Created By: JimCambiasJanuary 30, 2012 Last Edited By: Lawman592April 28, 2014
Troped

Classical Music is Boring

Classical music is depicted as tedious and soporific.

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"I've got Kim Kardashian in my bed backstage. When's the last time your music got anybody laid?"

Classical Music — and other forms of "high" culture — are frequently shown as being incredibly dull. Apparently everyone who enjoys it is really just incredibly pretentious and is just pretending to enjoy it. The honest, working-class heroes like rock and roll or kickin' country music . . . and typically the stuffy classical fans wind up dancing to it by the end as well.

There's some class consciousness embedded in this: lower-class tastes are more "honest" and genuine, while upper-class tastes are false and pretentious. There are sometimes gender issues involved as well since it's often guys who find classical music dull. It also gets used as a young vs. old signifier, with kids loving loud rock while their elders prefer classical (even though most 70-year-olds nowadays probably grew up on first-wave rock and roll).

Before the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s, this trope used jazz and swing as the populist counterparts to "stuffy" classical music thereby making it at least Older Than Television.

Related to True Art Is Boring and/or True Art Is Incomprehensible. Contrast Orchestral Bombing.

Examples

Advertising
  • Used countless times to indicate that someone is high-class and usually pompous, which is then suddenly replaced with electric guitars when the product or a spokesperson for the product appears. An example is for Nerf water guns depicting a man in a French cafe asking a waiter for more water, summoning a group of kids running by with said water guns and said sudden change in music.
  • In the Pepsi "Shady Acres" commercial, deliverymen are bringing Pepsi to a retirement home, as all the residents are wildly dancing to disco music. The men also deliver Coke to a college fraternity; the frat brothers are playing a boring bingo game as classical music plays in the background.
  • In this commercial for Silly String, an adult party is clearly portrayed as boring as classical music plays. When they bring in the advertised product, the music turns upbeat as everyone has fun.

Film
  • In the movie Caddyshack, the band is playing a classical tune one night at the country club. Wild-and-crazy (and filthy rich) Al Czervik shows up and throws a bunch of money at the band while asking them to liven it up. The band instantly breaks into "Boogie Wonderland".
  • In Citizen Kane, the audience that attends the premiere of the opera Kane commisioned for his wife Susan are seen growing more bored by the minute. One man entertains himself by tearing his program into strips, and is eventually seen asleep. Since this is likely the type of audience who would go to the opera on a regular basis, it suggests the lack of quality of this particular work, made just for the sake of making a rich man's wife a star.
  • Played with in An Education: it's worldier, wealthier Helen who finds classical music completely boring as opposed to middle-class suburban Jenny, who loves it, but this contrast sets Helen up as the more uncultured Dumb Blonde and Jenny as the sensible Brainy Brunette.
  • Titanic had the stuffy Upper Class Twit environment filled with slow chamber music, while the lower decks had people merrily dancing to jaunty popular tunes. Played with in that the classic music keeps playing as the boat sinks as an invocation of Classic Music Is Calming.

Literature
  • Dave Barry had a column comparing different genres of music. Classical music was the kind written by dead German guys and requires seventy people to hum properly.
  • Animorphs. Marco seems to think this, as he manages to fake interest in it just enough to get a pretty (classical music fan)girl to go on a date with him (he explains it as picking up a few things from his dad's CD collection). He falls asleep during the concert.
  • Discworld
    • In Maskerade, most of the people at the opera are only there because it's the done thing, rather than because they enjoy the performance. One upwardly-mobile middle class patron makes the mistake of taking his mother, who doesn't care what the done thing is and would rather be at the music hall.
    • In Snuff, Sam Vimes, who also grew up going to music halls, characterises classical music as "You couldn't hum it, and at no point did anybody shout 'Whoops, have a banana!'" Although it's somewhat averted in that even he can recognise that Tears Of The Mushroom's harp recital is something special.

