Postmodern Classical music is a musical style. This type of music contains characteristics of postmodern art—that is, art after modernism (see Modernism in Music). It favors eclecticism in musical form and musical genre, and often combines characteristics from different genres, or employs jump-cut sectionalization (such as blocks). It tends towards traditional harmonic practice while at the same time employing colorful orchestration and generally traditional serious forms. These forms usually include all the sonata-based forms such as symphony, as well as traditional choral forms in which language and the poetic is placed as the most important aspect of musical lyricism.
While post-modern music comprised a change in the fundamental idea of what music is topically concerned with, present-day classical composers apply many of the lessons learned from the realism presented in art of nineteenth-century romanticism to combine expressive works which generally "tell a story" in modern, contemporary terms. Thus, a contemporary classical composer takes great delight in basing his music on extramusical art such as literature, poetry, the visual arts and cinema.
Just as the periods of Mozart and Stravinsky saw an interest in building upon common-practice harmonic and contrapuntal techniques, so postmodern classicism seeks to enfold everything from ethnomusicology to total serialism to layered orchestrations and pop/world rhythms. Any techniques associated with the eclecticism of modern music worldwide is subject to use within this style, including the most arcane and traditional. Elements from world music and even so-called popular music have also provided techniques and means of expressions within new eclectic styles.
It was inevitable with the ingrown cynicism of much intellectual and emotionally sterile academic music of the second half of the twentieth century, that there would come a time when "popular music" eventually found as much if not more seriousness than so-called "serious" music. This is an outgrowth of the academic fascination with the way music looks upon the page, rather than what it sounds like. Arnold Schoenberg makes plain his own stance regarding the visual nature of western musical tradition when he spent a few weeks after completing the composition of the Gurre-Lieder in 1911 avoiding music composition altogether, devoting himself to painting instead. It is little wonder the atonalists pride themselves more upon grace of line and oddness of tone in general, rather than plumbing the soul of nature for musical sounds as yet undiscovered. While much good has come out of the experiments of the atonalists and serialists, it is the artist steeped in the maintaining of a rich, western music tradition which will contribute to the eventual hope of the art's advancement. One of the most notable uses of modernistic experimentation has been to create a music so detached from common mores of communication, that it has been found useful in expressing such ideals as insanity, detachment, self-absoption and abject cynicism.