Are Music Genres disappearing?

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Analogous

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Wikipedia says: ‘A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

but shared traditions and conventions are rarely universal.

With the music industry rapidly evolving to a model based on streaming and increasing use of algorithms to predict and recommend new music or music to suit our moods or taste, old ways of classifying music is under strain, particularly by music that fuses styles, traditions and cultures.

Music was divided into genres in varying ways, such as into popular music and art music, or religious music and many many more. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often subjective and controversial, and some genres may overlap. Academic definitions of the term genre itself vary.

‘There are eighty-three categories at this year’s Grammy ceremony. Although some awards—Comedy Album, Spoken Word Album, Liner Notes—feel relatively unambiguous, most are inherently vague. Whether an album belongs in one category or another (Mainstream or Alternative? is debated, often hotly, by nomination committees assembled by the Academy. Those determinations are, of course, fallible.’

If we no longer have commonly understood terms to indicate ‘genres’ to define musical traditions, styles, preferences and tastes (Indo-Arabic Jazz fusion anyone?) where does that leave us?...at a loss for words?

Recently my son, a teenager politely used the phrase “old people music” to describe my musical preferences (which span a wide range of cultures) but tend to be predominantly pre 2000s (1970-2000)

Here is an article that discusses aspects of these: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/15/genre-is-disappearing-what-comes-next
 
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Analogous

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Quote from the article: “....Pflugfelder, the writing professor, pointed out that anyone who believes too strongly in genre as inflexible or absolute is, by nature, already somewhat behind the times. “The most identifiable and significant features of a genre are always identified after they’ve actually occurred,” he said. “They’re almost never named in the process of changing, but just after, so the expectations audiences have for certain genres of music are, by definition, referring to the past.” He added, “Anyone enthusiastic for the strict adherence to something called genre is engaging in something fundamentally conservative.” It’s interesting to consider genre as inherently backward-looking—particularly in a moment, such as this one, in which we are all hungrier than ever for the future.”
 
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There’s nothing inherently wrong about classifying music under genres. It provides a great help in listing, organising and following music in what is an ocean otherwise. And this need won’t vanish all of a sudden.

Having said that, artists will keep experimenting and newer genres will keep emerging as certain experiments gain traction. Artists will also continue to fuse genres leading to crossover music. However fusion and crossover are interesting because they are diversions from the established genres. It’s like Chinese Bhel has an existence because (Indian) Chinese and Chat cuisines exist. Why just food, even with all the globalisation and mixed race population that it leads to, humans aren’t yet giving up on races.

Conservatism and liberalism will coexist. Rather, they have to. If we go too far on one side, survival becomes questionable. We all need structure as well as flexibility.

Personally, I organise my collection by genres. And whenever I come across an album that doesn’t fit into existing genres, I enjoy the challenge to study and understand its genesis and create a mental slot for it. It also helps me perceive some of the emerging trends at times. But I also equally value deep dedication to a genre by certain artists (for eg Ustad Vilayat Khan who never experimented beyond Khayal).

Speaking of artists, I guess there were always and there will always be both the purists and the experimenters - the traditionalists and the path breakers. Both contribute to enriching the world of music.
 

Analogous

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It’s a deeply unsettling feeling .... if we are not able to classify, pigeonhole, be able to store, search and retrieve later...
I suspect this applies to more than for music.

machine learning using algorithms to predict our likes, preferences, to suggest playlists, reading choices, and most of all for advertising - all based on our past behaviors and choices to influence our future behavior is a reality since a decade ago at least. Most of us choose to ignore such uncomfortable and inconvenient facts and just get on with our lives.

Artists? I think mostly They blissfully create and leave the classification and pigeonholing to us:D
 
D

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It’s a deeply unsettling feeling .... if we are not able to classify, pigeonhole, be able to store, search and retrieve later...
I suspect this applies to more than for music.

machine learning using algorithms to predict our likes, preferences, to suggest playlists, reading choices, and most of all for advertising - all based on our past behaviors and choices to influence our future behavior is a reality since a decade ago at least. Most of us choose to ignore such uncomfortable and inconvenient facts and just get on with our lives.

