Everyone Likes Classical Music

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I’ve seen several tweets lately on Twitter, and posts on Google Plus suggesting that everyone likes classical music, they just don’t know it yet.  While I’m inclined to agree, to a point,  I’d like to paraphrase that by saying everyone likes some classical music.  It’s been a part of all our lives for years.  Television shows, movies and even commercials have used this music for a long time.  Often we don’t even realise it is classical music.  We just know it sounds good.  One of my favourite examples of this is an ad that used to run from a bread company called Hovis.  They had a gorgeous piece of music in the background that I always loved.  I have no idea if Hovis still run those ads as I haven’t been in Britain for almost nine years.  I hope they do, though. Here’s an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgjLJSuGPt8

I’m not one to watch commercials, but when this came on I would make an exception and watch, just for the music.  I had no idea what the music was called or where it came from.  But now I’m into classical music I found out it’s part of Dvorak’s Synphony No 9.  It’s even more beautiful when you kisten to it in its proper context..

.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjyBN52kNBg

Even old television shows use classical music.  For instance, did you know the Lone Ranger theme is a classical piece? 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDqxni4bzto

When it comes to classical music it seems there are two popular misconcetions:

 

1. It’s for old fogeys.   Yet I’m seeing that more people in their 20’s and 30’s are getting turned onto classical music.  It seems to be a growing trend, especially as modern pop music is pretty bad these days, in my opinion.  I’m not saying it’s all bad but if you listen to mainstream radio you have to wade through more garbage to get to the good stuff.  In classical music there is no garbage.  I haven’t heard one tune that doesn’t sound at least good, if not great.  And tell me this music is just for old fogeys…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTd3ZsvqDiQ

Notice how all the players are young.  I love this video.  I watch it all the time.

 

2. It’s slow and boring.  I agree that not every classical music tune is fantastic, there are some that indeed are slow and boring.  To me.  Although others might love them.  It’s all down to personal taste, after all.  But listen to the William Tell Overture, or Beethoven’s 5th symphony, or Tchaikovski’s 1812 Overture and tell me they’re slow and boring.  My point is whatever style of music you’re into, you won’t like every tune, every song.  So you shouldn’t expect to like every single piece of classical music you hear.  I know I don’t.  But the difference is none of it sounds bad, unlike a lot of modern pop music.  If you’re curious to at least give it a try I’d suggest you do what I did.  Go to YouTube and search for popular classical music.  I bet you’ll be surprised at how many of them you know. After listening to those, I wanted to hear more.  I sought out individual composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovski, Chopin.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to them.  I became passionate about the music.  I can’t stop listening to it.  Yet a couple of weeks ago I had no interest in classical music.  Not because I thought it boring or horrible, or just for old people, I just hadn’t really given it much thought.  Once I truly listened to it I realised I actually love it.

I guarantee you will find music to suit every mood.  Happy?  Sad?  Angry?  Depressed?  Triumphant?  There’s a piece of classical music for that.

 

Classical Inspiration

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I was listening to some classical music earlier.  I do that a lot these days.  I just can’t get enough of it.  Anyway, as I was listening, a sentence just popped into my mind. 

“Are you ******* kidding me?”

I didn’t react, I just waited to see what would happen next.  A brief conversation exchange went on in my head.

This happens to me fairly often.  Don’t worry, I’m not really crazy.  I don’t think I am, anyway.

I’m a writer. 

Ask any writer and they’ll probably tell you the same thing happens to them.

I hope.

Anyway, what often happens is a sentence, or a piece of description, or, like today, a fragment of conversation will just pop into my head, often when I’m distracted by something entirely unconnected to writing.  The most annoying time it happens is when I’m in the shower.  You might be surprised by how often that happens.  It must be something about the water hitting your head, maybe invigorating the brain.

The snippets usually relate to something I’m working on.  Or sometimes they’ll inspire a whole new story.  Which can be really annoying when you’re already working on something and you suddenly have this sexy new idea knocking on your brain, demanding to be let out.

So far the story seems to center around a young man who’s having a bad week.  He went on two job interviews, missing out on both.  His girlfriend just left him.  He’s behind on the rent and the landlord is making threatening noises about eviction.  So he decides to wallow in misery by playing a depressing piece of classical music.  I googled the most depressing classical music and one piece that came up a lot is Bach’s Come, Sweet Death.  Not only is the title ideal, the music itself definitely fits the bill.  But, hey, if anyone knows of a more depressing piece of classical music then please feel free to suggest it!  So the idea is a rough and ready heavy metal fan who died has been sent to be a guardian angel for someone who’s a classical music buff.  Should be an interesting mix…

I’ve already blogged about how listening to classical music helped me with my editing last week, even leading to a huge breakthrough on chapter one, something that had been bothering me for a long time.  It seems classical music can also inspire me in my general writing and story ideas.

Classical music: It’s not just for listening to.  Apparently.

What’s Your Classical Obsession?

