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Classical music is relaxing? (Read 1322 times)

Offline klavieronin

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Classical music is relaxing?
« on: May 29, 2018, 01:49:34 PM »
Today I visited a large music store with seven floors of CDs and records. The different floors were dedicated to different styles of music. Level 7 was the Classical/Relaxation (Healing) floor. It reminded me of how many times I have heard someone say something like "Oh, you're a classical pianist? I love classical music. It's so relaxing."

Is it just me or is this a totally bogus perception of classical music? And if not, where does the misconception come from?

Offline dogperson

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 03:09:21 PM »
Why is it bogus?   Someone who expresses that classical music is relaxing is expressing their own perception and feelings.  It can’t be bogus if this is how classical music makes them feel.  I repetitively travel to the same business location and I’m allowed to play in the  lobby. I have heard this expression used by the listeners  in that environment.  It is true for them.

Offline adgo

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 03:26:15 PM »
Is it just me or is this a totally bogus perception of classical music? And if not, where does the misconception come from?

Most people who say 'it's relaxing' are people who have never explored classical music. I would be okay with the 'it's their perception' explanation except that these people usually don't know anything about classical music.

This has been a long-term gripe of mine, because for me it's not relaxing at all – not the good stuff anyway. Every time I've introduced one of these fellows to Shostakovich or Schnittke, they've backed away from classical. I've learned in life that most people don't want intense experiences.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 04:10:45 PM »
Why is it bogus?   Someone who expresses that classical music is relaxing is expressing their own perception and feelings.  It can’t be bogus if this is how classical music makes them feel.  I repetitively travel to the same business location and I’m allowed to play in the  lobby. I have heard this expression used by the listeners  in that environment.  It is true for them.

It wouldn't bother me if they said 'this Bach prelude is relaxing' or 'this Chopin nocturne is relaxing', but classical music in general? It's like saying "Oh, I like movies. They are so funny." or "I like food. It tastes so sweet."

Offline visitor

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #4 on: May 29, 2018, 04:40:25 PM »
i feel you, you should send them this and tell them how relaxing it is

Offline dogperson

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #5 on: May 29, 2018, 04:57:38 PM »
Someone may make a general statement that classical music is “relaxing”  without referring to a specific piece or composer.  Therefore, I would still contend that perception  is not incorrect. Even the Firebird, which if you asked for a description of the emotions of this particular piece, would certainly not be relaxing. But the listener  might find listening to be relaxing because it takes them away into another realm, far away from the daily world.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that couldn’t a listener  have a general observation about classical music, but then a different observation about a particular piece, and neither of them being incorrect?  

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #6 on: May 29, 2018, 10:41:29 PM »
Someone may make a general statement that classical music is “relaxing”  without referring to a specific piece or composer.  Therefore, I would still contend that perception  is not incorrect. Even the Firebird, which if you asked for a description of the emotions of this particular piece, would certainly not be relaxing. But the listener  might find listening to be relaxing because it takes them away into another realm, far away from the daily world.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that couldn’t a listener  have a general observation about classical music, but then a different observation about a particular piece, and neither of them being incorrect?  

I find classical music relaxing the same way I find reading a novel or watching a movie relaxing. Is the novel itself all about swans and moonlight and calmness? No, and it would pretty boring if it was. A poem, maybe not, but a novel or movie definitely.

Take for example a favorite movie of mine, the Hunger Games. A very intense ride, with a lot of very mentally-challenging themes and drama, in addition to the sheer physical chaos of the battles. But it's a change, an escape, a chance to enter a "different realm," as dogperson said. For a listener, it's an exciting journey--one that lets the listener temporarily forget his current situation and enter someone else's, a refreshing change. Even Stravinsky's Firebird is its own epic story, as are Shostakovich's Quartets and Symphonies.

That said ... you can immediately tell a musician in this way. Someone who has either played or can imagine himself playing these works has a very different experience from someone who doesn't. When a musician who has himself played Beethoven's Appassionata listens to that piece played in concert, he, who has himself dug into the piece, past what the audience sees, experiences it on a whole different level--not as watching a movie, but as living it. That is why when we as musicians listen to a great epic work being performed, we come to the end and feel as though we've lived through hell. A non-musician just sees it like a movie, as entertainment. And I've seen (and myself experienced) the shift that happens when a non-musician begins experiencing music in this way.

I hope this all makes sense.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline ahinton

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #7 on: May 29, 2018, 11:05:54 PM »
To me, no music worthy of the name is merely "relaxing", but that self-evidently does not discourage some people from inventing myths to that end...

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline ryoutak

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #8 on: May 30, 2018, 02:21:47 AM »
Listening to classical music is relaxing.... as the same for the other genre of music that I've listen to such as rock, deathmetal, Jazz etc. The reason is simple: I love music! It's like how a person goes hiking or camping will find it relaxing where others might find it bothersome and tiring.

