Pop Classical, or Dolce De Coco

I feel like a traitor to my class writing this.

In principle, I have to feel obliged to applaud the efforts of classical radio stations to bring new listeners to our classical musical heritage. To a certain extent, I even support the effort to promote “classicized” versions of popularized contemporary music. I can easily imagine younger listeners, hearing “Diamond Music” and similar soundtrack scores on FM, saying “if this is classical music, I want to find out more about it.”

Like any other fad, it can be overdone. In the 1960’s, Percy Faith, the Hollyridge Strings, and similar pop orchestras turned timeless standbys and light classical into schmaltz. I actually still have those old LP’s somewhere, but I haven’t played them in 30 years. I’m still sick of them.

But it gets worse. I’m sick of Haydn and Mozart. They are easy for beginners to follow and like, so they get aired too much for my tastes.

If you’re a musician and want to take an old popular tune and “set it to music” (a la Baroque Beatle Songbook, also from the 1960’s), it helps if you can be Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman.

Right now I’m listening to a traditional favorite Dolce De Coco, played by Yo Yo Ma, Paquito D’ Rivera, and Romero Lumbambo. I didn’t know the song before, but I love it now.

The moral of my story: if you’re going to popularize classical music, do it right.

Oh, yeah: what was this crack about “a traitor to my class” supposed to mean? I love classical music, but I’m untrained, don’t play an instrument or read sheet music, am largely self-taught, and I didn’t even like the Brandenburg Concertos until I was over 40.

In a nutshell, I’m no more qualified to promulgate musical pronouncements than younger listeners who are just discovering classical music. Like them, I know what I like. Unlike them, I’ve the pleasure of expanding my own musical horizons for decades longer.

Listen to what you like, but seek out more of what you like the best.

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3 thoughts on “Pop Classical, or Dolce De Coco

  1. I’m going to have to backpedal on this a bit. I was listening to a classical collection by Angele Dubeau, along the lines of a string quartet, when this one piece sounded hauntingly familiar. I went to my iTunes directory only to find out it was “What a Wonderful World.” This is one of those few treasures I often bypass because it carries emotional hooks directly into a very happy bygone time in my past. I had to grab the Kleenex. This was definitely “classicized pop”, but there’s absolutely no question about it – it was exceptionally well executed, and found its mark in the heart.

  2. Hey, I’m 16, and I listen to classical music. I take band class at my school, and I’m a percussionist, the lead percussionist actually. I can’t read notated actual pitch music very well, but I love classical music. The Brandenburg Concertos were one of the first collections I listened to when I was just introduced into listening. Those, and Beethoven’s 9 symphonies. And it’s funny, the way I found your article was trying to find out more about the song Dolce de Coco, the exact same recording you were listening to. I don’t think you’re a traitor to your class in any way though. You have a love for the music, and although you don’t play anything, I can sympathize in the fact that I love it too. 😀

  3. Hey, thanks! Keep up the band class. I took cornet lessons one summer, at around the 6th or 7th grade. Not only did I do miserably, I spaced out and lost my cornet at a bus-stop: I simply forgot it when boarding the bus. I was, thereby, forcibly retired from the musician world by two parents who ran out of patience!

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