Author Topic: Genres and Sub-genres: A Practical List for Digital Music Players/Managers  (Read 14888 times)

smann

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 58
@smann (or other interested metalheads)

I'm doing a last check on my sheet

Mathcore and Metalcore...

Taking the restrictions and intentions of my sheet into consideration, should they be under Heavy Metal, or should I put them one level up, besides Heavy Metal?
(I am tilted towards the latter myself)

edit:
The same about Progressive metal (Prog-metal)
It looks like a mix (fusion genre) of rock and metal, so it may also be a candidate to take out from under Heavy Metal?

I'm of the mindset that once a subgenre becomes so prominent, then it becomes a legit genre. For example Metal stemming from Rock, but it's so huge that I consider Metal its own genre. Or else everything would technically be a super-subgenre going back to some pre-historic human making sounds and using the bones of their enemies to bang on stuff. And last time I checked, Grunting and Pre-historic Tools isn't exactly a genre people tend to list hahaha.

Metalcore is so massive and one of the most popular styles, that I would 100% put it as its own genre. No doubt on that one. Mathcore is less popular, but it is involved in a lot of more technical metal bands. Your call. Progressive Metal should be included in my opinion even though it's a fusion genre, but to me it's like Digital Hardcore where it's a fusion but it tends to fall way more on the metal side as the very backbone of the song structures.
Last Edit: July 19, 2020, 03:27:19 AM by smann

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
... I'm of the mindset that once a subgenre becomes so prominent, then it becomes a legit genre ...
... Metalcore is so massive and one of the most popular styles, that I would 100% put it as its own genre ...

It looks like we share thoughts on these matters.
The latest iteration:


hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
I am using the Genre field for genres.... and for a good percentage of the music I am interesting in, location is a genre/sound defining factor.  But, for many others, it is not.
As locale shapes the musics' sound design & structure in many important cases for me, I want to treat it as such as well within a genre taxonomy system that attempts to categorize musical structure & sound traditions.

For me, everything under genre-category, genre, and sub-genre should aim to be strictly genre related.
So, no locations, no keywords, no styles, etc.
There are dedicated tags for those.

Hm, I'll have to retreat from taking that strict position on locations.
Well, probably not with regards to popular music, but now I'm struggling with Folk, Traditional, Country, Indigenous, Ethnic, etc., I find it is going to be impossible not use names of continents, countries and regions.
(some specific geographic, and some variations of cultural/ethnic/geographic)

I was hoping to be able to complete this this weekend and be done with it.
Not going to happen.

alec.tron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 706
Hm, I'll have to retreat from taking that strict position on locations.
Well, probably not with regards to popular music, but now I'm struggling with Folk, Traditional, Country, Indigenous, Ethnic, etc., I find it is going to be impossible not use names of continents, countries and regions.
(some specific geographic, and some variations of cultural/ethnic/geographic)

Aye, folk/regional/traditional is quite complex, and often, up until the 1990s at least (before the interwebs...), once a genre/tradition forms, a few years/decades later it forms more sub genres, that might overshadow the parent in 'pop' appeal and therefore global recognition...
Best illustrated imo with the Jamaican popular genres, where Mento & US Soul/R&B formed the foundation for what became known as Ska in the 50s/60s, which then spawned Rocksteady in the late 60s, and resulting in multiple styles that established themselves as full genres, i.e. Reggae, Dub & Dancehall, shortly after, all of which spawning multiple more children in later/other periods and/or places...

All the best for the effort with your genre sheet - but, don't be too hard on it/yourself. Especially if you have not much use for regional/traditional yourself...!

c.
Last Edit: July 19, 2020, 05:20:30 PM by alec.tron

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
Exactly, or a genre that started out as a traditional genre in one country, and remained that way, but developed itself in another country to a modern version of it.
Or a genre that remained 'traditional, but spread over two different countries in completely different continents due to exploring/colonizing.
Is that still 'ethnic', or 'regional'?
Or something like 'latin' music. What sorts are still traditional and regional, which ones have become more contemporary and international.
Which are still 'Latin', or perhaps South American Folk, or Pop/Rock, or even EDM...
I could go on for a while  ;-)

It's quite a puzzle to say the least.
Especially since it is not going to be some dynamic database, but the equivalent of a simple sheet of paper.

