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Musicmap attempts to provide the ultimate genealogy of popular music genres, including their relations and history. It is the result of more than seven years of research with over 200 listed sources and cross examination of many other visual genealogies. Its aim is to focus on the delicate balance between comprehensibility, accuracy and accessibility. In other words: the ideal genealogy is not only complete and correct, but also easy to understand despite its complexity. This is a utopian balance that can never be achieved but only approached. By choosing the right amount of genres, determining forms of hierarchy and analogy and ordering everything in a logical but authentic manner, a satisfactory balance can be obtained. Said balance is always the main subject of discussion in music genre genealogies and the capital reason why an absolute visual reference has been absent thus far (and probably always will be). Musicmap is a platform in search for the perfect balance of popular music genres to provide a powerful tool for educational means or a complementary framework in the field of music metadata and automatic taxonomy.

The main conceptual methods of musicmap to achieve a satisfactory equilibrium consist of grouping closely related genres together (“sibling genres”), color coding much larger genre groups (“super-genres”), and introducing a deeper layer of lesser influential subgenres. Hereby the total amount of the intermediate or main genres could be reduced to 234. This is deliberately far from the possible total amount of genres (approximately 600 or more, some sources claim over 1000) to enable easy orientation and good overview.

Special attention was given to inter-categorical relationships, with a different style for primary links (parent genres), secondary links (other influences) and anti-links (backlashes) to make the chart more accurate. Horizontal timelines provide clear information about which year each genre emerged, although for most genres this is disputable, which is why the timelines are faded in the background and surplus information is added in separate genre descriptions. These descriptions provide the subtleties that cannot be made visually clear in order to completely understand the sociological, semantic and technical context of their respective genres. Out of respect for the power of music and to increase readability, all genre names are capitalized.

Musicmap combines the advantages of large mega genealogies (>500 genres) with those of synoptic overviews (<50 genres) by working with different levels of detail on its visual genealogy, referred to as the “Carta”. The upper level displays only the super-genres. The lower level forms the principal subject of the aforementioned balance, where the main genres are listed.

Musicmap is a first-phase experiment to achieve near perfect overview of all popular music genres. This process is never-ending, always incomplete, and requires further input from the international community. The current version (1.0) provides a starting platform that should already cover a great deal of the following main goals:

  1. To inform anyone, regardless of age and education, about the basic knowledge of music genres.

    Musicmap believes that knowledge about music genres is a universal right and should be part of basic education, alongside other forms of art. Because this subject is often not found in school curricula (due to its complexity and a certain disdain for alternative/underground/”low-level” culture), the need for its coverage is high. In contrast to (online) encyclopedia the genre descriptions are less technical/objective and slightly more contextual/subjective, without taking a biased stance. The aim is to evoke interest and to understand the difference between genres, not to describe them independently in an encyclopedic manner. Combined with a large focus on visual design, musicmap hopes to reach more people this way than written literature otherwise could, without losing the essence and accuracy of the content.

  2. To inspire people to explore the world of music, and discover music outside of their comfort zone.

    Thanks to a tremendous amount of links and a deliberate compact placement of music genres, people are motivated to track down other genres within areas they would normally not look. With only a minimal degree of separation, all music genres can eventually be linked to each other. Each genre features a playlist of at least nine example songs from nine different artists, facilitating music exploration. Over the course of time these lists can either be extended or even replaced by community-generated playlists.

  3. To improve existing music genre databases and to provide a complementary and necessary framework for automatic music taxonomy.

    Numerous international companies and academic researchers are currently looking for ways to analyze music databases and implement metadata in order to bring structure to these enormous archives. With the ever growing capacity of electronic music delivery (EMD) systems such as iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Shazam, Tical, Beatport, Google Play, etc., the need increases for an algorithm-based architecture where automatic taxonomy becomes unavoidable and often preferred based on genre. Researchers try to develop adequate algorithms that analyze any given audio signal, break it down into its various components, and process a singular outcome: a tag in the form of genre. However, these components need to be checked against a legitimate backbone structure: a complementary framework of music genres like musicmap. Many well-known music websites, players, apps, catalogues, and databases already use a predetermined categorization of music genres. Unfortunately, these categorizations are often imbalanced and inaccurate, with very large genres and obscure subgenres nested on the same level, or even mentioning of two genres that are actually the same. The primary contributor of this imbalance is the translation of an organic, dynamic and sociocultural reality (genres) into a structured, static and mathematical artificiality (hierarchical categories). Musicmap believes that a top-down, hierarchical structure is not impossible and likes to improve on these structures, provided that certain cautions are met to prevent pigeonholing (see more on the Theory page and at #5).

