Artificial Divisions in Music

I’ve just been listening to a classical guitarist on YouTube, well I should say “a man playing music on a classical guitar”. His username is ‘AndanteLargo’ if anyone wants to go and listen. He’s posted some wonderful videos of himself playing Bach and music by other classical composers – and they sound glorious – but he’s also posted videos of himself playing songs by the Beatles and other bands, some folk music, some songs and themes from films, musicals, etc, etc, which all sound equally as glorious. It interests me that his performances on classical guitar seem to put all types of music on an equal footing.┬áIt’s easy to become snobbish about music and to assume that there’s some essential difference in aesthetic quality between the music of Bach, Mozart, etc and that of the Beatles, Bernstein, Williams, etc. I’m not saying that all music is of the same quality of course, but when you hear what are normally counted as different types of music all played superbly well on one instrument (especially when that instrument is one that’s normally reserved for performances of classical music) then the divisions we normally perceive to exist between different types of music seem no longer to exist.

11 thoughts on “Artificial Divisions in Music

  1. Mm, this reminds me of the Katherine Jenkins version of ‘I Will Always Love You’. She sings it in Italian and is accompanied by orchestra. Indeed it does sound like an operatic aria. I can understand that someone might want to hear the full musical impact of an orchestra but why was it necessary to sing it in Italian? Surely only so it would appeal to musical snobs..

  2. I have recently visited Amazon. They have categories for their items for sale. The interesting point is under Music they list; Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop, Indie, Folk, Easy Listening, Country, Et Christ cetera. Under a separate category they list Classical Music. Is this an artificial division?

  3. I was on the Guardian blogspot the other day and noticed something similar, Duncan. There was one page for ‘Music’ – which was all the things you cite – and then there was another page for ‘Classical Music’. If there’s going to be a division then I’d rather ‘Classical Music’ was counted as ‘Music’ and the rest under, mmm, well I don’t know what. It would be false to classify Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop, Et Christ cetera, as ‘light music’ or even as ‘popular music’ because most of it isn’t light and some ‘classical’ music is as popular as the other types you’ve listed. Perhaps it is indeed an artificial division.

  4. Perhaps not. Divisions in music reflect the preferences of individuals and therefore are real and living to the preferees, no matter how misguided and asinine.

  5. I think more important than the piece of music was the astonishing performance that cuts through divisions, artificial or otherwise.

  6. Yes, she’s stunning. I didn’t realise that the ukulele could sound so good. But I do love this piece of music. I like Santana’s rock version too.

  7. Well this is a piece of Bach. And I’m just putting the link on here because I like it:
    But I did want to start off a new thread about the assumption that classical music is classical because it’s complicated. This music isn’t complicated but it’s of the highest aesthetic value and it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Message to Limerent Ludwig, by the way: the deepest emotional gestures can be made by humble little pieces like this. One doesn’t need the extravagancies of a Mahler.
    And Duncan, I hope I’ve shown I don’t have a prejudice against transcriptions.

  8. elaine-please not to think i like mahler only, also bach i love. you and duncan say mahler is extravagence but it may be the listening that is not correct. please hear the word and not only the vouice.

  9. Okay, sorry Ludwig. I’ll take your advice and try to listen to Mahler with a more objective ear. Hopefully my ear will hear the word.

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