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CAUGHT IN MY HEAD

Put a record on & let's talk.

A Word About Genres...

Okay, so, let's talk about genres. I feel like this conversation has been a long time coming. I almost feel a moral obligation to share my difficulties with musical genres to make my thought process/writing of music make sense. For many reasons, I take issue with using genres as an effective and valuable way to describe music.

First of all, the amount of genres and sub-genres and cross-over genres is almost excessive. When writing about music or maybe even simply chatting about it, I find difficulty in determining how specific to get. Is it good enough to call some music "rock"? Or would I be better off saying "post-punk revival"? Would you even know what I'm referring to? Relying too much on genres can also pigeon hole artists. Artists may be able to fit under several genres. In this case genres are not as reliable as descriptors anyway.

Another problem with using genres is simply the language behind it. In the same way every word has different connotations for each person, a specific genre may have different meanings for each person. The same song that I would consider indie pop might seem more like EDM to the next person. In all honesty, there are probably valid arguments to put certain tracks in several different genres. And, that's our problem. Once again, genres are not valid descriptors, not only because our ideas on genres might be different, but because neither of us are right or wrong.

Finally, comes the perspective of the artist. When it comes to a piece of art [which of course includes music], what the artist was intending to say is of utmost importance. We can talk about music all day, but until we know what the artist was trying to do, is anything we say even valid?

So, with all of this negative talk about genres, it all comes down to one question. If using genres to describe music is unreliable and counterproductive, how are to even describe music in writing or conversation? The best answer I have found, is to describe music by alluding to elements of other music. Music journalists frequently use this tactic. For example, if a new band is releasing their new EP, the journalist might describe the group as having lyricism similar to band x and a lead guitar style similar to band y. It is much harder to find these connections and to communicate them well. It's a method I struggle with, but I hope that as I continue to write about music, it will get easier and more second nature.

Well, that's about all I have to say about that.

Until next time, happy listening!

Xx. J