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Gauging the difference between classical and instrumental music comes down to the definition of either form, and it can be difficult to state precisely. Classical music has several definitions. It can refer to the music of a specific area or country, such as classical Romanian music, or to a strict period of Western music production between 1750-1820 that was expressed with a range of different instruments, instrument arrangement, and vocal productions. Composers of the classical music period include Mozart and Beethoven.
Sometimes, people use "classical music" to refer to any music written prior to the early 20th century that might be performed by an orchestra or a symphonic band. Classical music could be operas, solos, and small arrangements for chamber orchestras, quartets, quintets or trios. In this case, the difference between classical and instrumental music is the instruments: electric guitars, synthesizers, or any instruments developed after the early 20th century would be examples of those capable of producing instrumental but not classical music.
When comparing the two, it can be helpful to look at instrumental music that is produced in the style of classical music but written after the 20th century. In this case, the difference is based on the era. Some modern film scores, for example, are instrumental music, evocative of the classical era. Here, the modern film's score may sound like classical music, but isn’t because it was written recently.
Instrumental music in strictest definition is music played on an instrument. Some people include the human voice as an instrument, but others do not, so only classical music without singing is instrumental. Even if voice is included in the definition of instrumental music, many modern bands still would not be classed as instrumental. Further, they wouldn’t be considered classical, especially if they played in different genres like rock or ska.
When instrumental means without vocal accompaniment, any music composed without vocals would be instrumental. In this case, the difference between classical and instrumental music comes down to fine details and how strict the definition is of either form. To some, all classical music, vocal or not, is instrumental. To others, instrumental music means without vocals, so only some classical music qualifies. To others there is no difference between them, since both genres are produced on instruments.
Frequently Asked Questions
What defines classical music compared to instrumental music?
Classical music is a genre rooted in Western musical traditions, spanning from the 11th century to the present. It is characterized by structured compositions, often written by composers like Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven, and typically performed by orchestras or chamber groups. Instrumental music, on the other hand, refers to any music performed without vocals, regardless of genre. This means that while all classical music can be instrumental, not all instrumental music is classical.
Can instrumental music belong to genres other than classical?
Yes, instrumental music encompasses all genres where instruments are used without vocal accompaniment. This includes jazz, rock, electronic, and world music, among others. For instance, the intricate guitar solos of rock or the synthesized beats of electronic dance music are both examples of instrumental music that fall outside the classical genre.
How does the complexity of classical music compare to other instrumental music?
Classical music is often noted for its complexity in terms of structure, harmony, and melody. Compositions frequently feature multiple movements with varying tempos and time signatures. In contrast, other instrumental music may follow simpler patterns and structures, focusing on groove, mood, or improvisation. However, complexity is subjective and can be found across all music genres, depending on the composer and the piece.
Are there any specific instruments unique to classical music?
While many instruments are shared across various music genres, certain instruments are more closely associated with classical music. These include the violin, viola, cello, double bass, harpsichord, and various woodwinds like the oboe and bassoon. However, these instruments can also appear in other genres, demonstrating their versatility.
How has the audience for classical music evolved over time?
The audience for classical music has evolved significantly over time. Historically, it was often associated with the aristocracy and performed in courts and churches. Today, classical music has broadened its reach and is enjoyed by diverse audiences worldwide. According to a report by Statista, as of 2018, 35% of adults in the United States had attended a classical concert within the past year, indicating its enduring appeal across different demographics.
For more detailed statistics and insights into the audience for classical music, you can visit the Statista website: https://www.statista.com/statistics/310746/share-adults-attended-classical-concert-last-year/.