The idea of genre has become so damned specific. In most cases, it serves as a means by which the listener can relate the sound to another; e.g.: that new Devin Townsend album’s totally cock rock, man or Agalloch is Folk Black Metal. We know what these labels mean to the music we prefer and the specific choice details precisely what to expect from that sound. However, similarly to the incorrect classification of Devin Townsend’s Epicloud as Cock Rock (which it is, but it’s also varied and sundry), it also limits and pushes away, fracturing listeners into individual typologies of their own. For lack of a better description, it is an earmark of our own personal identity and style as to that which we listen.
In general, I see only a small number of genre whereas there are a far greater number of styles or variations on this theme. Essentially, here are the genre I see:
Rock: Rock is the foundation for just about everything to which I listen. Typified by a vocalist, guitars, and percussion, Rock is an expansive canvas.
Blues: The music of from where I came; a dirty often countercultural exploration of themes on the edge of the culture and a vehicle of giving voice to the powerless. Typically very emotional in theme and sound, Blues is often noted as an expression of the soul.
Folk: My mother’s favorite genre; I enjoy the genre as well, especially in its storytelling approach and often gentle darkness.
Hip Hop: A genre with which I am lacking an overwhelming amount of familiarity. Though I love the R&B styling of its origin, I’ve yet to encounter much hip hop that I enjoy (or would even call music similar to…).
Metal: My most familiar genre and that to which I listened the most growing up. As it has evolved and taken in more elements, its artistry has mature, however, there are bands whose music just isn’t music.
Big Bang/Classical: Composition, emotion, artistry, and passion combined into one.
You’ll notice that I left off country, pop, progressive and other “genres.” It’s because these are more stylings of each. Modern country is a mixture of rock, blues, and folk. Pop reflects the mainstream musical tastes of the day. The Progressive styling attempts to further the aims of the genre by pulling in different or varying sounds and compositional structures. Therefore, these are more like metastylings of music.
Each genre has its own set of stylings that allow for bands to individualize themselves or to completely separate from the rest of the pack. In metal, I’ve found that there are as many different varieties as there are colors. Black styled metal relies of cold sounding sonics with tremolo picking and rasping shrieks. Grindcore punches you in the throat, throws you to the ground and kicks you whilst you are down. Yet, I find very little redeemably musical about that specific genre of noise. Punk is similar: look at the Sex Pistols. The point is this, we overtypify because it individualizes us as the listener more than it does the music.