Artists? I think mostly They blissfully create and leave the classification and pigeonholing to us:D
As for algo-based recommendations, I think they serve better the users who have specific preferences and/or pattern to their listening. Some of us who constantly keep seeking newer pastures, stretching our musical horizons as well as seasonally altering our preferences seldom feel satisfied with the recommendations provided by even the best-touted (eg Spotify) algorithms.
 

Analogous

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As for algo-based recommendations, I think they serve better the users who have specific preferences and/or pattern to their listening. Some of us who constantly keep seeking newer pastures, stretching our musical horizons as well as seasonally altering our preferences seldom feel satisfied with the recommendations provided by even the best-touted (eg Spotify) algorithms.
Agreed, but you may notice these recommendations include new music too. The algorithms are becoming smarter. The more data they get from us the more they learn. Scary?

The Facebook-Cambridge analytica experience was the big reveal. There is no indication this has stopped (CA is closed, but I am sure it has proliferated beyond electioneering to all consumer sales and influencing.)

we can hardly find shops selling physical media like CDs, Vinyl records etc as before. The trend towards online shopping is here to stay specially once the pandemic started.

I am not saying algorithms to feed us music we love is a bad thing (unlike political influencing) I feel it’s here in a big way and is fast becoming the new norm.

We may be the last gen to buy and store media for personal use.


and

 
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Bloom@83

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Genres are at best broad identifiers and at worst (which is quite often ) utterly misleading. The NY article itself says it is not a static term and its meaning evolves with cultural influences.

Are the Beatles pop ? And Rolling Stones hard rock ? The former have made more landmark experimental tracks in a span of two three years than many so called ‘experimental’ or ‘avant-garde ’ groups have made in their entire career. The Stones have sung so many pure blues and soul songs that it’s often surprising to hear them pigeon holed as hard rock.
And let’s not even talk about Dylan. He has metamorphosed his artistry and his persona into so many overlapping directions even his biopic featured six different actors playing himself. Such examples abound.

I’ve never been a big fan of streaming algorithms although I’ve been using them for over a decade now. Instead I find Spotify and Apple curated playlists more often than not portals to discoveries of relatively unknown artists. But the best discoveries come with one’s own R&D, at least it’s true in my case.
 
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Analogous

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Any suggestions on how to label stored music for easy reference and quick search for playback purposes?

I have about 3Tb of music on a hard drive.

I have the artist/band name on folders and albums in separate folders within.

I assume most people do the same.

Are there other ways to do this organization elegantly and efficiently?
 

Bloom@83

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I use JRiver which does a good job of library organisation. Dopamine is also good.
 

bluestar

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It’s a deeply unsettling feeling .... if we are not able to classify, pigeonhole, be able to store, search and retrieve later...
I suspect this applies to more than for music.

machine learning using algorithms to predict our likes, preferences, to suggest playlists, reading choices, and most of all for advertising - all based on our past behaviors and choices to influence our future behavior is a reality since a decade ago at least. Most of us choose to ignore such uncomfortable and inconvenient facts and just get on with our lives.

Artists? I think mostly They blissfully create and leave the classification and pigeonholing to us:D
Although I agree, i'm presently surprised by how the algorithms end up picking songs I like about 30% of the time. Thats a pretty good hit rate. My guess is they pick these by others who have liked similar songs, so its essentially just a human preference.
 

Analogous

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Although I agree, i'm presently surprised by how the algorithms end up picking songs I like about 30% of the time. Thats a pretty good hit rate. My guess is they pick these by others who have liked similar songs, so its essentially just a human preference.
+1 to that!
I am scared how good Spotify is at putting together a playlist of songs that I can listen with pleasure for an hour before coming up with something distracting that I then forward or change. I noticed this on long drives in my car.
 

powerslave

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@Analogous you may want to check Roon if you haven't already; it's a good service for classifying, arranging all the metadata for your music. I have seen it's a demo and plan to take a plunge.
 

Analogous

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@Analogous you may want to check Roon if you haven't already; it's a good service for classifying, arranging all the metadata for your music. I have seen it's a demo and plan to take a plunge.
Thank you sir, I have been toying with the idea, but the thought of that subscription (plus additional subscription for tidal etc) puts me off.

I really enjoyed the Blu Os at least I did till my Bluesound node 2 died suddenly 10 days ago
 
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