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zophu's avatar

How do music genres effect the creation of music?

Asked by zophu (5691points) February 6th, 2011

Have you ever wanted to hear a perfect fusion of 70’s Go-go, Metalcore and Dubstep? I have. I have wanted it so hard. But even if it does exist, I don’t know how to find it. I don’t even know what it would sound like if it existed, (besides awesome.) Which leads me to my question: how does genre effect the creation of music?

From my incredibly abstract (non-existent) understanding of basic music theory, the actual “rules to music” are not directly related to genres in any real way. If that’s the case, why such a strong divide between them? Money? It’s just money, isn’t it. Vendors need marketing, producers need vendors, artists need producers. Is that it? Genre makes it easier to market music?

I mean, I’m sure artists have their preferences that they identify with different genres, and that effects their musical inspirations; but how much of what a musician becomes is determined by raw musical inspiration and how much is determined by arbitrary rules set by genre classification?

It’s nice to think that musicians fly off into the cosmos, create their music with their divinely chosen instruments, then rain it down upon us; and it’s just us that divides it up into our little categories so we don’t get overwhelmed. But “we” are the musicians sometimes, so how could that be?

How would things be different if the line between science and music were hazier than it is now for the average talented musician? Would the “genre rules” be overridden by more natural musical rules? Would music be more diverse? Would we get to “rock” it to Gogo-metalcore-dubstep?

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6 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

Have you used Pandora to listen to music? I find their “music genome” thing kind of neat, and this question reminded me of it.

zophu's avatar

Yeah, I thought about that while writing it. I’m going to see if I can search for specific combinations of music elements instead of just having Pandora compare entire songs.

Earthgirl's avatar

I think you’re right that it’s mainly a marketing convenience. But with new ways of listening to music online (streaming music based on your likes and dislikes for ex.) and the ability of musicians not signed to major labels to air their music online and reach a wider audience without having to have airplay on radio it’s more possible for musicians to make music that transcends a neat genre classification. I see all kind of what I call “fusion music” going on. Not that the concept of fusing musical styles is new. It has always existed. Musicians may have a variety of musical influences and create music accordingly.
Wynton Marsalis noted his influences recently when talking about his Swing Symphony.
It traces the roots of Jazz and includes African tribal rhythms, hand clapping as in Afro-American church music and classical elements. I loved this! And the musicians loved it too, you could see how much they enjoyed playing the piece. Here’s an article about it if you’re interested.
Fusion music and fusion cuisine…the world is becoming smaller and we are all learning from each other and influencing each other. Rigid boundaries are breaking down. There’s a lot of cultural crossover and mixing. That will include music. I like that,but it’s ok to be a purist too. Both ways have their place.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I think part of the strong divide in genres would come from the artists on a non marketing thing. I mean not many are creative enough to blend music like that, so they stick with what they know or appeals to them, that one genre, but every so often you get this awesome band willing to take the risk and sometimes its pulled off quite well.

Im a huge fan of genre mixing. I just got into Bond amazingly talented musicians that blend classical music with all different genres. and theyre freakin hot as hell :P

zophu's avatar

Yay blending genres, and yay multiculturalism in general I guess. . . >.>
But I want more avenues in place for average musicians (people) to pluck their inspiration from as close to the roots of nature as possible! If I had a deep interest (talent) in creating music I’d dive the fuck into music theory and let that be the lens through which I’d find inspiration in other musician’s creations. Then maybe my music could be a better lens for other musicians, or lead them to the lens . . . anyway.

I just remembered a sciency podcast from some public radio station I listened to that I think might have talked about this. . . I remember someone made a computer program that could generate classical-styled music using “musical cliches” or something. I don’t think I listened to it very consciously, but I remember the guy who did this expressing almost-regret in that the music his program generated was so good it might make people with passionate relationships with classical music question those relationships. From a narrow perspective, it seemed to take the art and turn it into cold, inhuman science. Here it is: WNYC’s Radiolab Musical Language. The story is the last one of three in that episode, about two thirds of the way in, the first two parts are interesting too.

I don’t think the divide between culture/art and science should be so drawn out. They’re not independent of each other. People just need better ways of harmonizing them. It’ll happen on it’s own, I guess, but it would be nice to see more conscious effort. I’m sure there’s lots of musicians who think like this, but it’s hard to create new things without cultural avenues already being in place. And it’s really hard to create cultural avenues when so much of culture is based on containing itself. . .

@Earthgirl I don’t like what I’ve heard of his music much, but I like the way Wynton thinks. I found a video where he talks about his symphony:

@uberbatman Compensating for lack of genre-acceptance with hotness, maybe? Good tactic. How do they avoid getting their violin bows stuck in their hair?

Silence04's avatar

Simple answer… Listeners and music labels are the ones that create the genres.

Typically musicians don’t write music with genres in mind, it just happens and you create what feels comfortable to you.

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