Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Ian Anderson


As the structure of the music industry changes and arts programs steadily leave public school systems, we as musicians and technicians must collaborate and find a better way to share our craft with new audiences. In order to better market classical music and engender an appreciation by the next generation of audiences, we must better adapt to the on-demand world and develop new ways to capture and process music that, until recently, has been largely appreciated in a live concert setting. More and more, classical music is setting the mood as the anthem in major blockbuster films and being sampled and reused by more contemporary artists as the basis for new music. Recent examples include "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve, "Road to Joy" by Bright Eyes, "Ridin'Solo" Jason DeRulo, and many more. New York Times journalist Alex Ross explains this complex relationship saying, " ...some of the liveliest reactions to contemporary classical music have come from the pop arena, roughly defined. The microtonal tunics of Sonic Youth, the opulent harmonic designs of Radiohead ... All these carry on the long-running conversation of classical and popular traditions" (Ross, 2008, pg. 590). Additionally, pop music contains elements of art song tradition made popular during the romantic era. The same stories being told during that time period are still being told today, just with updated instrumentation and modern language. However, when listening to . classical radio in the car or at home, broadcast quality is often inferior to that of a commercial recording. Furthermore, young people are becoming more and more likely to listen to music on laptop speakers or cheap ear buds, neither of which is acceptable for enjoying a classical music recording. Much of this transition is attributable to a shift in the view of ownership of music. Many college students own little or no music of their own and turn to streaming services such as Spotify or YouTube when looking to listen to their favorite music. These outlets, especially YouTube, offer a much lower resolution version of the original studio recording that much of the population has come to accept as the standard. Additionally, when music is transferred to mobile devices, quality is again compromised by compression software in an attempt to fit as many files as possible onto a limited amount of memory.

The question arises then, what does the label "classical music" mean in our society? What constitutes something as being part of popular music or classical music? James Parakilas explains this in the Journal of Musicology saying, "To be sure, "classical" music is different from "popular" music in crucial and obvious ways, most of it was composed long ago. Audiences, as a result, almost never hear it performed by its composer. Those who perform it and those who discuss it constantly refer to its score. Its audience is by and large elite" (Parakilas, 1984, p. 2). This statement brings to light a problem in our current society. Education of young people to appreciate and support classical music and art is dwindling, causing a rift in the cultural experiences afforded to the next generation. The first step in improving the situation is to make sure that the genre is readily available to anyone that should want to learn about it or experience it for themselves. Pa:rakilas goes on to say: The ways in which listeners become familiar with classical and popular music are likewise balanced. Beethoven's most fervent devotees do not often listen to one symphony over and over without a break, the way teenagers typically listen to a new rock song. But many people listen to the same Beethoven symphony over and over in the course of their lives. The rock song has one kind of popularity because it is current; the symphony has another kind because it is classic, because it never becomes dated. (Parakilas, 1984, pg. 2) The problem with Parakilas's rationale is that he does not seem concerned with the difficulty of continuing to have audiences interested in the classics. Classical recordings are, at best, enjoyed by a niche audience of listeners, who also support the music by attending live performances. These patrons of the arts will not be around forever to continue financially supporting the genre and thus there needs to be a heightened importance placed on continuing and revitalizing the history and culture within classical music.