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Bringing classical music to a wider audience (Read 614 times)

Offline anacrusis

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Bringing classical music to a wider audience
« on: June 27, 2021, 10:31:46 PM »
I'm curious what y'all think would help bringing classical music, or at least classical piano music (because that's what I mostly care about) to a wider audience? I have run a couple of Youtube channels with classical music in my days, and I know for a fact that a lot of people who don't usually listen to classical music find their way there and express pleasant surprise how much they enjoy the music. Based on this I think that today classical music has a problem of lack of exposure rather than lack of relevance. What do you think?

Offline ranjit

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #1 on: June 28, 2021, 04:36:43 AM »
A good way I can think of is by arranging modern music in classical styles, which acts as a bridge between the two genres. I keep pointing people to this as an example of what I'm referring to. And I'm not making this up -- there are millions of views on this video and on several similar ones, and there is an active community of probably tens of thousands of pianists who are classically trained who come up with or try to play these kinds of arrangements. And they are very obviously classically influenced, although maybe not that challenging to listen to.



(Although someone with zero exposure to classical music might find this kind of arranging style a bit hard to grasp, I'm not sure how to solve that problem.)

Also, I think that classical music is sometimes a bit too abstract for a layman. Bach was not really well known in his time, and there is a reason for that imo. The public needs melodies to latch onto! Tchaikovsky would probably be much better if you want to introduce a layman to classical music than Bach. And I think a lot of people, at least in passing, know of some themes from the Nutcracker waltz. I recognized a few of them from Tom and Jerry cartoons -- which brings up another great way to familiarize people with classical music.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #2 on: June 28, 2021, 09:58:28 AM »
I've had pretty good reactions playing classical piano in small settings; people who would not go to a classical concert seemed to have a different, much more positive reaction when it was presented by a friend in a setting where they were just a few feet from the action.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #3 on: June 28, 2021, 11:56:16 AM »
Government assisted program are required for classical music to be given to the public for free, that has the most effect for given areas. In my city we have yearly outdoor orchestra events which cost over $100k to set up, its totally free to attend and brings together a lot of people, many who get to listen to live orchestras for the first time. It still will not have the entire community turning to classical music!

Classical music is not popular these days and it just cannot compete with mainstream chart music, its a far fetched fantasy to chase restoring its popularity. I have found if people have time to listen to classical music and be told a little something about the piece they are listening to which helps them emotionally connect with the music it can help a lot. A hidden story about the work or something about the life of the composer when they wrote that music can help a great deal.
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Offline lelle

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #4 on: June 28, 2021, 12:29:30 PM »
I personally don't think classical music needs to be mainstream (film music is the modern incarnation of that genre I guess), but I do agree it has the potential to enamour more people who just haven't been exposed to it yet.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #5 on: June 28, 2021, 08:17:51 PM »
I don't think classical music was ever meant to be truly mainstream. I think that I can convince someone who is musically inclined and actively listens to music to give classical music a try. However, many people do not really care about music at all, and it's really sort of impossible to get them to appreciate it. There needs to be a decent amount of interest in music a priori, and I think we tend to underestimate the number of people who are simply not interested in engaging with any kind of music.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #6 on: June 28, 2021, 11:30:38 PM »
and I think we tend to underestimate the number of people who are simply not interested in engaging with any kind of music.

Exactly.  It has not much to do with exposure or sophistication, but it's just not something many people see as valuable in its own right.

It's a background.  Like Kant said in his Anthropologie about pipe smoking:  it's an impulse reaction to boredom, or something like that.  Would one really look at rows of nearly identically supposed desiderata like sunglasses or shoes without the succor of the music tempting one?  Would you sit through some crap like the movie Face/Off without some hack goading you on?  No, you wouldn't.

To my taste, I'd have almost no "background" music in a bar or a shopping mall or places like that, even of some of my favorite music, but people like the distraction.

It's like aromatherapy, or some fool lighting candles around his or her place to woo some lady or whatever gender is appropriate.

