A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Recently, academics have argued that categorizing music by genre is inaccurate and outdated.
Music can be divided into different genres in many different ways. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often subjective and controversial, and some genres may overlap. There are even varying academic definitions of the term genre itself. In his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green distinguishes between genre and form. He lists madrigal, motet, canzona, ricercar, and dance as examples of genres from the Renaissance period. To further clarify the meaning of genre, Green writes, "Beethoven's Op. 61 and Mendelssohn's Op. 64 are identical in genre – both are violin concertos – but different in form. However, Mozart's Rondo for Piano, K. 511, and the Agnus Dei from his Mass, K. 317 are quite different in genre but happen to be similar in form." Some, like Peter van der Merwe, treat the terms genre and style as the same, saying that genre should be defined as pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language." Others, such as Allan F. Moore, state that genre and style are two separate terms, and that secondary characteristics such as subject matter can also differentiate between genres. A music genre or subgenre may also be defined by the musical techniques, the style, the cultural context, and the content and spirit of the themes. Geographical origin is sometimes used to identify a music genre, though a single geographical category will often include a wide variety of subgenres. Timothy Laurie argues that since the early 1980s, "genre has graduated from being a subset of popular music studies to being an almost ubiquitous framework for constituting and evaluating musical research objects".
Among the criteria often used to classify musical genres are the trichotomy of art, popular, and traditional musics.
Alternatively, music can be divided on three variables: arousal, valence, and depth. Arousal reflects the energy level of the music; valence reflects the scale from sad to happy emotions, and depth reflects the level of emotional depth in the music. These three variables help explain why many people like similar songs from different traditionally segregated genres.
Musicologists have sometimes classified music according to a trichotomic distinction such as Philip Tagg's "axiomatic triangle consisting of 'folk', 'art' and 'popular' musics". He explains that each of these three is distinguishable from the others according to certain criteria.
The term art music refers primarily to classical traditions, including both contemporary and historical classical music forms. Art music exists in many parts of the world. It emphasizes formal styles that invite technical and detailed deconstruction and criticism, and demand focused attention from the listener. In Western practice, art music is considered primarily a written musical tradition, preserved in some form of music notation rather than being transmitted orally, by rote, or in recordings, as popular and traditional music usually are. Historically, most western art music has been written down using the standard forms of music notation that evolved in Europe, beginning well before the Renaissance and reaching its maturity in the Romantic period. The identity of a "work" or "piece" of art music is usually defined by the notated version rather than by a particular performance, and is primarily associated with the composer rather than the performer (though composers may leave performers with some opportunity for interpretation or improvisation). This is so particularly in the case of western classical music. Art music may include certain forms of jazz, though some feel that jazz is primarily a form of popular music. The 1960s saw a wave of avant-garde experimentation in free jazz, represented by artists such as Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp and Don Cherry. And avant-garde rock artists such as Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and The Residents released art music albums.
The term popular music refers to any musical style accessible to the general public and disseminated by the mass media. Musicologist and popular music specialist Philip Tagg defined the notion in the light of sociocultural and economical aspects:
Popular music, unlike art music, is (1) conceived for mass distribution to large and often socioculturally heterogeneous groups of listeners, (2) stored and distributed in non-written form, (3) only possible in an industrial monetary economy where it becomes a commodity and (4) in capitalist societies, subject to the laws of 'free' enterprise ... it should ideally sell as much as possible.
Popular music is found on most commercial and public service radio stations, in most commercial music retailers and department stores, and in movie and television soundtracks. It is noted on the Billboard charts and, in addition to singer-songwriters and composers, it involves music producers more than other genres do.
The distinction between classical and popular music has sometimes been blurred in marginal areas such as minimalist music and light classics. Background music for films/movies often draws on both traditions. In this respect, music is like fiction, which likewise draws a distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction that is not always precise.
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States.
Soul music became a musical term, used to describe an increasingly wide variety of R&B-based music styles from the pop R&B acts at Motown Records in Detroit, such as The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Four Tops, to "deep soul" singers such as Percy Sledge and James Carr.
In 1964 James Brown created original funk music.
Country music, also known as country and western (or simply country), and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s.
Hip Hop Music, also referred to as hip hop or rap music, is a genre of music that was started in the United States, specifically the South Bronx in the New York City, New York, by African-American youth from the inner-cities during the 1970s. The term hip hop music can be defined as a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. Hip hop music derives from the hip hop culture itself, including four key elements, those being emceeing(MCing)/rapping, Disc jockeying (DJing) with turntablism, break dancing and graffiti art.
The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas.
Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. Gospel, spiritual, Christian music are religious music.
Traditional and Folk music are very similar terms. Although the term "traditional music" is very broad and can approach several different genres, it is widely described that traditional music encompass folk music. According to the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music), traditional music are songs and tunes which have been performed over a long period of time (usually several generations). 
The Folk music genre is classified as the music that is orally passed from one generation to another. Usually the artist is unknown, and there are several different versions of the same song. The genre is transmitted by singing, listening and dancing to popular songs. This type of communication allows culture to transmit the styles (pitches and cadences) as well as the context it was developed.
Some of the main aspects about culturally transmitting folk songs, its about the period of history it was created and the social class in which was developed. Some examples of the Folk Genre can be seen in the Folk music of England and Turkish Folk music. English folk music was developed since the medieval period and it has transmitted from that time until today. Similarly, the Turkish Folk music relates to all the civilizations that once passed thorough Turkey, therefore being a world-reference since the tensions between East-West during the Early Modern Period.
Traditional Folk music usually refers to songs composed in the 20th century, which tends to be written as universal truths and big issues of the time it was composed. Great names such as Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, James Taylor, and Leonard Cohen transformed the Folk music on what it is known today. Some newer composers, such as Ed Sheeran (Pop Folk), and The Lumineers (American Folk) are both newer examples of Contemporary Folk music, which has been recorded and adapted to the new way of listening to music (online) on the contrary of the traditional way of orally transmitting music.
Each country in the world, in some cases each region, district and community has its its own Folk Music style. The different sub-divisions of Folk genre is developed by each place cultural identity and history. Because the music is developed in different places, a lot of the instruments are characteristic to its location and population, but some of them are similar everywhere, some examples are: Button or Piano Accordion, different types of flutes or trumpets, Banjo, and Ukulele. Both French and Scottish folk music uses related instruments such as the Fiddle, the harp and variations of bagpipes.
New genres can arise by the development of new forms and styles of music and also simply by creating a new categorization. Although it is conceivable to create a musical style with no relation to existing genres, new styles usually appear under the influence of preexisting genres. The genealogy of musical genres expresses, often in the form of a written chart, the way in which new genres have developed under the influence of older ones. If two or more existing genres influence the emergence of a new one, a fusion between them can be said to have taken place. The proliferation of popular music in the 20th century has led to over 1,200 definable sub-genres of music.
Since music has become more easily accessible (Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, etc.), more people have begun listening to a broader and wider range of music styles. In addition, social identity also plays a large role in music preference. Personality is a key contributor for music selection. Someone who considers themselves to be a "rebel" will tend to choose heavier music styles like Heavy Metal or Hard Rock, while someone who considers themselves to be more "relaxed" or "laid back" will tend to choose lighter music styles like Jazz or Classical music. There are five main factors that exist that underly music preferences that are genre-free, and reflect emotional/affective responses. These five factors are:
Age is another strong factor that contributes to musical preference. Evidence is available that shows that music preference can change as one gets older. A Canadien study showed that adolescents show greater interest in pop music artists while adults and the elderly population prefer classic genres such as Rock, Opera, and Jazz.
Lists of music genres and styles
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