Still, I have some confidence I am going to tame this erratic crazy bull.

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
All the best for the effort with your genre sheet - but, don't be too hard on it/yourself. Especially if you have not much use for regional/traditional yourself...!

Thanks, but luckily my taste can be considered rather eclectic, so not much is completely out-from-space or wasted on me.
And since I started this, I now want it to be good. Leaving it a bit sloppy and unfinished is not an option.
And I am convinced as soon as it's ready, it is going to save me a lot of time in the future.
(this genre stuff has been bothering me for too many years now)

I also hope to believe that when it's done, it won't need much maintenance for a long time...

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
I updated the list with a lot of changes and additions.

To offer some insights in some decisions and compromises I made:

In a flat 3-level music genre sheet like this, it is not possible to have all hierarchies being of the same nature. (class)
By that I mean that as a starting point you may want to use actual genres.
But for e.g. classical music, you may want to be able to initially filter on period/era category.
For some traditional music you may want to filter on region of origin.
For music having similar ancestry or sounding similar, you may want to have categories on cultural region, or perhaps language families.
Or perhaps you prefer using exact geographic locations and countries.
So using the same class for everything is not realistic or even doable.

Also,
Music genres can not always be split up in simply a main genre and a subgenre.
Some genres are quite solitaire and won't even have a subgenre variant. Others may have a lot of offspring, and need much more levels, or much better, a relational database to organise and name them.

Note that due to these restrictions the headers 'Genre' and 'Subgenre' should not be taken too literal.
It will often be more something like 'child of' or 'similar to'.

It should be clear that biassed decisions and compromises have been made.
You will probably spot them when you analyse the sheet…

---

I should probably also elaborate on the 'Ethnic' categories a bit.
They aim to contain genres that:
- are still in some authentic shape or form
- are performed on authentic original instruments
- haven't spread around the world much
- are mainly performed and appreciated in a limited region

As soon as one or more of these criteria don't apply any more to a certain level, the genres become candidates for non-ethnic categories.
But how to do that and where they then should end up exactly is quite a brain-breaker.

For now a couple of them ended up in 'African' and 'Asian'.
But I am not completely happy and satisfied about how all of that has turned out.
I'll probably put my thinking cap on again this weekend.

- - -

Suggestions for improvements are welcome.
But please do consider the—most likely unavoidable—domino effect of a proposed change to the structure very well.

And do consider if it would be a substantial general improvement on practical use of the map in MusicBee (which is my main objective with it), or if it would only make it more 'correct'.


download Genre-Subgenre sheet



Note that in the download link I also added a custom genre grouping list you can copy/paste into MusicBee.
It is an exact representation of the genre map.
It is appreciated if some of you could test it and report possible issues.
Update: Don't import and test  it yet. It seems MusicBee has a problem with it's size and won't load it's contents somewhere after line 1260.

For now the grouping list exclusively contains all genres and subgenres that are in the genre map.
If all seems to be working well, I will later probably also add some genres to this grouping list that didn't pass my rather strict criteria for the map.

Those will probably be the genres that are curated and used by Discogs and MusicBrainz. So for users auto-tagging their music using these sources, that music will then also show-up when using MusicBee's Genre category features.
Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 08:30:35 AM by hiccup

The Incredible Boom Boom

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 600
How are you guys getting the Tag Hierarchy to handle multiple genre tags? Like, if you had <Genre>=West Coast Rap; G-Funk; Gangsta Rap, what would your hierarchical structure look like? Examples, please. I'm trying to figure out a system that works for me, but also one that I don't have to completely revamp in the future. Right now, I'm retagging genres as I listen to songs. So, one song could be tagged <Genre>=West Coast Rap; G-Funk, but the next one could be <Genre>=West Coast Rap.

