How To Identify Different Genres Of Music

What is music? For some it’s a shower of love, for some it’s an escape in a crowded subway, for some is a fuel in a hectic workout session. Sometimes it makes people cry and sometimes it brings smiles on faces.

So music arouse different emotions in different people. Practically it’s not possible to give a comprehensive and universal definition of music. However it can be categorized in different genres. Genres can be discerned merely with the sound, if common fundamental characteristics are clear. This article intends to enlighten characteristics of different music genres.

So let’s take a look at a brief rundown of some of the today’s most basic genres –


The king of kings, characterized by big drums, big guitars, and a verse-chorus. Rock is typified by extensive use of the snare drum.  It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which heavily influence African-American genres of blues, rhythm, and country music. Musically, rock is centered on a rock group equipped with electronic guitar, electric bassdrums and one or more singers. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Notable bands-The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, The Who, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Some popular rock songs-Bohemian Rhapsody (1975), Sweet Child O’ Mine(1987), Stairway to heaven (1971), Thunder (2016), Highway star(1972).
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Jazz developed among the black community of the Southern US. This can be called a classical version of blues music. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Musically jazz is centered on horn, keyboards, vocal, guitars and drums. Jazz is recognized as a major form of musical expression. Jazz can be discerned by its soft and fluent touch in its music and rather than lyrics jazz is about the instrumental sounds.
Notable Performers-Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, Thelonious Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Django Reinhardt.
Some popular jazz songs- Take five, what a wonderful world, you are too beautiful, Afro blue.
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Pop music is popular genre of music which is originated in United States and emerged during mid-1950s.Michael Jackson is considered as king of pop. Pop music has less artistic approach and focus on general audience rather than a defined sub-culture or ideology. It emphasize on recording, production, technology and creativity. The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment. The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic. Common variants of pop includes the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. This genre is most popular in the recent era and has the greatest number of followers. Rather than live performances this genre is characterized by videography, dancing acting.

Notable Performers-Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, The Chainsmokers, Britney Spears.
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Country Music

Country music is a musical genre that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms, folk lyric and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars and fiddles as well as harmonicas. Although the term country music is used today to describe many styles and subgenres but the origins of country music is the folk music of working class Americans, who blended popular songs, Irish and Celtic fiddle tunes, traditional English ballads, and cowboy songs, and various musical traditions from European immigrant communities. Lyrics with simple folk tunes are the soul of this genre.

Notable Performers - Jimmie Rodgers, Elvis Presley, Vernon Dalhart, Fiddling' John Carson, Roy Acuff, Ray Charles, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson
Some popular country songs-In case you didn’t know, greatest love story, losing sleep, what ifs.
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Like jazz music, the blues genre originated from African Americans' work songs, and was built around the premise of simple lyrics sung in a simple tune. The simple plain structuring of this genre open up the scope of restructuring and innovation which eventually led to the emergence of several completely different styles, such as rock music. Since the blues genre was ingrained in local calls and work songs, the sub genres of blues music are often named after places. Blues music was primarily played unplugged (with acoustic instruments). However, this began to change in the 1940's, and the entry of electric instruments. This music is generally accomplished by using Guitar, piano, harmonica, bass, drums, blues harp, slide guitar, xylophone. Blues as a genre is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation.

Notable Performers-Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Robert Nighthawk, Bessie Smith, "Blind" Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Bill Bronzy, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, B. B. King.
Some popular country songs-I Would Rather Go Blind (1968), Little Red Rooster (1960), I Just Wanna Make Love (1960), Life By The Drop.
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One of the most modern genres in world of music. Electronic music is based, as is obvious from the name, on electronic instruments. These instruments include instruments such as synthesizers, the electric guitar and the theremin. Electronic music is widely known in the form of House or Disco music. It gained its popularity among youth in the 1970s and 1980s, and has since remained a popular genre of pop music. Over the ages, electronic music was inculcated in various other genres such as metal, hard rock, R&B etc.

Notable artists-Halim El-Dabh, Karlheinz Stockhousen, Robert Moog, Brian Eno, Afrika Bambaataa, David Mancuso, Wendy Carlos, Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding, David Guetta.
Some popular country songs- Silence (2015), Wake Me Up (2013), Sexy Bitch (2009),Summer(2014), #Selfie(2014)
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Hip Hop Music 

Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a music genre developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans in the 1970's which consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. Hip Hop is favorite among youngsters all over the world, hip hop is one of the most popular modern genres of music. Hip hop music emerged as an offshoot of the hip hop movement in the 1970's.

Notable Groups-Public Enemy, The Roots, The Black Eyed Peas, Beastie Boys
Notable Performers-Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Akon, Ludacris, Hard Kaur, Fergie,, Adam Yauch, Ad-Rock
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