Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Let me introduce to you

There has always been this huge gap between what we today broadly label as classical music and pop music. They are two completely different worlds. I write this very much from a pop music fan's perspective. I've always known that there must be huge amounts of non-contemporary music that  I could like if I understood it a bit more. I heard a Viola piece by Schubert yesterday and I imagined it was something John Lennon had written. When I did this it made much more sense. It was a simple tune and could have been written by either and I loved it.  The Viola had a similar melancholic quality to Lennon's voice in some of his early solo work. Schubert is more accessable than most but anyway, I bridged that gap. I did not catch the name of Schubert's piece but I'll probably come across it again when I get to about the 1820s - a long way ahead.

There is a point to checking out the work of  the 'classical' composers in chronological order. That is that you are more likely to hear the exciting new developments they made in music. It is surprising how fresh and new something that is a few hundred years old can sound if you start from the beginning of time and follow music's evolution. Your perception of that music will change, it will not sound so old and it will become easier to get into.

To begin with I will fast forward through to the year 1000A.D. for a simple reason which will be explained. I then intend to break my hitstory into centuries and later into decades when the best music begins to shift from vocal church music to instrumental secular music at the start of the 1600s or may be a little before - we'll see when I get there. If I make it as far as the 1950s I will separate each year probably to the present day. To try to create a picture of the different times I'll put down what was happening in other areas such as philosophy, literature, art, architecture and technology. Occasionally I know that there can be interesting parallels to be drawn. These other areas should be good to write about in their own right so I will probably digress a bit but it will always be the music and how it changes that is the central theme. 

If you want to join me in finding out about all this then do not be daunted and come back when I have written some more because the year 1000 is only about 13 life spans ago, so it’s of a time closer than you might imagine.

Music is more easily accessible online these days (spotify is what has got me started with all this) than ever before and as we go through the ages I am going to tell you which specific pieces of music I think are really worth hearing. I hope that this blog can provide a helpful pointer for anybody who wants to delve a bit and find out what music from the past they are missing (or not - it’s all subjective after all). So until next time......


  1. Hi Will. Sorry if you've had a similar post from me just now, but I'm quite new to all this!
    I find the history of music fascinating too, and it's nice to see someone talking about it like this. I also increasingly find fewer differences between old and new music as I get older and generally find it all rather moving. I'm particularly keen on the theme tune from "Merlin" at the moment. Don't know why! It's very well written, a good melody and all, but I can't say exactly what makes it better than other theme tunes...

  2. Quick work...Wow, what a project! Great idea too. I've clicked to follow the blog so assume I'll get email notifications each time there's a new entry. Tempted to start one myself too

  3. Nice one will, when it's finished I'll design the book!