Development of Classical Crossover and major themes in classical crossover music texts | Статья в журнале «Филология и лингвистика»

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Рубрика: Общее и прикладное языкознание

Опубликовано в Филология и лингвистика №2 (6) июнь 2017 г.

Дата публикации: 04.06.2017

Статья просмотрена: 28 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Астафьева Ю. В., Михайлова Т. В. Development of Classical Crossover and major themes in classical crossover music texts // Филология и лингвистика. — 2017. — №2. — С. 31-34. — URL (дата обращения: 27.05.2018).

Language reflects the society in which the speaker lives. This is a common notion amongst linguists all over the world. Language is a social phenomenon and different varieties of a language have more or less prestige than others [1]. Music has been a way for people to express themselves for centuries, and language and lyrics are essential in the process of expressing feelings, emotions and opinions through music.

The aim of the article is to dwell upon classical crossover music revealing the essential features of classical crossover music texts.

From the 12th century to the 21st century, music has been vital to everyday life. Whether it is coming from the trumpet playing an old time classical or from the beat boxer raping his favorite song, the creativity and passion for music starts to flow out of every person who lets it. Music had changed drastically from classical and opera music to pop music and punk rock over the centuries. Classical music, once so popular, became elitist music and there appeared a huge gap between it and modern music. But then The Three Tenors appeared with a performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla, in Rome, Italy, on 7 July 1990 — the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final, in which Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras and Plácido Domingo brought a combination of opera, Neapolitan folksong, musical theatre and pop to a vast television audience [1]. This laid the foundations for classical crossover as we know it today. This genre has become the “bridge” between the old classic music and music of our time. It is the harmonic fusion of both styles.

The formation of this genre of music proceeded gradually over the past several decades. The classical crossover has step by step overcome elective experiments on the synthesis of classical and modern music, has become widely recognized and truly popular. Music in the style of Classical Crossover is developing rapidly and artists of the classic genre in their turn are expanding the scope of academic music. Classical Crossover as a new genre is actively explored only from the study of music but there is still no linguistic analysis of the style.

When speaking about crossover, we cannot but mention the so-called “Latin explosion” that continued in the late '90s. Among the rising stars there were Ricky Martin, Thalía, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez.

Collaborations between classical and popular performers have included Sting and Edin Karamazov's album Songs from the Labyrinth. A collaboration between the late Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé resulted in the worldwide hit «Barcelona».

The term of crossover applied to music that deliberately mixes genres. «Fusion» is a more common term for this phenomenon. Mainly crossover is a musical genre that combines a musical genre that focuses on narrow audience with modern styles, such as rock, pop and electronics, with the reason for the first one to be popular with a mass audience. Examples include jazz fusion, Celtic fusion worldbeat, etc.

Classical crossover is usually defined as a kind of synthesis, a harmonious combination of elements of classical music and pop, rock, electronic music, jazz. One of the British sites describes classical crossover as a term used to define the works of artists, strongly influenced by classical music, adapting it to the popular sound. In the nineties this trend was also known under the names of classical pop, operatic pop, and neoclassical music.

Having arisen as a result of a compromise between elitist art, which is represented by classical music, and modern mass culture, classical crossover is a remarkable intersection, at first glance unconnected phenomena. A new synthesis combines academic knowledge with the latest musical trends, gives it a special flexibility of development. “Music is the way! She can't stop or move the beaten paths, otherwise it ceases to be music and becomes a dead sound matter. Music is a journey into the unknown, the path is off-road or off-road music» (a play on words related to the General title of «crossover» type vehicle with all-wheel drive, designed to drive both in the city and on the road). Crossover is the crossing paths, a bridge between genres; the path unbeaten on the road; the genre out of the genre», declare the musicians of the famous “Terem-Quartet” [2].

Within the classical recording industry, the term «crossover» is applied particularly to classical artists' recordings of popular repertoire such as Broadway show tunes. Two examples of this are Lesley Garrett's excursions into musical comedy, and also José Carreras's recording West Side Story, as well as Teresa Stratas' recording Showboat. Soprano Eileen Farrell is generally considered to be the first classical singer to have a successful crossover recording with her 1960 album I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues [3].

