Genre Geneology

Post a reply

:D :) :( :o :-? 8) :lol: :x :P :oops: :cry: :evil: :roll: :wink:

BBCode is ON
[img] is ON
[flash] is OFF
[url] is ON
Smilies are ON

Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Genre Geneology

Here's my solution to the genre problem...

by MCSmarties » Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:01 pm

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,
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) as:
"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:
(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
Additional information:
- 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!

by Lowlander » Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:16 pm

It's only a list. And MediaMonkey has no genre hierachy so it's just for personal classification.


by Fil » Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:25 pm

This list should have as it's first line: World
Second line : United States
everything else should be tabbed twice
And the last line "world" should be erased

i.e. world is not a category of genres to be on par with a zillion American genres.. American genres are just as world as drums from africa or voices from south east asia.

Please, in what regards is salsa less deserving than bluegrass ?

Sorry, I took offence to this in old versions of Winamp. never was able to trace who created the offenve genre list.



Not easy

by Athos » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:34 pm

Defining genres is a mugs game. You've got to go with what's best for you and your music collection.

One person's Easy Listening is another person's Pop Vocal and someone else's Vocal Jazz.

And too often, you get artists that can fit into all three categories... someone like Sammy Davis Jr. whose performances touch on all three (and sometimes R&B too).

Personally, I now use big broad genres and rely on my playlists to pull up the music I want.

My primary list with examples of what I put where

by ReverendEntity » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:00 am

Rock (Zebra, Led Zeppelin)
Pop (Al Stewart, 10cc)
Metal (Slayer, Fear Factory)
House (Masters At Work, Frankie Knuckles)
Techno (Secret Cinema, Hardcell, Juan Atkins)
Trance (Infected Mushroom, Super8, Union Jack)
Hardcore Techno (Speedfreak, Omar Santana, Alec Empire)
Avantgarde (People Like Us, Negativland, Tape-Beatles)
Jazz (Fela Kuti, Herbie Mann, Rahsaan Roland Kirk)
Downtempo (Flunk, Thievery Corporation, Moodorama)
Trip-Hop (Portishead, Massive Attack, Slowdeck)
Drum & Bass (Concord Park, Photek, Grooverider)
Spoken Word (Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins)
Darkwave (Front 242, VNV Nation, Negative Format)
Industrial (Skinny Puppy, Throbbing Gristle, Pigface)
Ambient (The Orb, Global Communication, Interiors)

by Lowlander » Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:29 pm

The only way to add them is when editing track properties.

You can try to add genre's by editing the database in MS Access. I assume that adding genre's manually to the genre table will work.

by Deakon » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:44 pm

So how would I go about adding genres without editing individual music files? i.e. Just add a list of genres so I can then use the drag-n-drop feature.

by antigoon » Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:04 pm

I think that sub-genres (genre geneology) is a mistake. I wrote more about it here: ... c&start=45

Suppose I've got tracks from Portishead and from Tricky. I want to tag them both as "Trip-Hop". Now, is Trip-Hop a sub-genre of Alternative, or Electronica (or maybe Pop)? (*) Why is this important? because it means that either both Tricky and Portishead will be Alternative or they'll both be Electronica, but they could never be split.

With multiple genres, I could do this:
Portishead: Alternative, Trip-Hop, Electronica
Tricky: Electronica, Pop, Trip-Hop


by Lowlander » Tue May 30, 2006 11:23 am

Not sure.. but it's best adviced to stay away from editing them.

by Steegy » Tue May 30, 2006 10:17 am

Just the ID# is saved not the name
Isn't that only applicable for ID3v1? I think ID3v2 always stores the genre as string (too).

But yes, it should be totally unneccesary to edit the fixed genres, because you can use custom genres instead.

by Lowlander » Tue May 30, 2006 9:11 am

Don't edit the fixed genre's. These are standard ID3 genres and won't be compatible with other software if edited (Just the ID# is saved not the name).

You can edit the user genre's part, but here you also need to be careful.

Inside MediaMonkey you will just need to type a custom genre in the genre field and the new genre will be created automatically. You can create as many custom genres as you wish.

by rovingcowboy » Mon May 29, 2006 11:23 pm

well i chimed in a little bit on that poll i set up. but here is the ones i use

movie themes
sound effects
sound tracks
vocal (as in news storys)

if the song for me fits in one of those or a sub catogory i place it in which ever one it needs. as long as it matches the above is fine with me. :o 8)

by Steegy » Mon May 29, 2006 8:55 pm

MediaMonkey has a genres table in the MediaMonkey.mdb database file.
That genre table consists of a "fixed" list portion of built-in genres, and a "variable" list portion of genres that have been added through MediaMonkey.

The "variable" portion can be changed within MediaMonkey itself (add new genres, change/remove existing variable genres). To edit the "fixed" portion, you'll have to edit the database file (normally My Documents\My Music\MediaMonkey\MediaMonkey.mdb). These can't be changed from within MediaMonkey itself and will normally always be present and stay the same.


edit genre list

by jomarche » Mon May 29, 2006 8:43 pm

Where do I go in the MM file to modify the genere list? I started poking around but it did not hit me in the face. Any help?

by Steegy » Sat May 20, 2006 4:21 am

Some useful links with huge genre lists: (See bottom for links to specific genres, and their subgenres/styles. This resource is *huge*!) ... php/genres

I certainly would try to use subgenres/styles too, if MediaMonkey would support them.