How to Differentiate Between Music Style and Genre



Many people listen to music, but they may not be into music. This means they may not be interested to know about the artist, what the song is about, or if the melody belongs to a particular style or genre. But what really defines a music style? What are the differences between music style and genre and how do you differentiate them?


What is music style?


There is no accurate definition of what is music style. But music styles often point to music of a certain era, a set of musical patterns and use of expressive devices. For example, “Baroque” and “Classical” indicate two different styles of music recognisable by specific characteristics. While this may sound like a definition of music genre, a musical style is more about a distinctive type, form or quality of music.


Jazz, for instance, is a specific genre of music. But yet it also qualifies as a style, since it makes use of particular performance idioms and techniques. It also refers to the era it was created or the period of history during which it was created. Classical music generally means the style of music that was broadly created in the medieval and early-modern periods.


Although Beethoven, Mozart and Bach’s music all fall under the category of classical music, they add their unique and individual characteristics to the music they compose. Their unique signature is known as music style. In the modern world, electronic musicians have been influenced by the musical style of artists such as Brian Eno.


How musicians perform their music can also be referred to as a form of music style. Flea, the bass player of Red Hot Chili Peppers has his particular style of approaching the bass with techniques such as slapping with traditional finger-picking into funk, to create something unique.


What is a music genre?


One of the biggest music genres is popular music. Popular music refers to music that is available to the masses. Within popular music, there are several genres such as rock, punk, metal, jazz, electronic, jazz, blues, rap and hip hop.


But this is a very broad way to explain what is music genre. Music genre includes derivatives such as sub-genres. Rock is often regarded as a particular music genre, but it is actually a sub-genre of blues. Jazz can also be regarded as a sub-genre of blues.


Another broad categorisation of music genre is religious music. Regardless of differences in technicalities, as long as the music’s purpose is to propagate religious thought and adoration, and is devotional in nature, it is categorised under the religious music genre.


Music that does not follow any set pattern or style, recognisable with any genre is referred to as avant-garde music. Jazz, for example, is a music genre but due to its improvisations, some artists’ works such as Ornette Coleman or Sun Ra cannot be regarded as jazz.


In conclusion, music genre is used to categorise music. A music style can be referred to as a genre but has a broader meaning as it can include a signature sound of a certain composer or performer.


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