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Origin of Music and Music Genres

Updated on August 13, 2019
Kingsley Iyoke profile image

Am Austin Weather a Nigerian medical student and a reputed writer. I love music and everything about it.

Music is an interesting or pleasing sound organized with time. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and

harmony ), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo , meter , and

articulation ), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of

timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Reference: Wikipedia

There are many types of music, including popular music, traditional music, art music music written for religious ceremonies and working songs such as chanteys.


The word Genre simple means A kind; a stylistic category or sort, especially of literature or other artworks so Music Genre is a category of music, in which the songs in that category has the same style or pattern or culture/tradition or similar sounds.

Music Genre seems to be something controversial, it has never been easy to distinguish and group them appropriately to be generally accepted. The classification and everything about music is studied by a practical discipline called Music Theory.

Music Theory as a practical discipline encompasses the methods and concepts composers and other musicians use in creating music. So many musicologies has contributed in grouping and categorizing and uptill now their theories are still doubtful and prompted controversies. Musicologies like;

Douglas Green who differentiated music genre and music forms, he said that examples of genres are madrigal, motet, canzona ,

ricercar , and dance. He listed songs that are in the different genres but in similar form.

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."

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

Commonly, music genres where grouped by Arousal, Valence and Depth.


The recently used and most acceptable classification of music was Philip Tagg's "axiomatic triangle consisting of 'folk', 'art' and 'popular' musics" this three classes, according to my personal views is really distinguishable and doesn't influence each other.

The art/popular/traditional distinction

ART MUSIC: Art music includes both mordern/contemporaneous and historical music form. It is a music that implies advanced structural and theoretical considerations or a written musical tradition. Art Music includes certain type of jazz and conscrated Christian music.

TRADITIONAL/FOLK MUSIC: it used to be called folk music. This kind of music is transmitted from generation to generation through oral transmission; learning, singing and dancing and because it is a prominent culture of a religion or tribe.

POPULAR MUSIC: This is the type of music currently trending and it is well published typically to reach large audience. It is not for a particular tradition. Popular Music is a music style that is easily accessible to the public.

Philip Tagg, a popular musicologist said; 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 the music you hear every day through radios, T.V in clubs and bars. All most all the most successful and popular musicians you know and those that are legendary are composers of Popular music.

Popular music genres are always what everyone will call the overall music genres but is wrong actually, they are just genres under Popular music not directly under music itself. Genres like pop, hip pop, ryhmes & blues, afrobeat, country music, jazz, raggea, rock music and electronic dance music,


It is sometimes referred to as most popular genre in all the genre of popular music. It originated in 1970s by African Americans that lives in ghetto Streets of USA. Hip Hop or rap music contains stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted, called rapping. The typical instruments used this music genre are Rapping, turntables, DJ mixer, drum machine, music squencer, synthesizer,

keyboard. The notable pioneers are DJ Kool Herc ,

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five , Fab Five Freddy , Marley Marl ,

Afrika Bambaataa , Kool Moe Dee,

Kurtis Blow , Doug E. Fresh. The most successful, legendary rapper that was captioned the king of rap song is late Tupac Omaru Shakur. Currently Hip pop in 2010 hip hop gave birth to its subgenere called trap music. Futur, Travis Scott, Migos, Lil Pump etc are notable and popular trap rapper trending now.


“Pop” is a term derived from “Popular” and thus Pop Music is known to be a genre of popular music. With its roots in the rock & roll style, this form can include any form of music ranging from urban and dance to rock, country and Latin. Instruments highly used are electric guitars, synthesizer drums as well as bass and one can listen to this form of music by listening to songs by Britney Spears, Madonna, Beyonce Lady Gaga and of course the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson


R&B originated in 1970s basically when Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones added more electronic elements to the sound of the time to create a smoother dancefloor-friendly sound. The result of their project was Off the Wall, released in 1979. Rhymes & Blue is defined as a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and

electronic music. Reputed R & B singers are R Kelly, regarded as the King of R&B. Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Jason Durelo, Whitney Houston, Criag Davis, Trey Song etc


Generally referred as EDM, this form of music is produced by DJs who add dozens of tones to a piece to create unique music. You can hear them in clubs or even live, depending upon your accessibility for the same. In the early twenties, electronic dance music was known in the form of Jamaican dub music, the electronic music of Kraftwerk, the disco music of Giorgio Moroder, the Yellow Magic Orchestra and many more.


Identified with swing and blue notes, Jazz has its roots both in the West African and European culture. It is said that Jazz is “One of America’s original art forms” and boasts a unique combination of creativity, coactions and interactivity. Originating in the late 19th to early 20th century, Jazz has also played an important role in introducing the world to a number of women performers like Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln and Ethel Waters.


It is a music genre of Popular music that is orginated in 1920s in southern USA. Country music is also known as hillbilly music, western music or simply country, it had it root from folk music of working class American and blues. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms, folk lyrics, and harmonies mostly accompanied by string instruments such as banjos , electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars (such as pedal steels and

dobros ), and fiddles as well as

harmonicas. Some very popular country music singers include Shania Twain, Johnny Cash Taylor Swift and Kenny Rogers.


Originated as “Rock & Roll” in the United States, Rock music

has been rocking the world since the 1950s. It is a form of music that started actually around string instruments, but now uses other modern instruments too making it a little difficult to give it an accurate definition. Its loud and strong beats make it popular among the youths. Some of the rock stars who have popularized the culture include Little Richard, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry while rock bands like Pink Floyd, The Doors, Metallica, Nirvana and Megadeth are the modern bands who have taken the culture by storm.


Afrobeat is a global popular music genre that orignated in Africa, Ghana and Nigeria to be precised. This genre was pioneered and popularized by Nigerian legendary singer, Fela Kuti. He made the genre popular and loved globally. Afrobeat is a music genre which involves the combination of elements of West African musical styles such as

fuji music and highlife with American

funk and jazz influences, with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms, and percussion. In this generation the prominent Afrobeat singer that are known worldwide are Davido, Wizkid, Burnaboy, Psquare, Tekno, Fuse ODG etc.


Most people still don't know the difference between these two words. Some say they are the same. Afrobeat is a music genre that involves combination of fuji music, highlife and American jazz and funk while Afropop is simply derived from the two words "Afro" and "Pop" Afro regularly means everything about Africa. African influenced and Pop is the short form of popular. Above all it shows that Afropop is not a music genre but a collective of all the popular music genre originated from Africa. It is called African Popular music. Examples are Afrobeat, Highlife, Benga, Fuji music, Bongo Flava, Kwela, African Hip hop, Afro soul, hiplife, azonto and many more.


A form of music genre that has it pioneers in Jamaica and associated with Rastafarianism, this music genre features a heavy bass line and percussive rhythm guitar on the offbeat, often with close vocal harmonies.

'Do The Raggar' by Toots and Maystal, a popular song released in 1968 was the first popular song to make reggae popular globally.

Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as ‘Rudie Blues’, then ‘Ska’, later ‘Blue Beat’, and ‘Rock Steady’.

Legendary musicians of this music genre are Bob Marley and Lucky Dube. We also have stars like Daddy Showkey, Patoranking, Timaya, Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer.


Music is what we hear eveyday, is what we talk about everyday. It's not encouraging for not knowing the kind of song you hear everyday.. With my write up above. I believe i have educated you more on music and its genres. Know the genre of the song you listen from now on. It's helpful.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Austin Weather


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