Also...

- the World/Folk areas is probably one of the most complex, and as wikipedia states "World music's inclusive nature and elasticity as a musical category may pose some obstacles to a universal definition..."
So here's my personal take on it in relation to my music library, but I am far from a specialist on this...:
Since most music culture developed within a cultural region/locale (up until ~20-40 years ago at least...), I would probably, for my own use, tie some of these to continents/lands/cities (primarily for genres that are tied to a specific region/locale as well). Which in turn opens up the olde "what is folk" & "what is world music" issue/debate...
But as for those 2 you/I mentioned, which are both tied to a locale, and if sticking to 3 classes is mandatory woudl probably be this for me as an example:
World / Europe / Flamenco
and
World / Carribean / Compas
But, there's pretty much infinite further clusters when one goes down to locale...i.e. West London VS East London (one could split Grime tracks up based on that...) or Durban VS Cape Town (Gqom & Zef), for which one would need at least 4 parent groups to describe it in this system... like:
World / Africa / South Africa / Durban / Gqom

Or a few others that sit in the root of your list, this would probably be my approach:
World / Africa / Ghana / Highlife
World / Europe / Spain / Flamenco
World / Europe / Portugal / Fado

Which is why I was arguing for a free taxonomy system in the other thread... and hoping I'd only need to define this in a complex xml once, and immediately have a track tagged with 'Fado' placed in it's taxonomic curtural/locale context (as I could then define in the xml...).
But yes, it's a nearly impossible task to tackle objectively, and discogs as well as many others are struggling on this (imo, especially with the world/folk music part...) as well, or have given up and simply use gigantic umbrella terms...

Put me in the starting, then putting all this off category. Right now, I'm tagging Pop Rock Japanese artists as "Japanese Pop Rock." I consider Pop Rock a Pop category, so that's one distinction easy for me to solve, but the issue now is how should I use the Tag Hierarchy tool to categorize non-American artists that make Western genres of music. Listing the possibilities I can think of.

Japan -> Pop -> Pop Rock
Japan -> Japanese Pop Rock
Japan -> Pop -> Pop Rock -> Japanese Pop Rock
Pop -> Pop Rock -> Japanese Pop Rock
Pop -> Japanese -> Japanese Pop Rock

Or should I just ignore the national distinction altogether and just tag the album "Pop Rock?"

ThY

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 98
Hello there.
Firstly, sorry if my english is not that good; i should have seen this topic before, because (be warned) i am passionated about musical genres distinction and classification.

It's obvious for me that genre tagging is a real personnal thing, mainly because not everyone can distinct one kind of music from another.
For some people "The Offspring" is "Hard Rock", "Rock" equal "Metal" equal "Punk", "Gipsy Music" is like "Musette" because accordion, or "Electronic" music is all "Techno".
So the needs will be different according to the people.

-------------------------------


My tagging way has evolved since many many years, and currently i'm doing it in parallel with something else: i'm working on a big musical genre classification in the form of HTML pages right now, but that I would like to evolve into something more complex (web application).
So that i'm learning music history and evolution, and how to differentiate one genre from another.

Kinda autistic i know, but i love it, i spend a lot of my free time on that.

-------------------------------


So from some time i decided to retag all my collection, with other rules in mind.
Then, when i encounter something i can't define the genre precisely enough, i go on the internet and seek for informations.
I'm not doing a musicologist work, but i want to know why do we call this "Electro Pop" and this "Synthpop", why do we call this "Pagan Metal" and this "Viking Metal" ?
So beside musical characteristics, i learn much more from this.

But at first my goal is to catalog and put label on things; not for the sake of labeling though, but because i think this is a great way to open my mind to a lot of other musical horizons; since all music is made from influences imho.

