The River's Badge

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Categorizing Music


Everybody will tell you....if you're trying to sell your music, you need to tell people what it is.

Because apparently, people will not click on that little ">" sign and listen to a 15-second preview.

I'm being needlessly sarcastic here, because I, too, kind of like to know what I'm getting into before I bother to check out someone's music.  Frankly, and no offense, if the description contains the words "hip" and "hop", I'm really not interested, for example.

But the whole "genre" discussion is very difficult for me.

Somebody on one of those songwriter message boards posted a link to some place where one can upload their music for (paid) download.  Yes, there are a million of these sites, and my problem with them is, the only people who seem to be aware of them are the songwriters/artists; not the general public.

I wasn't particularly interested; just curious.  So, I clicked on the link, and I saw the usual genres listed.  Here is the list:

1.  "Country" music
2.  Pop
3.  Rock
4.  Rhythm & Blues
5.  Blues (just plain, without the "rhythm")
6.  Hip Hop and Rap
7.  Kids music
8.  Modern folk (what is that?)
9.  Easy Listening
10. Electronic
11. Jazz
12. Latin & Calypso
13. Gospel
14. "Other"

If I was actually interested in utilizing this site's services, I wouldn't know which genre to choose!  I can easily rule out 9 of the 14.  And the other 5 are questionable.  I can't ever, ever choose "country", because you know what that is, nowadays.  It's something that assaults one's ears, so I am afraid to even click on anything that says it's "country".

An example of "country" (and I don't mean to pick on Carrie, but I'm not really up on the latest "country" stars):



Pop?  Well, no, because "pop" is something like Michael Jackson or someone, right?

Here's some pop.  I really, honestly, had never heard this song before, but she's in the entertainment rags a lot, so I picked on her.  But seriously, do you find much difference between this song by Katy Perry and the Carrie Underwood song?  I have pretty good ears, I think, and I can discern very little difference:

 

Rock?  Yes, my husband does rock, but again, rock, to him, is apparently different from the rock that is titled, "rock".  It does get confusing, and I think it's a generational issue.

Here is rock:



I don't know what modern folk is, but isn't "modern folk" an oxymoron?  Isn't the whole concept of folk music naturally regressive?  I don't know about you, but when I hear the term, "folk", I think of Peter, Paul and Mary singing, "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" (hallelujah).

Or:



Easy listening could fit the bill, because our music is, not to brag, easy to listen to.  But "easy listening", to me, conjures up something like this:



So, really, that just leaves "other".  And who's going to buy music labeled, "other"?  Nobody.

I tend to label, when I am forced to, our music as "Americana".  But a lot of sites, obviously, do not recognize Americana as a genre.  What is more Americana than two Minnesotans and one Hawaiian, doing their slice of life, or slice of emotions, music?

I really hate labels.  Labels force everyone into a box.  Labels prohibit people from experiencing a range of music.  They think, well, I like Fall Out Boy (yea, seriously, I had to do a Wikipedia search for adult contemporary to even find that name), so I want to hear ONLY songs that sound JUST LIKE THAT.

In my day (as the geezers are wont to say),  we heard everything on the radio.  Everything was played on the same channel.  We heard Dean Martin, and we heard Bobby Gentry, and we heard the Seekers, and we heard the Monkees.  And we made up our own minds.

I am glad (glad!) that I was exposed to a bunch of different music.  I know Frank Sinatra, and I know Count Basie.  I know Buck Owens, and I know the Four Tops.

Music, after all, is music.  One can dissect it, or one can enjoy it.

In everybody's focus on commerce, they forget the basic fact that music, from the first time someone hummed something, or somebody played three notes on a lute, is here to bring joy into our lives.

If music was just here to bore us, or to lull us to dreamland, we could read dull prose.  Something by Al Gore, for instance.

We should stop trying to put it all into neat little boxes, and just experience the joy of music.

And we, in the 1960's, or the 2010's, didn't invent music, you know.  People the world over have loved music since the beginning of time.  I hear that Stephen Foster was quite the dude.  Very prolific.  For example:



And I obviously missed it, but my parents knew good music, too.  



So, categorizations?  I will pass.  I might even like Fall Out Boy if I ever heard them on the radio.

I think I might, just for fun, tune my work radio to some new channel.  Because I would like to practice what I preach.  I bet I will find some stuff that I like, and I otherwise never would have known.






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