British soprano Sarah Brightman, called the best-selling soprano of all time, is considered a crossover classical artist, having released albums of classical, folk, pop and musical-theatre music. Brightman dislikes the classical crossover label, though she has said she understands the need to categorize music [4].

Italian pop tenor Andrea Bocelli, who is the biggest-selling singer in the history of classical music has been described as the king of classical crossover.

The television talent shows America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent have introduced several popular classical crossover performers, including Paul Potts in 2007, Susan Boyle in 2009, Jackie Evancho in 2010, and Forte Tenors in 2013. Classical crossover performers, including Katherine Jenkins have also often performed on «classical week» of the TV show Dancing with the Stars.

The American group The Piano Guys are implementing a modernized fusion of pop and classical genres.

Flexibly and harmoniously combining musical styles and genres, classical crossover is becoming increasingly popular in the world (classical crossover is included in the list of music nominations of Grammy awards, awarded annually by the National Academy of recording USA). The magazine “Billboard” has created for it a separate chart [5].

The academic Elements of the sound in combination with the factor of entertainment provide the genre's commercial success among a wide age group, far beyond the scope of adherents of exclusively classical music. This is one of the most important functions of classical crossover — popularization of classical music [1].

It is not surprising that it has the widest audience (from 12 to 60+ years, where the core audience age from 20 to 60 years). The emergence and success of the crossover is associated with many reasons. They are the problems accumulated in the academic art, the desire of musicians to carry the classics to a wider audience, the inexhaustibility of classical music, the desire of musicians to work in other styles, to bring in their music the beauty of the melodies and the depth of content, and many others. The rapid development of mass communications is also one of the reasons for the emergence of classical crossover. Music in the film industry, sound recordings have become the main forms of consumption of the classics. There was no immediacy peculiar to live performance in them. But there were other positive features — coverage of a much wider audience, the ability of various experiments on combining heterogeneous parts in style concerning the musical material, which later formed the basis of classical crossover [6]. It develops a huge musical territory, gaining more fans.

Classical Crossover did, indeed, take root from the Pavarotti situation in the sense that it made people realize that classical music could sell, but the Classical Crossover “sound” did not come from Pavarotti. Classical Crossover artists deliberately combine elements of pop music with classical.

Classical Crossover performers usually use two ways of creating crossover songs. The first way is converting classical pieces into pop songs. Vivaldi’s “Winter” from his ‘Four Seasons’ was adapted to ’River of Dreams’ for Hayley Westenra’s album “Pure”. The other example of that type of conversion is the famous song “Time to say goodbye”, performed by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Boccelli. The translation of the parts of the song from Italian to English was used there.

The other method is converting pop songs into classical pieces; this is usually done by turning original pop vocals into operatic vocals, changing English lyrics to another language (typically Italian) and/or given a classical arrangement. e.g. Sarah Brightman’s ‘Il Mio Cuore Va’, originally Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’.

Classical Crossover has developed its own standard repertoire, that is to say, a classical crossover artist originated a song, and then others covered it extensively. The most famous example is ’Time To Say Goodbye’ (Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman) but there are others such as ‘You Raise Me Up’ (Secret Garden/Josh Groban), ‘Nella Fantasia’ (Sarah Brightman), ‘The Prayer’ (Andrea Bocelli) and ‘Where the Lost Ones Go’ (Sissel).

Many singers in Classical Crossover attempt arias.

Classical music and modern classical crossover music differ in many key ways. The most obvious way is their respective time periods. Classical music is typically considered music made before the 20th century, whereas modern music is music created after the 20th century. Both styles of music are vastly different in other ways, including instrumentation, form, style, etc.