Whenever I'm in a terrible mood, listening to music always relaxes me - the type of music doesn't matter, be it a song about happiness, sadness, death or whatever. I have fun listening to all sorts of music, and it will always cheer me up and relaxes my mind.

Offline georgey

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #9 on: May 30, 2018, 02:39:40 AM »
I’ve been listening to Bach Mass in b minor and Beethoven Missa Solemnis for the past 2 weeks.  For me, this is among the most stimulating and emotionally satisfying music ever written.  The Bach I listen in the day.  The Beethoven I listen at night to put me asleep.  The prior week, I switched the two:  Bach at night before bed and Beethoven in the day.  How can this be???  I have my theories.

Offline outin

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #10 on: May 30, 2018, 06:00:46 AM »
Serial and some atonal music can be very relaxing, it cleans my brain from clutter. Traditional tonality mostly does not have the same effect, probably because it sets the more rational parts of the brain to work.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #11 on: May 30, 2018, 10:49:55 AM »
Hmm… well I can appreciate that some people might listen to classical music in order to relax, just like others might read books or watch films, but I get the feeling that that isn't what people mean when they say that classical music is relaxing. Why do so many people seem to single out classical music as relaxing and not other kinds of music if that was the case?

When I hear people say that classical music is relaxing they seem to be saying that being relaxing is one of classical music's defining qualities. I honestly don't understand how someone could listen to a Beethoven sonata (for example) and come away with that view and so I stand by my statement that that perception of classical music is completely bogus.

Offline georgey

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #12 on: May 30, 2018, 01:50:53 PM »
Hmm… well I can appreciate that some people might listen to classical music in order to relax, just like others might read books or watch films, but I get the feeling that that isn't what people mean when they say that classical music is relaxing. Why do so many people seem to single out classical music as relaxing and not other kinds of music if that was the case?

When I hear people say that classical music is relaxing they seem to be saying that being relaxing is one of classical music's defining qualities. I honestly don't understand how someone could listen to a Beethoven sonata (for example) and come away with that view and so I stand by my statement that that perception of classical music is completely bogus.

I see your point. I was going to say that maybe some are unable to hear the intensity and stimulating effect of classical music because it is too complex and over their heads.  So those people maybe listen to the lite side of classical music (like Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusikc or Chopin Nocturne in E-flat), which could and is be played in elevators as “elevator music”.  Music is played in elevators, etc. for the purpose of calming people down (relaxing them some might say).  Then I realized that I listen to complex classical music to fall asleep.  

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #13 on: May 30, 2018, 11:40:07 PM »
I see your point. I was going to say that maybe some are unable to hear the intensity and stimulating effect of classical music because it is too complex and over their heads.  So those people maybe listen to the lite side of classical music (like Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusikc or Chopin Nocturne in E-flat), which could and is be played in elevators as “elevator music”.  Music is played in elevators, etc. for the purpose of calming people down (relaxing them some might say).  Then I realized that I listen to complex classical music to fall asleep.  

There was a time when I listened to the Appassionata every night before I went to sleep.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline georgey

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #14 on: May 31, 2018, 12:09:19 AM »
There was a time when I listened to the Appassionata every night before I went to sleep.

I’m not sure if there is any truth to the story about Bach’s Goldberg variations.  These are pretty complicated stuff musically, perhaps written for harpsichordist Goldberg to play at night to help a Count fall asleep (something like that).  I've fallen asleep to the Apassionata and the Goldbergs and many others.  Problem is, the music often continues in my mind during the day, running in the background of my mind.  I don't mind though.

Offline visitor

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #15 on: May 31, 2018, 01:00:50 AM »
can say this, for stubborn insomnia,  music of Robert Schumann will usually do the trick where other methods to help sleep fail.

Offline georgey

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #16 on: May 31, 2018, 01:11:03 AM »
can say this, for stubborn insomnia,  music of Robert Schumann will usually do the trick where other methods to help sleep fail.

Yes, you may say this!  I too have fallen asleep while listening to his music, especially his concertos (Piano and Violin and Cello).   ;D

Offline indianajo

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #17 on: June 19, 2018, 02:39:26 PM »
The wife says classical music puts her to sleep.
As a person who grew up playing Lecuona Malaguena and Shostakovich 5th symph finale, I have an opposite opinion. I bought an LP of Also Sprach Zarathrustha years before Stanley Kubrick popularized it.   But all that boring baroque musak by Telemann, Boccherini, and the deservedly forgotton composers rediscovered by London Mozart players , yes that would put me to sleep: If I left the radio turned on.  I'm taking a CD of Holtz Planets to help keep me awake on I40/35 in FM radio desert Arkansas. 

Offline ahinton

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Re: Classical music is relaxing?
«Reply #18 on: June 19, 2018, 03:53:50 PM »
can say this, for stubborn insomnia,  music of Robert Schumann will usually do the trick where other methods to help sleep fail.
I have no doubt that Thal would agree!

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive