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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:18 am 
Smeric
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@Sal: I think others have been trying to say that, but using Grammy nominations is probably one of the less optimal ways to find out what style a certain piece of music is. The categories are limited, so 1) they have to cram in things into categories that don't really belong there; 2) there's a lot of branding / marketing (by calling something "alternative" you try to give a band a certain cachet)*1), 3) music is put under a category where the field is less crowded or the competition is weaker in terms of sales (I assume that both 1) and 3) explain "Celtic Woman" being nominated in "World Music").

*1) Purists will probably tell you that anything sufficiently commercially successful and well-known to be nominated for a Grammy stops being "Alternative" or "Indie" by definition. ;-)

gach wrote:
It can be pop on top of that, but using the genre label as a residue class for all sorts of foreign pop does strike me as a misuse of the term.

But that usage is very far-spread. The only caveat is that the pop has to have some exotic elements - you wouldn't probably find Chinese or Romanian cover versions of (say) Justin Bieber that keep intrumentation and sound unchanged in the World Music section.

zompist wrote:
Not only am I older than most of the board, but my parents were nearly 40 years older than me. They never developed a tolerance for rock n roll. You might have been able to slip "Yesterday" past them, but not "A Hard Day's Night".

My Mom belongs to the Rock'n'Roll generation, so Elvis or the Stones are fine, but she never developed a taste for Hard Rock, let alone Metal (I never was into those very much myself, but my brother had a Deep Purple phase, and she'd regularly ask him to turn the volume down, defying the purpose.)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:09 am 
Smeric
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Vijay wrote:
That being said, I also think Celtic Woman (if that's the sort of thing you mean by "Irish Folk") is overrated, just in general. :P My favorite Irish folk music is probably sean-nós.

Sal wrote:
Does anyone have any recommendations for traditional (not necessarily sean nós, but not contemporary in style) Irish music that isn't such a pantomime?

The sort of Irish Folk I'm most acquainted with is what probably qualifies as "loud, drunken guys in a pub" - the Dubliners and the Pogues. Although the Dubliners can do much more than the pubby stuff they're normally associated with (Seven Drunken Nights, The Wild Rover, Whiskey in the Jar, etc.). If you want something lyrical, you also can't go wrong with Máire Ní Chathasaigh.
linguoboy wrote:
For instance, Chicago used to have an annual music festival called "Celtic Fest". One year, one of the featured bands was a group from Asturias called "Llan de Cubel". Asturias has an even more tenuous claim to being a "Celtic nation" than Galicia, but, hey, they use bagpipes and their fiddler is from Scotland.

Well, at least they label their stuff "Celtic Folk Music from Asturies". Sounds legit. ;-) (Actually, their instrumentation wouldn't raise an eyebrow in an Irish folk line-up. But the tunes are certainly different - what they first reminded me of is Angelo Branduardi.)
zompist wrote:
Wikipedia suggests that "indie" and "alternative" were once synonyms, but now "indie" is more used for British acts, and "alternative" for American. I don't know if that actually holds up.

I dunno. My daughter is very much into Indie Rock, and if you look at Indie playlists there are many American artists on them.

Quote:
But, suppose I heard a piece of music and I knew nothing about the performer - where they came from, what race they were, which publishing label they were signed to, etc - how would I tell what genre the piece probably was? Are there any indicators in terms of orchestration, melody, harmony, structure, etc?

Well, you wouldn't be able to say whether they're "Indie", because for this their position vis-à-vis the music industry is the deciding factor. E.g., this is by a bona fide Indie band, but it sounds like Cliff Richard, the epitome of favourite-son-in-law wholesome pop. For classification into "Pop" or "Alternative", you need to know 1) what kind of music is in the current mainstream now, 2) what was when the piece came out and 3) with what kind of music the band started its career. For "World Music" - if it sounds somehow exotic, it probably is World Music; if it doesn't sound exotic, it still may be, depending where it comes from. For the other genres, it's easier to identify them on the indcators you mention. But I'm not good at music theory, so I won't even try. ;-)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:54 am 
Sanno
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hwhatting wrote:
Well, you wouldn't be able to say whether they're "Indie", because for this their position vis-à-vis the music industry is the deciding factor. E.g., this is by a bona fide Indie band, but it sounds like Cliff Richard, the epitome of favourite-son-in-law wholesome pop.

The Kooks, indie? Their debut album was put out by Virgin--after it had been acquired by EMI--and went quadruple platinum in the UK. In the UK, they're considered the epitome of a fake indie band.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:01 am 
Avisaru
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hwhatting wrote:
Purists will probably tell you that anything sufficiently commercially successful and well-known to be nominated for a Grammy stops being "Alternative" or "Indie" by definition.


