By: Victoria Fisher

In a world where everyone is crazy about the newest fads and trends, classical music is often viewed as ancient history. However, even though this music is over 300 years old, if you pay close attention you can see why it is still important today. Composers such as Bach, Haydn, and Mozart created astonishing symphonies, ballads, and operas, and are the reason classical music has become a framework for modern music. This “ancient” music is as much alive as it ever has been, even if we don’t realize it.

Although classical music seems irrelevant in the 21st century, if you study the art of classical music it becomes very clear that it set in motion the evolution of music. One of my favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), wrote a piece called “Prelude and Fugue Number 20 in A Minor.” It was a composition that took his classical style and combined it with a more modern approach. This prelude is now considered the first jazz song. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was a classical composer who created short, simple melodic patterns and chords that everyone could enjoy. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was inspired by much of Bach’s music, and, similarly to Schubert, started creating new patterns and melodies. Mozart created a simple four-chord melody that now is used in almost all music. Even though his creation was simple and brief, it still resonates with everyone.

Many modern musical artists have a connection with classical music. Most of them grew up playing the piano, guitar, or violin, which gives them an understanding of music theory. Justin Bieber started playing the drums when he was only two years old. He also can play the piano, trumpet, and guitar. Hunter Hayes can actually play 30 instruments, some of them being the piano, drums, guitar, and accordion. Adele uses chords and sequences that have been used since the classical period, but her unique voice and style give her a sound everyone can recognize. Being able to play these instruments provides the ability to transfer that skill into the modern music industry. Piano Guys and 2Cellos are great examples of artists that transform many popular songs into arrangements that feature classical instruments. The high riffs of the violins, the low rumble of the basses, and smoothness of the keys not only tugged at our heartstrings 300 years ago, but still give us chills today.

Think about some of your favorite childhood cartoons. Would they have been as funny without the little instrumental sound effects?

There are many episodes of TV shows such as “Tom and Jerry” and “Looney Tunes” that feature the music of classical composers. A 1947 episode of “Tom and Jerry” features Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2. Many “Looney Tunes” episodes are built around classical pieces such as “Tales from the Vienna Woods, Op. 325” by Johann Strauss, “Minute Waltz in D-Flat” by Frédéric Chopin, “Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna” by Franz von Suppé, and more. How about your favorite horror movie? Would you have been as scared without music adding suspense? “The Shining,” a classical horror film, uses Bartok’s Music for Strings to build up the anticipation within the movie. How about the famous ballet, “The Nutcracker”? Would you enjoy watching people prance around a stage to the sound of nothing? These movies, shows, and plays would not be as entertaining if there was not any music to draw us in. Whether we choose to believe it or not, classical music set the stage for all music, and has helped keep us invested in the entertainment industry.

Instead of throwing classical music out the back window and putting in a Taylor Swift CD, perhaps give classical music a chance and turn on some Schubert or Mozart for the ride home. During study hours play on some Bach as well; its calming effects can help you stay focused. Even if we feel too cool to listen to music from centuries ago, the influence of the classical period should give us a deeper appreciation of our favorite music today.

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