Orchestral pop (sometimes called by the shortening ork-pop [3]) is pop music that has been arranged and performed by a symphonic orchestra.[4] It may also be conflated with the terms symphonic pop or chamber pop.[3]


During the 1960s, pop music on radio and in both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly arranged and rehearsed studio musicians.[5] The rapid development of multitrack recording in the mid 1960s also drove the ability of producers to create recordings with ever more complex and sonically sophisticated arrangements. Pop arrangers and producers worked orchestral pop into their artists' releases, including George Martin and his strings arrangements with the Beatles, and John Barry for his scores to the James Bond films.[6] Also in the 1960s, a number of orchestral settings were made for songs written by the Beatles, including symphonic performances of "Yesterday" by orchestras. Some symphonies were specifically founded for playing predominantly popular music, such as the Boston Pops Orchestra.[4] Nick Perito was one of orchestral pop's most accomplished[according to whom?] arrangers, composers, and conductors.[7]

According to Chris Nickson, the "vital orchestral pop of 1966" was "challenging, rather than vapid, easy listening".[8] Spin magazine refers to Burt Bacharach and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson as "gods" of orchestral pop.[9] In Nickson's opinion, the "apex" of orchestral pop lay in singer Scott Walker, explaining that "in his most fertile period, 1967–70, he created a body of work that was, in its own way, as revolutionary as the Beatles'. He took the ideas of [Henry] Mancini and Bacharach to their logical conclusion, essentially redefining the concept of orchestral pop."[10]

In the 21st century, few artists explore the genre, with the most notable being English supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets (formed by Arctic Monkeys frontman, Alex Turner and solo artist Miles Kane), and American artist Cody Fry.[11]


See also: Chamber pop

Ork-pop is a 1990s movement which took its name from orchestral pop.[12] Leading artists of the movement included Yum-Yum, the High Llamas, Richard Davies, Eric Matthews, Spookey Ruben, Witch Hazel, and Liam Hayes (Plush).[12] Matthews, who partnered with Davies for duo Cardinal, was considered a leading figure in the style.[13]


  1. ^ Hawkins 2015, p. 193.
  2. ^ Joffe, Justin (June 13, 2016). "The Day J-Pop Ate Itself: Cornelius and the Timeless Freakiness of 'Fantasma'". The New York Observer.
  3. ^ a b Salmon, Ben (May 25, 2007). "Classic combo". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Orchestral/Easy Listening". AllMusic. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon (October 31, 2008). "Orchestral Pop, the Way It Was (More or Less)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  6. ^ Lanza et al. 2008, p. 167.
  7. ^ Lanza 1994, p. 230.
  8. ^ Nickson, Chris (February 1998). "Best New Music". CMJ New Music Monthly: 11. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  9. ^ "Reviews". Spin. October 2006. ISSN 0886-3032.
  10. ^ Nickson, Chris (November 1997). "The Sons of Scott Walker". CMJ New Music. CMJ New Music Monthly: 20, 22. ISSN 1074-6978.
  11. ^ "Cody Fry | Artist | GRAMMY.com". www.grammy.com. Retrieved 2024-01-23.
  12. ^ a b Rosen, Craig (May 25, 1996). "Building A Perfect Ork-Pop Masterpiece". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 1, 92. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ Morris, Chris (August 23, 1997). "Sub Pop Feels the Time Is Right for Eric Matthews". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 10. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved August 27, 2016.