I've been wanting to post this for a while but didn't get around to it.
Reading the last few posts in this thread has finally pushed me to do it.
This approach may answer many questions that popped up earlier in this thread...
I spent a LONG time thinking about genres and I think I finally found something that works for me.
Since it involves a lot of work to get there, I doubt that everybody will find it useful but anyway, here it goes.
As always, I appreciate comments!
The crux of the whole idea are the following 2 premises:
1. the smallest coherent unit of music is the individual song, not the album
2. there are really 3 distinct "levels" of genres for any given song
Applying a single genre to an entire album (or worse, assign one specialized style to an artist!) is IMO just marketing nonsense.
That's what I call the "mother genre" for an artist/song.
There aren't many of them. My list is heavily based on the one at allmusic.com,
but I modified it a little to make it less US-centric:
Of course one could argue that Blues and Jazz are rooted in the US.
However, these genres are now propagated around the entire world, contrary to american "Country" music
which for me is still firmly in the WORLD domain - it's specific to a particular region (the US).
This is the "main" genre of the artist, even if he may have several songs that don't fit this description.
I also use it as a kind of "subgenre". The names I assign to this genre level are rather arbitrary; how finely
I subdivide the "top genres" depends on how many songs I have in this top genre.
Also, these names correspond to the file directory names I use.
My songs are stored on the hard disk (and on my player, a Cowon A2
"Top genre"\"artist genre"\<album artist>\<year> - <album>\<track #>. <title>
Note that the "artist genres" must have different names from the top genres (eg, I never use simply "Rock" as an artist genre)
BLUES -> Acoustic Blues, Electric Blues, Piano Blues...
CLASSICAL -> Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism... (by period)
POP -> Pop-Rock, Sunshine Pop, Variété Française (french pop), Schlager (german pop)...
R&B -> Doo Wop, Urban...
ROCK -> Album and Arena Rock, Alternative and Emo, Grunge and Post-Grunge, Rock & Roll...
SOUNDTRACK -> Movie, Musical, Video Game...
VOCAL -> A Cappella, Barbershop, Traditional Pop...
WORLD -> Africa, Anglosphere, Continental Europe (e.g., world "zones") + Worldbeat
GENRE proper (also called STYLE)
This is a huge list (I have currently about 300 defined genres). The most important things to remember here are:
- EACH INDIVIDUAL SONG HAS ITS OWN STYLE ASSIGNED TO IT!
(which is why this classification is so work-intensive... each song of an album may have a unique style!)
- STYLE is completely independent from TOP GENRE or ARTIST GENRE.
Currently, I have songs in the following STYLES:
Code: Select all
Acid House, Acid Rock, Acoustic Blues, African Choral, AfroPop, Aguinaldo, Album Rock, Alternative Metal, Alternative Pop, Alternative Punk, Alternative Rap, Alternative Rock, Ambient Breakbeat, Arena Rock, Bakersfield Sound, Ballroom Dance, Barbershop, Baroque, Blue Comedy, Blues Rock, Boogie Rock, Boogie Woogie, British Blues, British Invasion, Bubblegum, Cajun, Calypso, Chanson à texte, Chanson de variété, Chanson engagée, Chicago Blues, Classical Pop, Classicism, Comedy Dance, Comedy Pop, Comedy Rock, Corse, Country Pop, Country Pop Rock, Country Rock, Country Soul, Cumbia, Dance Pop, Dancehall, Delta Blues, Dixieland Jazz, Doo Wop, Dream Pop, Easter Island, Easy Pop, Electric Blues, Electronic Rap, Emo, Ethnic Fusion, Euro Dance, Exotica, Flamenco, Folk Rock, Funk Metal, Gaita, Girl Group, Golpe, Greece, Guuggemusig, Hair