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Classical Music Crossover: Genre Blending Between Classical and Modern Music

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While classical music is primarily known as a standalone genre, its traces and influences can be found across various music types. In fact, modern music often blends with and borrows from the traditional genre. In this article, we aim to explore genre blending between contemporary and classical music and delve into classical music crossovers in the modern day and age.

Instrumentation, music theory, composition, and arrangement

Classical music has substantially contributed to the development of Western, contemporary music. While today’s popular genres, such as Pop, Hip Hop, or Electronic Music, are rarely associated with classical music, artists occasionally incorporate elements and approaches crucial to the traditional genre.


The first and arguably most obvious influence of classical music is instrumentation. Violins, pianos, cellos, flutes, and trumpets lie at the heart of traditional and modern classical works. Although some of the instruments, such as flutes or trumpets, are far from exclusive to Western classical music, they play a key role in many compositions.

Nowadays, these instruments are commonly used across contemporary genres of all kinds. Although bands and producers often prefer to incorporate analog recordings into their tracks, they are not strictly limited to real instruments.

Because of their popularity, they can be used within the scope of Virtual Studio Technology. VSTs allow artists to access them via high-quality instrument software plugins that accurately mimic analog sounds, making them more accessible to people who work on a low budget.

Music Theory

Another crucial influence of classical music lies in its development and application of music theory. In the past, artists used various scales and modes to write elaborate chord progressions, intricate melodies, and modify them through multiple techniques.

Its approaches towards melody and harmony remain significant to contemporary music from the West. In fact, music theory and instruments are often studied and taught through a classical music lens, which emphasizes the significance of the genre.

Composition and arrangement

Furthermore, contemporary songs tend to follow established structures, use repetition, and incorporate elements that make them highly memorable. Although modern genres have developed their own approaches towards composition and arrangement, they are often connected to classical music traditions. For example, the chorus was first established within classical music and later applied to modern genres.

Classical music crossover with contemporary genres

Hip hop music and classical music

Contemporary musicians have found different ways to incorporate classical music into their art. For instance, hip hop artists often find unique ways to blend other genres into their songs and beats through sampling techniques.

Examples include:

However, hip hop has incorporated classical music in ways beyond sampling. One example is Kendrick Lamar's live performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

Similarly, world-famous music producer Metro Boomin participated in Red Bull Symphonic, which brings together modern-day artists, classical music directors, and instrumentalists to perform contemporary songs in a classical context.

Electronic Dance Music and classical music crossover

Electronic Dance Music, with all of its sub-styles, is yet another genre that has much potential to blend with other music types. Because of its openness to experimentation and its history of sampling, it leaves much room for classical music crossovers.

This approach has been implemented by composer and sound designer schallbauer, who had three of his songs performed at an old movie theater in Berlin, Germany. Another illustration of genre blending is a performance by the Worakls Orchestra at Château La Coste in France hosted by Cercle.

Meanwhile, some choose to combine the sounds of synthesizers with classical music. Have you ever wondered what classical music would sound like on an analog synthesizer? The following two videos offer much insight.

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Metal and classical music

Yet another exciting combination of genres has been brought to life by Bright & Black. The band consists of musicians rooted in metal who compose for an orchestra that then performs their dark, powerful compositions. In this way, they offer instrumentalists a new, unique approach to classical music by blending it with approaches from an entirely different genre.

Pop music and classical music crossovers

Unsurprisingly, pop music has also been influenced by and blended with classical music. For example, the intro to Lady Gaga’s hit song “Alejandro” contains a sample from "Csárdás" by Vittorio Monti. On the other hand, pop music artists occasionally work with instrumentalists or orchestras during their live performances, thus showcasing versatility.

Classical music covers

While artists from contemporary genres enjoy borrowing from classical music, classical musicians and orchestras also enjoy working with modern songs. They often do so by covering popular songs and transforming them into classical versions. For example, the Epic Orchestra has covered Linkin Park’s hit song Numb or Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams and played them during two powerful and impressive performances.

Conclusion: classical music crossover

Although to some, classical music may seem “outdated,” its ongoing interaction with contemporary genres through classical music crossovers and genre blends proves the opposite.

Classical music remains an influential genre with much potential to inspire modern-day artists open to experimentation and blurring the lines between strict genre categorizations. And thanks to new technologies, classical music crossovers may become even more popular and fascinating in the future!

Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that modern music is often heavily influenced by other factors and cultures beyond the West. Contemporary music is multidimensional and cannot be reduced to one origin or source of inspiration.

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