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The Passion Behind Symphonies

There are not a lot of people whom I have met who can truthfully admit to not liking music. That almost sounds inhuman. However, there are a lot of people who do not like classical/instrumental music, so I would like to shed some light on the incredulity of classical music.

Now, everybody has their own preference when it comes to music, and it’s usually whatever people can relate to. People who like to move to music enjoy a good beat, so they may gravitate towards percussive music. Many people like lyrical music, rap, and modern hip-hop because it incorporates a catchy beat with lyrics, which people can understand. And then there is instrumental music, the proclaimed bringer of Zzzzzzz’s, reminding everybody of old people and an antique, extinct generation. Often times there is no beat to move to, no definitive tempo, no lyrics to understand, and a bunch of sounds that are unfamiliar from equally unfamiliar instruments.

Who knows what a trumpet sounds like? Do you know what one looks like?



If you have ever watched movies or played video games, I know you have heard a French Horn. Or an oboe??

French Horn oboe-1

Honestly, if you think these look difficult to play, you can rest assured that you are 100% correct. Not only is it hard to play a single note properly, but it’s even harder to make a good, quality sound. On top of that, most pieces demand a lot of movement, speed, and aural flexibility.

And if you put together the REAL flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, french horns, trombones, tubas, percussion, and stringed instruments, you get an ensemble of mastery, a wonder of sound. The orchestra.


And if you’re wondering what those silver pipes behind the orchestra are, those belong to the king of instruments: the pipe organ!

You see, the thing about instrumental music is that you cannot simply listen for the message to be told to you, you have to find it. And it’s hidden within every note. It’s behind each passionate breath of every player. It’s in the movements of the music and in the harmonies of the score. It’s within the the mastery of the players, and the authority of the conductor. And all of these difficult instruments are used to express the passion of the soul putting life into each instrument. They all come together as one orchestra, playing in harmony to mend the broken hearts, comfort the burdened minds and ease the tired souls of those listening.

That is art. As much as a designer who makes a piece of work is an artist, so is the composer of a symphony. As is the discretion of the conductor, as is the skill and passion of the player.

So the next time you hear a piece of classical or instrumental music, I want you to stop looking for the beat, and quit thinking of little arrogant men in frilly 16th century costumes, and think of artists expressing the same passion you may put into your designs. Find the message in the melodies. Hear the emotions in the harmonies. Hear the power in the orchestra.

And with that, I leave you with this 8 minute clip: the finale to a 125 year old symphony with an Austrian composer (Mahler), sange in German, played in the UK, conducted by a Venezuelan man, played by many people who don’t come from the same cultures and speak the same languages, but came together to bring you this incredibly powerful message. While there may be subtitles for the lyrics, I can assure you with confidence that listening to this piece without the distraction of English comprehension breathes even more life into this unique piece.




  1. aroman8 wrote:

    As a French horn player, a lover of classical music (if not just music in general), and a person who is just a complete music geek, I must say I enjoy your article.
    Symphonic music is a staple for video games and film and provide context for what’s going on. Some pieces require further research to find their meaning, some put it into the title, sometimes the meaning is found in the thing that it was written for, and sometimes, there’s no meaning at all! This is what is so wonderful about symphonic music. And there’s absolutely nothing like playing in the orchestra or band. To feel the power of the players around you is an awesome thing to behold.

    Monday, February 29, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  2. cwesselm wrote:

    I have played viola for over 10 years now, and that probably what gave me the love of classical music. It was fun to say, “oh I’ve played that piece, you know that one from that movie,” and you felt so proud. And I don’t get the people who say they don’t like instrumental music… you know that’s in every movie, and even dubsteb and EDM music is 99% instrumental. But whatever, I guess I just continue not having to pay for my music that is so old the artist can’t pull the music off of Spotify.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink