3 Reasons Classical Music is superior to Popular Music
In the article entitled “The Mozart Effect”, I laid out the case for classical music as a way of stimulating creativity and improving concentration. Having done some further research into classical and modern music, their origins and their effects on the human mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that classical music is superior. The results of my ongoing research will shock you, as it did with me, and hopefully prompt you to incorporate classical music in your listening habits. So without further ado, here are 3 reasons why classical music is superior to modern and popular music:
If you have not read The Mozart Effect article, read it here
Classical music is the music of genius
The intricate architecture, musical harmonies, element of surprise and a degree of beauty that mirrors the universe itself attracts great scientists and physicists to the works of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. You already know how Einstein’s violin was the secret behind the man’s undeniable talent and genius in physics, but Einstein wasn’t alone. There were his collaborators, including Max Planck (who discovered the quantum). Max Planck was an accomplished pianist. Today, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has a chamber orchestra and holds regular classical music events!
In the 1990’s, a long-term study was conducted in Berlin on the effects of Classical Music on the minds’ and development of school children. Students either received training in an instrument or in choral singing. Their school results were tracked and compared with students in a control group who did not have this musical education. The professor who conducted the experiment reported that the musical group was happier, smarter and more creative. These students, over time, naturally developed interests in other fields such as poetry, writing or science. They didn’t have any problems with any of the other students and many went on to score the highest marks in state tests. The beautiful aspect of this study was that it was conducted in the most unprivileged districts in Berlin!
Listening to and participating in a form of classical music has a clear effect in boosting mental development even if the mechanisms aren’t well understood.
Here is a link to a conference entitled ‘Towards a new Renaissance in Classical Education’ where the results are described in detail (click on Berlin in the other studies section):
Music, Mice & Mazes: The Classical/Rock Run
David Merrell, a 17-year old high school student from Virginia, conducted two experiments on the effects of classical music and hard rock on laboratory mice going through a maze. He hypothesized that the music would have an effect, with classical music being positive and rock being negative.
In the second experiment, his results were astounding! Over a 4 week period, the mice listening to classical music had reduced their time from 10 minutes to just under 2 minutes. The control group (which had no music) reduced their time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. The hard rock group of mice actually increased their time from 10 minutes to 30 minutes! They had been subjected to the group Anthrax and it destroyed their ability to learn! Here’s a video of David Merrell describing his experiment at the conference mentioned above in 1998.
What shocked me is that he had to redo the experiment because the first time, the mice listening to Anthrax became so violent that they killed each other! He separated them the second time.
David makes the point that mice can’t understand the lyrics, so imagine what effects hard rock like Anthrax has on human beings, who are also subjected to the lyrics! The case has been made against rock, but what about popular music?
Popular music is repetitive, unoriginal and lacks depth
Before I say anything about popular music, take 6 minutes to watch this video:
As you can see, popular music over the decades hasn’t changed. The music is formulaic. Its purpose is simply to make you feel good. The same chords, sounds and patterns have been used over and over again to sell you albums. The entire culture created around these so called pop icons marks a similar degenration. Look at people like Miley Cyrus and the crude, pornographic way she portrays herself. That’s only one example.
The one thing that has changed in popular music is the motto. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the motto of the counter-culture was sex, drugs and rock & roll. Today, it’s pussy, money, weed! as presented by famous rapper Lil Wayne, who first started smoking crack-cocaine at age 11. These stars receive too much attention in the media, are terrible role models and themselves victims of the culture.
In my opinion, this music and the culture built around it is meant to bestialize society. It turns our attention from those highest forms of creative insight about the universe, as expressed by Einstein, to our animal impulses of instant gratification, pleasure and survival. Using a standard chords known to be pleasing combined with repeated and degenerate verses about violence, sex and drugs music is a perfect formula for a hypnotic induction. Bertrand Russell, a British aristocrat and mathematician of the 20th Century, discusses this use of verses set to music in his 1951 book ‘The Impact of Science on Society’ during a broader discussion on having state funded brainwashing for children under 10 to convince them that snow is black.
THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON SOCIETY – Bertrand Russel
It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment.
This subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray.
(You can find the entire book online in .PDF form, and only recommended reading if you’re a fan of horror films)
Emotion is a gateway into hypnotic trance. The two most powerful of these gateways being fear and excitement. Popular music serves the purpose. It creates excitement and the lyrics serve as hypnotic suggestions driving us to become more and more bestialized.
To be clear, this is article is not meant as an attack on every individual that makes music. Many are passionate, inspired and good people who express themselves through their art, but it is undeniable to me that the classical music culture is vastly superior to popular culture, even though there are problems with elements of classical music as well. We need to be questioning whether what we are listening to promotes concentration, creativity and genius or just feel good music.
In conclusion, it’s clear that classical music is the universal music representing the power of man’s reason and creativity. It makes you smarter, more focused and more creative. The more you participate in classical music, the more profound its effects. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in multiple ways in both animals and human beings
The best way to approach this is to listen to music strategically. If you need calm and concentration, listen to Mozart in the background. If you’re hitting the gym and need to be pumped up for a workout, a Bach fugue won’t cut it, listen to the music you like that puts you in the right state of mind. If you want to build your creativity and concentration, learn to play classical piano or violin or listen actively to a Beethoven Symphony. Figure out what is going on, what is being communicated through the music and see if you can guess where the composer is going next. When you manage to get through an hour symphony as opposed to a 3 minute repetitive song, you know you’ve improved your focus.