Metal, Hi-NRG, Hollywood Metal, Honky Tonk, Hymn, Indie Rock, Jazz Funk, Jazz Pop, Jewish Folk, Joropo, Jug Band, Jump Blues, Junkanoo, Klezmer, Lambada, Latin Jazz, Latin Pop, Latin Rock, Lounge, Lullaby, Mambo, Mariachi, Marimba, Mbaqanga, Mbube, Merseybeat, Modern, Modern Acoustic Blues, Morna, Motown, Música Andina, Música Llanera, Nashville Sound, NDH, NDW, Neo Classical, New Orleans Jazz, New Orleans R&B, Nordic Folk, Nostalgia, Novelty, Novelty Ragtime, Opera Metal, Parody, Pasaje, Piano Blues, Pop Ballad, Pop Metal, Pop Rap, Pop Rock, Pop Soul, Porro, Post Grunge, Post Punk, Power Pop, Progressive Electronica, Progressive House, Progressive Metal, Psychedelic Pop, Punk Pop, Ragtime, Raï, Reggae Pop, Relaxation, Rockabilly, Romanticism, Roots, Russian Folk, Schlager, Singer/Songwriter, Ska Punk, Sketch, Smooth Jazz, Soca, Soft Rock, Són, Sound Track, Spoken, Standup, Steelpan, Stride, Sunshine Pop, Surf, Swamp Rock, Synth Pop, Tahiti, Tex Mex, Traditional Country, Traditional Pop, Trip Hop, Urban, Variété, Western Swing, Worldbeat, Zouk, Zydeco
- There is no such thing as the designation "Oldies".
Today's music will be billed "Oldies" another 15 or years down the road anyway so really, what's the point.
- Expanding on this idea, I try to ignore the timeline criterion as much as possible.
A genre or style should be defined by what it sounds like, not by the year in which the song was composed.
If a rock artist decides to play a Blues (not Blues Rock) song in an unplugged concert, I will call it "Acoustic Blues"
(a genre that has peaked in the 30s-50s) even if most of his other music may be "Arena Rock" or even "Grunge".
- Language is irrelevant. A Hard Rock song that is performed in French will be called "Hard Rock", not "French Rock".
I have a separate custom "Country" field to identify the country of origin for every artist.
- Music that is rather specific to a geographical area will be assigned the "real" local name. Examples:
Mbaqanga/Morna/Raï... (not "African Folk")
Calypso/Junkanoo/Soca/Steel pan... (not "Caribbean")
Chanson à texte/Chanson d'auteur/Muzette/Polyphonie Corse... (not "French folk")
Cumbia/Musica Llanera/Merengue/Pasaje/Són... (not "Latin")
For you Americans out there, think about it: you wouldn't just throw Bluegrass, Electric Texas Blues, Western Swing
and Roots Rock together into a vague "American Folk" category either, right?
So why not be a bit more respectful of "foreign" music as well?
- There is a fine line between "POP", "WORLD" and "ROCK" top genres.
In general, "mainstream" music is more likely to end up as POP. Examples:
Dance Pop - ABBA (in English), Desireless (in French)...
Latin Pop - Enrique Iglesias, Shakira... (may sing in Spanish or in English)
Pop Rock - Elton John (in English), Gölä (in Swiss German), Garou (in French)...
Music that PRIMARILY rocks ends up in ROCK:
ex: The Beatles (sure they are now considered as "POP" as it gets but they still started out from the Merseybeat kind of ROCK)
Only music that is really ethnic, region-specific ends up in WORLD.
For example, Bob Dylan ends up in WORLD\Anglosphere while Georges Brassens is similarly in WORLD\Continental Europe!
A special genre is "Worldbeat" (ex: Manu Chao), which blends styles from various regions.
Of course, in the end any genre classification is very subjective.
What I try to do here is to base the classification on a coherent criterion
(what the music SOUNDS like) rather than on pre-conceived clichés,
and to make every style of music equally important
- be it the stadium-filling "Arena Rock" or the obscure "Heiva" choral music from Tahiti...
However, this takes a lot of effort and dedication!