So as the time goes by, my personnal informations pages are getting bigger, more precise and clearer, so i can rely on them to define type of songs and differentiate one genre from one another.
To sum it up, i'm collecting informations on internet about genres, i'm trying to understand it by reading about it and listening about it, collect the most representative samples of those genres and write all things down on my HTML pages in the most clear and understandable way for me (or anyone to tell the truth).
I'd love to put all those things online one day, but it will need a big lot more of work before doing so.

-------------------------------


So i'm tagging (again) all my music from 0 and it takes me a lot of time, but as i list more and more tags, the process is faster and faster, because i can compare easily one already tagged song with another non-tagged one.

Here is how i organize my library.
Currently i'm doing it all alphabetically, i stopped at Amon Tobin, at a song which is some mix between several stuff like "IDM", "Glitch" and "Dubstep" vibes.
I know somewhat what "Dubstep" is and how it sounds, but i have almost no informations about it and about its sub-genres on my pages, so i'm currently reading stuff about it and thus about "Chillstep", "Brostep" and so on.
So i could eventually tag this song with some "Dubstep" genre or sub-genre, if i think it matches.
Of course, i always look if i can get some informations on the genre of the song on the internet before, but most of the time internet offers genre tags for the artist or the album, and rarely (or badly) track by track.

-------------------------------


I'm speaking french, so all my work and all my tags are french-friendly.
I use 2 genres max for each song. I was using an unlimited number of genre before, but it was driving me crazy and it was too much tiring and time consuming.
Sometimes i use a third one for "Ballade" (it's a word for a "mellow song", i'm using it when the song is mostly a voice with a simple instrument accompaniment, with no special characteristics), or for "Power Ballad".



I use a "category" field to define the big musical categories.
This allows me sometime to define more precisely a song without messing with genres.




For example, let's take the song "I have a dream" from ABBA, this is "Adult Contemporary" for me, with folk vibes because it uses a sitar.
But however i won't categorize it with a specific folk genre from a deep unknown part of the world, because those are only minor influences imo.
So, for me, its genres are "Ballade, Adult Contemporary", and its categories are "Folk, Pop, Song".




I also have a field to define when a notable instrument is used in the song, mostly when it takes a lot of place, or is put forward, or when it is unusual for the actual genre.




I write my genres in importance order.
So a song with genres wrote "Ambient Pop; Downtempo" has more Ambient Pop elements than Downtempo, and is more Downtempo than anything else.
This allows me to be a little more distinctive.

Sometimes there are avant-garde artists who multiply genres fusion in their music, for example "Nervous Waltz" from Igorrr: Baroque Music, Death and Black Metal, Breakcore, ... all in one song. But in those cases, i don't mind, i stuck to my limit of 2 genres and take the most prominent ones, from my subjective point of view.

-------------------------------


Actually i use "categories > genres > sub-genres" as a hierarchy.
The "genres > sub-genres" relation is the "group genre" option in Musicbee.
I use it like a direct parenting relation where the sub-genre is the direct child of the genre.




So for example, Acid Jazz is sub-genre of Jazz, which is also a category.
"Aggrotech" is sub-genre of "Dark Electro", which is not a category but is also the child of "Electro Industrial".

Sometimes i defined a genre as a child of 2 parents, like "Electro Industrial" music, which is the sub-genre of "Electronic" and "Post Industrial".
In this case, and because of the way Musicbee works, i have to chose only one parent between the two, totally subjectively (like the rest of my tagging anyway).

-------------------------------


Beside that, i'm using the "mood" field to classify musics in 24 "styles" which are roughly "feelings", "atmosphere", "personnality" and "energy".
Also totally subjective, and sometimes useless to define as a song can vary a lot, like being peaceful at the begging and finishing on a brutal note.
But i'm using it mainly to generate playlists for working and waking up.




Finally, i use special tags to define if the song is a cover, a remix, a remastering, a performance (for example for classical music) or a parody.
Tagging the original artist, album and year of the song.




