The Classical Series, vol. 3: Classical Sampling and Influences in Rock and Metal Music

By: Claudia Siregar |

Though seemingly a bit far-fetched, classical music’s influence on today’s music remains. There is no doubting that many rock and metal musicians found inspiration in classical music, leading to the invention of genres such as symphonic metal, progressive rock, and symphonic Gothic rock. At first, it may seem a bit difficult to find a link between the “harshness” of rock and metal music and the stereotypical “soothing” sounds of classical music – yet the similarity could not have been any more prominent, with the presence of neo-classical metal bands and guitar solos and riffs that somewhat imitate symphonies. An example of a heavily classical-influenced rock musician would be Ritchie Blackmore, the guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow, who has been known to cover Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony live countless times (he even went as far as recording a studio version of an improvised cover of the Ninth Symphony, titled “Difficult to Cure”, along with his bandmates in Rainbow). Queen also makes the list, since a lot of their (earlier) works are opera-derived with a touch of rock plus whatever was hip at the moment hence their always-evolving sound.

Classical sampling is also not uncommon in rock and metal music, as rock and metal bands such as The White Stripes and The Beatles have evidently used samples of classical pieces in their hit songs, playing around with these pieces in different ways (e.g. Oasis using a chord progression similar to Pachelbel’s Canon in D in their hit single “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and The Beatles sampling Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata backwards in their song “Because”). Overall, classical music influences the structure of a lot of rock and metal songs, and it’s undeniable that classical music is the root of early 70’s-and-later rock music. The team has compiled a playlist full of classical-influenced rock and metal songs – enjoy!

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