He gazed at his wife softly, taking in her beauty and remembering her youthful joy. He remembered the graceful way she danced in her younger years, the lovely way her body flowed from one move to the next. He remembered her playful personality bringing his young adolescence to the forefront of his mind. Her fair features sent him into a state of ecstasy, leaving him stranded in a pool of beauty. Then, all of a sudden, his life became dark. His every thought had a certain hideousness hidden in its roots.
His wife was dying. She laid on her bed, weak and pale from the sickness. Her beauty faded, her youth withered. She wasn’t there anymore. But even after she died, his beauty stayed with him (Stepanova, 12). This is an example of a story behind a piece of classical music I played in the fourth grade. I’m sure you’ve heard of it; the arrangement is called Fur Elise, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. There is a story behind the majority of classical music, and if there isn’t, it’s a simple matter to make one up.
The reason behind these stories is to help the artist interpret the music, and play it in the way the composer would’ve imagined. Classical music is often ignored by much of the population. William M. Briggs, a statistician, has found from ticket sales yearly since 1950, that sales have decreased by nearly 50% (Briggs, 08). Classical music is old and out of style, you might say. Everyone wants to listen to pounding bass and screaming treble. Who would listen to an orchestra that play their hearts out for all listeners, whether they appreciated their hard work or not?
Or a pianist with his hands flying over the keys to catch every note? No one cares for the beauty of classical music anymore. It’s all about the latest singer to release a song that made the top of the charts. Part of the reason that we ignore classical music is that we have no idea what it is. Classical music is music that has rules and principles and follows a certain pattern, with multiple melodies and variations of the main melody, as opposed to popular music nowadays, which still follows a certain pattern, but is repetitive with little variety to the single melody.
If we can learn to distinguish these difference between classical music and popular music, we can easily become more aware of classical music in our daily lives. A simpler solution would be to encourage newer generations to listen to all genres of music, and encourage the learning of a classical musical instrument, such as the violin, trumpet, or flute. Learning to play an instrument of classical origin obviously increases awareness to classical music. But listening to it is a different case. Every piece of classical music gives a different feeling.
Love, hatred, beauty, rapture, playfulness, anger. When you listen, you must listen for the feelings of the music. If you just turn on the radio and mindlessly hum along, only to forget you ever heard the piece, classical music will make no impression on us. We must listen for the stories and feelings behind the music, which will help us remember the piece. In an article from whatkidscando. org, Winton, a 17-year-old trumpet player compares his feelings toward track to his feelings toward playing his instrument.
Christopher O’Riley – the guest pianist at their orchestra concert – asked him which activity he thought was more fun and energizing. Winton’s reply inspires some reflection in the crowd. “They’re different,” he replies. “For me, I get more of a rush playing classical music, because I can put more emotion into it. But for track, it’s more aggression… it’s more like cutting people’s hearts out. ” Listening to music is just like reading a book. We remember where we were or what we were thinking of while reading the book, and that helps us remember the content and storyline.
Coming up with or finding a story behind a piece helps us to remember the music and melodies, and to recognize it when we hear it again. Being more aware of classical music is the beginning of appreciating its beauty and order. A 2011 article from Pacific Standard Magazine by journalist and theorist Tom Jacobs summarizes his study of the connection between intelligence and music. In the study, American teens who scored high on the intelligence test favored classical music over twelve other genres. Jacobs’ theory was that people with a higher intelligence level prefer to listen to more complex usic, such as the classical genre. The second part of the reason that many people ignore classical music is that they have no interest or curiosity toward it. Again, it is old and out of style. But it’s not. American rock band Evanescence’s song “Lacrymosa” was based on the Lacrimosa movement from Mozart’s Requiem (Lewis, 12) In X-Men 2, we hear Mozart’s Serenade in G during Magneto’s prison scene (Sekoff, 12). These are only a couple examples of classical music found in popular and well-known sources.
There are so many more, if only we just listened a little more closely. Classical music is all around us, yet we fail to notice it. Classical music is a beautiful art that is often ignored by the majority of the population. Would you ignore the song of an artist who won a Grammy last year? Of course not. Classical music has survived for hundreds of years; it is worth so much more attention than we give it. We need to help the newer generations appreciate and love this aspect of music, rather than completely pass by it.