I also use a field to specify "media context", like if the song was created for or mostly known from a video game, an anime, a movie, etc.

-------------------------------


The last ones are used to define if the song is a live record, have a raw quality, if it's NSFW (like sexual samples or whatever), and if the language is explicit (i use it only for french lyrics).

I won't speak about how i manage artists, pictures of artists, album years, sorting, ... as it's not the topic.
But here is an example of my two tags tabs:




hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268

Thanks ThY, that's a great write-up.
It will surely be good and valuable food for thought for others that struggle with handling genres.

The most important thing is probably that you have a system where you can find and listen to the music that you want to listen to at that moment.
On a strictly personal note and opinion, I myself wouldn't place Acid-jazz under Jazz, and I wouldn't put Abba under Adult contemporary, but those are all personal choices, and there is no 'correct'.

Have you looked at: https://rateyourmusic.com/genres
They helped me a lot in understanding and deciding on genres and sub-genres that I didn't have a confident opinion on.

ThY

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 98
To react to some of your posts, imho Folk and Regional music are the most difficult to genre-tag, but mostly because this music is part of the oldest form of music, and thus is so numerous, and rich; but imo not so diversified in a sounding and very relative point of view.
Because most of the times, you won't be able to disctinct between two regional music because they purely sound similar.
Things that will change will be language, lyrics subjects, name of that folk instrument which is different but sounds similar, context in which the music is played, ...

This why i'm focusing on music purely when i'm genre-tagging.
I avoid what deviates too much from the "sound" itself, therefore, for example, i don't mind about the content of the lyrics.

---------------------


I heard you talked about "Pop".
This is what i call a genre category, not a specific genre.
You can't be precise by tagging a song with "Pop" genre.

Pop music is catchy, with rythms, melodies, lyrics easy to hook on, with a big emphasize on smooth and polished production; and on the singer(s) has main element.
Formated length (pop song tries to never last too long), basic and accessible structures.

For direct genres of Pop, i have currently things like:
Traditionnal Pop, Classical Crossover, Art Pop, Adult Contemporary, Synthpop, Dance Pop, Indie Pop, Electro Pop, J Pop, Ambient Pop, Bitpop, Glitch Pop, ...
Of course, most of the time "Pop" is not the only category of those genres, for example Synthpop is also Electronic type of music.

Then you have what i consider other categories within "Pop" category, like Easy Listening or Pop Rock.

---------------------


Therefore, in the same way, i can't consider "Pop Rock" as a specific music genre, it is too much vague.
"Pop Rock" is mostly songs with "Rock" instrumentation in a simple Pop format.
You have to look in the end of the 50's to find the purest form of Pop Rock, which is a faded version of Rock n Roll and Rhythm n Blues.
After that, as the 60's come by, it evolves in specific genres like Beat Music or Piano Rock.

But as i said before, you can go for Pop or Rock for anything you wish, as long as it matches with your organizing expectations. :)

ThY

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 98


Thanks ThY, that's a great write-up.
It will surely be good and valuable food for thought for others that struggle with handling genres.

The most important thing is probably that you have a system where you can find and listen to the music that you want to listen to at that moment.
On a strictly personal note and opinion, I myself wouldn't place Acid-jazz under Jazz, and I wouldn't put Abba under Adult contemporary, but those are all personal choices, and there is no 'correct'.

Thanks :)
Yes i just consider Acid Jazz to have a Jazz base, with elements of Funk, Soul and by extension Disco.
Where would you place it ?

About ABBA, i was talking specificly about the song "I have a dream", i tag only tracks by tracks, i never do artist tagging.
But maybe you were indeed talking about the song. How would you categorize it ?



Have you looked at: https://rateyourmusic.com/genres
They helped me a lot in understanding and deciding on genres and sub-genres that I didn't have a confident opinion on.

This is my first source when i have to get information about music origins, influences and descriptions. ;)
I have never find a better structure when it's about music evolution.
But it's not flawless imo, i adapted some things that i considered not precise enough.
Still, i think they are globally precise enough, they could be more, but i think they have the right dosage.