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Okay, so I’ve been a classical music fanatic for a couple of weeks now.  And I really do mean fanatic.  There is something about this music that speaks to my soul.  But as much as I’m trying to broaden my classical horizons by listening to as many composers as I can, there’s that one piece of music I find I keep coming back to.

Ravel’s Bolero.

There’s just something about this tune that I can’t get out of my head.  I love the constant drumbeat that runs right throughout the whole thing.  I love the way the drumbeat starts very faintly, as though from far away, slowly building in volume.  I love the way the whole thing builds up from gentle to a rousing crescendo.  I love the way each individual instrument gets its moment in the sun.  The flute.  The clarinet.  The trombone.  They all get to add their unique sound and stand out from the rest. 

There are two renditions I find myself returning to on YouTube.  I must watch both of them at least every other day.

This is the first one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTd3ZsvqDiQ

For sheer fun and the joy of music it’s hard to beat.  I love that it’s all young people playing it.  And they’re pretty good!  I love watching the faces of the tourists as they listen.  It’s great seeing people enjoy classical music.

Then when I want to hear a more serious version I turn to this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmEJLoawItU

For me, this is the best rendition I’ve ever heard.  I love listening to music conducted by Sergiu Celibidache.  This was the first time I watched him.  Then I watched two videos the same day of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony.  The first one was ok, I liked it enough. I don’t remember who conducted it.  But later on I watched another 9th Symphony video with Sergiu Celibidache conducting and what a difference!  The music just seemed more vivid, more alive.  I loved it.  He seemed to get that extra something out of the performers. 

So this is my go to piece when I want a quick fix of classical.  What’s yours? 

 

 

One Crazy Winter

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It’s been one crazy winter!  I don’t remember much snow in November or December, but so far in 2014 we’ve had over 50 inches of snow!  Most of that in a month and a half.  Now, I love snow.  Usually.  But I think I’m suffering from snow fatigue.  Is there such a word?  If not, then I just made it up.  And it should exist because I think most of the US is feeling it. 

I’ve only been living in the US for nine years.  I’m an Englsihman born and raised.  I moved to the US in February 2005. Staten Island, to be precise.  Ironically I landed at JFK airport right in the middle of a snowstorm, where we got anything from 8 inches to a foot!  Welcome to America!  Of course, I loved it.  We don’t see snow like that in England.  Oh it snows, but over there if you get four or five inches that’s a lot.  Maybe in northern England it snows more, but not in the south, which is where I’m from. Since that day I’ve seen 2 foot snowstorms.  A few years ago we had two 17 inch snowstorms sandwich a 3 inch storm all in the same month.  But somehow this year beats them all.  Maybe it’s partly the cold.  January in particular was a bitter month where our temp got down to single digits several times.  Now I’m going to be yelled at by people who’ve experienced frequent below zero temps.  Yes, I’m aware it can and does get colder in other parts of the US.  But five degrees is plenty cold enough for me thank you very much.

So, since I lived here, we’ve  been snowed in twice.  The first time was, I believe, in 2010.  The infamous boxing day blizzard.  Our storm door opens outwards and the snow was piled up so high against the door, I couldn’t push it open.  Luckily I was able to open the storm window and reach out to use the shovel to clear the snow away.  And this past week we’ve been housebound as the snow has piled up so much around our driveway we literally couldn’t get the car out.  I had to go out twice and hack away at ice as solid as granite before I could clear enough away that we could manouevre the car out.  The temp is currently 45 degrees and we’re meant to get up to 50.  Wey hey break out the shorts and t shirts!  It’s going to feel like summer!  We’re currently waiting for a front to bring thundery downpours. It’s knocking on our door as I type.

Sadly, the mild air is not going to last.  Dhe dreaded Polar Vortex, the phrase that became so infamous in January, is set to return for the start of next week, bringing with it at least two weeks of cold and multiple snow chances. 

Boo!

That snow fatigue is going to turn into snow exhaustion before Old Man Winter is done grumping at us.  I don’t know who’s upset him this year but whoever it is, could you please apologise already?  Spring cannot come soon enough.

On the brighter side, the cold and snow gives me an excellent excuse to sit and listen to more classical music.  Yes, I had to mention it again.  In fact I think it’s going to come up in almost all my blogs from now on.  What started as a simple curiousity has become a full blown obsession. I bought mt first classical music cd the other day. A best of Beethoven 3 cd box set. I’ve listened to it twice already. I might make it a third time later.

And as I type, there goes the first rumble of thunder.  See that?  With me you get not only a blog, but a weather report too!

