Music genre

A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Recently, academics have argued that categorizing music by genre is inaccurate and outdated.

Music can be divided into different genres in many different ways. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often subjective and controversial, and some genres may overlap. There are even varying academic definitions of the term genre itself. In his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green distinguishes between genre and form. He lists madrigal, motet, canzona, ricercar, and dance as examples of genres from the Renaissance period. To further clarify the meaning of genre, Green writes, “Beethoven’s Op. 61 and Mendelssohn’s Op. 64 are identical in genre – both are violin concertos – but different in form. However, Mozart’s Rondo for Piano, K. 511, and the Agnus Dei from his Mass, K. 317 are quite different in genre but happen to be similar in form.” Some, like Peter van der Merwe, treat the terms genre and style as the same, saying that genre should be defined as pieces of music that share a certain style or “basic musical language.” Others, such as Allan F. Moore, state that genre and style are two separate terms, and that secondary characteristics such as subject matter can also differentiate between genres. A music genre or subgenre may also be defined by the musical techniques, the style, the cultural context, and the content and spirit of the themes. Geographical origin is sometimes used to identify a music genre, though a single geographical category will often include a wide variety of subgenres. Timothy Laurie argues that since the early 1980s, “genre has graduated from being a subset of popular music studies to being an almost ubiquitous framework for constituting and evaluating musical research objects”.

Among the criteria often used to classify musical genres are the trichotomy of art, popular, and traditional musics.

Alternatively, music can be divided on three variables: arousal, valence, and depth. Arousal reflects the energy level of the music; valence reflects the scale from sad to happy emotions, and depth reflects the level of emotional depth in the music. These three variables help explain why many people like similar songs from different traditionally segregated genres.

Musicologists have sometimes classified music according to a trichotomic distinction such as Philip Tagg’s “axiomatic triangle consisting of ‘folk’, ‘art’ and ‘popular’ musics”. He explains that each of these three is distinguishable from the others according to certain criteria.

Criteria for defining a musical genre
Depending on the genre, various material or human characteristics may be considered.

Sound source
The sound source is often decisive for understanding a genre: it defines the instruments, the voices, the formations or the strength of a particular music.

The voice is a very special instrument (it resides in the body of the performer and allows to add text to the music, but also vocal sounds such as screams, rales, breaths…), the vocal music and instrumental music will generate different musical genres.
From the point of view of the number of performers, one can, for example, distinguish: the string quartet genre (for four soloists), the serenade type for chamber orchestra (small orchestral formation), the symphonic concerto genre (for symphonic orchestra and soloist).

The place of destination can sometimes determine one kind or another. It can be music intended to be played outside or inside and in various types of places (type of place, size, volume, acoustics…). For example, the kind military march is normally intended to be played outdoors, while a trio of chamber music is more for a room, preferably reduced size.

Duration of music
The average length of a musical work varies considerably from one genre to another and can serve as a characteristic. For example, the songs of the opera genre are generally longer than those of the song genre.

Social role
When one wants to determine a musical genre, the sociological criterion is probably the most relevant. It answers the following questions: “What is this music for? “(Whose function),” to whom is it addressed? (What social group) and “under what circumstances is it played? “. Thus religious music (or sacred music) will group certain musical genres, while its opposite (secular music) will bring together others. Some examples: music for the stage, film music, dance music, military music, funeral music, elevator music, jingleetc.

Some distinctions
Genre and music system
The genre must then be distinguished from the musical system, that is to say, from the set of uses specific to this or that musical practice: scales, rhythmic modes, writing rules and various technical aspects.

Indeed, a composition system can create different musical genres. The tonal system, since the end of the Renaissance to the present, has permeated various kinds belonging to both the instrumental music, the vocal music, the sacred music or secular music.

Conversely each genre can belong to different musical systems. For example the sacred vocal music is likely to exist in a large number of systems: homophone, heterophony, modal music, tonal music, atonal music, serial music, acousmatic music, etc.

Genre and musical form
The musical genre must also be distinguished from the musical form.

Indeed, musical works belonging to the same genre can take different forms. For example, a melody can follow the binary form (ABABA…), the rondo form (ABACAD…), or a more complex and unusual form, the free form (ABCDE…).

