm not sure it is salvagable. (Change the POV language, and you are left with an unsourced list of commonly used movie scores. Remove that, and all that's left is a not-easily-checkable claim that "some guy thinks commercialization harmed music". Should we try fixing it, or should we just delete it all until someone writes a better "Commercialism" section? Iapetus (talk) 13:25, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I propose that List of musical movements be merged into Classical music. List of musical movements has no added value over Classical music because:

  1. Musical movement is not a common term in music. The redirect is to Movement (music) which is something different than intended here.
  2. Even under the in this article intended meaning of Musical movement one would not expect the article would only apply to Classical music which it currently does.
  3. It is linked from List of classical and art music traditions, but its "peers" (mainly classical music other than the European tradition) in that list link to similar articles as Classical music.
  4. The article contains no more information than in Classical music and its linked articles.
  5. The list's inclusion criteria are ill defined. It contains:

My proposal is to delete all the contents of this article and replace with a redirect to Classical music. LazyStarryNights (talk) 16:32, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Image agreement[edit]

Lan berger and I have reached an agreement on a picture to use in the "Instrumentation" section of the article. You can read the discussion on my talk page. We've agreed to use this picture:, with a caption that says: "A concert band is comprised of wind and percussion instruments."

Can someone upload the image and add it to the article? I'm not sure what all the licenses and stuff means. Saxophilist (talk) 22:12, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

It means that the image is licensed not to be used for commercial purposes and thus unsuitable for Wikimedia's Commons. (I suspect you mean this photo in this collection?) -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 08:32, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
I found the image on's "free to share and use" search option. Saxophilist (talk) 19:24, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
You can try to upload it to Commons, but you have to provide evidence of its origin and permissions. Because I found it on Flickr with a non-commercial licence, I won't be able to do it for you. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:11, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Michael is right. It doesn't matter what Bing says, it's the actual license attached to the photo on the page where it was originally uploaded that matters. Wikipedia Commons will only accept an image that is free for all uses, including commercial gain. I see that another image has now been substituted, File:Concertband.jpg. It's a picture of a high school band playing in a what looks like the school gym. I'm not sure this is a particularly good addition to the article, but at least it's properly licensed. Voceditenore (talk) 14:50, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

Technical execution[edit]

Article currently [7] reads in part ...technical mastery, as demonstrated by the proportionately high amount of schooling and private study most successful classical musicians have had when compared to "popular" genre musicians...

At best this needs rephrasing and sourcing. What it seems to be saying or at least suggesting is that classical music achieves and/or requires a higher level of technical execution than popular music.

Is this NPOV or even remotely accurate? I'm skeptical. It seems to me to be naive repeating of an urban legend which is widely believed by fans both of classical and of popular music, and which may once have been true (I'm skeptical even of that) but hasn't been true in my lifetime.

Two of the original members of Midnight Oil are known to me personally. The enormous amount of tuition and practice that was required to attain their status in popular music, and the level of technical execution that this produced, was at least equal to that of the classical musicians I know, some of whom are of similar calibre and status in their fields.

And I think this would be generally true. Sydney Conservatorium has had courses in Jazz for some decades. There have been Trinity examinations on drum kit since 2012.

Arguably drum kit is now a classical instrument too. Some years ago I attended a concert given by a friend as part of her masters degree in performance on the flute at Sydney Conservatorium, in the School of Classical Music there of course, and one of the four pieces she performed was scored for flute and three drum kits. So there is some crossover.

But that is not the point. Trinity and the Con are both producing high-calibre popular musicians, and by calibre I include their level of technical execution. And I think this is happening worldwide and across all popular genres, and has been for some time.

Part of the problem is, like all urban legends, there will probably be no trouble finding reliable sources to support this one!

And it's also complicated by the fact that it is part of the publicity machine for some popular acts to portray them as unskilled or semi-skilled. Most Rolling Stones fans would be surprised to learn that drummer Charlie Watts was already an accomplished sight-reader before joining the band. And that was in 1963. His technical skills have never been showcased and discussed in the way that they would be were he an equally ranked classical musician.

And there is a point to be made along those lines. There's a sense in which excellence is always aspired to in classical music, while there's a somewhat different approach in popular music.