As for classical crossover music, its’ songs can be classified into several groups:

Romantic songs and especially the theme of parting are one of the main topics of classical crossover music. Sarah Brightman’s song “Away from you” is the best example to show the features of the theme. To show the atmosphere there are such words as “gray, frozen, dim, bleak, lifeless, bare, dry” used in the text. The author suffers from being away from his lover and compares this condition with being almost dead

“…I'm half alive…”,

Nothing can satisfy the author, the life literary stops for him

“…There is no music,

There is no sunlight,

The world is gray…”

“…The clocks are frozen…”

However the singer is full of hopes and waits for the reunion, that seems the only thing that matters

“…Until the moment

The door swings open

And you walk through.

Now my world starts to glow

Like a stained-glass window

And what was old and cold

Is warm and new.” [6]

The other song by Josh Groban called “Hidden away” conversely is full of passion and merriness. He happily waits to see his lover

“…The sweetest feeling I’ve got inside

I just can’t wait to get lost in your eyes.”

The singer compares his lover with the light now is gone, but it will surely come back.

“…how bright you shine…

…when you come back…” [7]

The theme of nature both in positive and negative meanings is also very popular among the classical crossover performers. The trends of Romanticism are often represented in there, the nature phenomena are personalized. There are, for example, the sad view of the last summer rose

“'Tis the last rose of summer,

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions are faded and gone;

No flow'r of her kindred,

No rosebud is nigh

To reflect back her blushes,

Or give sigh for sigh.” [8]

Or comparison of the moon with the woman

“See her as she flies

Golden sails across the skies

Close enough to touch

But careful if you try

Though she looks as warm as gold

The moon's a harsh mistress

The moon can be so cold…” [7]

The traditional songs are represented by lullabies, children, folk and holiday songs. As it has been said before, the songs of these themes appear in half of the albums of classical crossover style. There are some songs of that topic represented here.

The ancient Welsh folk song, Ar Hyd y Nos was first published under that name by Bardd y Brenin (Edward Jones) in Musical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784). The first English lyrics were possibly written by Amelia Opie and was sung to an English setting, «Here beneath a willow weepeth poor Mary Ann». Those lyrics were eventually replaced by Harold Boulton's now familiar lyrics. The song was performed by Haily Griffiths, Il Vovo, The Tenors and Sara Brightman.

The next song that often appears among classical crossover songs is the “Sweet Polly Oliver”. It appeared in Frank Kidson's Traditional Tunes in 1891 as the Pretty Ploughboy. In 1904 Sharp and Maron identified the tune in Somerset England as The Lark in the Morn. It also appeared in Old Irish Folk Music and Songs by P. W. Joyce. The song tells the listener the story of a girl, who decided to go on War. She dresses in man’s clothes, cuts off her hair and becomes a soldier aiming to follow her husband. There she becomes a nurse and finds her husband mortally injured. And she nurses him back to life. The song is written with “dry” language. There are no expressive means and stylistic devices; the main purpose of the song is not to show the sentimental feelings, but the heroic deeds of a woman ready to follow her love until the death. The song is usually performed by female artists such as Sara Brightman, Hayley Westenra and others.

The results of the investigation strongly support our suggestion that the language of classical crossover has distinguished as an independent genre. Being part of such a large definition of classical music, classical crossover overcame elective experiments on the synthesis of classical music and popular styles and became not only independent, but also popular all over the world.

It is obvious that the study of classical crossover isn’t yet done. As a recently appeared style, it is going to change flexibly, giving the new field of study.


  1. Danilova G. I. World Art And Culture. 7–9 class: textbook for General education. Institutions, 13th ed., stereotype. — Moscow: Drofa, 2011. — 4–32 pp.
  2. Terem Quartet [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  3. Crossover music - Wikipedia. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  4. Music World. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  5. Classical Crossover Albums : Page 1 | Billboard. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  6. Away from you - Sarah Brightman | Текст и перевод песни | Слушать онлайн | Lyrsense. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  7. Hidden away - Josh Groban | Текст и перевод песни | Слушать онлайн | Lyrsense. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
  8. Music Text. [Электронный ресурс]. — URL: (дата обращения: 04.06.2017).
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