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Classical Music in the Age of Digital Technology

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Technological advancements have transformed all genres, including classical music, in various ways. Music production technology and AI have changed the way songs are recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered. Meanwhile, other advancements allow for a more engaging and accessible listening experience. This article examines classical music in the age of digital technology.

Music production technology in classical music

Digital technology has changed the way we record, mix, and master classical music. Since classical music is usually recorded in analog spaces, the production process requires much preparation. Sound engineers have to find the right venue and gear for the sound and reverb to be captured accurately, while musicians have to adjust to new locations and settings. As with all recording sessions, problems can occur, which are not always detected immediately.

Fortunately, imperfections and mistakes can often be corrected during the post-production process without taking away from the nuances of an instrument's timbre and feel. Digital tools and plugins can enhance the reverb, remove excessive noise, or help balance frequencies and eliminate unwanted resonance via EQs.

Digital software and tools also come in handy for those interested in classical music but limited in their opportunities. Because of the obstacles, some creative minds have decided to take things into their own hands and create classical music digitally. Although virtual instruments and plugins may not be able to replicate analog sound 1:1, they can help aspiring musicians start somewhere.

On the other hand, experienced musicians can use them to outline their ideas and be able to present preliminary compositions. They can do so by transforming PDF files of sheet music into MIDI by using tools such as PlayScore 2 or ScanScore. In this way, they can save time and money on rehearsals.

Those outside of classical music can also benefit from DAWs and plugins, as they allow them to incorporate elements of the genre into their genre of choice via sampling and other music production techniques.

Artificial intelligence in classical music

At the present moment, artificial intelligence often lies at the center of many conversations among creatives from various fields. AI is improving rapidly and does not spare any art form from its influence, not even a genre as traditional as classical music. While many feel concerned about this development, others choose to dive into experimentation and use AI to enhance their productions.

One such example is Dr. Robert Laidlow’s “Silicon,” a work composed with the support of AI for the BBC Philharmonic. The tools used for composing, instrumentation, improvisation, and inspiration are MuseNet, FolkRNN, Google Magenta DDSP, and PRiSM SampleRNN. Dr. Laidlow’s work has even been discussed in the New York Times, which is yet another example of how relevant conversations about the future of AI in music are.

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However, tools such as the Google project MusicLM or the music generator AIVA can do much more, as they allow users to generate melodies, harmonies, and even entire songs by transforming text into music. Wondering what AI-generated classical music sounds like and whether it reaches the industry’s high standards? The following example, published four years ago by AIVA, may help you find answers to these questions.

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Music streaming platforms for classical music

Technology has impacted not only how music is created but also where and how it can be listened to. One of the most impactful innovations has been the introduction of music streaming platforms, which have, in many ways, replaced the traditional CD, tape, or vinyl. Classical music may not be the first genre associated with Spotify and co, but it can be found on all relevant platforms.

On top of that, further platforms exist that are fully dedicated to classical music, including Apple Music Classical, IDAGIO, or Vialma. These services have a modern interface and an extensive catalog of works, making the genre much more accessible. They also allow artists to make money from streaming royalties, which can be beneficial in the long run.

However, because the genre comes with complex metadata, not all digital music distributors allow artists to upload classical music to streaming platforms. Those looking to distribute their works are already at the right place, as iMusician lists all three platforms in its AMPLIFY+ plan! In our FAQs, you can find more information on the formatting requirements to distribute a classical music release with iMusician.

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Classical music performances

Classical music performances tend to center on the musicians who, traditionally, showcase their skills at concert halls, churches, or opera houses. However, over recent years, technology has allowed for the introduction of further elements that create a more immersive experience. For example, light shows synchronized with the music can make a performance more impactful and allow different elements of a composition to stand out.

Meanwhile, the introduction of live streaming into classical music has made the genre more accessible to the public, as they remove location-related or income barriers. One such example is the renowned New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic. Since 2022, the live stream can be watched globally via medici.tv.

Those who are even more open to technology can explore Virtual Reality concerts, like the one hosted by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Participants could experience classical music in a brand-new interactive way, such as instruments becoming more present in the broader, binaural mix when walking up to a musician in the virtual space.

Social media and classical music

Social Media is a critical element of music marketing, allowing artists to cultivate an online portfolio and build a fanbase. Because of its omnipresence and usage worldwide, it allows everyone to find their niche. Classical musicians can benefit from social media for marketing purposes and beyond. By setting up an artist page and digital press kit, they can attract the attention of journalists, industry professionals, and music curators.

They can also use apps to connect with other artists, track their progress thanks to various music analytics tools, follow pages centered on music education and industry updates, or discover opportunities for awards, grants, or jobs. Additionally, social media allows more individuals to learn and discover classical music, a genre often associated with staleness.

Classical music and digital technology

In conclusion, while some dislike its impact on the genre’s traditions, digital technology generally helps artists attract more fans, removes obstacles to producing and recording, and makes music more accessible worldwide. Technology can sometimes be scary, but it can also allow for much innovation, connectedness, and growth.

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