Classical Music in Pop Culture

As most of you are, I am a huge classical music fan. But probably not shared with most here, Im more than just a fan, Im a classical music geek. I consume classical music content like star wars fans eat up merchandise. My room is decorated with tons of music paraphernalia, I wear classical music based t-shirts, and I enjoy TV shows, movie, or video games that have any thing to do with classical music. Even all the tattoos I have and plan to get are inspired by classical music. I have come to accept my dorkiness when it comes to classical music and I am pretty sure I will be the professor that wears nerdy classical music ties to work. 

I began really thinking about my classical music nerdiness and about classical music in pop culture. I was also thinking about all of my favorite classical music moments in popular culture; from the various shows I like that are centered around classical music or have some classical music element where in it to just random tid bits that are out there. This got me thinking what are some of y'alls favorite classical music moments in popular culture. 

It can be, as mentioned, anything from TV, movies, commercials, video games, or even in merchandise such as board games, clothing, flash mobs, phone apps, etc. 

Basically anything outside of just concerts and recordings. Tell us a little bit about it and why you like it or why its worth mentioning. 

Ill be popping in every so often to mention some of my favorite things as I remember them. 

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  • Hi Tyler,

    this is most interesting! For me it is mainly recordings that I could associate classical with pop culture.

    In some well loved pop/rock songs I found the meaning of the words quite serious (like in the following song) and also the musical vocabulary used quite versatile and quasi classical (it even contains use of subdominant minor-not easily found in rock musicians vocabulary).

    Have a listen to this song by George Harrison. It is a re-mix from what I can hear (with prominent base line) but the original concept of George Harrison and the way that George Martin orchestrated it (harpsichord and strings) make it really a "classic" unknown Beatle's song.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydjHermInOE

  • Great question!  For me, it would be the film "Amadeus." The movie came out when I was in college.  I had always been somewhat interested in music but that movie really drew my attention to aspects of classical music that I had not previously focused on including Mozart's music itself, chamber music - particularly woodwind music (the scenes involving Serenade #10 are my favorite) and opera.  That film launched me onto a path of informal study that continues to this day.   I do think it a shame that some folks seem to think that the only worthwhile music is the music of that era, and my own curiosity has since moved into the more contemporary era - but that film definitely made a lasting impact on my interests.  

  • The first thing I wanted to share is a series of things related to one story. Nodame Cantabile started life as a manga (Japanese comic book) but has grown into an Anime (japanese cartoon) as well as two live action shows, one in Japan and one in Korea under the title Cantabile Tomorrow. It has also been made into two movies in Japan and the anime and manga have been translated into english. The show has gain such popularity that it even has its own video game and a Nodame Cantabile theme cafe. 

    The plot is as followed:

    Shinichi Chiaki, an arrogantmultilingual perfectionist, is the top student at Momogaoka College of Music and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy (namely Prague), but is trapped in Japan because of his childhood phobia of airplanes and the ocean. In contrast, Megumi Noda, or "Nodame", is a piano student at Momogaoka, notorious for messiness and eccentric behavior. Despite being very talented, Nodame prefers to play by ear rather than according to the musical score; thus, she is regarded as sloppy and playful.

    When they meet by accident, Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame's unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Along the way, they meet some crazy people (like Masumi, Mine, and Stresemann) and make lasting friendships. Because of Nodame, Chiaki gets the opportunity to lead a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people's musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.

    Here are some of the trailers and scenes from the live action shows and anime

    From the Anime

    from the live action film

    Trailer of Korean Drama

    What I love about this series is that it doesnt just pull from the cannon of super popular classical pieces but pulls from pieces that, before I watched the show, even I didnt know about. The story is super engaging and well written and they understand a lot of the struggles that musicians (particularly those in college) feel. The animation in the anime is also very accurate to how the instruments are played. All of these series are available online to watch and the manga is available for purchase online as well. I highly suggest spending a day and just binge watching it. 

    arrogant - Wiktionary
  • Cant go wrong with that movie, regardless of any of its historical inaccuracies. 

