Thoughts on Genres

Do musical genre labels (Rock, pop, metal, prog, folk, symphonic or whatever) make far more sense if you think of them more as ingredients than as pigeonholes?

What do you think?

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9 Responses to Thoughts on Genres

  1. HippyDave says:

    Yes, absolutely. Pigeonholes only help people who don’t have a truly open mind, I feel. Whereas noting an ingredient in a recipe adds a particular flavour is helpful for comparison purposes (e.g. in reviews) and in giving the impression of how something really *feels*.

    Most ‘pigeonholes’ are so wide anyway, these days, that you could drive a Saturn V launch platform through them. What kind of ‘help’ is that to the prospective listener?

  2. Serdar says:

    I try to think the same way about books, too. A book can have elements of SF or thrillers, but if it isn’t about people I care about and doesn’t tell a compelling story, then it doesn’t matter if they’re ingredients or labels.

  3. Tim Hall says:

    HippyDave – That’s how I approach genres when reviewing music; there’s no other way you can review something like Panic Room’s “SKIN”.

    Serdar – I guess it’s as true for books, although the publishing industry tends to market by genre far more that the music business does, which probably does mean some authors miss out on potential readers.

  4. PaulE says:

    Genre labels make more sense applied to individual works rather than an artists’ entire catalogue. Which certainly fits the “ingredients” view.
    For an artists’ work as a whole, a genre label is a rough guide rather than a precise definition.

  5. Tim Hall says:

    Indeed. In that case, genre labels for an artist tend to reflect the ingredients they use most often.

    This is always how I try to use genre labels in reviews.

  6. Graham Meigh says:

    I think labels can be useful; but agree that as pigeonholes they become problematic.

    But it all depends on who is using the labels. A lot bands will wriggle and squirm if they have to use prog as a label because for most it will conquer images of Rick Wakeman in a silver cape.

    I love SKIN and notice that the dreaded p word is not used in the pr material that I have seen. No criticism intended.

    I would say that the genre labels should be used as flavours.

    I guess we both mean the same thing.

  7. Tim Hall says:

    And if you look at the review of SKIN I wrote for Trebuchet Magazine, I didn’t use the p-word at all.

  8. Graham Meigh says:

    Was that because you thought there was no prog flavour to the album?

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