Classical Music: Defined

With age comes wisdom, or so the proverbs say – those little cliches we offer ourselves to make the years seem kinder. But age brings far more than good sense (and a willingness to follow it). It instead offers assumptions. Classical music too often is lamented, with individuals mistaking it for any sound that predates the rise of grunge. Melodies are forced together, with no distinction beyond their lack of current lyrics. They’re all named ancient, even when not yet decades old. The notion of being ‘classic’ becomes synonymous with ‘less than new’. And this is wrong.

Classical music is a separate genre, shaped by specific time periods and expressions. It is not meant to describe the songs that frequent radio stations and their flashback hours. It is instead to offer explanation for the most innovative compositions and their influences. Its origins should be understood and respected.

While lacking specificities (this style is formed of experimentations and daring movements. Creating a singular definition would be impossible), classical music is recognized instead by eras: pieces formed between the years of 1550 and 1900 are considered to be part of the genre. And, while this may seem broad, the notations and structure of these pieces are all similar in sound and technique. This is compared to the religious tones that preceded them–which were offered only to support the church–and the new expressions that followed; the 20th century melodies and their electronic sways.

Classical music is best explained through the Common Practice period, which included Baroque, Classical and Romantic. No other years are to encompass the genre; and the contemporary lyrics that followed strove instead to distinguish themselves completely from it. It was considered a great tragedy to be placed within the same breath.

Now, however, appreciation is returning for classical music. It must simply be understood for what it is, not for what it has been assumed to be.