And, while it's been historically true that many admirable talents have shopped their wares in Hollywood, it's like using any other effect in photography or script-writing or acting. 

Perhaps it does contribute, sometimes mightily, but then we have a Gesmatkunstwerk, where music is a part of a much larger production.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #7 on: June 29, 2021, 02:01:44 AM »
I think we tend to underestimate the number of people who are simply not interested in engaging with any kind of music.
I think it is the fault of technology which causes some people to become apathetic towards music. We can easily listen to music these days, it is nothing special or rare to experience, we hear it even when we don't seek it out! We don't need other people to create live music like in the old day. I think seeing live music however still impresses people of all walks of life but that probably will vanish too as VR develops and gains more popularity.

When I performed for a living it was an important question how to bring music to a wider audience and I found the solution was to take time to discuss the music presented and give insight into the life of the composer. It is a "triangle of performance" that Yoyo Ma described, the performer, the music, the composer. If you can bring all three to life you present a good performance. At the end of my performances I would offer drinks and food for the audience and chat with them. I met a number who were "dragged" to my concert by a friend or family member who said to me that they didn't realize they liked piano music and they really appreciated being told about what they were listening to.

People sometimes need help to find pathways to emotionally connect with instrumental music. I meet many people who love classical music but have little idea about the stories that exist within some pieces or the life of the composers themselves. I think that is what will draw a wider audience to classical music but it requires that people take time and are in a relaxed state of mind. That is not so easy these days, people get themselves all in a hurry.
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Offline quantum

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #8 on: July 01, 2021, 12:11:00 AM »
I think part of the reason people stay away from classical music is because of the way it has become stigmatized and stereotyped in mainstream culture.  People are fed these subliminal messages throughout their younger years, and by the time they grow up they claim to not like classical music.  They do so because that is what they have been cultured to do.  As a consequence, they turn away from opportunities to listen to genuine classical music and make a decision for themselves, simply because they have preconceived notions of what classical music is and how listening to it it might make them look to their peers.


A common thing to be seen is pop musicians taking a piece of classical music and arranging it so half way through it becomes popified (for lack of a better term).  If it is some sort of video, one may stereotypically find the presenter headbanging or some other physical gesture that shows they are into the pop arrangement more so than the classical.  I'd like to see some classical musicians take a pop song and half way through turn it into some epic classical piece. 

I personally don't think classical music needs to be mainstream (film music is the modern incarnation of that genre I guess), but I do agree it has the potential to enamour more people who just haven't been exposed to it yet.

Absolutely! 

I don't think we need to convert everyone to be a serious classical head.  It would be nice if classical music would be shown some more respect in the mainstream media.  At the very least get people to appreciate the music and the work that goes into making it, even if classical is not their particular thing.

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Offline ted

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #9 on: July 01, 2021, 12:51:32 AM »
I am probably the least qualified member to comment on classical music but I shall anyway because I was obsessed with it in my youth. The issue, it seems to me, is symptomatic of a much deeper modern phenomenon, namely that communication and gratification in all spheres of life must be rapid, simple and involve as little time, work and discipline as possible. To take one example, letter writing has more or less died and has been replaced by the quickfire, banal trivia of Facebook and “tweets”. Unless the reward is immediate an activity is deemed unproductive and abandoned. Serious, meaningful and lastingly rewarding art, active or passive, classical or modern, requires enormous input of time and thought.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #10 on: July 01, 2021, 01:17:03 AM »
At the very least get people to appreciate the music and the work that goes into making it, even if classical is not their particular thing.
Same here, I don't mind people not liking classical music, but it would be nice if people just listened to it objectively and came to their own conclusions. Sadly, very few people seem to do that with anything...

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #11 on: July 01, 2021, 08:05:51 AM »
I'd be interested to hear how other people got into classical music. For me, it was a few things.

