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Rock music is superior to classical music

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/14/2013 Category: Arts
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,034 times Debate No: 29176
Debate Rounds (4)
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Pro will argue that rock music is superior to classical music. First round is for acceptance.
Since this is my very first debate, and I feel as if I need experience debating, I have decided to select a non-serious and relatively non-controversial topic to start out with. I will be debating against the common belief that rock/pop music is superior to classical music. This debate is intended to address the advantages and disadvantages of learning both genres, and for each debater to make an argument for why learning his preferred genre is more worthwhile than learning the other."
I will post opening argument in round 2."
It is obviously the majority of the public's opinion that classical music is "outdated" and "boring" on many levels. However, I would like to make the case that learning to understand and appreciate classical music will result in a far greater total understanding of music in general than if one masters rock music. It is not my intention to completely discredit rock music, but to offer a sound argument as to why classical music has much greater advantages if mastered."

Many thanks, in advance, to my opponent, and best of luck. I hope that this will be an interesting and enlightening discussion. Being a very avid fan of music, I know I'm looking forward to it! :)


Because you are making your first argument in round 2, I will use this round as acceptance. And in your next post define "classical music" so that I am aware what we are debating. Thanks for making this debate and good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you very much, Azul145, for accepting this debate! I hope this debate will be enlightening and enjoyable.

In my arguments I will be supporting classical music as a more worthwhile study than rock music. As per my opponent's request I will define classical music as I will be referring to it in this discussion.
My definition of classical music spans the Baroque period to the 20th century. For clarification, allow me to show you the major periods of classical music and their noted composers.
The Baroque period (about 1600-1750): Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Handel, Pachelbel; Classical period (1750-1815; NOT to be confused with the term "classical music"): Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn; Romantic period (1815-1910): Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms, Dvorak; 20th century: Holst, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Britten. I am arguing in support of learning the techniques and theory associated with the music of these composers over learning the techniques of rock music, to put it one way.

My opening argument consists of the following:
1. Classical music is much more complex, and if one masters classical music (i.e. learns an instrument through classical training) he can learn to play virtually any form of music he chooses.
As a classical musician, I can personally attest to this fact. With the training I receive, I am able to play any form of music I choose, be it jazz, rock, blues, etc.
Let me explain what I mean by "more complex." Most rock songs are in one meter (usually 4/4 or 2/4), one key and one tempo, and usually stay that way until the end of the song. Is this the case with classical music? One must only take a quick look at the score to a popular classical work, such as a symphony, and it is possible that you will find many changes in meter, key and tempo. Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony, considered by many, including myself, to be the greatest symphony ever written, contains 5 separate key changes. The first movement starts in 4/4, then changes to 12/8, and then goes back to 4/4. The second movement is in 5/4, the third movement is in 4/4, though the score suggests it be counted in 12/8, and the fourth movement is in 3/4. The changes in tempo and key are much more numerous, so I will not list them here.
Going back to my point, it is clear that classical music contains a much higher degree of technical complexity than rock music. You will be lucky to find many rock songs that change key more than once or twice, or change meter or tempo at all.
Given the complexity of classical music, imagine what would happen if a classically-trained musician applied himself to the rock genre! A good example is George Martin, whose classical training was invaluable to the success of the Beatles.

2. Classical music has been appreciated for centuries. Many popular songs tend to dramatically decrease in popularity and/or die out.
Popular music tends to change drastically over time to fit social norms as they change. There are obvious differences between Elvis Presley and Justin Bieber. The question is: will the works of Justin Bieber, Eminem and Metallica be as popular three centuries from now as they are currently? I will answer this question, with a question.
Have you ever heard of a song called The Lincolnshire Farmer? I hadn't either until I saw a list of the most popular songs of the 1700s. Given that popular songs almost never keep their reputation through the centuries like classical music does, I doubt that we'll be going crazy about Justin Bieber 200 to 300 years from now, just like we're not hearing 8-year-old girls belt The Lincolnshire Farmer today.
But today, orchestras around the world continue to delight audiences in performances of Mozart's 200-year-old symphonies and Bach's almost-300-year-old Brandenburg concertos.

Thanks for reading. I eagerly await my opponent's response!



Ok I will jump right into my refutations.

1. "Classical music is much more complex, and if one masters classical music (i.e. learns an instrument through classical training) he can learn to play virtually any form of music he chooses."

