Classical music is one of the most motivating genres while not the most popular. This is because classical composers created works of music that have enthralled audiences worldwide and have stood the test of time. However, did you know that classical music has impacted practically every type of contemporary music today? From Pop to Rock and Roll and even music in games have been influenced. Therefore, there is a lot to be learned from classical music’s forefathers.
It is an understatement to suggest that classical music has had a lasting impact. Musical genres are in perpetual motion, not existing in isolation but interacting with one another. If you’ve ever heard music with a chorus, you’ve likely heard music that is heavily influenced by classical music. Classical music has provided us with a great deal more than just structure and form. It has given us the modern musician in more subtle and intriguing ways. Let’s look at some of the specifics before exploring some modern sounds that have taken inspiration from classical music.
Structure – Many modern music forms are built on the foundation of classical instrumental music. In particular, the structure of classical music has a significant influence on popular music. Many Pop songs, for example, have a structure that includes a beginning, a chorus, a middle eight, and a conclusion. Likewise, suppose you look at the romantic era of classical music. In that case, you’ll notice that many of the works had a similar form.
Chorus – There are many noteworthy choruses in classical music. This conscious decision was made during the compositional process to ensure that their work was remembered and enjoyed more than once. This attitude is very similar to that of today’s songwriter, who, for the most part, is not looking for a one-hit-wonder and wants to be in the public eye for more than a single song.
Chords – A diatonic harmony, which originates in classical music, is also present in Pop music. The chords of a song are created from the seven tones of the major and minor scale in diatonic harmony. Most Pop songs are built on these seven tones chords, which is also a defining characteristic of classical music.
Rhythm – Pop music has a strong rhythm and a consistent speed that does not vary much during the song. This trait can be traced back to classical music, where consistent rhythms and a steady meter drive the melodies and harmonies.
So, now we know how modern music has taken direction from classical music. However, we will conclude by looking at a few examples of this. There’s a good chance you may not have even realized that these songs were inspired by the classics.
“Because” by The Beatles – “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven
Yoko Ono played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano one day. Lennon then instructed Yoko to play the chords backward. Finally, the chord sequence of “Because,” one of the Beatles’ landmark songs, emerged. Who’d have guessed that Yoko Ono would have made such an impact on The Beatles? In addition, Elliott Smith sang this classic Beatles song on the soundtrack of the film American Beauty.
“Little Me” by Little Mix – “Pavane” by Fauré
The dominant seventh chord in the cadence is repeated for more emphasis. At the same time, the initial theme idea from Fauré’s “Pavane” is employed as a repeating motif. The song has its own melancholy aspect, like an organic extension of Fauré’s theme, with energetic vocal syncopations providing a counterpoint.
“I Can” by Nas – “Für Elise” by Beethoven
The musical riff for this Nas Rap song is based on the theme from “Für Elise” transposed into F sharp minor. While it isn’t necessarily knitted into the track’s fabric, it still serves as an eye-catching beginning for this upbeat Rap. It’s a fantastic example of old meets new.
Some people on both sides of the musical divide want Pop and classical music to be separate. Others ecstatically embrace both with equal fondness. However, if you look hard enough, many Pop songs have been influenced by great classical works in the past. Hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought.