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Western Classical Music

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 6 (1298 words)
Categories: Classical Music, Music
Downloads: 24
Views: 5

In 2018, it was reported that 64 per cent of people globally listen to pop music, whereas only 24 per cent of people around the world listen to classical music (International Federation of Phonographic Industries, 2018). From this statistic, we can see that classical music is losing its popularity amongst people living in the 21st century. This may be due to the fact that Western Classical Music is stereotypically seen to uninteresting due to the lack excitement in their concerts. However, the popularity of a genre does not measure the relevance it has in today’s society.

Western Classical Music and or Western Classical Music Orchestra is still relevant as it has an impact on 21st century music and society.

Western Classical Music influenced 21st century music as various components in pop songs are based on classical music. Firstly, we will focus on the song structure of modern world pop songs. The structure of pop music mainly consists of an intro, verse, chorus and outro (Wesley, 2018).

Generally, pop music is characterised by an average track length of 3 minutes and 30 seconds (Kopf, 2019), paired with its repetitive and catchy melodies (Harris, 2017). These features of modern-day pop music can already be found in Western Classical Music, which dated back to the 18th to 19th century.

Notably, Franz Schubert is the one who invented the verse-chorus based songs that has a three-minute duration (Nathan, 2017). This structure now defines the form that most pop songs take on today. Additionally, the melodies heard in most pop songs today also originated from classical musicians (Tilden, 2013). According to Patrick Metzger, the common melody and chord progression in 21st century pop songs is typically a “sequence of notes that alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale (as cited in Epstein, 2016).” This means that the melody consists repetitive patterns of alternating notes. In most pop music nowadays, artists usually sing out this melody. For instance, in Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen’s collaboration song, Good Time, the fluctuating melody is sung and heard throughout the whole track. However, this melody is not a something that is unique to modern day music. Ludwig Van Beethoven was already using these note progressions in his musical pieces and concertos. We can distinctively hear the alternating notes in Fur Elise from the beginning (Quartz, 2016). These show that Western Classical Music is still relevant in the 21st century as it acted as a foundation which shaped the format and melodies that pop music takes on now.

Subsequently, Western Classical Music is able to act as a therapeutic tool to aid in reducing peoples’ workplace stress in the fast-paced 21st century society. In the United States, work-related stress levels across all age groups rose from 10 to 30 per cent between 1983 and 2009 (Fink, 2016). The American Psychological Association (2015) also states that stress levels among adults has increased from 2014 to 2015. Specifically, it is the younger adults (Millennials and Generation X) who experienced a sharp increase in stress. On average, their stress levels increased by 9 per cent, from 33 per cent to 42 per cent. On top of that, they also feel that they are unable to manage their stress effectively. As stress levels continue to increase, the World Health Organization has deemed stress to be the health epidemic of the 21st century (as cited in Fink, 2016).

This is where classical music comes into play as an effective tool to help people de-stress. A study shows that classical music has the ability to lower cortisol levels in the body, which in turn minimizes stress (Nelson, n.d.). A research done by McCraty, Barrios-Choplin, Atkinson and Tomasino (1998) discovered that classical music had little impact other moods, but it is the most effective in decreasing tension. This beneficial effect can be seen in Megan Beauchamp’s experience. Beauchamp (2019) experimented with classical music by listening to it while commuting to work. Overtime, she realised that her anxiety levels were reduced. She also reports feeling calmer throughout the day and it also improved on her overall mental health. Thus, Western Classical Music is still relevant in the 21st century society as it can bring about health benefits in peoples’ stressful work life.

On the other hand, some may argue that Western Classical Music Orchestra is getting phased out as most people in the 21st century society do not choose to listen to classical music. One of the reasons may be due to the fact that people are uncomfortable with the strict etiquette they have to adhere to in classical music concerts. Concert etiquette defines the rules audiences have to abide by, if not, they are considered to be disruptive. An example of a concert etiquette would be: the audience should not applaud in the middle of a musical piece, as it is deemed to be a disrespectful gesture (Albright, 2016). These etiquettes may not be appealing to the majority as they are unable to spontaneously express their emotions for the musical piece (Pulse Chamber Music, 2018), which contributes to a decline in people attending classical music orchestra concerts. The Audience Agency (2017) states that 67 per cent of people in England only attend a classical music concert within 2 years, and only 8 per cent of the population are frequent attenders of classical music concerts. This data further emphasizes on the fact that classical music audiences are facing a decline in the 21st century.

However, there is a potential to change this concept of enjoying classical music concerts. Up till the 21st century, classical music was not always appreciated in a disciplined manner. According to Joseph Horowitz, the enjoyment felt in classical music concerts in the 19th century was expressed through “screaming” and “standing up on their chairs” (as cited in Dare, 2012). This is the complete opposite of how the 21st century society enjoys classical music concerts. With this information, we can see that it is possible to outwardly express one’s excitement or appreciation during a classical music concert. For instance, the orchestra who performed Pok?mon: Symphonic Evolution at the Orlando theatre was able to attain this feat. When the Pok?mon theme song was cued in the concert’s encore, the conductor faced the audience and encouraged them to sing along. Through this, the audiences’ voices became a part of the orchestral piece. This is shown in the video, which distinctively captured the audiences’ excitement, cheering and participation in a classical music orchestra concert (Jetmax25, 2015). Thus, if such concepts could be implemented in more classical music concerts, the 21st century society may change their perception of classical music and anything associated with it. This can possibly result in an increased booking for classical music concerts, which allows the continuation of classical music.

In conclusion, Western Classical Music is still relevant in the 21st century as it provided a base for modern day music to take form with its song structure and melodies. In the midst of a fast-paced 21st century society, Western Classical Music has the potential to reduce the tension incurred from workplace stress and serve as a tool to improve on mental health. While there is the perception that classical music is boring, there is a solution to alter people’s view on this by changing the way classical music is enjoyed. We can allow people to openly express their appreciation for classical music during concerts, instead of adhering to the etiquette of applauding at appropriate timings. The relevance of Western Classical Music in the 21st century is rarely discussed due to its lack of popularity and people typecasting it as a dull genre. Perhaps, if we changed the views and opinions people have about classical music, would the relevance of it in the 21st century be more prominent?

Cite this essay

Western Classical Music. (2019, Nov 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/western-classical-music-essay

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