How Pop Music is Influenced by Classical Music

Pop music often contains samples or interpolations of classical music. In this post, we explore how classical music has influenced pop music throughout the years.

Origins of Pop Music

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles.

Classical Music

Classical music is often thought of as being serious and complex, but it can be beautiful and emotional too. It’s one of the oldest and most influential genres of music, with a history that dates back thousands of years. Many of the most popular classical pieces have been used in film, television, and video games, and they continue to inspire new artists today.

Pop music is a genre that originated in the United States in the 1950s. It is a fusion of various music styles, including jazz, rock, and rhythm and blues. Over the years, pop music has evolved to include different subgenres, such as dance-pop, hip-hop, and Latin pop. Pop music is typically associated with young people and is often seen as being light-hearted or commercialized.

However, many pop songs are actually influenced by classical music. In some cases, classical pieces have been sampled or directly borrowed from. In other cases, pop songs have been inspired by the structures or melodies of classical works. Here are just a few examples:

-The intro to The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” was based on Slavonic Dance No. 8 by Antonín Dvořák.
-The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” features a chord progression that is similar to that ofClaude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”
-“All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan borrows its opening riff from Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier.”
-“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion contains direct references to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

There are countless other examples of classical music influencing pop songs throughout history. The next time you’re listening to your favorite pop song, see if you can identify any classical influences!


Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as “America’s classical music”. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms”.

How Pop Music is Influenced by Classical Music

Pop music is often influenced by classical music. This is because classical music is seen as being more sophisticated and having more depth than pop music. Classical music can also be seen as being more intellectual and having more of an emotional impact.

The Beatles

One of the most popular and influential rock bands of all time, the Beatles were undoubtedly influenced by classical music. Many of their songs, such as “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby,” feature orchestra or string arrangements, and John Lennon was known to be a fan of composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. Additionally, the album cover for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” famously features a collage of classical musicians, including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Marilyn Monroe, Edgar Allan Poe, Albert Einstein, and more.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys heavily relied on classical music composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Richard Wagner to influence their work. For example, in their song “Good Vibrations,” the Beach Boys sampled a recording of one of Stravinsky’s rehearsals for “The Rite of Spring.”

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is one of the most popular and renowned pop singers of all time, with a career that spanned four decades. He was also a highly influential figure in the music industry, and his work continues to influence both pop and classical music today.

Jackson’s early years were shaped by his love of soul music and Motown. He later became interested in classical music, particularly the work of composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Jackson used elements of classical music in his own work, including the use of orchestral instruments and classical-style arrangements.

Jackson’s influence on pop music was evident in the way he blended different genres to create his own unique sound. He was also known for his innovative dance moves, which often incorporated elements of ballet and other dance styles. His work has inspired many other artists, both in pop and classical music, to experiment with new sounds and styles.


In conclusion, it is evident that pop music has been greatly influenced by classical music. Even though some people may argue that the two genres are quite different, it is undeniable that classical music has had a significant impact on the development of pop music. From the early days of jazz to the present day, classical music has continuously inspired and influenced pop musicians all over the world.

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