For a long time, the art of music was seen as the most elusive and the most intangible form of art. Essentially, if you weren’t present while it was being performed, there were no other ways for you to hear it. This was the reality throughout the lives of some of the greatest composers of all time, meaning that from today’s perspective, we can never really know how an orchestra playing Beethoven or Bach or Mozart sounded in their own time; and this is perhaps something that is hard to understand, as we say so with some form of music streaming app in our pockets.
When music was then put onto a physical medium for the first time, this shifted, and whilst some people might argue that this caused it to lose some of its ‘divine’ quality, no one can deny that music has now become a form of art you can experience whilst doing anything. You can be walking, exercising, working, sleeping, cooking, traveling, and so on; people can literally have their own soundtrack to their lives constantly playing, and it’d probably be made up of many different types of music as well.
It has become a major part of our lives, and it also affects the way we act in general. For example, if you take a simple slot machine and you consider the influence of music on gambling; it seems to be a negligible aspect of the game, but if you test this out by muting the music, it suddenly becomes a very different thing. Apart from this face-value impression of music, there are also studies that show that music has a big role has an effect on the way you interact with a game and gambling habits, and naturally, this applies to all other different activities you can think of.
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Different Genres of Music
With many different advances in technology along with the invention of the gramophone, music was traveling at such a faster pace across different regions of the world that suddenly there was an incredible rise of music genres. From Gospel to the Blues, to Jazz and Rock’n Roll, to the Pop takeover, and the birth of Hip Hop and Electronica, we are now living in a time where most people have mixed tastes in music and they could be listening to some Mexican music genres, then go to listen to Abba, then go to bed and switch to some obscure Japanese music genres.
At some point, the distinction between these genres seemed very much alive and tangible, so much so that it affected the cultural fabric, creating different groups and movements such as Punk, Reggae, Metal, Hip Hop, and Rave culture, possibly some of the most lasting and impactful music genres. In the third decade of the 21st century, these barriers have fallen and more artists are blending all kinds of music, and you can see this with some of the biggest artists in the genres of pop music, such as Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz, and Beyonce.
Popular Music Genres
In the previous 10 years, it seems that Electronic music, Hip-Hop, and Reggaeton are the most popular and listened to music genres, with several sub-genres of theirs hitting the mainstream faster than others. But due to the many changes in technology over the years, other music genres have become popular due to their more tangibly-practical use. Some examples are ambient and classical music, and how they are very commonly used for studying and reading.
With Electronic music, there have been some names like Afrojack and David Guetta that have occupied the top spots for a long time, whilst on the other hand, in Hip Hop and Reggaeton it becomes a bit more volatile even though there are names that have been in the charts for a while such as Jay-Z and of course Drake. With reggaeton, there are currently artists such as Rosalia and Bad Bunny who have taken the world by storm and are very successfully currently riding the music wave of the mainstream.
List of Music Genres
Let’s have a quick look through some globally famous music genres and some music genres specific to a region or a country, or a culture.
Genres of Pop Music
‘Pop’ of course is short for popular music, and popular music is essentially endless. All genres can in some way shape or form be a part of popular music since Pop music is not that much of a genre as much as it is a label that implies that songs or artists are quite adored and famous. On the other hand, it can be argued that certain elements of Pop music over the past decades might have become solid ‘conventions’ of what defines popular music as ‘Pop’, and so to some degree, it can also be considered as a genre.
Classical Music Genres
The same can be said for the word ‘Classical’. This is essentially a very broad label that suggests that this music has been around and has been respected for hundreds of years after it was made; that’s why it is called ‘classical’. At the same time, like Pop, many elements of classical music have developed into conventions, and ‘classical’ music has also become a genre of its own. Here are some examples over the last centuries.
● Medieval Music
● Classical Music
Rock Music Genres
Perhaps one of the most famous genres in the way that it spread and for its long lifetime, rock music developed heavily in the 1950s as it transformed itself into Rock N’Roll, creating not just a sound but also an ethic for a way of living.
Electronic Music Genres
Electronic music first reached audiences on a mass scale with the Doctor Who tv series, with a theme song that potentially sounded like nothing else ever heard before on television or radio. Naturally, there were many experimental popular musicians and sound engineers before that, who were trying to stabilize the sounds they were creating, to be able to play them like an instrument. The genre developed with the inventions of drum machines and synths, and eventually, it became the music that is commonly found in dancing clubs all over the world.
Mexican Music Genres
When one thinks of Mexican music, it is easy to imagine a few players with sombreros, and a warm guitar sound accompanied by some brass, and probably that’s a relatively accurate projection of what it is, but it is also reductive. Mexico has several other music genres to offer, apart from the typical mariachi band, and some of these are the ‘Banda’ music—which you can find also in the Mediterranean— ‘Jarocho’ music (which is traditional Mexican music) and many others.
Spanish Music Genres
The influence of the Spanish culture on the world of music is unavoidable; from Flamenco to Reggaeton, and many in between, the Spanish world has always found itself as one of the leading countries with regard to the level of musicianship and the cultural zest for the world of sound.
Japanese Music Genres
Another country has a lot to offer; from traditional Japanese music to beautiful recognizable soundtracks for anime movies and shows, J-Pop, 80’s smooth Funk music, Japanese ambient and noise, and the list goes on and on. It is also very interesting to note that for some reason or another Japanese renditions of popular music genres like Jazz, Funk, and even Country, have always been very popular with crate-digging DJs, people who like obscure music, and even with the most popular musicians.
The list is long, and to attempt to write down all kinds of music genres would take ages and is simply impossible, so let’s have a look at some of the biggest and best music genres from the past 100 years or so.
20th and 21st Centuries
● Big Band
● The Avant-Garde
● Folk music (although it was always a genre that defied its context, it solidified its place as a genre in the mid-20th century)
● Rhythm and Blues (Rn’B)
● Rock N’Roll and all the other rock music genres that developed afterwards
● Musique Conrète
● Experimental Music
● Soundtrack (as cinema became more popular, the consumption and demand for the music of these films created a new genre of music)
● Progressive Music
● Alternative Music
● Hard Rock
● Heavy Metal
● Industrial Music
● All the Electronic Music Genres
● New Wave
● Post Punk
● Art Pop
● Postmodern Classical Music (more commonly heard as part of contemporary soundtracks)
● Hip Hop
● Dream Pop
● House Music
● Trip Hop
● New Age
● EDM (Electronic Dance Music)
● IDM (Intelligent Dance Music)
● Drum and Bass
● Trap Music
● All the genres of pop music
The Mensah Brothers
Having excluded a lot of world music from the previous list, it’s very apt to take some time and talk about the wonder of that vast and endless ‘genre’—if you can even call it such.
World music is something that perhaps will become a term that makes sense the more the world becomes one big village, but for now, it stands as a label for music that sounds typically unfamiliar, or from another region of the world.
The Mensah Brothers are one such example. The elements of their music are percussive and melodic in a very minimal way; having three individuals playing some form of a bongo drum, or djembe, whilst also doing these beautiful repetitive trance-like harmonies, that truly light up the room. The sensation given by these musicians is one of natural human ecstasy, of great delight and rejoicing, and most of the time their music is accompanied by traditional dancers.
The complexity of their music lives in its simplistic delivery and survives in the fast-paced rhythms contrasted with the beautiful natural harmonies of the singers’ voices.