Classical Resolutions: David Lang's New Name For Classical Music

Does classical music need fixing? Join the discussion with prominent musicians like David Lang by leaving your thoughts in the comments section.

David Lang i i

Composer David Lang has no problem with classical music — he just thinks the name should change. Peter Serling hide caption

itoggle caption Peter Serling
David Lang

Composer David Lang has no problem with classical music — he just thinks the name should change.

Peter Serling

The most important thing to change about classical music is the name.

I would take the word 'classical' out because it sounds really old, really traditional. It's dry and set in stone, separate from all the other kinds of music in the world. If we took out 'classical' then we would just call it 'music,' which sounds about right to me. People like music!

All the names and labels we use make it easy to classify and find certain kinds of musical experiences we already know we like. If we like a particular musician associated with jazz or opera, for example, it is useful for listeners to have everyone who makes similar music in the same box, and useful to marketers and presenters and venues and advertisers.

But musicians don't usually imagine themselves as fitting neatly into any category. We imagine that our job is to transcend categories, to open windows and doors between musical worlds, to make something new.

All those stylistic categories make it easier for people to talk about music, but only in ways which have little to do with how the musicians who make it want you to hear it. That can't be good.

So I would just call it music.

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