on Musical Genres Part I: Division of Style
curious about the wide variety of musical genres, the question was
raised as to how titles are applied to styles in music.
Semantics are essential to assist in describing and clarifying
an art form that was not originally formatted to the written or
spoken word. An attempt has been made to be specific and
consistent with the language in this series of articles to avoid
obfuscation while maximizing the information and entertainment.
So, how is
music described? Starting
this process on pure conjecture, the thought that early indigenous
music probably had no use for specifics in a musical language.
Not until the music was performed, taught, described or transcribed
for a larger or different audience did it become necessary to deconstruct
and label the individual components that creates the sounds and
structure of the music. What we hear today has been passed down through
families, cultures, and later, by education and institutions. The cultivation and diversification of modern
musical styles was brought to fruition by performance and documentation,
written and recorded. The
interest in documenting music for archival, performance and educational
purposes has developed countless verbal, visual and written systems. Depending on the knowledge of the audience you
are addressing is the deciding factor to illustrate the aural sound
Ways to Describe Music:
1. NOTATION - used as a written, visual or verbal representational
system to interpret the sounds and architecture of the music.
2. ALLUSIONS - Utilizing the relationship of our senses from
learned environmental experiences and applying those impressions
3. COMPARISON - displaying the similarities of the sounds by
it's resemblance to other musical genres, bands or musicians.
if you look at how music is described to the public, allusions or
comparisons are made. On
the web, comparisons to other genres, bands and musicians are prevalent
because this allows a broad musical landscape to be classified into
simple, easy to interpret lists. This technique is useful to an audience that
is not familiar with music notation and a generalized comparison
is acceptable and often is wanted.
When allusions are applied, an impression of the music is
described by incorporating our senses and experiences to develop
a poetic bridge linking this synthesis of physical and mental intuition
to the music. An allusions
success depends on the interpretation, which can range from shorthand
that solidifies the essence of the music to an obtuse and seemingly
unrelated description. Notation
is the most precise but even then, parties familiar with the representational
system require discussion for clarification of nuances in the music.
The art is
then disseminated through experience, discussion, articles, and
teachings. The music is reconstructed by other specialized written
languages to be read by other musicians.
At this point the new movement is diversified and becomes
a gestalt, i.e. something more than the sum of its parts.
The art form changes from inspiration, the reference point,
and forges its own path of destruction.
an educated or business class is involved does it appear important
to describe a style with specific terms and labels.
Performers, Writers, Educators and Theorists may name their
creative pursuits but it's the masses that eventually decide if
the style and labels are accepted.
Not until a larger audience is cognizant of the modern style
does the movement build momentum. Once accepted, terminology applied and widely
distributed, the much sought after pure and free idea is over! Often another influence is united and a different
name co-opted for development and distribution of the "new
style". You can sense
the end has begun, the end is near or you may be experiencing the
end at this very moment. Rarely
is a theory or new genre developed and played that becomes accepted
as is. Pure art is creative inspiration that transcends
mass consumption to qualify its artistic merit and all labels applied
fall short in describing the true essence.