They rely a lot on other sources to describe their genres, like Wikipedia, but they simplify and sum it up nicely most of the time.

On my personnal grouping of informations, i "created" some other sub-genres like "New Synthpop", because in RYM they regroup Synthpop from the 70's under the same genre as the Synthpop of the 2000's, which (for me) are too much distinctive by their musical production and sound textures.

I did the same for some other things like "Power Pop".

RYM catalogs sometimes things that are not really what i consider musical genres, things like Chamber Music, Opera, Cabaret, ...
Nonetheless it's a great source of information, even for music samples, but you have to dig a lot and take into account the fact that a lot of thing are not necessarily well tagged.
This is why i try to get a lot of crossed-informations, to have the best description of the genre, before going on the music samples chase.

hiccup

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5268
On a strictly personal note and opinion, I myself wouldn't place Acid-jazz under Jazz, and I wouldn't put Abba under Adult contemporary, but those are all personal choices, and there is no 'correct'.
Yes i just consider Acid Jazz to have a Jazz base, with elements of Funk, Soul and by extension Disco.
Where would you place it ?

About ABBA, i was talking specificly about the song "I have a dream", i tag only tracks by tracks, i never do artist tagging.
But maybe you were indeed talking about the song. How would you categorize it ?

Acid jazz for me goes under Electronic.

I associate Adult Contemporary with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, The Blue Nile, Leonard Cohen, etc.
Abba seems a bit too juvenile to me to go under Adult contemporary.

But that's obviously a personal matter of opinion.

The Incredible Boom Boom

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 600

I associate Adult Contemporary with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, The Blue Nile, Leonard Cohen, etc.


As of now, I consider "Adult Contemporary" to be more a radio definition than a genre and so I'm using a custom tag <STYLE> that holds such descriptions. What do you think of this structure I'm currently retagging my music by? Should I bite the bullet and make a custom tag for subgenres, or do you think I can make the Tag Hierarchy work with genre tags alone? Here's an example of what I'd expect from a track with the genre tagged as "Hip-Hop Soul." The bolded elements are the expected structure.

<STYLE> Urban Adult Contemporary
Genre Category: Rhythm & Blues
  <Genre> Rhythm & Blues
  <Genre> R&B
 <Genre> Contemporary R&B
    <(Sub)Genre> "Hip-Hop Soul"
  <Genre> Pop R&B

I'm also still struggling a bit with how to label international music that is Western in style. My understanding of the Tag Hierarchy Explorer is that the second example below won't work as shown if I have "Pop Rock" or "Trip Hop" defined under another Genre Category, correct?

<STYLE> "International; Japanese Contemporary"
Genre Category: Japanese Pop/Rock
<Genre> Japanese Pop
  <(Sub)Genre> Japanese Pop Rock
  <(Sub)Genre> Japanese Pop Trip Hop


<STYLE> "International; Japanese Contemporary"
Genre Category: Japanese Pop/Rock
<Genre> Japanese Pop
  <(Sub)Genre> Pop Rock
  <(Sub)Genre> Trip Hop
Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 05:37:01 PM by The Incredible Boom Boom

ThY

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 98

<STYLE> "International; Japanese Contemporary"
Genre Category: Japanese Pop/Rock
<Genre> Japanese Pop
  <(Sub)Genre> Japanese Pop Rock
  <(Sub)Genre> Japanese Pop Trip Hop


<STYLE> "International; Japanese Contemporary"
Genre Category: Japanese Pop/Rock
<Genre> Japanese Pop
  <(Sub)Genre> Pop Rock
  <(Sub)Genre> Trip Hop

I'm not sure about the way you include the country here.
My advice is to not include the country in the genre, i don't use things like "J Rock" or "Japanese Rock", because it's musicaly not different than western Rock, only the language vary.
So my advice is to use a custom tag for the language of the lyrics.