Live Action TV
  • On Cheers, Diane convinces Sam and a few of the bar regulars to go to an opera. When the opera is finished, everyone is asleep, even Diane.
  • In Home Improvement Jill enjoys Opera but Tim and her sons find it boring at best. The only time Tim likes it is when he gives their stereo "more power!"
  • In one episode of The King Of Queens, Doug and Carrie are visiting a violin concert, and even though they don't enjoy it that much, they decide to sit it through. At the end, Carrie exhaustedly remarks how long that concert was.
  • Victor Borge's guest appearance on The Muppet Show had a scene where Fozzie asks to listen to Victor play. Victor warns Fozzie that he may find the music boring as he starts to play the Moonlight Sonata and sure enough Fozzie quickly falls asleep. Victor keeps playing and next the bust of Beethoven on the piano falls asleep then finally Victor himself falls asleep while playing.
  • In an episode of Neds Declassified School Survival Guide, Moze is in a music appreciation class that many use as a excuse to nap. Later Subverted, when Moze comes to appreciate the more bombastic and lively peices to help her in a volleyball game when some of Mozart's pieces get stuck in her head.
  • An episode of The Partridge Family had the clan at a classical performance. None of the kids were enjoying the experience.

Music
  • As part of PDQ Bach, Peter Schickele laments how easy it is for concert-goers to fall into a confused stupor in "New Horizons in Music Appreciation." Combining the necessity of programme notes for the long compositions with the dim lighting in concert halls makes this inevitable. His proposal? Calling the concert like a baseball game, as he demonstrates with Beethoven's 5th.

Web Original

Western Animation

Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • January 30, 2012
    KingZeal
    Possible page quote:

    "I've got Kim Kardashian in my bed backstage. When's the last time your music got anybody laid?"

  • January 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Arthur: D.W. gets Yo Yo Ma to come to the library to play cello. Arthur and his friends are sure it's going to be boring. Francine has invited her uncle, jazz musician Joshua Redman, for the same day. The kids hope that the two will get into a fight. An Imagine Spot has them in a wrestling ring; Ma pulls out his cello and puts Redman to sleep. But on the day of the meeting it actually goes well, both get along and Redman expresses his enjoyment of classical music.
  • January 31, 2012
    Chabal2
    Dave Barry had a column comparing different genres of music. Classical music was the kind written by dead German guys and requires seventy people to hum properly.
  • January 31, 2012
    Antigone3
    There was a subversion in Calvin And Hobbes -- I don't recall the exact phrasing, but the 1812 Overture was on, and Hobbes pointed out to Calvin that those weren't drums, they were cannon. Calvin's reaction was something on the line of "They play this indoors? I thought classical music was boring!"
  • January 31, 2012
    Lawman592
    Before the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s, this trope used jazz and swing as the populist counterparts to "stuffy" classical music thereby making it at least Older Than Television.
  • February 1, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    Used countless times in Advertising to indicate that someone is high-class and usually pompous, which is then suddenly replaced with electric guitars when the product or a spokesperson for the product appears. An example is for Nerf water guns depicting a man in a French cafe asking a waiter for more water, summoning a group of kids running by with said water guns and said sudden change in music.
  • February 1, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    In shows, it's often guys that think this, due to Men Are Uncultured.
  • February 1, 2012
    chicagomel
    This might count...There's a Bones ep where Booth and Brennan are in the victim's dorm room looking for hidden discs...Booth makes a remark about how the music's organized..."Good stuff up high, crap on the bottom", and he pulls out a classical CD, though what's on the disc in the case is not music.
  • February 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    Animorphs: Marco seems to think this, as he manages to fake interest in it just enough to get a pretty (classical music fan)girl to go on a date with him (he explains it as picking up a few things from his dad's CD collection). He falls asleep during the concert.
  • March 21, 2012
    SonofAkatosh
    In an Episode of Ned's Declassified, Moze is in a music appreciation class, that many use as a excuse to nap. Later Subverted, when Moze comes to appreciate the more bombastic and lively peices to help her in a volleyball game when some of Mozart's pieces get stuck in her head.
  • March 21, 2012
    pawsplay
    Half these examples are Classical Music Is Surprisingly Cool.
  • March 22, 2012
    nitrokitty
    You may want to launch a second trope for Classycal Music to catch all the subversions of this one, and just list straight examples here. ... Okay, I admit it, I just wanted to make that pun.
  • March 22, 2012
    Alvin
    This is all I got: I think on an episode of the TV show Cheers, Diane convinces a bunch of people to go to the opera, and when the opera is finishing, everyone is asleep, even Diane.
  • March 21, 2014
    Lawman592
    Bump
  • March 21, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced the examples, fixed broken Blue Links + did some other formatting.
  • March 21, 2014
    Chabal2
    May also come from the writer's childhood experience/trauma of having to take classical music lessons (violin and piano are popular) while other kids were out having fun. There's a Far Side cartoon with this theme, albeit with a dog watching his friends maul a mailman while he's playing.
  • March 21, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    ^That could be its own trope too.
  • March 22, 2014
    hydrix
  • March 22, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In the Pepsi "Shady Acres" commercial, deliverymen are bringing Pepsi to a retirement home, as all the residents are wildly dancing to disco music. The men also deliver Coke to a college fraternity; the frat brothers are playing a boring bingo game as classical music plays in the background. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff3Q5Qp9FJ0
  • March 22, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In this commercial for Silly String ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVrxddbiow4 ) an adult party is clearly portrayed as boring as classical music plays. When they bring in the advertised product, the music turns upbeat as everyone has fun.
  • March 22, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In the movie Caddyshack, the band is playing a classical tune one night at the country club. Wild-and-crazy (and filthy rich) Al Czervik shows up and throws a bunch of money at the band while asking them to liven it up. The band instantly breaks into "Boogie Wonderland".