  4. To initiate a dialogue or start a platform (WIKI) in order to achieve a near-perfect and up-to-date overview

    This overview can then be used in connection with databases (playlists) in the form of mobile apps, car apps, hi-fi media stations, and other multimedia to find and explore music. Implementation of this should be used with extreme caution as genre categorization of artists and albums is a gross oversimplification of the truth, and a diminishing of artistic expression. Musicmap is meant for exploring and discovering hard-to-find music by providing basic cornerstones (genres) as orientation points in an otherwise vast and incomprehensible musical universe. One must look at the collection of all popular music as a vast ocean in which drowning is easily possible without the rescue of a safety net: a music genre that provides a way of orientation. Where am I in the world of music and where do I want to go?

  5. To motivate the use of genres while discouraging pigeonholing

    Despite popular belief, music genres are not categories. The sum of all popular music is far larger than the sum of all popular music genres. It is also of little importance to know of each and every song or album to which genre it belongs. Integral classification (whether automatic-algorithmically as mentioned before or manually-peer reviewed) however, is not impossible provided that dynamic tagging (meaning one song can belong to different genres at the same time) is carefully implemented. Nevertheless, the concept of music genres itself serves as a vital instrument of communication: a language. What records do I seek or what music is played at that location? Obviously, it is of great importance that everyone speaks the same language. Otherwise genres are only prejudicial instead of beneficial. The general debate about genres is often polarized, with lovers (creating countless subgenres) or haters (who believe that genres are completely meaningless). Musicmap tries to promote a nuanced middle ground based on common sense and historical / social reality.

  6. To reduce discrimination and prejudice based on genre

    Disdain for certain music genres is often based on ignorance. There are so many links in the world of popular music that even the most outlying genres have become kin and precarious to separate. Though the internal differences might be great, each and every genre teaches us something about music history and popular sociology that is worth knowing. Even the borders between popular music and other music worlds (e.g. folk, world) are often targeted for criticism and difficult to uphold, meaning that the internal connections are more abundant and stronger than one might believe.

The Carta is like a real world map, only the vertical axis represents time (top=past, bottom=future) and the horizontal axis represents the corresponding super-genre. To navigate, simply drag the map where you want to go or zoom in and out. Like a real world map, musicmap is a spherical projection, which implies that the left side crosses over to the right side.

When zoomed out, only the super-genres will appear and the main genres and their relationships are hidden. There are even more genre names than visible on the Carta, but these are often subject to debate, too similar to already existing genres, meaningless umbrella terms, or simply very small and obscure, quickly leading to over-classification.

If you lose track of date, you can easily check your chronologic context without zooming out by hovering over a thicker horizontal line, which represents the start of a new decade. This will show you the starting year of the corresponding decade. Thinner horizontal lines are placed biannually.

Hovering over a genre of interest will highlight all relations from and towards that genre (influences and derivatives) to easily track remote links. Some genres are marked with a small family tree symbol, indicating that there are several substantial subgenres in which the genre further can be divided, or that the genre itself is in fact a combination of several subgenres. Some genres are marked with an asterisk, indicating that they belong to two different super-genres which are not located next to each other.

Two or more genres can be located so close to each other that they morph into a continuous zone (very similar genres or “sibling genres”). Sibling genres often share great areas of overlapping, making it hard to separate them. While strictly speaking being different genres, they are mentioned on the Carta as a single entity (using “&”). This as opposed to synonymous genres or genres with negligible differences, where “/” is used instead.

When you click on any main music genre, a specific genre panel will pop up, with much additional information as shown on the picture below. To collapse the panel, simply click the minimize button on the left side of the panel. These panels can be customized in the future to implement additional features or external links.

