Like there are countless definitions for the term “music”, there is also various ways to subdivide this concept. Music genres are, above wall, a form to group several kinds of music according to their main characteristics.
However, this divisions are not clear and closed, and they depend mostly of the chosen criteria and subjective opinion of whoever makes the divisions. Nevertheless, there is a common way to group distinct types of music that is broadly accepted by specialists, which divides music in four main genres:
Classical Music – this type of music is mostly known for being ancient, and it is seen as more intricate. This genre is more closed than others, because even though it can have different characteristics, corresponding to specific currents and periods in time, its base is common, as well as the type of instruments used, and it isn’t as influenced by trends as other sorts of music.
Popular Music – commonly associated to various cultural movements, this genre only appeared after the industrialization and with the growth of urban societies. This type of music is highly influenced by trends, and it is constantly adapting to new forms of production; in this genre are included very well-known subgenres, such as rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, metal and many others that are characteristic and widely spread in modern societies.
Traditional Music – this genre is also known as folklore, and it is integrated in a determined cultural pattern; it is a specific type of music that is transmitted from one generation to the next, and that is an essential part of the culture and traditions of a given group. Normally, this genre is sang and played live, so it is the type of music that is least recorded and commercialized.
Religious Music – it is used in religious rituals, such as masses, weddings or funerals, and it is different for each religion. Amid its subgenres, there is Catholic Sacred Music, from the Catholic Church, Gospel Choirs from Evagenlical Churches, or the Muezin Song from Islamism, among many others.
As mentioned before, each of these four main genres are divided in multiple subgenres that narrow the characteristics of each type of music. Genres, subgenres and styles are used in an attempt to classify each song, but since music is in constant alteration and development, new fusions and styles keep appearing, most of the times from genres that are considered opposites, which makes this type of classification more and more complex. Besides, this divisions and classifications are always subject to individual opinions, knowledge and taste, and some may consider that the simple division of music into four main genres is very narrow and doesn’t respect music diversity. However, this broad division allows us to group each type of music according to their common characteristics, and can be very useful for music study and to its commercialization.
Most of the times, is the mixing of several different characteristics from various genres and subgenres that allows the creation of new styles and new forms of making music. The differences between genres lie not only on the way of creating music and instruments used, but also on the themes and even on the behavior and visual appearance of the artists, which reveals the importance of music in anthropological studies and as one of the most important ways to transmit the cultural inheritance throughout various generations.