But this distinction is far more subtle than our current article would indicate. Currently, what it says is at the very least unsourced and highly POV, and there are some grounds for thinking it's just plain inaccurate. Andrewa (talk) 23:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Agree that some rephrasing might be in order. But although there are plenty of examples of popular musicians with intensive academic training, it's difficult to argue seriously that that's a necessary qualification for entry into the profession, whereas in classical music it's pretty unavoidable. So there's definitely a difference in the field. It's possible to find 9-year-olds singing "O mio babbino caro" but it's definitely the exception (and note that's a TV show, not really a professional gig), whereas popular musicians without formal training are pretty common. It's a bit strong to call that difference an "urban legend".
Jazz is a somewhat different kettle of fish, since it's largely made the transition from a popular art form into an academic one. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:36, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply! I'd love to see you have a go at rephrasing the section in question. I don't want to cut the section out, because I can see what they're trying to say and I think it's important. But I am struggling to rephrase it myself.
I'll accept your claim that Miley Cyrus doesn't have intensive academic training, and her music is not familiar to me. But her father Billy Ray Cyrus shows every sign of having worked just as hard and long on his music as any classically trained musician, and his execution is excellent. So I'd expect his daughter to be the same. I could be wrong.
Perhaps I should say that, to the despair of several singing teachers and coaches, three of my favourite vocalists are Chuck Berry, Mick Jagger and Mark Knopfler.
I'm interested in other examples of popular musicians who have gained entry into the profession without intensive training. This training may often be less formal, you'll notice I've left out your term academic, but my experience indicates that it's equally intensive, that the technical execution is equally demanding, and that the training is becoming more and more academic.
Actually, at many levels the technical execution of classically trained string players in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Not just at school concerts but also at others at a supposedly far higher standard, and not once but regularly, I have thought silently to myself, if ever my guitar or mandolin were as badly out of tune as those violins, even at a school dance I'd be seriously worried about being booed off stage. OK, mine are far less challenging instruments in that regard, but... well, it's not as simple as our article currently indicates. Classical audiences clap such endeavours, I've even joined in the applause, it was commendable even if not very musical. I can assure you that a pub or wine bar would not.
Popular musicians probably do start to get paid for performances at a significantly lower standard than classical. My local pub bands get paid at least enough to cover their lights and road crew if they're doing well, while the members of local symphony orchestras at what seems to me to be a comparable standard pay fees to belong. But at and even near the top, there's less difference if any, in my experience.
So there's a lot going on, and it would be really good to get this right! While also avoiding the WP:OR trap of course. Andrewa (talk) 01:36, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
People like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page didn't attend music classes on guitar, not for any substantial time anyway; they were essentially self-taught (not least from records they heard and tried to imitate) and (as working musicians) shaped by gigging with the people they met early in their careers, both in local bands and as session men or on-the-road players. Page, by the time he quit the studio session-man circuit around 1965, had learnt to read notated music fluently (not just chord analysis I figure but actual scores and sheet music, and had gathered a lot of playing routine of course - the source here is a very interesting and entertaining dual interview with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in Mojo (UK) from the summer of 2004 - while Hendrix is supposed to never have learnt to read or write notated sheet music. But both of them were excellent and precise in their treatment of phrases and notes of course, even without any effects - for Hendrix, just check out the improvised stretch from Woodstock and Villanova Junction just after it - the timing and delicate, quick execution of complex, exposed phrases are just amazing.
And Hendrix actually told his father in a letter around 1965/66 that "it's not supposed to sound clean these days, they want it played a bit sloppy now" - sloppy as in fast, improvised phrasing and more deliberate attack and gritty tone bends. He knew how to play in a technically flawless way, with clear, '50s style phrasing, but he deliberately went beyond that point. (talk) 11:27, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Yes, well said. And most fans of Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts would be surprised to know that both of these top "popular" musicians learned sight reading early in their careers. It's not part of the hype! Watts' cover was not blown until a fairly recent biography of Baker revealed that when Watts left his swing band to join the Rolling Stones his replacement was Baker, and to achieve this, Watts gave Baker a crash course in sight reading, at which he was already accomplished. Andrewa (talk) 18:43, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

Time to be bold[edit]

No change to the section in question. [8] Reluctantly tagging it. [9] Andrewa (talk) 00:51, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

Better Historical Information/Definition Needed[edit]

The article asserts that the term "classical" originaled around 1836 in an attempt to "cannonize" the period from Bach to Beethoven " a golden age."

Well and good, but that only explains the use of the term to define what is known in western music history as the Classical Period, from roughly 1750 - 1820.

It tells us nothing about how or when the term "classical music" came to be regarded as a synonym for what has variously been called "art music", "serious music", "formal music", "concert hall music", "long-hair music", and a host of others. Given that the ostensible purpose of this article is to explain not the classical period, but the broader, more generic sense of "classical music", this seems a serious omission.

Moreover, including the current explanation of the origin of the term as a description of music of the classical period without following with any date or explanation of the origin of the more generic usage is confusing and misleading. There is no point in bringing up the former unless as a preface to the latter, and the latter should appear in the very first paragraph of the article.

Indeed, modern usage of the term "classical music" is so vague and variable that I question the rationale for even having such an article, and spending so much space enumerating lists of "characteristics" upon which no one agrees, and to which there are as many exceptions as examples. This whole article might be better reduced to a paragraph, or even a footnote, in the Classical period (music) article. In fact, it is already mentioned in the introduction to that article. Perhaps sufficiently? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:50, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Many popular or literary writers on music (as opposed to people who are writing publicity-style pieces, stuff connected to the marketing machine for "classical" music) use "classical music" effectively as a synonym of "music of the Common practice period", or firmly rooted in the traditions of that kind of music (e.g. for the latter: Britten, Hindemith, Bernstein, Puccini). Music that's mostly in well-defined major or minor keys (except for some of the early part of the timespan), which is built on recurrent themes (mostly original themes, not borrowed) and melodies rather than grooves or obviously constructed "sound effects" - and which, in larger, more "serious" pieces tends to emphasize the evolution, contrasting and elaboration of themes into new shapes, reversals, combinations... The space for improvisation in performance is by no means not there, but limited and (sometimes, especially post-1800) nonexistent. Movements and songs are expected to be played in a given pre-defined order, not randomly picked and shuffled by the musicians or the audience.

20th century serious music made a series of decisive breaks with much of these rules, from Schoenberg to Stockhausen, and the real reason that modern art music is still filed as classical music in record shops, music magazines, on the radio and so on is mostly commercial. I'm not saying this as a put-down of Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ligeti or anyone else, their music and their artistic skill, but if 20th century modernist music had had to be filed under a new label that set it fully apart from classical, it would be a considerably harder sell, a harder chunk to integrate into the "serious music" performing and schooling business. Also, music writers, conductors and musicians today have little interest in keeping up fights over the legitimacy of the breaks that happened from around 1910 onwards, so the presence of the end of a period around those decades, ca 1910-1945, isn't acknowledged in the way we talk about classical music. (talk) 12:51, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Vancour, Shawn (March 2009). "Popularizing the Classics: Radio's Role in the Music Appreciation Movement 1922-34.". Media, Culture and Society 31 (2): 19. doi:10.1177/0163443708100319. Retrieved 24 April 2012.