Each genre panel consists of the following elements, from top to bottom:


    The most common name is being used as title with sometimes an alias. Lesser used synonyms are listed in the description, as well as common subgenres. The order of / and & is important, for instance “Ska-Punk / Two-Tone, & Ska-Core”, implies that Ska-Punk and Two-Tone are (more or less) synonymous whereas Ska-Core is something else (though closely related).


    The exact year of origin is very disputable or sometimes even uncertain. Musicmap tries to ignore singular avant-garde pioneers and lists the year that at least two or more different artists release work within the genre. As a general rule of thumb, the listed year of origin comes after the very first experimentations shaping the genre and before the genre becomes known to the general public. When the genre name mentions two distinct genres with proximate but different years of origin, the point in between is taken. When the situation is more complex (proto-phases, timespans, different waves), more accurate information can be found in the description. When you click on the date, the Carta will take you to the genre’s location.


    This mentions the parent super-genre. Certain genres might belong to two different super-genres (hybrid genre). When one super-genre is strongly favored over the other, the latter will be written in lowercase and between parentheses, though it still would be acceptable to regard this one as a parent genre. This is referred to as a “slave super-genre” (lowercase) as opposed to “master super-genres” (caps). The order is of no importance. Only master super-genres are taken into account for the genre lists of each super-genre.


    The description focuses briefly on the historical and sociological context. Furthermore, it tries to list the characteristics of the genre without becoming too technical. The whole aim of the description is to explain each genre in a manner anyone can understand and to pinpoint the necessary nuances such as temporal framework and the influences of following genres in later phases (which cannot be made visually clear on the Carta). Related subgenres are listed when applicable. Keywords are written in bold, as an attempt to reach the very essence of the genre.


    For each genre, nine to twelve prime examples of songs are listed. Whenever the genre name lists two or more distinct genres, the examples will be divided among these genres. These examples are not always the most well-known songs of their respective artists or the first within the genre, but rather fitting references for the genre characteristics. Although it is perfectly possible to place the same artist in two different genres, this never occurs on musicmap to allow a greater diversity of artist examples. Songs are deliberately chosen instead of albums or artists, as these rarely can be fitted into one genre category.


    Functionality bar with links, functions, and possible future implementations.

To begin our journey through the world of popular music, we must first answer the question: “What exactly defines popular music?” Despite popular belief that this is a highly subjective matter, a broad consensus has been reached of its definition. Etymologically speaking, “music of the people (=populos)”, would not make us much wiser. The encyclopedic definition (Encyclopædia Britannica) states: “any commercially oriented music principally intended to be received and appreciated by a wide audience, generally in literate, technologically advanced societies dominated by urban culture.” Meaning that the right way to interpret the term, is music which finds the most appeal of all large music groups, due to its commercial nature. Indeed, there is in fact quite a large gap in record sales, concerts, downloads, and popularity in general between the group of popular music and so-called non-popular music. But this is not the only important part of the definition: popular music thrives in western and urban cultures due to the simple fact that these people have the financial and social means (social security, networking) to start music careers. These means can also be used for marketing and publicity, further widening the gap with other, non-popular music. The smaller appeal of non-popular music can also be explained by its older age; popular music consists mostly of (relatively) young and new music genres, sparking more interest than the ones who have been around for centuries.

Non-popular music can be divided into four groups; four vast worlds with a rich history of their own: Classical Music, Folk Music, World Music, and Utility Music. Popular Music is the fifth, and arguably the largest of all music worlds. Although many parts of this fifth world are well documented and its (oral) history is often told in literature and documentaries, a structural analysis of the whole is – due to its complexity – lacking, especially compared to the other worlds.

The other music worlds are not studied and analyzed in musicmap, as their music genres do not apply as popular music. This includes all kinds of orchestra music, chamber music, experimental classical music, historic and contemporary folk music, a gargantuan amount of world music genres, and all kinds of utility music: marches, military music, fanfare music, background film scores, amusement, musicals, vaudeville, and so on. Take note: these music worlds are visualized in a different order on the Carta than shown here to avoid too elaborate connection paths and too much visual clutter.

