I’ve been trying to define my music taste to friends and it’s sent me down a rabbit hole. I’ve been reading up on music history and various genres. How many genres (rock, pop, hip hop, country) and sub-genres (indie rock, synth pop, trip hop, rockabilly) are there, anyway? The history of music is incredibly interesting. I can find something I like in just about every genre out there. The history starts off simple enough with the dawn of musical instruments to the development of the broader types in the 20th century, until the clearly defined genres start to splinter and become more complicated and varied. Since I’m a visual learner, I especially love the intricate webs and trees detailing all the variety within a genre like the one seen here:
As a result of my rabbit hole, I decided to narrow down the top 5 genres of music I listen to on a regular basis. I figured the best way to do this was to think of some of my favorite bands first, look up their musical styles, and then see which ones come up the most. My taste in music changes often, but is relatively consistent, and for this reason, it’s hard to have a favorite band. However, if someone asked me, I’d probably say my favorite band is The Beatles, but not because I listen to them, but more for nostalgic reasons. My dad raised me on Sgt. Peppers. Here’s a list of the bands I listen to the most in no particular order:
Vampire Weekend, Lemon Jelly, Tame Impala, The Avalanches, Wax Tailor, Gorillaz, The Black Keys, Pretenders, Fleetwood Mac, The Strokes, Of Montreal, Milky Chance, Department of Eagles, LCD Soundsystem, Psychic Ills, Queen, Sporto Kantes, Blondie, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Steely Dan, and many others.
The next thing I did was look up a handful my top favorite bands on the internet to see what genres and sub-genres they fall under. It’s difficult to narrow down a band to just one genres, especially eclectic bands. After doing a little investigating, these are the top 5 genres I came up with:
I love trip hop, lo-fi, and many similar genres. It’s great for studying, chilling, or relaxing. If you’ve ever listened to the YouTube videos with the little animated girl writing in her journal than you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve best seen this genre defined by All Music as “…a new style of down-tempo, jazz-, funk-, and soul-inflected experimental breakbeat music which began to emerge around 1993.”
I love the psychedelic rock of the 60s, but more specifically, I enjoy the more recent bands that replicate the hippie era with a modern take. Bands like Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips are some modern examples. Neo-pscyhedelia is “…characterized by its layering of sounds or instruments to create a surreal sonic atmosphere.” I’m a hippie at heart and I enjoy just about any psychedelic categories of music.
Indie rock/pop is kind of a broad genre and encompasses a large variety of songs and bands that I love, so more specifically is the subgenre of Experimental Rock. Experimental Rock or Avante-Garde Rock is just as the name suggests.It’s a variety of music that emphasizes innovation and experimentation. From unusual instruments to odd lyrics to improvizing on stage, the music is often theatrical and peculiar. And I just happen to be a big fan of most things peculiar.
Classic rock is also includes a large variety of bands, but it just so happens I enjoy listening to most of them. I’m particularly fond of 70s and 80s rock. If you’re a fan of this genre, too, you might like the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. These are the songs I would most like to learn to play on the guitar or ukulele. Most people know the words and their just fun to jam to.
Plunderphonics or Sampledelia/Turn Table is one of the newest genres of music I’ve grown to love. Currently, The Avalanches is one of my favorite bands and they’re a great example of the use of sampling. The term Plunderphonics was first coined by John Oswald in an essay about pirating audio files. It’s a technique where samples of pre-existing audio sources from other media are incorporated into the music. The concept is difficult to explain, so if you want to hear a sample, I suggest listening to either The Avalanches or Wax Tailor.
Trying to narrow down my top 5 was a fun challenge. These are the ones listen to the most. Here’s a breakdown of many genres and their corresponding sub-genres https://www.musicgenreslist.com/ but I think it’s easier just to look up your favorite bands.
What are your top 5 favorite musical genres?