The Influence of Classical Music in Today’s Top Hits

Although it’s not the most popular genre, classical music is certainly one of the most inspiring. Beethoven, Mozart, and countless other famous composers each created works of art that captivated the world’s attention and stood the test of time.

But did you know that classical music has largely influenced almost every genre of today’s most popular music? If you’re trying to make it in the music industry, there is much to be learned from the pioneers of classical music. In this article we’ll share a few of the ways they impacted modern music.

Classical Music’s Timeless Influence

Before we look at a couple different ways that classical music has influenced musicians today, let’s define what exactly classical music is. Classical music is music that was written during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

It’s a traditional genre of music that is known for its strict adherence to musical principles. The Classical era is also known as the “golden age of music,” and it gave birth to what we now know as the “symphony,” “concerto,” and “sonata.”

Overall Song Structure

One of the main ways that classical music has impacted today’s popular music is with the chorus. The chorus, or the short melody repeated throughout most songs, was first seen during the Classical era.

A vast majority of songs we hear on the radio today are structured to include a chorus. It’s typically the part of the song we remember the most, and we have the Classical era to thank for it!

A Heavy Influence in Rock

The Baroque period, which is often associated with classical music, also had a notable influence on contemporary music - particularly the rock genre. Many modern rock songs copy the original intensity and complexity that you’ll observe in music from the Baroque period.

Several rock artists, including Led Zeppelin and Muse, have also stated that composers from the Romantic period influenced their music.

Classical Themes in Pop

Many of today’s pop songs are based on a handful of chords and sequences that were discovered during the Classical period. When you listen to artists like Adele, you might not even recognize the rich history that has gone into the music. Lady Gaga has also adopted Baroque themes into many of her songs.

Direct Imitation in Popular Music

An article from stated that whether it’s with song structure or content, “modern musicians definitely have an ear for ‘old’ composers.” We can see just how true this is in several well-known songs that directly imitate classical compositions.

Here are just a few mainstream songs (from a variety of genres) that noticeably have a classical influence:

  • Muse - “Plug in Baby”

  • Evanescence - “Lacrymosa”

  • Ludacris - “Coming 2 America”

  • Barry Manilow - “Could it be Magic”

  • Queen - “It’s a Hard Life”

  • The Beatles - “Because”

Which Classical Composer Do You Imitate?

Now that you can see just how much classical music has made its mark, check out this personality quiz from TakeLessons Live. You’ll find out which famous classical pianist your personality and musical style resemble the most. And who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Beethoven!

Take the quiz here.

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Natalie Wilson

I've been an avid guitar fan for as long as I can remember and the day I embarked on my six-string journey at the young age of 5 truly defined the course of my entire life. I work as a professional musician, session guitarist, and guitar teacher, and would like to use this blog as a personal outlet to share my six-string knowledge with the world. Welcome to

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