Conversely, musical works belonging to different genres may take the same form. For example, the fugue form can be found in a mass, in a piece for an organ, in an opening, in an opera, etc.

To describe the concept that is the subject of this article, the word “form” is often used instead of the word “gender”, which does not fail to cause regrettable equivocation. This confusion comes from the fact that in a given context – an era, an aesthetic, etc. – a genre often takes a privileged form, so much so that the first gives its name to the second – or vice versa. In any case, the two concepts should not be confused. Likewise, the sonata genre is distinguishable from the sonata form. If the use of the word “genre” has been retained here, it is, on the one hand because in the field of music, this word has a meaning similar to that which it receives in other arts – cinema,literature, painting, etc. – on the other hand and above all, because in this same domain, the word “form” already has other meanings, as we have just seen.

Genre and style
Allan Moore has listed four ways to understand the relationship between genre and musical style:

In the first style describes how to articulate musical gestures (in) and gender is related to the identity and context of these gestures.
In the second genre focuses on the context of gestures and relates to aesthetics while the style that focuses on their mode of articulation refers to the poïétique (the process of creation).
In the third, the genre is normally socially constrained while the style is not socially determined and has a certain degree of autonomy.
In the fourth, the style has several hierarchical levels, from the most general that can be socially constituted to the most local; the gender system is also hierarchical, but the subgenres constitute full-fledged genres in a different way from the sub-styles.

Academic classification of musical genres
Traditionally, musical works have been separated by genre according to what purpose they have been composed, that is, according to their social function and their instrumentation (functional or material criteria).

Classification by function
Religious music: the one that has been created for a religious ceremony or service (mass, etc.).
Profane music: is the genre to which all non-religious music belongs.
Dance music.
Dramatic music: theatrical musical works belong to this genre, in which the singers act representing their character while they sing (opera, musical, etc.). Among them we distinguish:
Opera seria (Italy)
Intermezzo (Italy)
Opera buffa (Italy)
Tragédie lyrique (France)
Comédie-ballet (France)
Opéra-comique (France)
Opéra-ballet (France)
Grand opéra (France)
Singspiel (Germanic area)
Zarzuela (Spain)
Oratory, non-liturgical religious genre.

Incidental music: music that accompanies a play, a television program, a radio program, a movie, a video game and other forms of expression that are not in principle musical.

Film music: music, usually orchestrated and instrumental, composed specifically to accompany the scenes of a film and support the film narrative. Although it can be considered as a type of incidental music, it constitutes a musical genre by itself.

Classification by instrumentation
Vocal music: all music in which the voice intervenes. A vocal music without any accompaniment is called “a capella”. If it is a set of voices it is called choral music.

Instrumental music: works performed exclusively by musical instruments, without the participation of the voice. Within classical music, if the grouping of instruments is reduced, we speak of chamber music. When the musical work is performed by an orchestra, we talk about symphonic music. If the instruments that execute the work are electronic, we talk about electronic music.

Pure or abstract music: it is music without reference to the extramusical; it does not try to describe or suggest something concrete beyond what the listener is able to perceive and feel.
Programmatic music: is based on a literary program, guide or extramusical argument. It is music that tries to tell a story or story, the life of a character, etc. A derivation of this genre is descriptive music, which is what describes a landscape, phenomenon or event (a battle, a storm, etc.).

The musical genres in current music
When the term “musical genre” is currently used in non-academic contexts, such as commercial ones, in societies of authors or by popular music criticism, it is used as a synonym for musical style. Today often distinguish three major families of styles or genres: classical music, folk music and popular music.

Cultured music
Classical music is also known as classical music, scholarly or academic. The name of classical music is a term often vague but deeply rooted and institutionalized in society, in addition to the usual way of referring to other similar words, which appears for the first time in the Oxford English Dictionary of 1836. It involves all kinds of theoretical, aesthetic considerationsand structural, and usually involves a long written tradition, so that their interpreters usually have years of training in a conservatory.

