What type of music do you enjoy? Rock? Jazz? Indonesian Gamelan music? Perhaps you do not even think about types or styles of music. But some people do and seek out or avoid others with tastes that complement or conflict. And we all fling about opinions on what is ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’.
Caribbean and Latin American
Rhythm and Blues
Just to play safe and avoid law suits, there is also an ‘Exclusions’ category that includes ballroom dancing, incidental, religious and national music, and sea shanties.
Looking at the above list, you may be thinking, ‘OK, I can get my ears around those’. There are probably a few that you could put a line through straight away and others that seem too broad to be useful.
That’s OK, because these genres contain sub-genres. I’ve selected a few of the more relevant categories and hired a small team of children with abacuses to count the sub-genres.
Blues: 29 [embracing Soul Blues, British Blues, Electric Blues and Punk Blues]
Electronic: 21 [including Trance, Chiptune (a personal fave) and Post-disco]
Folk: 14 [gathering Indie-, Anti-, Freak- and Celtic. And sung poetry]
Jazz: 53 [lovers of Chamber, Modal and Ska Jazz are covered, amongst others]
Rock: 31 [a pretty modest number, eh? But wait…]
You didn’t think it would end there, did you? ‘Course not. Some of those sub-genres have further subdivisions. Sub-sub-genres, you could call them. The need for further definition is apparent in some sub-genres. Alternative Rock, for example, obviously needs a few more filters to be useful in categorising artists as diverse as Cocteau Twins (Dreampop) and The Hives (Post-punk Revival). While over in Progressive Rock, most aficionados would be familiar with the five sub-subs (Canterbury, Krautrock, New Prog, Rock in Opposition, and Space Rock). But the one that blew my mind was Heavy Metal. Think that metal is simply about thumping rhythm sections and fret-melting guitar solos? Think again. This is so brilliant I have reproduced it whole.
- Heavy metal
- Alternative metal
- Nu metal
- Black metal
- Viking Metal
- Christian metal
- Death metal
- Melodic Death Metal
- Technical Death Metal
- Doom metal
- Drone metal
- Folk metal
- Celtic metal
- Medieval metal
- Funk metal
- Glam metal
- Gothic metal
- Industrial metal
- Alternative metal
- Power metal
- Progressive metal
- Rap metal
- Sludge metal
- Speed metal
- Stoner rock
- Symphonic metal
- Thrash metal
- Crossover thrash
- Groove metal
The alert reader will have detected a further stratum in the above list. Yes, there are sub-sub-sub-genres. Forget Deathcore, by now we are so deep that we must be close to the Earth’s core. I wonder if serious metal fans have separate sections for their 32 sub-sub- and sub-sub-sub-sections. I also wonder what Djent is, but I’m much too cowardly to find out.
Meanwhile, back in the zone of sunlight and fresh air, you may be wondering where this ramble is heading.
Well, here’s the thing. With 17 genres, over 200 sub-genres and fuck knows how many sub-sub-etc genres, it is manifestly impossible for anyone to be a universal expert. No one person could acquire anywhere near the breadth of knowledge to be able to rate or denigrate artists or albums across this almost infinite constellation of groupings. So mostly we ignore it. Yet closing our eyes and ears to music out of our normal range doesn’t make it go away.
Conclusion? There is no Best, no Worst, no reasonable basis for asserting that my choice is more valid than yours. There is only what we enjoy, what moves us, what connects us… and whether we are prepared to try something new.
Here are a couple of alternate, non-competitive questions to play with.
What artist/album do I turn to for comfort? To celebrate?
Which album/artist was the most musically influential for me? How?
If I were to expand my musical boundaries, what direction would I turn?
It would be brilliant to see a variety of answers. New voices always welcome.