  • March 24, 2014
    TheHandle
    Titanic had the stuffy Upper Class Twit environment filled with slow chamber music, while the lower decks had people merrily dancing to jaunty popular tunes. Played with in that the classic music keeps playing as the boat sinks as an invocation of Classic Music Is Calming.
  • March 25, 2014
    Koveras
  • April 1, 2014
    robbulldog
    An episode of The Partridge Family had the clan at a classical performance. None of the kids were enjoying the experience.
  • April 1, 2014
    Ryusui
    • Subverted by both Asuras Wrath and Killer Is Dead. Classical though it may be, Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 provides prime asskicking music.
  • April 1, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    This is kinda Truth In Television... when I was growing up, granted, I didn't exactly listen to classical music on a regular basis myself, but I remember as a kid, other kids and classmates I knew automatically dismissed classical music as being, "Boring."
  • April 1, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    The Neds Declassified School Survival Guide example still needs to be added to the draft.
  • April 1, 2014
    eowynjedi
    Comedy:

    • As part of PDQ Bach, Peter Schickele laments how easy it is for concert-goers to fall into a confused stupor in "New Horizons in Music Appreciation." Combining the necessity of programme notes for the long compositions with the dim lighting in concert halls makes this inevitable. His proposal? Calling the concert like a baseball game, as he demonstrates with Beethoven's 5th.
  • April 3, 2014
    aradia22
    I feel like there are also subversions of this trope where a lower class/middle class character, particularly a male character liking classical music is considered admirable. It's a sign of hidden depths and/or sensitivity.
  • April 3, 2014
    Boston
  • April 3, 2014
    Lawman592
    ^^ Another subversion is to have the clashing "cultured" and "uncultured" groups eventually agree that there's merit in both popular and classical music respectively thereby leading to an Aesop about why it's good to keep an open mind on cultural matters. In fact, there are so many subversions to the proposed Classical Music Is Boring trope that it could be an entirely different trope itself.
  • April 10, 2014
    Lawman592
  • April 17, 2014
    Darthcaliber
    Victor Borge's guest appearance on The Muppet Show had a scene where Fozzie asks to listen to Victor play. Victor warns Fozzie that he may find the music boring as he starts to play the Moonlight Sonata and sure enough Fozzie quickly falls asleep. Victor keeps playing and next the bust of Beethoven on the piano falls asleep then finally Victor himself falls asleep while playing.
  • April 17, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    Possible The Simpsons example: On one episode, in order to try and look more "cultured", Mayor Quimby allows the construction of an opera house. The opening night is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, full house... and every single Springfieldian leaves after the first five notes are played, with them saying that it was the most "interesting" part of the symphony, and stampeding their way out when Lisa tells them that the rest of the symphony lasts several hours. Quimby gets mad enough at the amount of resources that the house's construction required and everybody else letting it go to waste that he mournfully calls them "dumb rednecks".
  • April 18, 2014
    Lawman592
    ^Wasn't it Beethoven's Fifth in the Simpsons example?
  • April 18, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    It was the Fifth. My bad.
  • April 18, 2014
    Synchronicity