Sometimes certain types of world music get influenced by Rock/Pop/Dance music and crossover to World-Pop. It happens that these genres gain a large international appeal, especially when featured in films. However, these genres are also excluded from the Musicmap, as they have too many relationships (links) with other (read: non-popular) world music, and little influence on regular popular music. Certain crossovers between Folk and Popular music however (such as Folk Rock), are included, due to significant influence on other popular music genres.

It can be argued that the difference between World and Folk music is challenging, harboring a fair amount of overlapping. In essence, World music is contemporary music performed and created all around the world, but falling just short in influence to become popular music, for example RaÏ, Afrobeat and Highlife. However, these world music genres are often evolutions of much older geographically linked Folk music. In other words: World music is often the contemporary evolution of historical Folk music.

The history of Popular Music hardly qualifies as an exact science. It is a retrospective analysis of events that focuses on the underlying forces or common symptoms in the overwhelming production of music records, ignoring nuances and side-effects to grasp a comprehensible structure. This is because (popular) music is far from a static phenomenon: it is a constantly evolving, transforming, giant organism. Almost never has a music genre suddenly emerged as a shocking revolution without any trace or evolution in the past. All of them have naturally evolved, mutated, merged, or become (theoretically) extinct. Only the past can be examined of this natural, organic network.

Herein one often finds network nodes or concentrations of artists having multiple traits in common and thus forming a genre. More correctly speaking: certain albums or a collection of songs by different artists, since the majority of music artists cannot be classified within the constraints of a single genre. Many artists attempt to create a unique and distinctive sound, crossing over into near and distant genres, while also evolving in sound during the course of their albums. This is why in case-specific literature, the same artist can be a given example for different genres; which means that often artists are located on the connection between two (or more) nodes instead of right on the node (genre) itself.

The traits that define a genre are more than a similar sound or summary of technical elements; subculture, fashion, geography, mentality and period of time all qualify as possible trademarks of which a genre in retrospect might be recognized. In other words, music genres can be seen as a concentration in the musical network, as the common denominator of a large enough group of music (not necessarily artists) connected by a specific instrumentation, technique, mentality/ideology, sound, place and/or time. By taking only the most important concentrations into account, a two-dimensional, comprehensible genealogy can be created. Genre definitions must be regarded independently of language. Changing the language of the vocals does not create something new (which is why e.g. French Rap is not listed as a genre), though geographical differences might influence the constraints of the genre.

The amount of popular music genres is staggering, reaching easily over 600. Many genres however, can either be seen as a subgenre of a larger genre or as very similar to another one (sibling genres). Metaphorically speaking, these genres are either smaller nodes connected to bigger network nodes or they are nodes located in high proximity to other nodes. There is no objective way to determine the true amount of genres. Musicmap is not the result of a parametrically based algorithm. The amount and selection of mentioned genres are determined on their importance and uniqueness by academic research. They are carefully selected by comparing as many genealogies as possible and examining their context and relevance in literature. There is no mathematical threshold involved to identify a genre, certainly not in the amount of practicing artists (which would also be a flawed approach for aforementioned reasons). Some genres can be extremely small (e.g. Old Skool Rap, Gothic Rock, Grunge, Musique Concrète) yet form an important link and source of inspiration for other genres. Other genres can be huge, yet their offshoots or subgenres vary too little to become a separately mentioned genre (e.g. Disco, Singer/Songwriter, Death Metal, Psytrance).

The name for a genre is often coined by a music journalist as an attempt to summarize underlying currents in past events, sometimes many years after the date of origin when the boundaries of the common denominator characteristics have finally become clear. The urge to do so in a concentrative manner (a noun or genre name) can lead to unfortunate results, i.e. something “new” or “progressive” in the eighties can hardly sustain this feat in present times. In other occasions, artists themselves come up with a name to describe their style, often compared to already existing genres. Another possible origin is by mixing records from two different genres, either consecutively or simultaneously. When the crowd starts to welcome these mixes, new records get made to approximate this combination and a new genre becomes born. More often than not, genre names are poorly chosen and reveal little information about the true nature of the genre. There is however no debate about which genre is which: once denounced, the genre name stays infinitely.

Because of the large focus on retrospective analysis, it is important to take all music genres from 2010 until now with a grain of salt, because their definitions are still forming. The ink is still wet; there is no telling where it might run.

