Classical music is a common term which most frequently refers to the more formal classical music tradition of the Western hemisphere, considered by many to be completely different from other Western forms of music. However, in a broader sense, the word can also refer to music demonstrating similar formal qualities especially in non-western cultures. It is worth noting that while the two styles share some characteristics such as the use of complex polyphonic scales and melodic inventions, classical music also places a greater emphasis on the development of a strong musical language and style. While Western music tends to leave most of its themes unadorned, in classical music, musical motifs and expressive ways of conveying emotion are given great importance. Additionally, classical music often times employs complex rhythmic patterns and meter changes, something that cannot be fully attributed to other forms of music. Another interesting characteristic of classical music, which separates it from other forms of music, is its marked potency on the emotions, bringing the listener a heightened sense of intimacy.
When we hear the word “classical” however, what comes to our minds are not just the calm serenity of its rhythms and tunes, but the deeper connotations related to its composers. Most commonly, we think of composers such as John Corigliano, Ludwig von Beethoven, or Johannes Brahms, who were once famous for their impressive orchestral works, but who over the years found themselves tarnished by the wrong word (or several) over many cases of plagiarism. The same can be said of famous composers such as Alexander Borodin (Siberia), Semyonov (Ukraine), Aleksandr Pushkin (Russia), Nicolai Rimsky (Russia), Vasili Oschepkov (Ukraine), among others. While some may attribute these crimes to their emotions, there are also some who point out that their compositions contain very little similarity with the actual words composed by these composers.
And so, although I often compare classical music to that of western music, what is actually being said is that both have developed from the same musical roots and therefore derive from the same musical culture, which is classical. It would be incorrect, however, to say that there is a distinct genre of classical as compared to that of baroque or Romantic music. Baroque and Romantic are actually just different names used by different artists for a specific style of artistic development. The styles of each genre eventually merge into and blend with the classical style, taking all elements from both classical and western music to form something new and uniquely classical. And so, although I always compare classical to western music, and vice versa, the similarities and differences between the two genres only lie in the name we give them, and not in the actual content of their composition.