The ability to orient in modern musical genre and subgenres, as well as different means and methods used by composers in various genres, is one of the first signs of professionalism. Thanks to long history of music now musia styles are extremely diversified and their number keeps growing from decade to decade.
Most critics divide modern genres of music into three basic sections: pop, rock and rap, which in turn have deep roots in former styles and gave birth to many branches.
Pop is a modern popular music. It is a very broad term, covering many genres, such as disco, trance, house, techno, funk, new wave, etc. Let’s consider features of each of them separately.
Disco. Not long ago it was the most popular dancing pop music style. It may be characterized by tons of effects, leading role of druns and bass, and background status of stringed and wind instruments.
Trance. It is reffered to as one of electronic music genres and noteworthy for its high emotional impact on a listener. This effect is achieved with the help of sad, “space” melodies.
House. So called dancing, fully electronic music. Main and the only instrument is synthesizer. The characteristic trait of this style is a presence of cycled music phrases and soloing melodies. Effects are massively applied.
Techno. Trying to characterize it shortly one may say it is a futuristic music of big city. The features of techno include fantastical melodies, gloomy metallic sound, cold, non-emotional voice.
Funk. One of dancing styles, having drums vividly stressed and dominating over all the rest of instruments, low level of melodiousness, negligent rhythm.
New wave. Popular music genre, which is a tranformed version of punk-rock and uses the same musical means.
The roots of rock as an independent style lie in “black” american blues, which apprared in 20-30-s. Traditional blues consists out of 12 beats, i.e. parts of a composition, formed by several notes, first of which has a stress or an accent. The basic blues instruments include: double-basd or bass setting the rhythm, soloing guitar, drums, often keyboard and wind ones. To be more precise, rock evolved from a branch in this genre named guitar blues that contained much less keyboard and wind instruments.
Appearing of rock and rock-and-roll, notions that have their start in the activity of such musicians as Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Elvis may be named a popularizer of the genre while the Beatles were the ones who turned rock into art.
In musical terms rock has remained the same old blues, but semantic content has changed: rock is a music of protest against the society, government or anything else.
Rock has accumulated within itself many subgenres, the most listened among which are soft rock, hard rock, pop rock, folk rock, punk rock, psychedelic rock, heavy metal and trash.
Hard rock. Ethimologic meaning says it must be something not easy-listening. And it is fully true – hard rock is not a a style most people would prefer to have as background music. Its heaviness is achieved by the loud and powerful sound of rhythm-section dominating the rest of instruments. In most cases drums, bass or rhythm-guitar are made “heavier”. Overdrive and Distortion effects are often used in hard rock as well.
Pop rock. Popular rock. This style is different by its balanced structure, application of various effects and popular arrangements. Any rock music targeted at broad audience may be reffered to as pop rock.
Folk rock. It is rock music with the elements of folk music.
Punk rock. The music of such style is rough, often unprofessional, but very expressive. Its melodies are usually simple, unpretentious, but shocking ones.
Psychedelic rock. Complex, non-banal music overflowing wirh various effects. It is notable for having strong emotional effect on a listener.
Heavy metal is a sharp metallic music which is usually considered to be inharmonious. It is far from the standards we got used to.
Trash. It is very hard style that is notable for complexity and continuity of melodies, as well as improvisation.
Rap as a genre came out of dance music. Its characteristic traits are: uneven rhythm, complex experiments with drums, presence of cycled music fragments. One of the main features of rap is the absence of singing voice, which is replaced by recitative. Rap is read like poems, but not sung. The basic instruments are drums and complex bass, which oten performs a solo part. Often rap musicians use a scratch effect, i.e. vinyl records creak.
Rap probably evolved from Reggae – dance music style appeared on Jamaica. These two styles have much in common: the same uneven, torn rhythm, presence of ringed music fragments, complex drums.