Musicmap does not display any end time of music genres, only the (approximate) year of origin. A music genre after all, cannot die. It is never impossible to recreate a specific genre, even though the sociologic circumstances have been changed. Sometimes a return to one particular genre of the past happens on a larger scale, with updated equipment, sound and small alterations: a revival. Revivals form a big part of popular music in the last two decades, marking a possible saturation point of styles, and the perfect starting point for a summary of popular music genres thus far.

Last but not least; genres can never succeed in describing music correctly. Just like any language is inadequate to express emotions, so are genres imperfect tools to describe music. Yet, they are still far better than nothing, and very useful when mastered.

More than 230 music genres is still too abundant to create a comprehensible structure that allows easy orientation. The need for a covering framework is an issue that will be addressed in this chapter. Certain (though few) visual genealogies choose not to implement such framework, and do not (or vaguely) display clusters of related music genres. When dealing with rather detailed genealogies such as musicmap, omitting a visual framework would seriously harm any practical use the map might have. Fortunately, this framework already exists as almost all genres belong to greater, well-known “areas” in the musical network, what we will call super-genres. Super-genres are simply the parent genre of any given genre; a higher-level, overarching family.

A number of super-genres are so large that they might be divided into smaller groups, roughly the size of other super-genres. We will call these the primary genre clusters, represented by the primary colors: Blue Note (blue), Rock (yellow), and Electronic Dance Music (EDM) or Dance (red). For Blue Note (Blues, Jazz, & Gospel/Pioneers) the clustering is debatable, as the difference between its super-genres is much larger than within Rock and Dance. However, there are plenty of common characteristics to unite these super-genres as one family: period and country of origin, the use of “blue guitar notes”, instrument set-up, and a strong mutual influence. Rock music already forms a strong family, of which the subdivision instead of the clustering is debatable. Some Rock super-genres are already well-defined (Hardcore, Alternative, Classic or Golden Age Rock). The other Rock super-genres become transparent as the remaining periods of time, either before or after previously mentioned super-genres. For the last genre cluster, EDM/Dance, there is hardly any debate: these super-genres both form a strongly connected family while they are also clearly separate entities with their own identity and subculture. Lately, the term EDM has received a new and narrower meaning as mainstream-friendly dance music, which has provoked aversion for the term. But it is recommended to maintain EDM’s original definition, which is exactly what it stands for.

The correct determination of the different super-genres is very important, but much less difficult than determining the correct number of genres. The same super-genres return in various lists, summaries, other genealogies, literature, although sometimes with other names or a slightly different combination of genres. The boundaries of these super-genres are not rigid, after all. Just like smaller, regular genres, super-genres should be considered as fluid concentrations in the musical universe, fading over into each other.

It is very plausible that UK Garage & UK Bass will rip itself loose as an immortal and distinct super-genre in time, just like Metal did from Rock. It is however too loose momentarily and a little bit too soon to tell. It is still possible that it will fade out with remnants dispersing back into Breakbeat, Drum ‘n’ Bass or other super-genres. If not, UK Garage should seriously be considered as the 24th super-genre, depending on future evolutions and how its interaction with contemporary Hip-Hop music (Trap, Ghettotech, Wonky) will turn out. And with Future Bass being more eclectic than anything else, it is hard to predict what that future will hold. For now, these genres will be placed between Breakbeat and Drum ‘n’ Bass, which is where they originated.

There are two ways of structuring the popular music network (combining the various super-genres and genres and presenting them in a graphical manner): top-down or bottom-up method.

The bottom-up method starts from the determined amount of music genres and places them in a two-dimensional space. Their coordinates are based on the genre-defining characteristics and thus similar genres are located close to each other. Once again, parametrically based programming to create this chart is nigh impossible as the characteristics (parameters) are too broad, not entirely measurable, and even variable in importance (weight). The benefit from this method is that super-genres will eventually emerge as amorphous zones, overlapping and connecting other super-genres at various points. This is a more realistic visualization of the musical genre network, though still limited by two-dimensional constraints.

