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Soundtracks Are the Essential Format for Modern Orchestral Music

07/02/2014 17:41 GMT | Updated 08/04/2014 10:59 BST

Classical music is a problematic term - it actually refers to a period of musical development from around 1750 to 1820, during which particular formats were developed - things like symphonies, operas and concertos.

More broadly though, it's used as a catchall for orchestral music right up to the present day. Stuff with strings.

So in one misnomer, you see the disconnect between modern orchestral music at large and its public perception. Not only is the common term intimidatingly elevated, it describes forms that could have fundamentally different philosophical and formal perspectives.

"But Jake - hip hop and country are both jumbled into the same category of 'pop'. Isn't that the same?"

No - because 'pop' is simply short for 'popular' and both those forms are popular.

Because of the content revolution of recent years, we are inundated with videos, Gifs, memes, sound files and the rest day in, day out. The time we take to consider art that is not immediately accessible is diminished as much as it can be, but the greater role of the cinema in this environment can drive a renaissance in this huge area of music.

Picture the scene - the year is 1827, and Beethoven's 9th symphony is to be performed in London over several weeks. You've travelled from the North East to see it, and as the strings warm up, it dawns that you may never hear this piece of music again.

Now picture the scene - it's 2014 and you live in the home counties with your cushy Spotify playlist and your B&W speakers and your goddamn dinner parties. Somebody sticks on the 9th Symphony, and it breathes new life into a faltering conversation.

Which experience has more value?

It's tough to say as you can only really map the value of an action in its historical context - Beethoven's work is celebrated chiefly for its progressive qualities. He relentlessly smashed glass ceilings, and it's hard to appreciate that in the modern age. He's like ten Kanye Wests.

So using the 9th Symphony as a conversational stimulus is a great use of it because it's actually quite fresh. It suggests a lack of fetishisation of the music that can drive independent thinking, and acknowledges the role of that symphony as part of the furniture - a thoroughly progressive stance.

But this is not to be confused with failing to really connect with something because you can't be bothered. And the cinema is unique because it is the one remaining pantheon to collective, untrammelled viewing and listening.

Jackasses with their fucking smartphones are everywhere - at gigs, at religious ceremonies, at sports matches. This technology has magnified the ability to see everything and understand nothing.

So while it's vital that new orchestral music gets appreciated on its own terms (in the concert hall if need be), the priority should be that it's appreciated in the first place. I'm happy that this context should be in conjunction with the moving image.

The reason I emphasise the use of the term 'classical' is that it reveals the disconnect between the broad public understanding of orchestral music and what it actually is. And I suggest that this gap won't be remedied during the next 50 to 100 years. I've studied music my whole life and still can't get my head round Mahler, let alone Stockhausen.

Only with stories and images we understand will the public-at-large stop being intimidated and baffled by orchestral music. If something can be understood better with visual cues, then this outguns authorial piety every time.