If you learn to play the violin will you be able to play dubstep? What about rap? Heavy metal? The list goes on. Yes you can play jazz and blues but do you ever hear those on the radio? And we can agree classical music is harder to play then rock but is that better or worse? Would kids rather learn to play their favorite rock songs or Johan Bach songs? It is a fact, more people like rock better than classical music. I would like disagree on your point when you said that the melody for rock stays the same. Just turn on the radio plenty of songs have changes in melody. And rock is good because it is easy to make good music that people will enjoy listening to.

2. "Classical music has been appreciated for centuries. Many popular songs tend to dramatically decrease in popularity and/or die out."

Classical music has clearly died out Not many people listen to it in our society according to the New York Times. So what if rock changes, it evolves as people get new ideas. Classical music stays remotely the same which is why it does not have longevity. And I can bet you that 100 years from now people will still know famous rock artists

You have the burden of proof in this debate so I am required to give my own points just to tear yours down. I might give some in round 3 though.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks for your response.

First of all, I would like to respond to my opponent’s question: “If you learn to play the violin will you be able to play dubstep? What about rap? Heavy metal?”

I would say that you could, yes, but only with a special arrangement. I respond with a likewise question: if you learn to play electric guitar, will you be able to play a Bach Brandenburg concerto? You probably could, but again, only with a special arrangement, albeit a dramatically simplified one. Consider this YouTube video, which is dubstep with a violin?

For example, the orchestra I perform in has played several arrangements of popular songs, including Viva la Vida and songs by Act of Congress, a relatively new modern pop group. I’ll post a link to their YouTube channel at the bottom of my post, in case you haven’t heard of them.

“Would kids rather learn to play their favorite rock songs or (Johann) Bach songs? It is a fact, more people like rock better than classical music.”

This point I do agree with, but it is not exactly the point of the debate. The purpose of this debate is to determine which genre is more worthwhile to learn, or in other words, which one produces the higher degree of talent when properly mastered.

My opponent has said that he disagrees with my point when I said that rock music rarely changes meter, key or tempo. I was not referring to the melody when making that point, which my opponent suggests. The melody, musically defined, is the “core tune” of the song. For example, sing the first few bars of Amazing Grace to yourself. The tune you sing is Amazing Grace, but the song is in a specific time meter (3/4) and the key and tempo vary depending on who is playing or singing it. Amazing Grace, by the way, does not change meter, key or tempo during any point in the song.

I would also like to point out that classical music has not died out, or not to the extent that most popular music from centuries ago has. The NY Times article you cited says that classical music is dying out because of a lack of interest.

In almost every generation, classical music is never the most popular genre. It has usually been supported by the aristocratic or royal classes. The prime reason that you see patronage and support from the upper class declining is because of the declining economy. There are two major factors involved: rising corporate taxes, which restricts funds from foundations, and, of course, increasing pressure on the wealthier patrons.

Finally, my opponent says that rock changes as time goes on and classical music stays remotely the same. While the former assumption is true, the latter is demonstrably false.

Popular music has evolved greatly over the centuries, from 1700s and 1800s drinking songs, folk tunes and military songs, to the emergence of rock music with Elvis Presley and the like. The 60s through the present show the obvious development of popular music with the advancement of rock music.

Believe it or not, classical music does evolve in much the same way. Classical music essentially began in the Renaissance, where much of the developed music was for religious purposes. The Baroque and Classical period of music mainly took on a sunny form, with much of the music written at the behest of national kings and queens. The Romantic period ushered in more chromatic music with a deeper expressive meaning. The 20th century was basically an incremental advancement of the Romantic era, though there were many changes in structure and form. And TODAY, there are still a good many classical composers, believe it or not! You can look on websites of major orchestras and more than likely you will find many works that are being premiered. Modern classical music usually takes the form of abstraction, often having little melodic or harmonic structure. But my point is: today’s “average Joe” has probably never heard of active classical composers. The orchestra I perform in has premiered several classical works by composers I had previously never heard of. However, it was MUCH THE SAME WAY during the time of many famous classical composers! The “average Joe” of the late 19th century never heard of Tchaikovsky or Brahms either! It was not until long after the composers’ deaths that the beauty of their works were discovered.

Swafford Jan (1992) The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. New York: Vintage Books



Azul145 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Azul145 forfeited the last round so I won't post any new arguments. We should probably take this into the voting period


Azul145 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Gordontrek 3 years ago
Sorry I forgot about the Act of Congress link! Here it is:
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