7 Reasons Nerds Should Listen to Classical Music

Are you a nerd? Chances are that if you clicked this link then the answer to that is a proud “hell yeah!”. Well I am too, and one of my most surprising nerd revelations was discovering that classical music is a perfect musical genre for people like us. I didn’t work this out until I was about 23, and until that point pretty much had no idea of all the delicious geeky goodness contained within.

If you’re like me then you’ve probably listened to quite a few classical pieces, but haven’t ever really, really gotten into them — at least not in the same way as your favorite non-classical pieces of music. Here are 7 reasons why if you are a true nerd you should seriously consider giving classical music a more serious listen:

1. We love discovering and understanding how things are put together. Classical music is a perfect genre for this – each piece is written in one of many basically standardized forms, sonata form, trios, rondos, theme and variations, and so on. However, these forms are stretched and contorted and copied and pasted into very different beasts by each composer. Understanding what they’ve done, and why, is a lot of fun.

2. We like classifying stuff. Each piece can be a sonata, or symphony, or concerto, or oratorio, or something else entirely. Each composer’s output is indexed with opus numbers (or something else if they’re extra special) and each piece has its own home key. Understanding what all this really meant and referred to was a huge part of the experience for me.

3. We love hearing new music. One of the reasons that online music sharing has taken off to such a magnificent extent is the innate attraction we seem to have to music. On pretty much any forum you’ll find dozens of threads devoted to people trying to find new music recommendations based on their current tastes, and hundreds of responses to those requests from people eager to spread their favorite groups to others. We are very open to hearing new pieces.

4. We enjoy an intellectual challenge. Nerds are the kind of people who will do math for fun. This is an area in which classical music kicks arse, compared to most popular music. A symphony is a story. You can listen to it as background music (which is probably what most non-classical people do when they hear classical) or you can try and follow its themes and motivation all the way through. While this is blindingly hard at first, it’s amazingly satisfying after you listen to a piece ten times and suddenly it jumps out at you. It’s a very similar feeling to when you finally “get” a physics or math proof.

5. We already have some exposure to classical. You often see posts on classical boards in which people will refer to music which they really like from the soundtrack of a computer game. Symphonic scores are also prevalent in films disproportionately popular in online world (e.g., the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars), all of which sneakily lead people toward the world of classical music.

6. We like having long and detailed discussions/arguments about stuff. Particularly when there is the potential to show off esoteric facts about arcane topics. Classical music is really fertile ground for this. We can argue about whether Beethoven’s Op.130 string quartet is better with or without the Grosse Fugue as the last movement, or why on earth there are all those enigmatic Wagner quotes at the end of Shostakovich’s 15th symphony, or… well, you get the idea.

7. We like open source stuff. You can walk into a music library and pull out a full orchestral copy of any of Beethoven’s (or anyone elses) symphonies. You can follow along while listening and discover all kinds of subtleties in the piece, or you can write your own software to analyze it or synthesize it. Anyone can put on a performance of a piece, and sell it, without fear of getting their asses sued off. In fact, one of the most satisfying things about classical music is being able to hear many different interpretations of a piece.

If you’re ready to start understanding how symphonies work, and who you like best out of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and the rest of them, click here!