    T.T. Gaudynski said:

    Great question!  For me, it would be the film "Amadeus." The movie came out when I was in college.  I had always been somewhat interested in music but that movie really drew my attention to aspects of classical music that I had not previously focused on including Mozart's music itself, chamber music - particularly woodwind music (the scenes involving Serenade #10 are my favorite) and opera.  That film launched me onto a path of informal study that continues to this day.   I do think it a shame that some folks seem to think that the only worthwhile music is the music of that era, and my own curiosity has since moved into the more contemporary era - but that film definitely made a lasting impact on my interests.  

    Classical Music in Pop Culture
    As most of you are, I am a huge classical music fan. But probably not shared with most here, Im more than just a fan, Im a classical music geek. I co…
  • "Great question!  For me, it would be the film "Amadeus." The movie came out when I was in college. "

    I am very interested in films depicting the lives of composers.  Amadeus is an obviously famous example.  My favorite film in this category is the one about Shostakovich, starring Ben Kingsley, called "Testimony."  

    But good films about composers are hard to come by.  "Immortal Beloved," about Beethoven was quite poor.   I thought "Copying Beethoven" was better, but not excellent.  A very long film called "Wagner," with Richard Burton in the starring role was fairly interesting. There was one good film about Gustav Mahler that I saw.   And there are more than one or two good films that have Stravinsky as the main character, or as one of the main characters.  Can anyone think of some more? 

     

  • How about this? It's about the French baroque da gabist composer Marin Marais but more importantly about his teacher  monsieur Sainte-Colombe whose first name is still unknown to us and also about their very difficult relationship. It is a classic art film about real main stream French art and its origins in French traditional music.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40_0ciGtpYM



    O. Olmnilnlolm said:

    "Great question!  For me, it would be the film "Amadeus." The movie came out when I was in college. "

    I am very interested in films depicting the lives of composers.  Amadeus is an obviously famous example.  My favorite film in this category is the one about Shostakovich, starring Ben Kingsley, called "Testimony."  

    But good films about composers are hard to come by.  "Immortal Beloved," about Beethoven was quite poor.   I thought "Copying Beethoven" was better, but not excellent.  A very long film called "Wagner," with Richard Burton in the starring role was fairly interesting. There was one good film about Gustav Mahler that I saw.   And there are more than one or two good films that have Stravinsky as the main character, or as one of the main characters.  Can anyone think of some more? 

     

    - YouTube
    Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
  • I love Immortal Beloved, especially more the Copying Beethoven. Its one of the movies I watch at least once every few months. 

    There are a few more biopic films about composers I have seen, most of them were just a bit boring for me. However, for the life of me I can't remember the name of the BBC movie about Stravinsky and the Rite of Spring. I thought it was very good, though it does have that "made for TV movie" feel. 

    O. Olmnilnlolm said:

    "Great question!  For me, it would be the film "Amadeus." The movie came out when I was in college. "

    I am very interested in films depicting the lives of composers.  Amadeus is an obviously famous example.  My favorite film in this category is the one about Shostakovich, starring Ben Kingsley, called "Testimony."  

    But good films about composers are hard to come by.  "Immortal Beloved," about Beethoven was quite poor.   I thought "Copying Beethoven" was better, but not excellent.  A very long film called "Wagner," with Richard Burton in the starring role was fairly interesting. There was one good film about Gustav Mahler that I saw.   And there are more than one or two good films that have Stravinsky as the main character, or as one of the main characters.  Can anyone think of some more? 

     

    Classical Music in Pop Culture
    As most of you are, I am a huge classical music fan. But probably not shared with most here, Im more than just a fan, Im a classical music geek. I co…
  • Another bit of pop culture I want to add is a card game called IV-V-I. 