It's important to note that this constitutes one variety of "selling out", which can be a very effective way to destroy your credibility.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:59 am 
Smeric
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linguoboy wrote:
hwhatting wrote:
Well, you wouldn't be able to say whether they're "Indie", because for this their position vis-à-vis the music industry is the deciding factor. E.g., this is by a bona fide Indie band, but it sounds like Cliff Richard, the epitome of favourite-son-in-law wholesome pop.

The Kooks, indie? Their debut album was put out by Virgin--after it had been acquired by EMI--and went quadruple platinum in the UK. In the UK, they're considered the epitome of a fake indie band.

It still is on a lot of Indie playlists. Only shows what the label "Indie" is worth...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:32 pm 
Smeric
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Ah, music taxonomy! I have spent more time and thought than probably was good for me in this business. I as a prog fan (who is also working on a book on that matter, which includes a guide to prog subgenres) used to fight an uphill battle against the misuse of the term "prog rock" until I realized that in alternative rock circles, this means something else than in classic rock circles, and I had been fighting windmills all the time! (In classic rock, it is the same thing as "progressive rock" or "prog"; in alternative rock, it is "alternative rock that has some similarities with prog".)

There are a few observations to make:

1. All classifications of popular music are contentious, as different people use different criteria and use the same terms for different style categories. As in the "prog rock" case above. I shall give two more examples here. If you compare the English and German Wikipedia pages on "progressive house", one cannot escape the notion that these two pages are about different subgenres (well, may just be a regional or language-specific difference). Heavy metal is sometimes classified by sound and sometimes by lyrics content, which sometimes clash, as with Amon Amarth, a death metal band by sound but a Viking metal band by lyrics content.

2. There are no hard and fast boundaries but everything just shades into everything else, especially in these times of virtually unlimited crossovers.

3. Each genre has its own criteria for classification which may be utterly irrelevant to other genres. Obviously, a classification by lyrics content does not apply to instrumental music. In EDM, the bpm number is an important criterion, due to the way this music is usually presented in public, while in many other genres, the same act may do pieces with very different bpm numbers that nevertheless fall in the same subgenre, have the bpm number change within a single song, or make music without a running beat at all such that no bpm number can be meaningfully discerned.

4. Most classifications, as a corollary of point 3, are hard to recapulate by people who are not experts in the relevant genre. Like, I, who cares very little of EDM at all, can't really tell house from techno, let alone name the differences between the 100+ subgenres that are distinguished by insiders.

And finally, Grammy Award categories may look like genres, but they aren't. They are just named after them. There is just one reason why an act A is in category X: because someone nominated them for it. This may sound like begging the question, but it is the only way to explain how someone like Lady Gaga may wind up in "alternative".

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:18 pm 
Avisaru
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WeepingElf wrote:
And finally, Grammy Award categories may look like genres, but they aren't. They are just named after them. There is just one reason why an act A is in category X: because someone nominated them for it. This may sound like begging the question, but it is the only way to explain how someone like Lady Gaga may wind up in "alternative".


"None of us can stand this stuff, but we'd better give the impression that we think it's cool because the kids seem to like it. Oh, and what should we call it?"

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:41 pm 
Sanno
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WeepingElf wrote:
And finally, Grammy Award categories may look like genres, but they aren't. They are just named after them. There is just one reason why an act A is in category X: because someone nominated them for it. This may sound like begging the question, but it is the only way to explain how someone like Lady Gaga may wind up in "alternative".

QFT.

Presumably the Academy apply some sort of criteria in determining whether a particular artist is eligible to be nominated in a particular category, but I wouldn't expect them to be particularly open or transparent about it. There's a reason why the rest of us are gravitating towards more demotic means like music store shelves and festival promotions.

I also appreciate your insight about each genre's adherents applying their own incommensurate criteria because this explains a great deal of the disagreement about edge cases.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:39 pm 
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Warning: there may be some overlap with things said by other posters. I will skip the ones I know little about (e.g. everything about electronic music and world music).

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 1: what is "pop"?.

"Pop" is music made for the charts. Short, 3-minutes songs with a catchy chorus. That's basically it.

Pop is a bit hard to pin down, because it's by its very nature opportunistic, and will happily cannibalize everything if it's popular.
  • If classical music is popular, you get pop music with strings and an orchestra.
  • If jazz music is popular, you get pop music with drums and a brass section (e.g. Sinatra).
  • If rock is popular, you get pop music with drums and electric guitars (e.g. the pop-rock bands of the Sixties).
  • If synths and drum machines are popular, you get pop music with synths and drum machines (e.g. tons of Eighties stuff).
  • If country music is popular, you get pop music with twangy guitars.

