What is a Genre?

Genre Explained

So we asked, what in the world is a genre? This is one of the strangest terms. What is it and how is it applied to music? Simply put, it is a word for the different musical categories, marketing groups, or a certain style of music. The word 'genre' is from the 19th century French language based on Latin which literally means "a kind". So we assume it stands for a 'kind' of music. Not entirely.

As musicians, we always categorized  different music types as 'composing styles or forms,' knowing that each style of music has its own orchestration, instrumentation, composition, and sound along with its very own culture and heritage. Each musical composing or playing style has its own market and its own public. Artists are good at accommodating their listeners as are labels.

What It Means to Us

Most everyone enjoys listening to some type of music and some are stuck on only one or a few preferences. Not everyone who likes Rock music will like Hip-Hop or Country. We have a choice and most relate to our personal lives which makes us cling to certain musical styles. We like to hear something that has some bearing to us specifically. It's personal which lures us even closer to a particular sound or message. From dance tunes to classical symphonies, it is us and how we feel about our lives and purpose. Our hearts and imagination is where music comes from. We'll sing about anything under the sun.

I don't think I can list all the various music composing styles on this page. Our Musical Forms section has that covered. There are many different types of music to listen to and perhaps naming them could be done but who's to say what is what in the realm of musical choice? Like I said, music is personal to us and can carry most any meaning we want it to. Perhaps that's why songs are loved for so many different reasons. One person may like a tune because of the awesome instrumentation or its individual sound; another may like it due to the lyrics and the message it carries. Then too, we have our own ways of naming and categorizing musical groups which are not actually genres such as Retro, Oldies, or maybe '90s, however we relate to it. Why bother with specific titles when they can be tagged by however we personally feel?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term 'genre' as "a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content." It also gives the term a secondary definition of "painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life, usually realistically" which tells us something important: The word 'genre' is not a musical word. It has a wide range of applications to the various forms of artistic creativity we do. It can apply not only to music, but as mentioned, paintings, sculptures, even books and literature. So it's not all ours. Honestly, no one has ever asked me "What genre of music do you like?" They always say "what kind." At least its fitting. Though the terms style and form work fine for me, I suppose "kindness" works good too.  ?