    451-cardshot-05_1024x1024.jpg?v=1385926650

    I just recently bought this game and I am beginning to learn how to play it. So far, I find it to be very fun and it hits all my nerdy music points. Its a card game about music theory in which you build harmonic progression to gain points while sending part writing errors to your competitor to take away their points. You don't have to be a music theorist to play the game, as many of the rules are written on the cards themselves. But it is a great game to learn or reenforce part writing rules, and its just good old fun. Its pretty cheap, though it is only available from the creators website here: http://musicteachertools.myshopify.com/products/iv-v-i

    The game play is closer to that of other card games like Magic the Gathering than your standard card game like poker or old maid. For me, thats appealing as someone who played Magic the Gathering in high school. The downside of the game is that it is still very new and there are a lot of missing harmonies and other techniques (such as modulations). You are also limited to a major key progression. The cards themselves are very difficult to shuffle which is only compounded due to the fact that there are a large number of certain card versus other cards. This makes damaging the cards very easy when shuffling (which I have already done to at least three of the cards) and makes its very easy to get a hand of all one type of card. 

    Other than that its a fun game to play if you can find folks to play with, and the play time is relatively short which means multiple rounds with multiple people. 

    You can learn to play with a series of Youtube videos starting with this one. 

  • One can get into a long lengthy debate about what is classical music and what isn't. Im sure there are TONS of threads on this forum about that, but for the sake of this thread I wanted to talk about classical music defined as "music produced or rooted in Western European concert music traditions." I know that definition isn't the best but for sake of simplicity lets keep it to music that follows somewhat in the footsteps of the popular definition of classical music (i.e. bach beethoven to copland etc). 

    There is a very very good reason why I want to stick to this definition. Classical music, as defined above, is severely under represented in popular culture and media. Out of all fields of interest that one can have, popular culture either ignores, misrepresents, or mocks classical music. In movies and TV show, one major trope is classical music accompanying snobby rich people thumbing their nose at quote normal people, or worse depicting kids in classical music as Band geeks or orchestra dorks prime for ridicule. 

    When classical music is depicted even a little bit more positively or is the feature, its often the villain. In the movie drumline, classical music is what made the band unpopular and it isn't until the abandon it for popular hip hop and motown music does the band become popular and win the competition. In the movie Sister Act 2, the final scene is a choir competitions in which the choir that is depicted as the "evil rich choir" sings Beethoven Ode to Joy. The choir featured in the entire movie sings popular music, gospel, and even raps. Even movies or shows that's main character is in the classical arts depict classical music or the arts as something to over come. The character's transformation involves them shedding the classical music shell and adopting the popular music world completely to be accepted and happy. 

    Talent based reality TV shows almost never reward classical music. For ever Paul Potts singing an Opera Aria, there are a hundred contestants singing popular music covers. Choir competition shows feature Acapella groups singing popular music most choir kids never sing. 

    These are the main depictions of classical music in popular culture, and for me its a little troubling. As someone who was introduced to music in the schools, I felt the repercussions of this cultural backlash against classical music. I have had friends quit band half way through because it was not cool anymore. I was made fun of because that band geek stereotype formed the opinions of most of my classmates. As an adult and person of color, I have been called Bougie and snobby simply because I love classical music. 

    This is why I seek out positive representation of classical music in popular culture. Its reaffirming that someone out there does understand. It also helps that these little nuggets of classical music in popular culture help spread a positive message about classical music. That it is fun, it is worth pursuing or listening too, and that it is accessible to everyone. Thats why I wanted to talk about this and thats why for sake of this conversation I want to use the popular definition of classical music. 

    Peter Brown said:

    I'm not really sure what defines 'Classical Music'. But as a young country, our Pop Cultural beginnings were defined in terms of Classical Music. Scott Joplin's Pop Culture piano Rags and contemporary jazz in nearly every genre, were introduced to the broad audience via Classical Music. Classical music roots go back farther than we have recorded documents on. Classical music can be like the DNA within every form of traditional and non traditional music, popular or unpopular.

    But my favorite movie with 'Classical' music is West Side Story. Then it would be the theme for the TV series, M.A.S.H.

    Again, the word 'Classical' isn't too well defined as far as I can understand it. It might just be music that's been studied and used as exceptional examples. This could be contemporary or, historical as in Classic Beatle songs'. or;    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H8_13x3JaI

       

    Classical Music in Pop Culture
    As most of you are, I am a huge classical music fan. But probably not shared with most here, Im more than just a fan, Im a classical music geek. I co…
  • By the way, 

    I LOVE West Side Story as well :)

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