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 2: what is "traditional pop", and how does it relate to pop? (recent nominees include Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, Andrea Boccelli (!?), and Seth MacFarlane)

I would have guessed that it means "pop with more traditional instrumentation", but the list you give seems very random. Best not to read too much into it. As WeepingElf said it, Grammy categories are kinda meaningless.

Salmoneus wrote:
b) Meanwhile, what's the difference between "R&B" and "pop" (a bunch of people have been nominated for both), and between "traditional R&B" and "traditional pop" (CeeLo Green, for instance, has been nominated for both).
c) What's the connection between "R&B" and what used to be called rhythm and blues?

Not really an expert on contemporary R&B. Originally, "rhythm and blues" was a more rhythmic, more danceable sort of blues music and the precursor to rock'n'roll. But it became a code word for "music made by black people".

The word fell somewhat out of use during the Sixties and Seventies, as "soul" and "funk" were more popular. It seems that R&B came back in the Eighties / early Nineties, for a new brand of black pop music based on soul and hip-hop.

Today, it seems to mean little more than "pop music made by black people". I could add this to the list above...
  • If hip-hop and soul vocals are popular, you get pop music with hip-hop beats and soul vocals. Except it will be called "R&B" because reasons.

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 5: what's the difference between "rock" and "pop" (or "traditional pop")?

Rock is music based on drums and electric guitars. It's a bit broad, of course. Really, it's an umbrella term: rock'n'roll, punk, metal, alternative rock, progressive rock... all of them are subgenres of "rock".

Of course, there's some overlap between "pop" and "rock", from the Beatles to Police to Weezer to whatever.

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 6: what's the difference between "rock" and "metal"? Is it just the use of raspy/breathy phonation by the singers?
b) the category's been removed, but where does hard rock fit in?

As mentioned above, "metal" is defined by its guitar tones more than its style of vocals. Metal has heavy, distorted guitars; loud, binary drums; a darker imagery (horror, satanism).

"Hard rock" is somewhere between classic rock and heavy metal. It uses overdriven guitars, but is still based on blues and rock'n'roll. Examples include AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Guns'n'Roses. Basically, if the guitarist uses pentatonic scales, the drummer uses its hi-hat a lot, and the vocalist sings about girls and cars, it's probably hard rock; if the guitar sounds like a low grumble and uses minor scales, the drummer uses a double bass drum, and the vocalist sings about death and Satan, it's probably metal. There aren't that many hard rock bands nowadays, the genre fell out of fashion after the Eighties.

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 7: what's "alternative" music? How does it differ from "rock" and "pop"? The rubric says that it must "exist outside of the mainstream", which suggests Weird Stuff... but nominees include Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Radiohead, Sinead O'Connor, The Arctic Monkeys, Gnarls Barkley and David Bowie (i.e. many of the bestselling popstars?)

b) it's not a Grammy category, but a genre people seem to talk about: what's "indie"? how is it distinguished from pop, rock, or alternative?

If there's a difference between "alternative" and "indie", it's subtle. I consider them basically synonymous.

"Indie" is supposed to mean "music released on independent labels", which were fetishized in the Nineties. I remember people arguing endlessly about which bands were "independent" or not. My thought at the time was "how is it relevant?? Who cares as long as the music's good??"

The thing is, "alternative" was invented in the late Eighties, and back then, it made some amount of sense. There was "mainstream" music, often heavily based on synthesizers. And there were less famous bands, often on independent labels, playing some sorts of music that was rare on the radio (excluding college radio). So, in the late Eighties and early Nineties, "alternative" or "indie" meant something, even if it was vague (if there's something in common between R.E.M., Sonic Youth, the Pixies and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I'd like to know what it is).

But, after Nirvana broke out, some of those bands began to sell lots of records. Suddenly, "alternative rock" became all the rage. By the end of the Nineties, "alternative rock" was the most popular subgenre of rock. So the name is an artifact. And, as you explained yourself in another thread, with the rise of the Internet, major trends are becoming more and more irrelevant. "Alternative" originally meant "not mainstream", but that's becoming less and less true when
1) the "mainstream" is getting less and less defined;
2) "alternative" bands are as famous as anyone else.

I'm still puzzled by your list, by the way. I get why Coldplay, Radiohead and the Arctic Monkeys can be considered "alternative". But how in hell can anyone call Lady Gaga and Bowie "alternative"???

