Ariana Valacco, Staff Writer
Classification can be a confusing entity, and that is especially true for music genres. You have probably wondered when is one piece of music one genre and not another? Where do those journalists and writers get those pretentious terms anyways? Of course, you could always search for these answers on Wikipedia, but what Wikipedia won’t give you is a genuine human connection with dynamic examples. If you have ever wondered how to tell your bebop from your Bossanova, your new wave from electronica, and your punk from your funk, then this article is for you.
Before I start rambling about all these terms, let us cover some basic music theory. It is just the fundamental points for one to make sense of the article in full. However, if you are not into reading you can always just peruse through the post for the songs alone.
1. Melody: the main sequence of notes, usually a rhythmical succession floats over the
backing. In pop music, however, the singer may carry the melody the majority of the time with exceptions in a solo or lead break, where an instrument temporarily carries the melody. Melodies are constructed scales, with the two most common types are major,
also known as Ionian scale(happy, joyful) and minor or Aeolian scale(moody,
complex)as well as many others. Essentially, scales are the map that guides and directs
you to the precise notes to play or sing to get certain types of melodies each with their
own unique moods and feelings.
2. Harmony: The vertical blocks of different tones that play simultaneously. Whenever
more than one note is played at one time it is called a chord. Three-note chords form the
heart of the majority of pop song harmony. Chords are made out of the same group of
scales as melodies, and consequently can also be major, minor, or something else.
Chords can be played by any instrument capable of playing more than one note
concurrently(guitar, piano), or instead by groups of instruments or singers playing all the
varied notes together at once, which is called harmonising or a harmony part. A choir
is an example of harmony singing. In this article, major chords will be in capital Roman
numerals and minor in lower case Roman numerals.
3. Rhythm: The arrangement of musical sounds according to duration and stress in
accordance with what you tap your feet too, also known as the beat. The majority of
modern pop music has 4 beats to a bar (the divide that is marked when a rhythmic
pattern repeats). Beat can be fast or slow and is measured in BPM (beats per minute). For
example, a typical uptempo kpop song from 2008-2011 would be approximately 130
BPM, but downtempo styles such as ballads can have the beats much slower than this.
The main function of drums and drum machines in pop songs is to emphasize the beats,
however other instruments and vocals cam emphasize(or de-emphasize) the beat
depending on how they are utilized in the song. A rhythm can be on the beat, off the
beat(between the beat), or even syncopated( a mix of on-beat and off-beat).
4. Texture: the tonal characteristics of the vocals and instruments used in the piece. Every instrument and voice has its own texture or tonal quality, therefore pieces of music sound very different from one instrument to another. Texture deviates not just by quality of the voice or instrument itself but also depending on how an instrument is recorded Classical Music Genres
Medieval: the first “classical” music style, with the longest period of musical theory
lasting from 500AD to 1400AD. The earliest musical notation of rhythm and melody
appeared during this period. Though mainly monophonic(a musical line, devoid of
accompaniment, such as the Gregorian chant), the first polyphonic music began to
emerge when monks began to experiment with the sacred chant, adding a voice in
contrary motion, singing in intervals such as perfect fourths above the original melody.
This musical development is known as organum and epitomizes the initial stages of
counterpoint and most important harmony. Many classic medieval folksongs such as
Greensleeves that also fit into this category.
The Kyrie Eleison
Renaissance: The “classical” music style from 1400AD-1600AD encompassing a range
of secular genres from the madrigals and chansons to the German Lied and the
Neapolitan Villanella. The music texture was lush and rich in comparison to earlier styles the practice of melodic counterpoint came into being. Melodic counterpoint is when two melodies are contrasted with dissonant (unstable and harsh sounding) and consonant (stable and therefore good sounding) intervals. Dissonant intervals were permissible as long as they led to consonant intervals. This practice of tension building with a dissonant interval in advance of resolving it to a consonant interval was called a suspension. Given time, this practice was developed to chords, hence the “suspended chord”.
J. Arcadelt-Ahime- ahime, dov'è'l bel viso” Sang by the Hillard Ensemble
F-ve Dolls-Can You Love me
Baroque: The “classical” style from 1600-1750 when harmony became standardized,
making music from this era extremely harmonious and melodious with little dissonance
to the sound.
Antonio Vivaldi-Four Seasons(Spring)
Johann Sebastian Bach- Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor
Johann Pachelbel – Canon in D Major
Classical: The style of music from 1750–1830 with a lighter, clearer texture than
Baroque and considered to be less complex(though all classical music styles are intricate
in design, so this does not mean all of it is easy. Primarily homophonic ( a strong, clear
melody over a chordal accompaniment).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart-Rondo Alla Turca(also known as “The Turkish
Franz Joseph Haydn- "Surprise" (Symphony no. 94)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tF5kr251BRs
Beethoven – Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia"(Moonlight
Romantic: The music style from 1830-1910. During this era, composers focused on the
expression of powerful emotions in their music. Orchestras became larger in this period
and advancements in instrumental design allowed for greater volume and deeper bass.
The style is characterized by the extreme dynamic contrast between loud and soft segments.
Claude Debussy – La Mer
Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture
Maurice Ravel – Pavane for a Dead Princess
Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre Performed by the National Philharmonic
Early Popular Genres
Flamenco: An acoustic guitar focused style originating from Spain. Characterized by
rapid fingerpicking, understated vibrato, and strong rhythmic embellishments.
Various Artists-Maleguena (la Maleguena)
The Seeya-Song of Love
Tango: A South American Music Genre originating from Argentina and Uruguay
popularized in the 19th century for partner dances. a blend of folk and chamber
instruments and key signatures in 2/4 or 3/4 time. Usually used in pop music to add a
sensual “sexy” effect.
Giorgio Consolini-Cuore tzigano
Trot: The oldest Korean pop genre whose name originates from the ballroom dance
foxtrot because of its simple two-beat rhythm, even five-syllabic stanzas and unique
vocal style called Gagok. Trot developed as a modified type of Japanese enka that
entered the country around 1910 during Korea’s time as a Japanese colony. As time
passed trot has evolved due to Japanese and Western influences.
Jang Yoon Jeong-Omona
Tae Jin Ah – I Love You, Darling
Hong Jin Young-Boogie Man
Glam-In Front of the Mirror
Blues: A musical form that developed from chants of slaves in the southern USA in
conjunction with gospel and jazz. Characterized by emotional “blue notes” (a flat note
usually in the third, fifth, or seventh step of the scale), as well as harmonic rules that
distort the line between major and minor scales. The majority of blues songs have the
identical chord progression of (I-IV- I-V- IV-I over 12 bars, known as the “12-bar blues”)
with minimal variation.
Robert Johnson-Hellhound On My Trail
Lee Hi-It’s Over
Gypsy Jazz/Hot Club Jazz: A European jazz style born in Paris in the early 1930s,
identified by complex chords and nimble rhythms.
Django Reinhardt – Dinah,
IU-Love in B
Swing: Jazz played with a “big band” characterized by sweeping rhythmic “groove” and
large woodwind and brass sections.
Duke Ellington Orch – That Lindy Hop
Bebop: A jazz style developed in early to mid-1940s in the USA, characterized by a
reckless tempo, immediate alterations in complex chords and key signatures, and
harmonic structure based instrumentation. Bebop was intended to be listened to instead
of boogied to; therefore, the rhythms and tempos are often highly syncopated, fast and
Charlie Parker and Miles Davis- A Night in Tunisia
Dizzy Gillespie-Ol’Man Rebop