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Music genre theory

Parent categories: music genre - genre theory

Related list of music genres


Musical genres are categories which contain music which share a certain style or which have certain elements in common.

Some genres, such as Indian music, are geographically defined; others, like Baroque music, are largely defined by chronology. Still others, such as Barbershop, are defined by quite precise technical requirements. Some genres, however, are quite vague, and may be contrived by critics; post-rock, for example, is a term devised and defined by Simon Reynolds. Yet another example of this is video game music, which while defined by its media, can also represent its own style, as well as that of any other musical genre.

To some extent, all attempts to categorise music will have a degree of artificiality to them, because musicians tend to produce music in any style they choose, without concerning themselves with which genre they are working in. Some people feel that the categorization of music into genres is useless. John Zorn, for example, a musician whose work has covered a wide range of genres, wrote in Arcana: musicians on music that genres are tools used to "commodify and commercialize an artist's complex personal vision", implying that oftentimes, genres represent efforts at marketing rather than actual musical distinctions. Other artists feel that it is the artist's fault themselves for making a body of work that can be put into a shared class easily with others.

Dividing music by genre is still widely done, however, making it easier to trace threads through music history, and increasing the ease with which individuals find artists that they enjoy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_genre [Jul 2004]

Internet taxonomies of musical genres

Several taxonomies of musical genres have been designed by Internet music retailers and consequently made available to the public. These taxonomies are all aimed at helping users navigate in music catalogues using a top-down approach, like in record stores, but often with a much finer level of detail. Starting from main musical genres, such as “Classical”, or “Rock”, users progressively refine genres until they fall down on “leaf” nodes representing actual concrete genres, where they typically find lists of related albums or titles.We have analyzed three of these classifications. The classification of Amazon, AllMusic Guide, and of the Mp3 Internet sites (a third important taxonomy, the one of CDDB was not taken into account for time reasons. It includes 20 meta genres and 200 subgenres). From the structural viewpoint, each classification is organized as a hierarchy (i.e. no multiple inheritance links), and describes most of western music. --François Pachet, Daniel Cazaly, 2000, http://www.csl.sony.fr/downloads/papers/2000/pachet-riao2000.pdf

Genres of music

As there are many definitions for music there are many divisions and groupings of music, many of which are as hotly contested as, and even caught up in, the argument over the definition of music. There are many musical genres. Among the larger genres are classical music, popular music or commercial music (including rock and roll), country music and folk music. The term world music has been applied to a wide range of music made outside of Europe and European influence, although its initial application, in the context of the World Music Program at Wesleyan University, was as a term including all possible music genres, and not excluding European traditions. In academic circles, the original term for the study of world music, "comparative musicology", was replaced in the middle of the twentieth century by "ethnomusicology", which is still an unsatisfactory definition.

Genres of music are as often determined by tradition and presentation as by the actual music. While most classical music is acoustical in nature, and meant to be performed by individuals, many works include samples, tape, or are mechanical, and yet described as "classical". Some works, for example Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, are claimed by both jazz and classical music.

As cultures of the world have been in more contact with each other, their indigenous music styles have often melded to form new styles. For example, the U.S.-American bluegrass style has elements from Anglo-Irish, Scottish, Irish, German and some African-American instrumental and vocal traditions, and can only have been a product of the 20th Century.

Many music festivals exist these days celebrating a particular music genre. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music#Genres [Apr 2005]

Musical genres are linguistic placeholders [...]

Labeling something jazz or rock or rap or disco or anything else is a tad arbitrary. It's been a long time since genres of popular music stopped being genres and simply started being linguistic placeholders for similar sounds and styles. That's usually the main way music gets its names in the first place -- through an attempt to put into written language something that is purely an aural experience. The result are words that help us understand what we're hearing. --Shan Fowler for popmatters.com

Amazon Music Genre Taxonomy


Open Directory Music Genre Taxonomy


Coining of genres in music

Northern Soul Coined

Soul record guru Dave Godin actually first coined the phrase 'Northern Soul' sometime around 1971 when writing his column in Blues and Soul magazine.

Punk Coined

That was also the Creem issue where Dave Marsh coined the phrase "punk rock" in a column about seeing a Question Mark & The Mysterians club gig... something was definitely in American's drinking water that month.

List of genres of music

Music can be divided into genres in many different ways. These classifications are often arbitrary and controversial, and furthermore closely related styles often overlap. Many do not believe that generic classification of musical styles is possible in any logically consistent way, and also argue that doing so sets limitations and boundaries that hinder the development of music. While no one doubts that it is possible to note similarities between performers, there are often exceptions and caveats associated.

Of course, included in each genre are myriad musical styles further specifying the type of music, which tend to be more descriptive than a simple genre title. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genres_of_music

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