For the most part it can be distinguished by the type of instruments in the musical piece. Most modern forms of music only have a couple of instrumentations used in its creation, whereas classical music uses several types of instrumentation. Musicians of this type of music are extremely skilled in their chosen instrument because of the detailed compositions.
The instruments used in classical music generally come from five or so different groups of instruments, including string instruments, woodwinds, brass instruments and percussion instruments. The use of these types of instruments generally makes up a symphonic orchestra. When the human voice is added to this ensemble of instrument, and opera is formed.
The forms of classical music are numerous as and tend to be very well defined. The concerto is a musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. This form of music was established in the Baroque period and has continued to be a strong musical force today. The symphony is a musical composition and is usually for an orchestra. The opera is an art form in which singer and musicians work together to produce a work that combines text and musical. Another form is known as dance music and its specific use is to facilitate or accompany dancing. This form can either be a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. The suite form of music is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces of music that are performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniments. An etude is a short musical composition designed to provide practice in a particular technical skill in the performance of a solo instrument. A symphonic poem, also known as a tone poem, is a piece of orchestral music in one movement in which some extra-musical program provides a narrative or illustrative event.
Classical music requires a strong knowledge of music and as well as skill in playing an instrument. Knowledge of music must include the familiarity of development, modulation, variation, musical phrases that are of differing lengths, counterpoint, polyphony as well as sophisticated harmony. The skill involved in playing an instrument requires the musician to be adept at sight reading, have the ability to coordinate with other players in the ensemble as well as experience in playing a composer’s music.
The popularity of classical music has been debated for years. It has been said that it is strictly for upper-class citizens, and at the same time others have said that it is popular with the working class. All in all, the popularity depends on what one considers to be classical music. Certain staples of classical music are often used commercially. Movies and television often use standard clichéd pieces of classical music to convey certain emotions to their audiences. In order for the commercial use of classical music to be effective, it has to rely on the fact that anyone who listens to the music will recognize it and be emotionally drawn to it.
Classical music has many forms that make up the genre, even though no specific form is implied in its description. The knowledge and skill of classical musicians makes these musicians sought after for orchestras or symphonies. The commercial use of certain classical pieces helps to keep the classical music alive and available to all classes of people.