First, I was already learning the piano because my favourite band at the time had a cool keyboard player who was kind of my idol. Then I noticed a couple of bands I really liked had done their own arrangements of some classical pieces. But what really got me was seeing the movie "Shine" and being introduced to the music of Rachmaninoff.

I feel like all of those steps were necessary for me to get over the popular stigma against classical music and listen to it with an open mind.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #12 on: July 01, 2021, 11:05:22 AM »
I'd be interested to hear how other people got into classical music. For me, it was a few things.

I was 10 years old, taking generic guitar lessons. A friend of the family, who had studied with Julian Bream, showed me a simple classical guitar piece I could play, and about the same time my parents got me a recording by Andres Segovia. I was instantly hooked.

Offline lelle

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #13 on: July 03, 2021, 11:33:54 PM »
I'd be interested to hear how other people got into classical music. For me, it was a few things.

First, I was already learning the piano because my favourite band at the time had a cool keyboard player who was kind of my idol. Then I noticed a couple of bands I really liked had done their own arrangements of some classical pieces. But what really got me was seeing the movie "Shine" and being introduced to the music of Rachmaninoff.

I feel like all of those steps were necessary for me to get over the popular stigma against classical music and listen to it with an open mind.

I grew up liking and listening to Disney songs and some local music that was popular in like the 40s-70s and that was that. My father got me a keyboard and in the song memory was some classical pieces. I liked those a lot, and did not like those that were modern songs with drums and sh*t. I was soon hooked, and the rest is history. I ended up somehow always preferring to listen to classical piano music over the popular music my peers listened to.

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #14 on: July 04, 2021, 01:35:15 AM »
I was forced into the piano from a young age. At the age of 9, my parents made me and my sisters take lessons and I REFUSED to practice for almost 2 months; however we had a Christmas concert and I had to play a very dinky version of Jingle Bells - but I played it steady as a rock, crotchet rhythm only and C and G notes in the LH, without a mistake.
When the audience applauded... I thought to myself - I could get used to this attention.

And 27 years later... I'm still an attention ***.    ;D

Nah, what made me stick to it was I love puzzles. When I started looking at music like a puzzle - working out the note, working out the rhythm and the co-ordination between the hands and triple checking the fingering; I knew it was something I could love.

I honestly think piano should be taught to all students. It is one of the only instruments where you don't really need any special technique to produce the sound. You press a note, you get the sound - no particular breathing or bowing needed.

While I don't know how long Classical music will stay mainstream for - I can only hope that its the arrangers of music that keep inspiring young students to play. Most kids these days mostly don't want to play Mozart Sonatas, but tell them they might be able to play an interesting Zelda Medley then they're as psyched up about it as a Meth addict.

Once you have them hooked on music that at least uses a Classical background in technique, then you can branch out and introduce them to music of the past.


Offline determined2learn

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #15 on: July 14, 2021, 01:33:35 PM »
I confess I don't listen to classical music. I enjoy the pieces I'm learning to play at my early stage of learning however, I do have an interest. (Rarely do I listen to any music routinely unless I'm driving, and that isn't all that often.) Okay, all that out of the way...two thoughts. Movie scores are a great entry point. I bought a CD years ago that was classical music played in popular movies. Next, are shows like America's Got Talent. Opera has found a niche there, why not classical music? For the masses to be enriched, the avenues of introduction need to be different. The masses may go to a free concert in a park, but not a music hall in my opinion.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Bringing classical music to a wider audience
«Reply #16 on: July 14, 2021, 11:43:47 PM »
Thanks for all your answers in this discussion. Despite my initial question I don't even think classical music needs to reach the charts or be mainstream. I think it can have it's own niche but that the audience for that niche could grow. It's sometimes a bit sad when you go to the concert hall (pre pandemic at least) to hear a great pianist, and it's not even full. There's still quite a lot of people, so you don't need to put classical music into the mainstream eye to fill the rest of the seats, but you still need to do better than we are doing now if that makes sense. I don't expect us to solve this problem in this thread but it's very interesting to hear everyone's thoughts all the same  ;D