    • Played with in An Education: it's worldier, wealthier Helen who finds classical music completely boring as opposed to middle-class suburban Jenny, who loves it, but this contrast sets Helen up as the more uncultured Dumb Blonde and Jenny as the sensible Brainy Brunette.
  • April 18, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In Home Improvement Jill enjoys Opera but Tim and her sons find it boring at best. The only time Tim likes it is when he gives their stereo "more power!"
  • April 19, 2014
    Lawman592
    I was thinking maybe this should be part of a dual launching with a companion Classical Is Cool trope.
  • April 19, 2014
    Koveras
    This reminds me of a riff off an old saying "Blues is when a good man feels bad": "...and classical music is when a good man is long dead".
  • April 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Laconic plz.
  • April 20, 2014
    LobsterMagnusNovus
    • in one episode of The King Of Queens, Doug and Carrie are visiting a violin concert, and even though they don't enjoy it that much, they decide to sit it through. At the end, Carrie exhaustedly remarks how long that concert was.
  • April 20, 2014
    TonyG
    In Citizen Kane, the audience that attends the premiere of the opera Kane commisioned for his wife Susan are seen growing more bored by the minute. One man entertains himself by tearing his program into strips, and is eventually seen asleep. Since this is likely the type of audience who would go to the opera on a regular basis, it suggests the lack of quality of this particular work, made just for the sake of making a rich man's wife a star.
  • April 21, 2014
    DaibhidC
    • Discworld
      • In Maskerade, most of the people at the opera are only there because it's the done thing, rather than because they enjoy the performance. One upwardly-mobile middle class patron makes the mistake of taking his mother, who doesn't care what the done thing is and would rather be at the music hall.
      • In Snuff, Sam Vimes, who also grew up going to music halls, characterises classical music as "You couldn't hum it, and at no point did anybody shout 'Whoops, have a banana!'" Although it's somewhat averted in that even he can recognise that Tears Of The Mushroom's harp recital is something special.
  • April 22, 2014
    Lawman592
    Who should launch this?
  • April 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ why not you? :P
  • April 23, 2014
    Lawman592
    ^ I'm not the one who started this proposed trope page. The original sponsor should have first right.
  • April 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ you grabbed this from him, thus you have the right. :)
  • April 23, 2014
    Synchronicity
    Picked through the description:

  • April 23, 2014
    Arivne
    In the Examples media sections, changed Comedy to Music and Television to Live Action TV and alphabetized them.
  • April 27, 2014
    Lawman592
    Unless anybody objects, I'll launch this soon. However, I might start in YKTTW a related trope titled Classical Music Is Cool.
  • April 27, 2014
    Lawman592
    The example from Western Animation/Arthur has been moved to the Classical Is Cool YKTTW.
  • April 28, 2014
    randomsurfer
    I don't understand why - I mean, DW expects it to be boring but then realizes Classical is Cool. From Arthur's perspective it's boring (until the end of the short when he learns An Aesop). Why can't it be in both?
    Arthur: I'm going to start a petition. Yo-Yo Ma can't just barge in anytime he wants and wreck everybody's day with a lot of boring cello music.
  • April 28, 2014
    Lawman592
    ^ Okay, I see your point. It's back in.
  • April 28, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable