Music is something which brings together different kinds of people from all over the world. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, music has the power to bring down these walls and contributes in creating what can be aptly called a “melting pot” of cultures. It’s something that complete strangers become friends over and friends spend time discussing. The kind of music you listen to also becomes a part of your identity and the many sub cultures too have associated themselves with music as they often do with literature as well. But music too has undergone a huge transformation through the ages. It’s now possible for people to know about different cultures through the kind of music these cultures produce. It also has created a lot of questions over labels and independent music has now come into its own, courtesy of the internet and the other communication channels which make it possible for someone in one continent to listen to music being produced off the mainstream in another. In such an environment it’s really hard to pick the genres which have struck a chord with the contemporary generation but here’s a list of Top 10 genres that might give you an idea as to what people are listening to these days.
Rock originating as “rock and roll” has developed into various shapes and forms. Almost all the contemporary artists are influenced by Rock music in some or the other way. It drew itself out of classical music as well as blues and soul but centered itself on the Electric guitar. Rock music is one of the most popular genres of music in the world right now with rock bands attracting massive audiences around the globe. Although within itself it carries various forms of sub genres based on influences like- Alternate rock, Progressive rock, Classical rock, Psychedelic Rock, Indie Rock and the list can go on.
Indie emerged as a genre form Alternative rock and itself contain within it various kinds of Sub-genres like Indie rock, Indie pop, lo-fi etc. The basic idea behind the indie music is the independent nature of it that is these musicians do not go through any record labels to let their music reach the masses but instead releases them independently. But now new labels and distribution companies have come up which center themselves around this genre but let the artist retain the autonomy to explore various sounds. They also focus on live performances.
Amplified distortion sounds and guitar souls with heavy beats defines the core of Metal music. It emerged out of the Rock and Psychedelic movement and has sort of become a symbol of alternate and counterculture tendencies of the youth. The essence of Metal is also in its drumming which is often described as being very extremely coordinated at high speed. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Metallica also claim influences from classic rock guitarist while Iron Maiden is the prominent band that emerged out of New Wave of British Metal Music.
Pop music is a term derived out of the genre of popular music. It traced its origins to the 1950s whereby influenced from the Rock and Roll musicians started producing songs which weren’t ideology centric but appealed to the general mass. A few characteristics of this kind of music would also include- focus on recording over live performances, focus on craft and techniques over “artistic” whims and somehow over the years pop music is centered on rhythm and beats which promote dancing. In terms of popularity Pop music has produced somewhat of a monoculture even though different nations have their own stream of pop music. The high appeal to this kind of music was also drawn from the rise of MTV and cult figures like Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Electronic Dance Music also known as club music is centered on dancing and club settings. It all started with the advent of the disco or the popcorn as it was known back then. This brought in many forms of synthetic electrical instruments and the purpose of producing music for orchestration in a club shifted to producing music with the intent of it being played by the DJs though drums etc. Eventually the DJs started experimenting with songs of other artists and extending these songs into Dance remixes. The emergence of popular festivals around the EDM genre too led its popular appeal amongst the masses.
Country music developed in the Southern states of the United States in 1940s. This was a result of melting of various ethnicities of the world. People who moved to USA carried with themselves their old world instruments like- The Irish fiddle, African banjo and the Spanish guitar. The music which was born out of a combination of these various ethnicities gave rise to the country genre, of which Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift and names known around the world.
Jazz emerged in the early years of the 20th century and since then it’s 100 year journey has been quite eventful. Critics refer to this period as Jazz age and point out to the various ways in which it changed the course of history and the way in which music was produced or performed. Various definitions of Jazz exist for various people but there’s a consensus on the fact that it was an outcome of mixing of African music with European, what was born out of this communion was influential as well highly focused on improvisation. Before Jazz there was no personality of the performer which went into music. The classical European music was very stringent, but Jazz offered it fluidity wherein the performer could alter tunes and melodies depending upon their mood and audience mood as well.
8. Hip Hop
Hip Hop emerging in the 1970s in the Bronx area in NYC has become one of the most popular genre in the world today. Hip Hop is used as a reference to music accompanied by MCing/DJing or beat breaks. This kind of beat usage was introduced from Jamaican dub music and soul. This was parallel to the development of the MPC- Music Production Theatre which revolutionized the way music was being produced. The mainstream hip hop only emerged after the 1990s when the musicians experimented with a variety of themes. Mcing or Rapping too became an essential feature of this genre.
Rhythm and Blues, was a term coined in the late 1950s by the Billboard critics for the music that was very specific to African American population who was urbane and was moving from the Jazz age and eventually to Rock. But since then the term has been assigned to various artists before coming as a genre in its own right. R&B finds influences from Gospel and Soul music as well as Afro-Cuban beats. The British R&B scene started developing in the 1960s with bands like The Kinks, but the most successful being Rolling Stones. Their first album was based on R&B standards.
Psychedelic music emerged out of the influence by the counterculture movements of the 1950s and it went on to be associated with counterculture. It aims at recreating the atmosphere and the state that is achieved when a person is under the influence of any psychedelic drug. Before coming in as a genre in its own right psychedelic leanings were visible in the music of Bob Dylan who introduced the Beatles to Cannabis and it was Beatles who started experimenting with various instruments like back tapes and sitar and in turn influenced the generations to come. The idea of using Drugs to expand your consciousness was introduced by the Beat writers like Kerouac and Burroughs whose lines have been heavily quoted and referenced in Psychedelic music.