What Does “Classical Music” Really Mean, Anyway?

After viewing this clip, I really think you have to ask that question. A shared ethos that ElderSib and I have is that, for us, classical music can (and maybe should) be distinguished from the context in which it’s played. Which is to say, you can just strip away all the sociological detritus that has piled up on top of it, to the extent that “classical music” connotes white-tie events, inscrutable music theory, annoying piano teachers who make your fingers curl into unnatural shapes, etc. ad infinitum. Which is to say again, formality and all its concomitant, stifling rigor.

Those elements cannot be fully dissociated from classical music, of course, but the way I see it, they are but one element of the whole. And not even the most important one. Frankly I don’t know how to give words to what I do find to be the most important elements (and I don’t know that I want or need to), so I’ll blindly wave around at it by saying it is the capacity of music – the music itself – to move us, both in creating it and hearing it. We try to leave the other stuff in its rightful place and focus on that.