Filmmaking & Videography Music Industry / For Artists

Classical music is known for its impact, elegance and sense of grandeur within film. With millions of films choosing Classical music over more modern sounds, it is safe to say that Classical music’s impact is hard to beat. Let’s take a look at what Classical music is, and how and why it is used in film. Plus, we will give you some tips for using Classical music in your own work!

What Is Classical Music?

Classical music is music that has been written or created by a composer and written down in music notation. Classical music follows long-established musical traditions from Western culture, rather than a folk, jazz or popular tradition. People tend to think of Classical music as ‘older’ music. This is because around 1750 to 1830, Classical music forms such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata were standardized.

Classical Music In Film

Being such an integral part of film, a lot of directors turn to Classical music for their movies. This can be for various reasons, such as:

  • To represent a certain era
  • To evoke emotion (whether that is romance, sadness, fear, rage or happiness)
  • For an eerie effect in horror or thriller movies.

Let’s take a look at some examples of Classical music in film, and how it has been used.

Apocalypse Now – Flight Of The Valkyries (Richard Wagner)

Chances are that when you hear Wagner’s ‘Flight Of The Valkyries”, you think of this scene. The dramatic, booming sounds of the music perfectly heighten the drama of this intense scene. This is a great example of how to use music within film!

A Clockwork Orange – Symphony No. 9 (Ludwig Van Beethoven)

This choice is interesting in many ways. Firstly, the piece of music is referenced in the movie. Main character Alex DeLarge is passionate about ‘a bit of old Ludwig Van’. He also puts on a Berlin Philarmonic performance of the piece in the movie. Aside from this, the music is used in the movie and is memorable whilst intensifying the action and emotion.

Platoon – Adagio for Strings (Samuel Barber)

The swelling, somber music combined with this scene from the Vietnam epic is infamous. In fact, it has become so famous in pop culture that Willem Dafoe kneeling in the mud is often parodied. The combination is incredibly moving… Just try to watch this without feeling emotional!

Can I Use Classical Music In My Work?

sheet music notation with flute orchestra classical music in film
sheet music notation with flute orchestra classical music in film

There a few different ways to approach using Classical music in your YouTube videos, films and so on.

  • Firstly, you could take a look at what Classical pieces are featured in the Public Domain. This involves music for which the copyright has expired, and you are able to use without infringement. However, this just means that you can use the composition – not necessarily the recording itself!
  • There is the option of ‘royalty free’ Classical music, but this is a risk. This is because you can’t be sure if the tracks are copyright free, and you could get into trouble. Royalty free also doesn’t mean that the music is free, so you will usually have to purchase it.
  • Lastly, you can license Classical music correctly at a lower cost from music licensing companies such as Audiosocket.

How Audiosocket Can Help

Your choices are essentially to either choose Public Domain music, get permission from the rights holders, or license tracks through Audiosocket. We sort out the copyright and all the tricky bits, and all you need to do is choose the tracks you want to license. You can license unlimited tracks starting at just $10 a month! Here are some of our top picks from Classical music in our catalog:

II From Harmony by George Frederic Handel (Choral)

The Sleeping Beauty – V. Valse by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Romantic Orchestral)

She Is Not Alone by Lerin Herzer & Andrew Joslyn (Modern Contemporary)

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