A Muscial Voyage Of Discovery

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I’m continuing my journey of discovery in the world of classical music.  It really is becoming something of an obsession.  I even joined a meetup group today for classical music lovers.  I’m hoping to go to some concerts in the coming months.  I discovered another composer I really like in Dvorak.  Now I’m going to seek out more of his work.  It was suggested that I try his Symphony No 9 and I did.  It was wonderful.  There’s a piece of music in the second movement that a bread company called Hovis used to use in one of their commercials in England, my home country.  I always loved that piece of music but never realized it was classical.  It goes to show, many people actually like classical music without even knowing it.  I’m exploring the music on YouTube as well as the internet radio station, Pandora.  The good thing about Pandora is it plays the music randomly so I get to hear music I might never have heard because I wouldn’t know to go look for it.

I’m still waiting anxiously to get my first classical cd’s.  We’ve been stuck at home since last Wednesday because of snow and ice.  We tried to go out last night but the car kept getting stuck.  I dug out a lot of ice today so tomorrow we’re off out.  Hopefully we’ll get to B&N because I have a B&N card that i’m longing to use.  The upside of this is I have more time to listen to classical music, and more time to work out what cd’s I want.  Working from home is a good thing at times like this. 

Oh, I also heard a piece of music from Strauss today that I really liked.  On The Beautiful Blue Danube.  I knew the tune but hadn’t known the name of it or who composed it.  What a beautiful tune.  That’s another composer I have to check out for more.  And I haven’t started on Brahms, Liszt, Vivaldi, Ravel (though I love Bolero!) and so many others.  I’ve listened to some of Bach’s music and liked what I heard so far.  There’s just so much new music waiting to be discovered.  Well, I meant new to me.  But you knew that, didn’t you? 😉  Now I think I know what it feels like to be a kid locked in a candy store.

One last note, I know a lot of writers discuss what music they listen to when writing.  I never really had anything until now.  But with the wealth of incredible classical music out there I should find music to suit whatever mood I want to invoke in my writing. 

And to anyone who thinks classical music is boring or old fashioned, maybe you just haven’t listened to the right ones yet.  There is such a variety of music to choose from.  Light and airy, bold and brassy, tranquil, sad, angry you name it.  There’s a piece of classical music to suit every emotion you can think of.

The Triumph of the Human Spirit

Every now and then you come across something so inspirational it changes your whole mindset.  And since I’ve taken a keen interest in classical music, I’ve seen and heard a lot of inspiring things. But here is a young man who is blind, but plays the piano so beautifully you would never guess it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbAoeZZvntk

Videos like this show that the human spirit can not only endure, but can actually thrive in the most trying conditions.  Although he can’t even see the keyboard, Nobuyuki plays the piano faultlessly. 

As a type two diabetic, one of my greatest fears is going blind.  Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness.  Just the idea of not being able to see where I’m going terrifies me.  Not to mention the idea of not being able to read. Yet here is one individual who not only learned to llive with his disability, but he has been able to thrive despite it.

 

Nobuyuki, you are an inspiration to us all.

A Taste For Classical

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Okay, so I now have another obsession.  Like I don’t already have enough, what with writing, Doctor Who and football.  But several days ago I was browsing on YouTube, looking for something fun to listen to.  I saw something about popular classical music and decided to listen,  I was in the mood for something different.  So I listened to pieces such as 1812 Overture, Moonlight Sonata, William Tell Overture and several others.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to them.  So I decided to take this new interest one step further and seek out individual composers to hear what else they had.  After all, when you go to a foreign country you don’t just stay at the resort, do you?  If you want a true flavour of the country you go off the beaten track.  You take the road less traveled.  Well, just listening to the popular classics is a bit like staying at the resort.  It’s fun, but you can’t help wondering what else you’re missing.

So I did a search on Mozart and spent a couple of hours listening to various pieces he’d created.  I don’t think I heard a single piece I didn’t enjoy.  The following night I tried out Tchaikovski and spent another hour wallowing in the most beautiful sounds ever created.  The next night I checked out Chopin.  And the next night I butted heads with Beethoven.  Those are my top four composers so far.  I also listened to Haydn, Brahms and Bach.  Everything is so good, but those top four I mentioned are my firm favourites.  So far.  I just can’t stop listening to it!

I’ve even taken to listening to classical music at night before I fall asleep.  It’s so relaxing.  Last night I listened to Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker.  It was wonderful. 

Here’s one of my absolute favourite classical pieces…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmEJLoawItU

The music is just amazing.  And I love watching the conductor.  He really gives it everything he’s got.  And he visibly slumps with exhaustion when it’s over.  I remember first hearing this piece when watching Torville and Dean win Olympic gold in 1984.  Has it really been thirty years?  It seems appropriate then that I should develop a taste for classical music on such a great anniversary.  I actually watched their performance on the anniversary of their win.  I didn’t even know at the time of watching it WAS the anniversary.  Synchronisity at its finest.

Last night was another first.  I decided to dust off my work in progress, Psychic Witness, and settle in for some serious editing.  While listening to classical music.  It really seemed to help as the editing just flowed.  For once.  I’m actually starting to believe I can get this novel finished and out there for people to read.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from any other classical music fans out there. Maybe you can point me to composers and music I don’t even know of yet.