Music itself is a very unbridled topic. It would be very difficult or evenimpossible to talk about it in its entirety.
That is why over the years peoplewere trying to divide it, classify it and delve into details.Now music can be classified into a number of genres, time periods, andgeographic locations. Sometimes borders of stylistic features are blurred. Genreslike blues, rhythm& blues, jazz, soul, funk, progressive rock,pop, hip-hop, reggae and country music are contrasting, however they will show a lot of similarities.History of the BLUES MUSIC isfull of curiosities and mysteries. Critics describe it as a soulful andemotional music. Lyrics is about the lives of African-Americans – theirhardships, hopes and loves.
It was created in the 19th century onSouthern plantations. Slavers or descendants of slaves originated the genre.African spirituals and work songs or chants evolved to create a new genre.
Inthe early 1900s they were mixed with American country folk music gainingcharacteristic features.At the beginning Afro-Americans were using very primitive instruments like washboards,handmade guitars, hand claps. Over the years the genre was developing andinstruments like piano, saxophone, trumpets, xylophones, bass guitar or drums staredto be used and the other became modernized. Improvisation was a very importantfactor. Time signature is usually 4/4. Classic blues covers 12 bars form and isbased on the I, IV, and V chord progression of the key.
Blues music had a verystrong influence on creating and developing many other genres of music, such asrock and roll, jazz and popular music.COUNTRY MUSIC was created in the early 1920s in theAppalachian mountains region, in Southern United States. It took inspirationsfrom blues and folk music (especially Appalachian folk). Working classAmericans borrowed various European musical features and added them to popularsongs, cowboy songs, English ballads, Irish and Celtic fiddle songs.
Characteristic factors are a simple chordprogression, strong story line and a memorablechorus. Country musicians used instruments such as accordion, fiddle, autoharp, guitar, banjo, harmonica,bass and drums.Love, loneliness, travel, patriotism, drinking at the bars, family, values andothers were characteristic themes in country music. The most common timesignature is 4/4. RHYTHM&BLUES incorporatedmany styles such as jazz base and a heavy beat, elements of blues and gospel.
R&B was created and commercialized in United States by African Americans in1940s, when artists adapted dance rhythm in their music. The lyrics is usuallyabout ups and downs in life – freedom, ambitions,sexuality, relationships, etc..Instrumentation was developing in this genre and the most common became:drums, bass, guitar, horns, keyboards, electricguitar, vocals and background vocals. The most popular time signature is 4/4.
Very important artist of the genre was Ray Charles.JAZZ was originated at the end of19th and beginning of 20th centuries by African-Americans in New Orleans. Bluesmusic had a special role in creating the genre. It is characterized by swingand blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation.Typical instruments are: horns, keyboards, bass, drums, guitar and vocals. Althoughit was mainly created by black experience in United States, many other cultureshave developed the genre in various ways (for example white musicians created’White Jazz’ subgenre, having their own traditions and influences). Miles Davis and Louis Amstrong were very influential jazz musicians.
SOUL was created in theUnited States of America between late 1950s and early 1960s. It is acombination of elements from R&B, gospel music and jazz. There isis a special emphasis on the vocal piece. The first soul songs were createdwhen gospel songs lyrics was rewritten.
Characteristic factor is the widevariety of instrumentation such as: vocals, piano, drums, horn section,keyboard, Hammond organ, guitars, bass guitar, violin and sometimes even a fullorchestra. In soul music we can perceive catchy rhythms, very simple harmonic progressions, lead vocals and choir, often ‘call and response’ from gospel music, melismas,improvisations, wide variety of timbre, vital or melancholic mood. Lyrics is emotionaland sentimental. It can have different time signatures and most common are 2/2,4/4 and 3/4.Very influential artists of the genre was Etta James.FUNK was based on the othergenres of music like jazz, R&B and soul.
It was created in mid-1960s inUnited States by African-American musicians and made to be a danceable type ofmusic. Instruments such as the electric guitars, bass guitars, drums andelectric organs were used to emphasize the rhythm. Very often there was a hornsection with instruments such as trombones, trumpets or saxophones.
James Brownis a musician that took a very important role in creating the genre. In funk everythingrelies on the beat, every single sound adds to the rhythm. Funk is abouttiming. Time signature is usually 4/4.The major genres that influenced funk were R&B and soul music. Artiststried to create an easier to dance and more groovy type of music.PROGRESSIVE ROCK is a subgenreof rock music originated in United States and the United Kingdom throughout thelate 1960s. Listeners can perceive characteristics commonly associated withjazz, classical music or folk.
Virtuosic solos, long songs with instrumentalparts, use of electric sounds, very deep lyrics – very often philosophical,albums which meant to be perceived as a whole became distinctive features ofthe genre. Progressive rock also took hippy ideas. Time signature is unstableand variable.The Beatles is a great example of the band that who influenced progressive rockmusic. Their album Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the essence of the musical genre. On thecover we can find inspirations from the avant-garde composers like John Cage orKarlheinz Stockhausen.POP MUSIC was created in United Kingdom and United Statesin the mid-1950.Pop songs were catchy and easy to dance and sing along to.
Chorus is repetitive,time signature is simple 4/4 and characteristic is a simple four chordprogressions. Songs usually last from 2,5 to 5,5 minutes.Lyrics is about romantic themes and very often has sexual insinuations.Genre uses large variety of instruments, however the most popular are: vocals, guitars,piano, drums and strings.Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beatles were one of the first musicianswho tamed pop music techniques.
Pop was influenced by characteristics from other genres. It might use tempofrom dance music, instrumentation from jazz and rock, vocal melismas andharmonies taken from soul music, rap from hip-hop music etc.HIP-HOP is a music genre developedin the United States in the 1970s (assigned to Bronx, New York City where”Rappers Delight” by Sugarhill was released) by inner city African-Americans.People were experimenting with vocals creating characteristic”talking-singing” ” called rap, pre-recorded tapes on beatsusually in 4/4 time signature. DJing, unique stage presence like breakdance wasa big factor in hip-hop culture. At the beginning of creating the genre, lyricswas focused on topics such as: racial inequality, governmentissues, economy, hardships in life.
Today, especially in America, topics are more about making money, sex,drugs etc.REGGAE was created in the late 1960sin Jamaica among others by Bob Marley. Became popular in the United States,Great Britain and Africa in the 1970s. Nowadays, reggae is perceived as anemotional piece, expressing ideas of love, life and religion.Reggae incorporates some musical elements of R&B, jazz and other musicgenres such as ska music.
Reggae is played in 4/4 time and has itscharacteristic rhythm pattern. Staccato chords and offbeat rhythms are veryrecognizable features of the genre. The most common instrumentsare guitar, bass guitar, piano, organs, keyboard, drums, bongo drum, hornsand other.
In conclusion, music genres classification focuses on factors like: origins,culture, period, instrumentation, musical influences, harmony, time signature,lyrics and many others. Similarities are followed by a range of differences.Details help to understand what makes the genre the genre, for example polyrhythmsin jazz and progressive rock is a common feature, however the lyrics isdifferent.
Some factors are absolutely unique like rap in hip-hop music, however thetechnique is also borrowed to other genres such as pop music. In order toclassify the genres, it is essential to take into consideration as manycharacteristics as possible.