Art music
Art music primarily includes classical traditions, including both contemporary and historical classical music forms. Art music exists in many parts of the world. It emphasizes formal styles that invite technical and detailed deconstruction and criticism, and demand focused attention from the listener. In Western practice, art music is considered primarily a written musical tradition, preserved in some form of music notation rather than being transmitted orally, by rote, or in recordings, as popular and traditional music usually are. Historically, most western art music has been written down using the standard forms of music notation that evolved in Europe, beginning well before the Renaissance and reaching its maturity in the Romantic period. The identity of a “work” or “piece” of art music is usually defined by the notated version rather than by a particular performance, and is primarily associated with the composer rather than the performer (though composers may leave performers with some opportunity for interpretation or improvisation). This is so particularly in the case of western classical music. Art music may include certain forms of jazz, though some feel that jazz is primarily a form of popular music. The 1960s saw a wave of avant-garde experimentation in free jazz, represented by artists such as Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp and Don Cherry. And avant-garde rock artists such as Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and The Residents released art music albums.

Popular music
Popular music is any musical style accessible to the general public and disseminated by the mass media. Musicologist and popular music specialist Philip Tagg defined the notion in the light of sociocultural and economical aspects:

Popular music, unlike art music, is (1) conceived for mass distribution to large and often socioculturally heterogeneous groups of listeners, (2) stored and distributed in non-written form, (3) only possible in an industrial monetary economy where it becomes a commodity and (4) in capitalist societies, subject to the laws of ‘free’ enterprise… it should ideally sell as much as possible.

Popular music is found on most commercial and public service radio stations, in most commercial music retailers and department stores, and in movie and television soundtracks. It is noted on the Billboard charts and, in addition to singer-songwriters and composers, it involves music producers more than other genres do.

The distinction between classical and popular music has sometimes been blurred in marginal areas such as minimalist music and light classics. Background music for films/movies often draws on both traditions. In this respect, music is like fiction, which likewise draws a distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction that is not always precise.

Rock music
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Soul music/R&B
Soul music became a musical genre that came to include a wide variety of R&B-based music styles from the pop R&B acts at Motown Records in Detroit, such as The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Four Tops, to “deep soul” singers such as Percy Sledge and James Carr.

In 1964 James Brown created original funk music.

Country music
Country music, also known as country and western (or simply country), and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s.


Hip hop music
Hip Hop Music, also referred to as hip hop or rap music, is a genre of music that was started in the United States, specifically the South Bronx in the New York City, New York, by African-American youth from the inner-cities during the 1970s. It can be broadly defined as a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. Hip hop music derives from the hip hop culture itself, including four key elements, those being emceeing(MCing)/rapping, Disc jockeying (DJing) with turntablism, break dancing and graffiti art.

The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas.

Religious music
Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. Gospel, spiritual, Christian music are religious music.

Traditional and folk music
Traditional and Folk music are very similar categories. Although the traditional music is a very broad category and can include several different genres, it is widely accepted that traditional music encompasses folk music. According to the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music), traditional music are songs and tunes which have been performed over a long period of time (usually several generations).

The Folk music genre is classified as the music that is orally passed from one generation to another. Usually the artist is unknown, and there are several different versions of the same song. The genre is transmitted by singing, listening and dancing to popular songs. This type of communication allows culture to transmit the styles (pitches and cadences) as well as the context it was developed.

Some of the main aspects about culturally transmitting folk songs, its about the period of history it was created and the social class in which was developed. Some examples of the Folk Genre can be seen in the Folk music of England and Turkish Folk music. English folk music was developed since the medieval period and it has transmitted from that time until today. Similarly, the Turkish Folk music relates to all the civilizations that once passed thorough Turkey, therefore being a world-reference since the tensions between East-West during the Early Modern Period.

Traditional Folk music usually refers to songs composed in the 20th century, which tends to be written as universal truths and big issues of the time it was composed. Great names such as Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, James Taylor, and Leonard Cohen transformed the Folk music on what it is known today. Some newer composers, such as Ed Sheeran (Pop Folk), and The Lumineers (American Folk) are both newer examples of Contemporary Folk music, which has been recorded and adapted to the new way of listening to music (online) on the contrary of the traditional way of orally transmitting music.

Each country in the world, in some cases each region, district and community has its own Folk Music style. The different sub-divisions of Folk genre is developed by each place cultural identity and history. Because the music is developed in different places, a lot of the instruments are characteristic to its location and population, but some of them are similar everywhere, some examples are: Button or Piano Accordion, different types of flutes or trumpets, Banjo, and Ukulele. Both French and Scottish folk music uses related instruments such as the Fiddle, the harp and variations of bagpipes.

