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What is genre?
• A music genre is a conventional category that identifies pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of
• It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used
• Music can be divided into different genres in several ways. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications
are often arbitrary and controversial, and some genres may overlap. There are several academic approaches to genres. In
his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green lists madrigal, motet, canzona, ricercar, and 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. 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 sub-genre may
be defined by the musical techniques, the styles, the context, and 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
• Among the criteria often used to classify musical genres are: the trichotomy of art, popular and traditional; time period;
regional and national origins; technique and instrumentation; fusional origins; and social function.
• Pop music is a genre of 'popular' music which originated in its modern form in the 1950s,
deriving from rock and roll.
• The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, even though
the former is a description of music which is popular (and can include any style).
• As a genre, pop music is very eclectic, often borrowing elements from other styles
including urban, dance, rock, Latin and country.
• There are core elements which define pop; including generally short-to-medium length
songs, written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as the common
employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and catchy hooks.
• So-called "pure pop" music, such as power pop, features all these elements, using electric
guitars, drums and bass for instrumentation; in the case of such music, the main goal is
usually that of being pleasurable to listen to, rather than having much artistic depth.
• Pop music is generally thought of as a genre which is commercially recorded and desires
to have a mass audience appeal.
• A genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s.
• It has its roots in 1940s' and 1950s' rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a
number of other genres such as blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical sources.
• Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse-chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse.
• Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political in emphasis. The
dominance of rock by white, male musicians has been seen as one of the key factors shaping the themes explored in rock music. Rock places a higher
degree of emphasis on musicianship, live performance, and an ideology of authenticity than pop music.
• By the late 1960s, referred to as the "golden age" or "classic rock" period, a number of distinct rock music sub-genres had emerged, including hybrids
like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, and jazz-rock fusion, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced
by the countercultural psychedelic scene. New genres that emerged from this scene included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements;
glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring major sub-genre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume,
power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock both intensified and reacted against some of these trends to produce a raw, energetic form
of music characterized by overt social and political critiques. Punk was an influence into the 1980s on the subsequent development of other sub-genres,
including new wave, post-punk and eventually the alternative rock movement.
• From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break through into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock.
Further fusion sub-genres have since emerged, including pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock's history,
including the garage rock/post-punk and synthpop revivals at the beginning of the new millennium.
• Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major sub-cultures including mods and rockers in
the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the visually
distinctive Goth and emo subcultures.
• Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex
and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.
• Country music is a genre of American popular music that originated in Southern United
States, in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1920s.
• It takes its roots from the south-eastern genre of American folk music and Western music.
• Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms and
harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic
guitars, fiddles, and harmonicas.
• The term country music is used today to describe many styles and sub genres. The origins
of country music are the folk music of mostly white, working-class Americans, who
blended popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, traditional ballads, and cowboy songs,
and various musical traditions from European immigrant communities. In 2009 country
music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and
second most popular in the morning commute in the United States.
• Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt rock or simply alternative) is a genre of rock music that emerged from
the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular by the 1990s.
• The 'alternative' definition refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music, expressed primarily in a
distorted guitar sound, transgressive lyrics and generally a nonchalant, defiant attitude.
• The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either
the musical style, or simply the independent, D.I.Y. ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for
alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists
that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk
rock (including some examples of punk itself, as well as new wave, and post-punk).
• By the end of the 1980s magazines and zines, college radio airplay, and word of mouth had increased the prominence
and highlighted the diversity of alternative rock, helping to define a number of distinct styles such as gothic rock, jangle
pop, noise pop, C86, Madchester, industrial rock, and shoegazing. Most of these subgenres had achieved minor
mainstream notice and a few bands representing them, such as Hüsker Dü and R.E.M., had even signed to major labels.
But most alternative bands' commercial success was limited in comparison to other genres of rock and pop music at the
time, and most acts remained signed to independent labels and received relatively little attention from mainstream
radio, television, or newspapers.
• With the breakthrough of Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the 1990s, alternative
rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became commercially successful.
• Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music, or hip-hop music is a music genre
consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a
rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted.
• It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic
elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, break dancing, and graffiti writing.
Other elements include sampling (or synthesis), and beatboxing.
• While often used to refer to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice
of the entire subculture.
• The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap
music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre
may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing and
scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.