Classical music was one of Banks's earliest musical influences. He learned to play piano pieces by composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Maurice Ravel and recalls hearing The Planets by Gustav Holst when he was very young. He later became interested in the music of Gustav Mahler after hearing it in the movie Death in Venice. He also cites Dmitri Shostakovich and Erik Satie as composers whose music he has enjoyed. He identifies Symphony No. 4 in A minor and Symphony No. 7 in C major by Jean Sibelius and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5 in D major as favourite pieces. Critics have noted that Vaughan Williams and film composer John Barry are notable influences on his own orchestral compositions. Banks has acknowledged similarities in style between his orchestral works and those of Vaughan Williams, Sibelius and Barry.
Cultural critics often call ours a visual age, citing the dominance of television, film, comics and advertising, but perhaps the force of pictures was even stronger in previous centuries, when literacy was limited. In Protestant Britain, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, paintings and sculptures in churches were destroyed for their very power by the Puritans. In Hogarth’s day, pictures spoke in many voices, through trade cards and emblem books, shop signs and woodcuts on broadsheet ballads. And then, as now, people all displayed ‘pictures’ of themselves, wittingly or unwittingly. From barrow boys to bishops, faces, clothes and body language tell subtle stories about status and sense of self – and sometimes appearances mislead as much as they inform.William Hogarth: A Life and a World