Friday, December 23, 2011

Going Back in Time – Centuries for a Change

Sorry once again, folks, for my long-lasting absence from this blog. It's been a busy fall but now the holidays are here once again. While trying to get as much rest as I can I also hope to write down some of my most cherished memories of late 2011.

First of all, meet my new favorite live act. They are probably the biggest group of people I have ever seen playing music together. They are the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, my home town's very own orchestra. Like probably almost any other orchestra, this one performs mostly old classics from the 18th and 19th century but also “new” music of the 20th century and even brand new pieces every now and then.

The transition from popular music to art music surely feels difficult for a lot of people. Classical music differs from popular music in many ways but I don't think there is much reason to be afraid of going to a classical music concert. The first concert may not be the most pleasant experience you can think of but it will get better every time. Classical music doesn't rely on catchy rhythms, explicit melodies or moving lyrics. Instead, there are complex harmonic structures, wildly twisting melodies and dynamics that require sitting on the right seats to be fully appreciated.

However, I am not saying that classical music is difficult. Enjoying any new type of music requires practice. The brain needs to accustom to new ways in which sounds, rhythms, and dynamics are combined. Any person able to sense the basic elements of music will develop a deeper understanding of classical music while listening to different symphonies, concertos, and other pieces.

The first time I heard classical music live was while still in elementary school, which certainly was too early to understand anything about it. Like any other music, classical music is also best served when you are ready for it. Still, now is as good a time as ever to test if you might be ready for classical music.

My interest in classical music began when my dad wanted to take my heavy metal loving brother to listen to some proper acoustic music last summer. I went along and was immediately incredibly moved by the overwhelming harmonious beauty of the violins, cellos and other instruments. A few months later I went to another concert with some people from the university. Then, I realized I wanted to go every week, so I went as often as I could. I heard Barber, Prokofjev, Brahms, Schubert, Finland's pride Bergman and a fabulous concert with music from Weill, Britten and Bartók on my birthday. The last concert of the year was a beautiful baroque Christmas concert with music from Händel, Telemann, Corelli, and Bach.

After all, classical music is actually not so different from baroque pop – the pop part is just kind of replaced with something else. Usually that results in more complex structures, harmonics and melodies that make it more challenging to hear the music as a whole. In the end, perhaps the challenge results in even more rewarding listening experiences.

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