The top-down method starts by laying out the super-genres, usually in a chronologic order. This creates a two-dimensional space where the horizontal axis determines the super-genre and the vertical axis determines the time. The result is a rigid structure with adjacent super-genres in which each genre is placed on a point (or collection of points) that automatically dictates the corresponding super-genre and year of origin.

The Musicmap is based on the top-down method instead of the bottom-up for various reasons.

Firstly, a true bottom-up method creates an amorphous structure in which chronological order is impossible, unless shaping the form as such, in which case it actually becomes rigid. Chronological order is important, not only to create a better overview and faster navigation, but also to witness the deviant phenomena: At which point (of time) are there booming events? When does a super-genre cease to perpetuate new styles? And so on.

Secondly, the bottom-up method is rather theoretical when it comes to music genres. At one point or another one will always rely on top-down to check the comprehensiveness: are all types of Jazz included? How many genres in Techno are there? Mainly because literature that covers all popular music at once is very, very scarce. Academic literature comes mostly in the form of specialization into one or a few super-genres, thus favoring the top-down method.

Thirdly, a rigid structure allows expansion in the vertical axis. This means it can be updated with new genres and adapted to accommodate future genres, hereby greatly increasing flexibility and sustainability. A rigid structure can also easily expand in the horizontal direction, meaning that super-genres can be made broader if need be (to allow corrections, subdivisions and so on). An amorphous structure will enclose certain super-genres, preventing expansion in the future, or correcting if needed.

An amorphous structure is better at creating shorter network connections, where all the genres have more strategic positions and the relations between genres becomes more transparent. On top of that, an amorphous structure is also possible of correctly placing hybrid genres: genres that belong to two or more different super-genres. In a rigid structure, these can be serious handicaps, preventing accurate placement of such genres and hindering an accurate amount of links or relationships between genres. Fortunately, there are ways to work around these obstacles and minimalize their negative impact. Placement on the horizontal axis of super-genres is very critical as the most related super-genres should appear next to each other, allowing as many hybrid genres as possible to be correctly placed. By creating a circular plane, thus connecting the outermost left and right super-genres, more hybrid genres can be placed and shorter connections can be drawn. Hybrid genres belonging to non-adjacent super-genres are placed in either their dominant super-genre or one that makes the most sense, but both their super-genres are mentioned as tags in the description. This is a flaw of the Carta, but a small one that still allows the many advantages of a rigid structure.

Finally, a rigid structure allows implementing in existing music databases, although this must be approached with caution. It provides the possibility of transferring its categories (super-genres, and then genres) to a hierarchical database.

In this chapter we will discuss possible hypotheses surrounding music genres and their classification, and certain deductions that can be made from the visual concept of the carta. All these theories are conceived for entertaining and philosophical purposes, and definitely not to prove a certain point. If anything, they are supposed to be the subject of discussion, rather than the outcome.


    The concept of a rigid, two-dimensional Carta, but connected on the sides by bending the plane to a cylindrical form, leads to other interesting projections and visualizations. Because there are so few genres in the beginning of time (19th century, early 20th century), and the amount of new genres has dramatically decreased in the last two decades, it’s only a small step away of looking at the Carta as a real projection of a sphere, thus seeing the world of popular music as a three-dimensional, planet-like structure: the Music Globe. On this globe, the “north pole” represents the origin of all genres (the past), where the “south pole” represents the (theoretical) endpoint (the future). The equator is right in between, at the point in time where the most different genres emerged, around the 80s or 90s.


    By beholding a globe, we can also make projections of the two poles that strikingly capture two different concepts: divergence and convergence. The “north pole” represents the point in time from which all genres originated. This is a gross oversimplification of the truth, ignoring the influence of Folk, Classical, Military music and so on. However, with the exception of Musique Concrète and its Downtempo super-genre, all popular music genres can be traced back to Spirituals and Worksongs. Like in certain other music genealogies, all genres diverge from a single point of origin, spreading wider and wider while time passes. The “south pole” represents the future and the endpoint of music styles. This means two things: first, new genres will cease to emerge due to a total saturation of music genres. At this point, all popular revivals and successful crossovers have been invented and a lack of new music instruments inhibits the creation of a new super-genre. Secondly, all super-genres have grown closer and closer to each other due to an increase in globalization, (social) networking, and multimedia usage. This culminates in a hypothetical hyper-eclectic “monster-genre” that draws influences from any other genre, until it becomes a mass-produced jack-of-all-trades that is so generic that it might well not exist at all.


