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The most common approach to combining contemporary and classical music involves the arrangement of a pop tune for symphony orchestra. While this lends an element of old-world grandeur to the songs most readily found on the radio, I have often felt there are more interesting possibilities in the intermixture of the two.


This raises the question of what is really at the core of classical music – is it the grouping of traditional instruments into orchestral sections or is it a mode of composing that stretches into the epic and requires the listener to follow on an intricate and extensive journey?


Essentially, is a symphony still a symphony without the orchestra?


With the Atomic Symphonies, I wanted to explore the possibilities of what the intersection of pop and classical would be if I reversed the standard practice – keeping the intent and framework of the composition, while trading the strings and winds for synths and beats.


Again, my interest here was not to translate works already in the repertoire using digitally induced sounds. I have no desire to hear Brahms Fourth or Mozart’s Fortieth in the mode of Tiesto or Moby. I wanted to create something that would be both singular and a signature for my own work. 


So I set about building these Atomic Symphonies, movement by movement, using the instruments and percussive elements of pop, techno, funk and EDM. Much of our music today is meant to inspire us to dance, and I wanted that drive to be a part of what audience experiences when they hear my work in this form.


While I do not expect these musical works to enter any canon but my own, it has been a joy to work on them on a daily basis – to find out what comes next musically, discover where a motif can come back into play, and arrive at a new and momentary place that invites the ear to listen, and the body to move.

– Nicholas Korn


The Atomic Symphonies reinvents the classical symphony for the digital age by creating a massive four-movement opus based on the beats and instruments of pop, funk, techno, hip-hop and EDM. I have been working on this epic music series since 2018.

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