Eclecticism in music

In music, eclecticism is the conscious use of styles alien to the composer's own nature, or from a bygone era. The term is also used pejoratively to describe music whose composer, thought to be lacking originality, appears to have freely drawn on other models (Kennedy and Bourne 2006). This word can also be used to describe the music of composers who combine multiple styles, such as using a whole-tone variant of a pentatonic folksong over chromatic counterpoint, or a tertian arpeggiating melody over quartal or secundal harmonies. Eclecticism can also occur through quotations, whether of a style (for example, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 calls back to Haydnesque classicism), direct quotations of folksongs/variations of them (for example, in Mahler's Symphony No. 1 - 2nd and 3rd movements) or direct quotations of other composers (for example, in Berio's Sinfonia - 3rd movement) (Cope 1997, 230–33).

See alsoEdit


  • Kennedy, Michael, and Joyce Bourne (eds.). 2006. "Eclecticism", in The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Cope, David 1997. "Decategorization." Techniques of the Contemporary Composer,[page needed]. New York: Schirmer Books; London: Prentice Hall International. ISBN 9780028647371.