    Connection of the super-genres on the horizontal axis, enables a visual juxtaposition in the form of a triangle or circle. The concept of a circle obviously emphasizes the continuation, and is simply an alternative design that might be used to create an entire genealogy, though without the concept of time (unless divergent for each super-genre with concentric timelines). The triangle emphasizes the three primary music clusters, while the other super-genres are intermediates. This is a radical hypothesis that indicates that the clusters are superior to other super-genres. It also implies that the other super-genres (the ones in between) can be seen as fusion genres of these clusters, with the exception of Pop and Downtempo.


    A final visualization, expanding on the theme of a world map, is the concept of super-genres as floating continents. This concept catches the dynamic boundaries of the super-genres. Even things from the past (the northern part of the continents) that are supposed to be fixed, can shift in the light of new genre definitions and classifications. This is an important phenomenon in the world of music genre theory. It has happened before that genre definitions change and old categories make place for new ones after thorough research or appearance of new genres (for example Jazz and the early Hardcore/House/Techno explosion have witnessed such transformation). These continents can either drift further away from each other, or bump into each other.

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    Search any keyword, genre synonym, subgenre, artist name, or song name listed in the genre and super-genre descriptions and playlists.



    Legend | Layers


    • 4/4 beat
    • acid
    • arpeggio
    • arrangement
    • Autotune
    • backbeat
    • bar
    • barbershop
    • blast beats
    • blue notes
    • bottleneck guitar
    • BPM
    • breakbeat
    • call & response
    • chord
    • chorus
    • contra-genre
    • counterpoint
    • crooner(s)
    • crossover
    • delay
    • distortion (pedal)
    • DIY
    • DJ or Deejay
    • drone
    • drop
    • EDM
    • falsetto
    • feedback
    • flanging / flanger
    • four-on/to-the-floor rhythm
    • fusion
    • glitch
    • grunting
    • half-time (rhythm)
    • hi-hat
    • hook
    • hoover
    • hybrid genre
    • indie
    • kazoo
    • keytar
    • kick (drum)
    • leslie (speaker)
    • LFO
    • lo-fi
    • major
    • mash-up
    • MC
    • mellotron
    • MIDI
    • modulation
    • mosh pit
    • multi-tracking
    • nillies
    • noise
    • non-genre
    • noughties
    • offbeat
    • oscillation (audio)
    • overlapping
    • phasing / phaser
    • pitch
    • portmanteau
    • power chord
    • reverb
    • revival
    • riff
    • sawtooth
    • sequencer
    • shouter(s)
    • sibling genres
    • sidechaining
    • slide guitar
    • snare
    • sound collage
    • subsonic
    • super-genre
    • syncopated
    • synth stabs
    • TB-303
    • Telecaster
    • theremin
    • time signature
    • time-stretching
    • toasting
    • TR-808
    • TR-909
    • turntablism
    • umbrella genre
    • vocoder
    • wobbly bass
    • wonky (sound/bass/filter)
    • YOLO

    Genre Prefixes

    • nu-
    • proto-
    • old skool
    • post-
    • psy-
    • neo-
    • future-
    • nu skool
    • progressive / prog-
    • synth-



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    158. Documentaries

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    174. SPIRER, Peter, Rhyme & Reason, City Block Films and Aslan Pictures, 1997.
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    181. CAREW, Anthony, Alternative Music 101 – Genre Guide, 2016.
    182. CHANG, Jeff, How Hip-Hop Got its Name, 2014.
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    184. CODREANU, Teolin, Genre Tree, 2015.
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    204. LAMERE, Paul, The Labyrinth of Genre, 2011.
    205. MARTIN, Earle, Heavy Metal Family Tree, 2007.
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    207. McDONALD, Glenn, A Retromatic History of Music, 2015.
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    218. TAYLOR, John Kenneth, Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music
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    221. TUNEATTIC, Music Maps, 2012.
    222. Unknown, Jungle Drum ‘n’ Bass Definition
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    224. WIKIPEDIA, List of Music Styles, 2016.



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