Posts filed under ‘Music Genre Tree’

Good Music is Good Music

From time to time, I may have my music player on shuffle while a group of people listen to it.  Every so often, a song will come up that will make everybody in the room look at me with a quizzical look.  What just happened?  All of a sudden a song considered by many as “not cool” or “cheezy” happened to be next in the shuffle.  My reaction is always the same: hey “good music is good music”.  This is something I have learned to expect when playing my music of every single genre in random fashion for groups of people.

Here is someone else explaining the same situation:


May 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm 2 comments

A good definition of the term “Music Genre”

A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or “basic musical language” (van der Merwe 1989, p.3). Music may also be categorised by non-musical criteria such as geographical origin though a single geographical category will often include a wide variety of sub-genres

The article explains the different attributes that make up a music genre.  The post continues to explain the subjectivity in separating music into genres.  Finally, the article also explains the necessity by some organizations, such as record labels, to cluster music into genres.

Read the complete article here.

May 3, 2009 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment update

After finding a suitable home/host/server for, I am ready to offer a sneak peek at the very first incarnations of the site.  Send me a note if you would like an invitation.

These first few versions of the application will simply offer the ability to traverse the genre tree.  In a few months, I will add the ability to get information on each genre and possibly add a community around the site.

One of the reasons I am offering an advanced sneak-peek is to get feedback regarding the overall look-and-feel and to get suggestions on the genre tree itself.

April 30, 2009 at 8:14 am 1 comment

Electronic Music Genre Tree

Over at, you can find a well-constructed Electronic music genre tree.  The authors claim to “entertain before it informs”, which is how we should really treat any music genre tree.  As I have mentioned in the past, music genres are one of the most subjective topics, therefore all music genre trees should be taken with a grain of salt.  The tutorial found in this site is a good explanation on electronic music, in general.  Have fun there.

August 3, 2008 at 6:48 am 7 comments

Music Genre Related Links

While researching several sources for building up the initial phases of the music genre tree, I have found several good sources that I plan to reference.  These are a few of the most interesting sites in no particular order:

July 12, 2008 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

About a year ago I posted my idea regarding a standard music genre tree.  Since then, I’ve been sketching out my ideas regarding such a tree.  Bascially, my idea is a web application that will allow users to contribute in creating the most complete music genre tree available.  I am debating whether to allow artists or songs to be assigned to these genres – but classifying artists and/or songs is a very dauting task, therefore, this might have to wait.  The most important thing is that I started writing this new web application and will be available very soon.  It even has a domain of its own, now:

June 20, 2008 at 4:14 am 3 comments

Defining a Standard Music Genre Tree.

A quick Google search for “Music Genre Tree” does not provide immediate results to give me an indication that there is much work being done in defining a standard music genre tree. The following statement, found in wikipedia, makes a good point regarding the difficulty to create such a tree:

“These classifications are often arbitrary and controversial, and closely related styles often overlap. Many do not believe that generic classification of musical styles is possible in any logically consistent way, and also argue that doing so sets limitations and boundaries that hinder the development of music.”

While I agree with the above statement, I still believe that an argument can be made for the necessity of genre trees. In fact, many music sites have created their own genre trees. Having a standard will allow sites and/or software programs to be more compatible when “speaking” to each other.

To demonstrate that creating such a tree will not be a trivial task, I have taken all the sub-genres listed under hip-hop for three popular music sites:

  • Alternative Rap
  • Dirty South
  • East Coast Rap
  • Freestyle
  • Gangsta Rap
  • Old School
  • Turntablism
  • Underground Hip-Hop
  • West Coast Rap

MSN Music:

  • Alternative/Underground Hip-Hop
  • Classic/Old School Hip-Hop
  • East Coast Rap
  • Hardcore/Reality Rap
  • International Rap
  • Latin Rap
  • Pop/Crossover Rap
  • Southern Rap
  • Various
  • West Coast Rap

  • Bass
  • Christian Rap
  • East Coast
  • Experimental Rap
  • Gangsta & Hardcore
  • International Rap
  • Latin Rap
  • Old School
  • Pop Rap
  • Rap Rock
  • Southern Rap
  • West Coast

From this small sample of sites we see common patterns, Dirty South, East Coast, Old School were all present on all three sites. However, we also see vast differences: there are hip-hop sub-genres that only appear on one site (ie. Turntablism, Rap Rock, Christian Rap, and Freestyle). Other arguing points would be to place Latin Rap under the international sub-genre. Furthermore, one can make the case that the international category should not exist – if an international sub-genre exists this means that the root level is reserved for one particular nation, defeating the purpose of ‘Standard’. We quickly realize from this sample the complexity in creating a standard genre tree. At the very least, we should start discussing these points and strive for a standard.

The road map for creating such a tree would be to compile the existing genre trees from the top music sites and extract the common patterns.   From these common patters, or genre leaves, we can create the Standard Music Genre Tree version 1.0.  Next, we end up with the inconsistencies between sites and start discussing what genres should, or should not, be included and where these genre leaves/nodes should be located in the tree.

I’ll log my progress regarding this genre tree on this blog.

update May 02, 2009: I have setup a site for the standard music genre tree project:

May 15, 2007 at 2:26 pm 40 comments

About the Author

I am a Java Software Engineer and music aficionado. I've been programming and collecting music since sometime around the late 90s.

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