Joshua Kyan Aalampour. Backview of a man playing the classical piano. Source: Joshua Kyan Aalampour

Not many will have Beethoven, Mozart or Chopin as their top played artist on Spotify. Despite the hit the entertainment industry took from the pandemic, 2021 was a year of many great album releases. We have witnessed Adele’s heroic return with ’30’ and Lil Nas X’s bold entrance to the industry with his first album ‘Montero’. Last but not least, the album that few saw coming- Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Sour’.

Despite its decline in popularity, classical music has already woven its way into our daily lives. We hear Bach in elevators, Debussy in restaurants, and the main theme of Star Wars has burned its melody in our minds.

Joshua Kyan Aalampour, a budding composer, is confident that there will always be an audience for classical music.

Da Capo

The 20-year-old student began posting snippets of his compositions on TikTok has gained close to 600k followers in two years.

His most-viewed videos include a dark academia interpretation of Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle theme and an original piece inspired by The Queen’s Gambit.

Despite his expressive performances, Joshua refuses to call himself a classical pianist.

He had only attended one proper piano lesson. Joshua’s parents nudged him to pick up the piano in 2017 and his first lesson became his last as the teacher disliked him. Out of spite, he started learning how to play the piano online, mainly from YouTube videos.

Eventually, he became genuinely interested in the instrument and fell in love with classical music.

Opus 1: Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, Op.1 “Chaotique”

Chaotique is one of the two opuses that Joshua released in 2021. An opus is a set of artistic compositions, usually referring to a musical work.

His progress is attributed to his diligence to analyse his favourite pieces; his biggest inspirations being Ludwig van Beethoven and Hans Zimmer. With an archive of chords and harmonies in his head, Joshua can easily improvise while he’s composing, like how high-level chess players recite their opening moves.

“It’s like a little database of chords in my head,” he said.

Ballad

Being a classical music composer had never crossed Joshua’s mind. It was a hobby that people happened to pay him for. Instead, his dream has always been to become a film director; although boxing had crossed his mind at some point. Storytelling is his passion and he has already made plans to enroll into film school.

Composing is a lot like storytelling for Joshua.

“Whenever I compose, I think of stories in my head. The stories guide the music. Every single aspect of the composition, from the pitch to the instrument, to the rough manuscript sketch, is a part of the story,” he said.

He proceeds to explain his thought process behind Unite, an original orchestral composition that is inspired by Assassin’s Creed. The grand B minor chord at the climax is not just the tonic harmony, but it resembles the desperate cries of those who fell victim to the horrors of the French Revolution.

Coda

“I think you have perfect reason to assume that classical music is not as popular as other genres,” Joshua said.

Pure classical music might become obsolete one day, but there are many elements that can be extracted from it to merge with new elements to create a new form of classicism. Apache Indian, British singer-songwriter, combines hard hitting electronic music with Mozart’s requiem. 

Similarly, Joshua is working to broaden his musical palette by learning more about other genres. He has dabbled in synthesis and trap music and is trying out Javanese gamelan.

Perhaps classical music deserves its own slogan, like film does during its return as an art form in 2016. But claiming that classical music is not dead is somewhat a fallacy. For classical music was never dying, merely immortalised into different forms.

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