Baroque or (ba)Rock and Roll?

How does one define “classical” music? How is it different from other genres, such as “rock and roll” or “jazz”? In what way is “baroque” music different (or the same) as other so-called “classical” music?

Why do we carve musical genres into these subsets, anyway, and what are the characteristics that define each and create distinctions from other genres? Is there more commonality between genres than we realize?

I ponder these questions, and use these specific examples, in part because I thoroughly enjoy music in all these genres (and more), and I notice that some other people have more exclusive and fixed musical tastes. And the question is important because I wonder if people who *think* their tastes are finite might thoroughly enjoy other music if only they were open to the idea and exposed to high quality examples.

A number of music lovers over the years have told me their favorite two musical genres are baroque and … (surprisingly) heavy metal! I have heard this too many times to count, from teenagers in Metallica t-shirts attending a harpsichord recital, to adults who email to say their lifelong love of Megadeth has morphed into an affinity for Bach’s Magnificat. And while I *LOVE* these stories, and have heard variations on them for decades, I have yet to identify the connective thread between the genres. Maybe you can help unlock this mystery.

Are you someone who likes many different musical genres? How did your tastes evolve? Can you describe what you like about various types of music? Are they connected in some way that you can explain? Why do you like the music you like?


7 comments on “Baroque or (ba)Rock and Roll?

  1. Ed Greene on

    Firstly, we must give credit to the “Father of Rock & Roll”, Chuck Berry, for writing & recording
    “Roll over Beethoven” in 1956.

    Then, in 1968 came Walter (Wendy) Carlos with “Switched on Bach”, which was a crossover hit in the hay daze (sic) of The Beatles, Stones & Led Zeppelin.
    However, even closer to your question, I recall buyng & loving the 1971 LP
    “Heavy Organ – Virgil Fox, Live at the Fillmore East”.
    What a show he put on & how the Fillmore East crowd loved it!
    Perhaps the roots between the mutual music attraction are close to being there.

    Then there still is the “Trans Siberian Orchestra”, which although not quite Baroque,
    brings the rock world closer to the classical (usually around the Winter Solstice).

  2. Ed G. on

    Always have wondered what Bach (or any of the Greats) would have thought of electronic keyboard (ie. synthesizer) music.
    Any thoughts, S.B.??

    • Suzanne Bona on

      Curiosity and innovation were among the traits of the greatest composers, so I suspect they’d have been fascinated with electronic music and would have experimented!

  3. Jonathan Langsner on

    I love jazz and I love chamber music. Both are musically complex, both are more intimate settings (compared to orchestral music) and in both, although in my view even more so in jazz, the unique contribution of each musician comes to the fore.

  4. Robert Humberston on

    When I was about 5 years old my parents gave me sets of small record boxes from Little Golden Books offering snippets “from Bach to Bartok” as I recall, as well as the instruments of the orchestra in examples. In third grade I joined my dad in our cathedral choir of men and boys, and thus began a lifelong love of sacred music from plainsong service settings, aka chant, through Bach and beyond. As a teen in the 60’s, I loved the virtuosity of the guitarists with no equal even today, and the polyphonic complexity of many of those albums full of the spirit of the times.To this day I listen to early and Classical music and often to classic rock especially in my car. I think these genres share an intricacy that I seldom hear in more recent pop/rock music, and I fail to appreciate most more contemporary “Classical “ music. I think much Baroque music as well as classic rock have similar structure, repeated bass lines and organized form. Love of music knows no boundaries.

    • Suzanne Bona on

      What lovely memories! Thanks for sharing. I think you make a good point about structure as a common aspect.

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