Automatic categorization
Automatic methods of musical similarity detection, based on data mining and co-occurrence analysis, have been developed in order to classify music titles for electronic music distribution.

Emergence of new genres and sub-genres
New genres can arise by the development of new forms and styles of music and also simply by creating a new categorization. Although it is conceivable to create a musical style with no relation to existing genres, new styles usually appear under the influence of preexisting genres. The genealogy of musical genres expresses, often in the form of a written chart, the way in which new genres have developed under the influence of older ones. If two or more existing genres influence the emergence of a new one, a fusion between them can be said to have taken place. The proliferation of popular music in the 20th century has led to over 1,200 definable sub-genres of music.

Psychology of music preference
Social influences on music selection
Since music has become more easily accessible (Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, etc.), more people have begun listening to a broader and wider range of music styles. In addition, social identity also plays a large role in music preference. Personality is a key contributor for music selection. Someone who considers themselves to be a “rebel” will tend to choose heavier music styles like Heavy Metal or Hard Rock, while someone who considers themselves to be more “relaxed” or “laid back” will tend to choose lighter music styles like Jazz or Classical music. There are five main factors that exist that underly music preferences that are genre-free, and reflect emotional/affective responses. These five factors are:

A Mellow factor consisting of smooth and relaxing styles (Jazz, Classical, etc.).
An Urban factor defined largely by rhythmic and percussive music (Rap, Hip-Hop, Funk, etc.).
A Sophisticated factor (Operatic, World, etc.)
An Intensity factor that is defined by forceful, loud, and energetic music (Rock, Metal, etc.).
A campestral factor which refers to singer-songwriter genres and country.

Individual and situational influences

Studies have shown that while women prefer more treble oriented music, men prefer to listen to bass heavy music. This is sometimes paired with borderline and antisocial personalities.

Age is another strong factor that contributes to musical preference. Evidence is available that shows that music preference can change as one gets older. A Canadien study showed that adolescents show greater interest in pop music artists while adults and the elderly population prefer classic genres such as Rock, Opera, and Jazz.

The limits of the concept
Despite the distinctions above, it is not always easy to agree on the exact definition of a particular genre: some have fuzzy boundaries, others are invented by critics, such as post-rock, or even more recently, nu metal.

Sometimes a gender name may evolve depending on the time or place. For example, in classical music, the kind sonata, the xvi th century, means approximately every musical piece exclusively instrumental (as opposed to cantata, essentially part vocal); while in the xix th century, the same word refers specifically to a “gender instrumental own to chamber music, usually consisting of several movements.”

Other times, on the contrary, several words designate more or less the same kind. For example, in baroque music, the terms suite, order, cassation and partita refer to the same genre (with possibly some nuances varying according to the composer).

Musical genres in the Internet age
The progress of electronic music distribution has created the possibility of having access to very large musical catalogs, and, in spite of the limitations mentioned above, has increased the need for a coherent classification of musical genres. Because of the inconsistency of existing musical taxonomy, a project metadatabase (in) global music tracks was proposed by François Pachet and Daniel Cazaly. The purpose of this proposal is to describe and classify (in the context of Western music) musical titles (and not albums or artists), following the principles of objectivity, independence, similarity and coherence, building on on a series of musical descriptors.

Classification of the different kinds
Between different types, the number of common characteristics is likely to vary. Some genres are far removed from nature (for example, the musical has little in common with the psalm); others, on the contrary, may be considered very close, if not related (for example, the sonata corresponds to an evolution of the sequence).

Classification of genera
A tree classification can be operated for example by adopting the following classification:

vocal music
sacred vocal music
vocal profane

instrumental music
sacred instrumental music
profane instrumental music
This double classification according to the sound source and social function is not free from reproaches (for example, the same genre may exist in different types of music), but it avoids using too many terms that do not necessarily belong to the musical sector. which interests the user. Moreover, it is relatively easy to use.

Other possible rankings
Alphabetical list of musical genres
List of musical genres by geographical area
List of genres of Western music
Principles of classification of musical documents (PCDM)

The ID3 format also offers a list of musical genres.

Source from Wikipedia