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A music genre is a categorical and typological construct that identifies musical sounds as belonging to a particular category and type of music that can be distinguished from other types of music.

There are several approaches to genre. In his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green lists the madrigal, the motet, the canzona, the ricercar, and the dance as examples of genres (from the Renaissance period). According to Green, "Beethoven's Op. 61 and Mendelssohn's Op. 64 are identical in genre - both are violin concertos - but different in form. 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."[1] Some treat the terms genre and style as the same, and state that genre should be defined as pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language".[2] Others state that genre and style are two separate terms, and that secondary characteristics such as subject matter can also differentiate between genres.[3] A music genre (or sub-genre) could be defined by the techniques, the styles, the context and the themes (content, spirit). Also, geographical origin sometimes is used to define the music genre, though a single geographical category will normally include a wide variety of sub-genres.

Kembrew McLeod, in an essay entitled "Genres, Subgenres, Sub-Subgenres and More",[4] suggested that in electronic music, "the naming of new subgenres can be linked to a variety of influences, such as the rapidly evolving nature of the music, accelerated consumer culture, and the synergy created by record company marketing strategies and music magazine hype. The appropriation of the musics of minorities by straight, middle and upper-middle-class Whites in the United States and Great Britain plays a part, and the rapid and ongoing naming process within electronic/dance music subcultures acts as a gate-keeping mechanism, as well."

Contents

Categorization

A list of genres of music (including sub genres) can be found at List of music genres. However, there are a number of criteria with which one may classify musical genres, including:

  • The Art/Popular/Traditional distinction
  • Regional and national distinctions
  • Fusional origins

Art music

Art music primarily refers to classical music, including Classical music, or others listed at List of art music traditions (including non-European classical music), Contemporary classical music (including Electronic music, Experimental music and Minimalist music). Art music may also include certain forms of Jazz (even though jazz is primarily a form of popular music).

Popular music

The usual stereotype of "popular music" is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. For a critical introduction, see the work of Richard Middleton (e.g. Studying Popular Music 1998) and Starr/Waterman American Popular Music (2004)

The relationship between (particularly, the relative value of) classical music and popular music is a controversial question. Some partisans of classical music may claim that classical music constitutes art and popular music only light entertainment.[citation needed] However, many popular works show a high level of artistry and musical innovation and many classical works are unabashedly crowd-pleasing. The elevation of classical music to a position of special value is closely connected to the concept of a Western canon, and to theories of educational perennialism.

The very distinction between classical and popular music has sometimes been blurred in the border regions [5], for instance minimalist music and light classics. In this respect music is like fiction, which likewise draws a distinction between classics and popular fiction that is not always easy to maintain.

Neat divisions between 'folk' and 'popular', and 'popular' and 'art', are impossible to find ... arbitrary criteria [are used] to define the complement of 'popular'. 'Art' music, for example, is generally regarded as by nature complex, difficult, demanding; 'popular' music then has to be defined as 'simple', 'accessible', 'facile'. But many pieces commonly thought of as 'art' (Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus', many Schubert songs, many Verdi arias) have qualities of simplicity; conversely, it is by no means obvious that the Sex Pistols' records were 'accessible', Frank Zappa's work 'simple', or Billie Holiday's 'facile'." (Middleton, 1990)

Traditional music

Traditional music is the modern name for what used to be called "Folk music", before the term "Folk music" was expanded to include a lot of non-traditional material. The defining characteristics of traditional music are:

  • Oral transmission: The music is passed down, or learned, through singing and listening and sometimes dancing
  • Cultural basis: The music derives from and is part of the traditions of a particular region or culture.

Regional and national music

It is possible to categorize music geographically. For example, the term "Australian music" could include Australian rock music, Australian traditional music in the European style (e.g. Waltzing Matilda), Aboriginal Australian music, Australian classical music, and Australian Jazz.

Fusional origins

In the West, nearly all music except Traditional music has a fusional origin.

A fusion genre is a music genre that combines two or more genres. For example, rock and roll originally developed as a fusion of blues, gospel and country music. The main characteristics of fusion genres are variations in tempo, rhythm and sometimes the use of long musical "journeys" that can be divided into smaller parts, each with their own dynamics, style and tempo.

Artists who work in fusion genres are often difficult to categorise within non-fusion styles. Most styles of fusion music are influenced by various musical genres. While there are many reasons for this, the main reason is that most genres evolved out of other genres. When the new genre finally identifies itself as separate, there is often a large gray area in which musicians are left. These artists generally consider themselves part of both genres. A musician who plays music that is dominantly blues, influenced by rock, is often labelled a blues-rock musician. The first genre is the one from which the new one evolved. The second genre is the newer and less-dominant genre in the artist's playing. An example of a blues-rock group would be Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Vaughan, a Texas blues guitarist, surrounded by a world in which rock was dominating music, used rock and blues together.

References

  1. ^ Green, Douglass M. (1965). Form in Tonal Music. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc. pp. 1. ISBN 0030202868. 
  2. ^ van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antanddececedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 3. ISBN 0-19-316121-4. 
  3. ^ Moore, Allan F. "Categorical Conventions in Music Discourse: Style and Genre" Music & Letters, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Aug., 2001), pp. 432-442
  4. ^ McLeod, Kembrew (2001). "Genres, Sub-Genres, Sub-Sub-Genres, etc.: Sub-Genre Naming In Electronic/Dance Music". JOURNAL OF POPULAR MUSIC STUDIES (13): 59–75. 
  5. ^ Arnold, Denis (1983). " Art Music, Art Song," in The New Oxford Companion to Music, Volume 1: A-J, Oxford University Press, p. P.111, . ISBN 0-19-311316-3
  • "Genre." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Grove Music Online.
  • Holt, Fabian (2007). Genre in Popular Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 
  • Negus, Keith (1999). Music Genres and Corporate Cultures. New York: Routledge. ISBN 041517399X. 

See also


Simple English

Music genres divide different kinds of music into groups.

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