Only two types of music in the World.....

• Jul 26, 2015 - 07:34

Somebody once told me that there are only two types of music in the World.... Classical music (pre-composed and written down) and Jazz (improvised). I didn't pay much attention at the time they told me, but I think they may be right.
If you think about it, all modern music comes from one or the other or a combination of both.


Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, all of them, all were among the best improvisors of their day. People tend to forget that. Improvisation is not strictly unique to Jazz, but very much an important part of the compositional process. If you have no ear for how notes (or sounds in general) are suppose to go together, you're going to have difficulty writing anything. You can't write if you can't speak. Also for that matter, much of Baroque style was not strictly written. Ever heard of figured bass? On top of that even in later eras there are passages of music where the musician is expected to improvise. The cadenza in Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 comes to mind, and far too few pianists ever try it.

This is because classical musicians, and conservatories, tend to overlook improvisation completely. I've asked piano teachers of mine, all very skilled and accomplished, to improvise something, and they say they can't do it. I for one feel that this is a problem. It's like we are training a bunch of player pianos who, although can play very beautifully, can't think on their own.

People need to be completely literate. It's not enough to just read a language, you got to speak it too. Music is not Latin. It's small wonder people are complaining that classical music is dying. Anything that is static tends to do that.

I mean what does "modern" music have for musicians that "classical" doesn't? For one, it's not static, people are writing their own, improvising on their own, expressing themselves, and with each other. Classical music use to have that too.

Sorry for the ranting, it's late and this is a favorite subject of mine.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus


I was about to make a post along the same lines of yours, but you did it better than I could have done it (among other things, English not being my mother tongue).

Let me only add that Baroque music (and even more Renaissance music) generally used the written medium only as a summary or an aide-memoire; Basso continuo is one example, divisions are another, and so on: if you play a piece of those times "as it is written" there is a high probability you are going to "miss" it by far.

In reply to by Joshua Pettus

FWIW, a fair amount of jazz is largely through-composed (completely written out) as well. The distinctions between classical and jazz when it comes to improvisation versus notation are more a matter of degree, and realistically, the difference are more about "style" than this. Eg, a completely improvised piece in a classical style doesn't suddenly become jazz, nor does a compeltel notated piece in jazz style suddenly become classical. These are somewhat interesting points to ponder and discuss; less so to argue about :-)

I can't really make sense of the central thesis here. 'The world' and 'the Western world' are not synonymous, and - even though no definition was offered for the term 'modern' in this context - the last sentence concerning 'all modern music' is manifestly false.

In reply to by [DELETED] 448831

Of course, but I didn't want to go into "music snobbery" mode. These "colloquialisms" are used by the un-initiated. You can indeed tell them all that they are very wrong, that there is far more to the world then outside their front door (and not that this a bad thing). But it's not going to change that they are used, and you can lose your audience that way. The main point is that improvisation is an important part of all music: "classical" included.

In my opinion that's not true, music throughout history has evolved and styles are steeped in a thousand different ideas.
Say that modern jazz music drifting is more than pretentious, I would say that jazz has failed to catch on in no time, I doubt that he ever.

A greeting

I can't agree with that commentary.

There is only one type of music in all over the world: MUSIC!!!

It doesn't matter how it sounds, which instruments uses, how much long is... MUSIC IS... JUST MUSIC!!!

Music is the soul feelings expression, through the sound.

Must we judge it? ???

I think: NO!!!

We can talk about if the player "interpretation" was close or far to the composer idea, maybe. But, nobody has rights to judge a soul feeling, so... nobody has rights to judge music.

Music is a gift, an extra human gift.

We can and we have to enjoy it. Final Dot.



Let me point out that my theory is not meant to be a literal absolute truism. Like my most wise observations it is meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek but at the same time valid.
I'm not ignoring other forms of music such as ethnic music...... I'm trying to say that when I first heard this expression I didn't understand what was trying to be said - but now I do.
Most words of wisdom are not complete, they are meant to be taken in context.
Classical music and Jazz sum up everything that you need to know about music theory. Let's say that you are a pianist and you're accomplished at reading scores and have the technical ability to play the most difficult pieces of 'classical' work, but you can also improvise to the demanding standards of jazz, then there is probably nothing that you can't play on piano, nor any style that you can't perform, be it pop, rock,reggae.... whatever.

And to those of you who are pretentious enough to claim that there is only one type of music... and that's 'music'....
well come on now, I appreciate your misguided dedication in validating all styles and remaining true to Political Correctness, not wishing to leave out anything of artistic merit, nor to offend anybody who is not grounded in Euro-centric art-forms but at the same time, if you really believe that there is only one type of music then why are you here?
Do you not have trouble buying music when you walk into a music store? If you can't tell the difference between the classical music section and the pop section because there is no such thing as different types - then you must frequently walk home carrying a 'Beethoven' CD when you really wanted to buy a 'Bob Marley' CD.
That's all I need to say.

In reply to by British Oakwood

I understand, but I still disagree. Either all music fits into one category, or every type of music should have a separate category. You might as well say "there are only three types of music in the world: rock & roll, classical, and jazz" as say that there are two.

If you say that there's only classical and jazz, well, which one is rock music?

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Well, historically, rock and roll evolved from a style of jazz, but to define what are the "only two" types of music, we need to ask, what came before both Jazz and Classical,
These two genres did not suddenly appear, they both had their roots in something else, and can be said to be distant cousin with a common ancestor.
Eventually you would be back to the days of the caveman banging a rock on a log.

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