Classical Music for Dummies
BY GEORGE JI '23
I’m often asked, “George, how is your skin so smooth?” I always reply, “It’s because I only take cold showers.” But it’s also because I listen to classical music.
Though you might not know them by name, you’ve probably heard classical pieces before. From the unforgettable bum bum bum buuum of Beethoven’s Fifth to Mozart’s instantly recognizable Serenade No.13, some of the most iconic music today is classical. Whether you want to update your playlist or see what real music is like, this article is for you!
Listening to classical music is more than a hobby. Studies show that listening for extended periods can decrease stress, reduce pain, and increase brain activity. Given these benefits to mental acuity, does classical music actually make you smarter?
While most experts agree that classical music and other genres provide similar benefits, classical enthusiasts argue that listening to classical pieces will increase intelligence if done correctly. And many of these so-called experts criticizing classical music don’t even listen to it.
Based on my own experience, classical music provides perks beyond the expected. For example, listening to Mozart for thirty minutes allows me to see through walls. Within an hour, I can read minds. Keep in mind that I’m a seasoned veteran and that your results may vary. However, for said results, here are my tips:
01 Remain expressionless while listening.
Showing any joy while listening to classical music is a telltale sign that you’re a fake fan. When in the presence of other classical enthusiasts, refrain from showing emotion, and do not make sudden movements. This signals to them that you are similarly cold and lifeless, and thus, a person capable of enjoying classical music.
02 Classical music is best experienced live.
A recording simply cannot capture the nuances of each note, nor can it ever reach the highs and lows of each movement. For this reason, I recommend that beginners attend a live concert. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally listening to the recorded version online; just remember that what you’re hearing is inferior in every way.
03 Search for emotion within each composition.
Many classical pieces are meant to evoke certain feelings or ideas, and tapping into them can heighten your appreciation for any given composition. An experienced listener should weep when the music demands it, and they should explode in rage when the melody does too.
Beyond your listening technique, your experience also depends on what you listen to. And for recommendations, there’s only one person I trust: me. For the classically illiterate, here are my suggestions:
01 Nocturne in F Minor - Frederic Chopin
Melancholic, suspenseful, and calm all at once, listen to this when you’re feeling like the tragic villain.
02 Sarabande - George Frideric Handel
Perfect for pondering important yet somber ideas (e.g. the death of reason in the modern age, the fragility of love, the significance of life in an uncaring universe, etc.).
03 The Lonely Genius in C Major - George
Assuming you’ve memorized all my teachings by now, it's time for you to become a classical music lover yourself. Like a baby bird leaving the nest, spread your wings, fly, and begin your new life as a classical music enthusiast.