I’m studying contemporary music a university and this is the terminology usually used.
Classical music is generally divided into eras so if you are referring to Mozart etc, it’s not classical but classical/classic era/period. The periods are Renaissance, Baroque, Classical/Classic, Romantic and 20C which actually started a little before the 20C and includes impressionism, symbolism, neoclassicism, expressionism, serialism, chance, minimalism and some types of jazz.
The single word 'classical' includes all of these as well as non Western classical music such as Indian, Chinese and Japanese classical music. Classical as opposed to popular is often defined by the lack of beat (having rhythm as opposed to beat) with popular music often having a strong 4/4 beat.
The dividing line becomes blurred with ambient and minimalist music. I personally think Marsen Jules’ ‘Herbstlaub’ is very much contemporary classical. And much of the music of Taylor Deupree, Robert Rich and Steve Roach is extremely borderline. This is what I’m trying to compose and it’s not easy. I’ve composed successful symbolist music and a number of other styles and it’s much less demanding.
Is anyone else interested in this ambient style of contemporary classical that Marsen Jules creates?