A Guide to Music and Its Styles

Music has evolved over centuries. It can be performed with simple instruments, like a drum or flute, up to intricate orchestras. While different musical genres exist, each has an immense effect on people’s lives.

Genres that are common across cultures can be recognized, yet some of the most distinctive musical styles cannot be classified as such. Avant-garde music stands as an example, defying categorization and not adhering to established musical norms.

Classical music is an expansive genre that encompasses different types of music from several centuries. While it can be difficult to pinpoint specific types, some examples include symphony and chamber music, jazz, folk and blues music, as well as classical minimalism.

Country music originated in the 1920s and draws inspiration from American folk and western music. It can be easily identified by its unique vocal style accompanied by steel guitars, mandolins, and mouth organs. Notable country artists include Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers.

Jazz is a beloved genre with millions of fans around the world, easily distinguished by its complex rhythms, jazzy melodies and instrumental techniques. Historically it has also been associated with notable musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker.

Rock music encompasses a diverse range of artists and styles. It stands out from other forms by its distinctive instruments as well as the fast tempo it is played at.

Alternative rock, also known as alternative music, emerged during the 1970s and ’80s. It strives to stand apart from mainstream rock by using homemade elements with unique instruments and musical techniques. Nirvana is one such band, while Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters also specialize in this style of music.

Grunge is an alternative rock genre born out of Seattle in the mid-1980s that features introspective lyrics and dark themes. It often gets lumped with punk rock but also draws influence from heavy metal music.

Shoegaze is an alternative and indie rock genre that emerged in the UK during the late 1980s. Its signature sound features dream-like vocals, heavily effected guitars, and synthesizers.

Baroque music dates from 1600 to 1750 and can be identified by its lyrical themes, instrumentation and overall sound. This distinguishes it from more modern classical music styles; oftentimes you will know when listening to a piece of Baroque music by its signature instrumentation or sound.

Bossa nova is an increasingly popular Brazilian music genre that blends jazz with samba rhythms. It can be distinguished by its unusual chords and syncopation, often compared to a combination of funk and soul music.

Gospel and choral music are excellent examples of religious music that is not officially classified but still considered a style due to their devotional focus. These songs have been beloved by Christians for hundreds of years, providing an opportunity to connect with your spiritual side.

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