Salmoneus wrote:
Question 8: what is the difference between: country; bluegrass; american roots; americana; folk; regional roots? I'm kind of surprised to see that country is considered a different top-level genre from the one comprising all those other things.

I don't know much about country. But maybe, for the Grammies, "country" means "pop with twangy guitars", in which case it makes sense to keep it separate from more traditional genres.


Last edited by Ryusenshi on Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:47 pm 
Sanno
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Ryusenshi wrote:
Pop is a bit hard to pin down, because it's by its very nature opportunistic, and will happily cannibalize everything if it's popular.
  • If classical music is popular, you get pop music with strings and an orchestra.
  • If jazz music is popular, you get pop music with drums and a brass section (e.g. Sinatra).
  • If rock is popular, you get pop music with drums and electric guitars (e.g. the pop-rock bands of the Sixties).
  • If synths and drum machines are popular, you get pop music with synths and drum machines (e.g. tons of Eighties stuff).
  • If country music is popular, you get pop music with twangy guitars.

This is a definition that eats its own tail.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:07 pm 
Lebom
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linguoboy wrote:
This is a definition that eats its own tail.

Well, that was the point, wasn't it? "Pop" is a vague concept.

As soon as some sort of new sound comes up, someone will try to make it more marketable. Make it acceptable. Make it simple and catchy. And it's not even necessarily a bad thing!

Edit: Okay, now I understand why you were confused. You understood "you get" as meaning "it automatically becomes", in which case my definition is indeed completely circular. Please let me rephrase it a bit.

When a new sound or style of instrumentation comes up and becomes noticeable, someone will make pop music with this kind of sound. So:
  • If jazz music is appreciated, someone will make pop music with drums and a brass section.
  • If synths and drum machines are appreciated, someone will make pop music with synths and drum machines.
  • If country becomes successful, someone will make pop music with twangy guitars.
  • If hip-hop beats become successful, someone will make pop music with hip-hop beats.
  • Ad nauseam.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:23 am 
Smeric
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Ryusenshi wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Question 2: what is "traditional pop", and how does it relate to pop? (recent nominees include Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, Andrea Boccelli (!?), and Seth MacFarlane)

I would have guessed that it means "pop with more traditional instrumentation", but the list you give seems very random. Best not to read too much into it. As WeepingElf said it, Grammy categories are kinda meaningless.

Actually, based on the sample it looks like the definition is "artists whose peak of popularity has passed, but whom we still want to give a Grammy to (because they still produce new albums, still have loyal fans, and because the music industry managers were into them when they were young themselves)".


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:00 am 
Lebom
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Yeah, that seems to be correct. Lady Gaga doesn't fit with your definition, but she only ended up on the list because she did a duet with Tony Bennett, who does.

Edit: by the way, I just looked at the Grammy awards for "hard rock" and "metal". The difference seems to be "for each band, flip a coin to decide whether it fits into hard rock or metal this year".


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:41 am 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
Let's just start with Grammy top-level categories.


OK, and I shall go through them now. I shall note what genres are named thus; as I wrote yesterday, this has nothing to do with the Grammy categories!

Quote:
Question 1: what is "pop"?.


There are three commonly used definitions of "pop":

1. A shorthand for "popular music", nothing else.
2. All styles of popular music whose origins can be traced to mid-20th-century rhythm & blues.
3. As in 2. but restricted to the "lighter", more commercially oriented styles, as opposed to rock etc.

Quote:
Question 2: what is "traditional pop", and how does it relate to pop? (recent nominees include Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, Andrea Boccelli (!?), and Seth MacFarlane (who I didn't even know was a pop star, but he's been nominated at least four times))).


AFAIK, "traditional pop" usually refers to popular music that doesn't have roots in mid-20-century rhythm & blues, i.e. all pop (1) that isn't pop (2), such as Frank Sinatra. I prefer calling this "bourgeois popular music" (no reference to Marxism, though).

Quote:
Question 3: what is "contemporary instrumental"? I don't think of pop as being about instruments. What makes it different from dance, electronica (the grammies conflate "dance/electronica", which surprised me), or indeed classical?


Well, "instrumental" is everything without vocals. And "contemporary instrumental" is instrumental music that has been composed and recorded recently. Nothing else.

Quote:
Question 4: what are the lines between "R&B", "traditional R&B", "urban contemporary", and "rap"? It seems as though many of the same people get nominated for all these categories.


No idea. "Traditional R&B" probably means R&B that uses manually played instruments such as guitars and a real drum kit, as opposed to R&B where the instrumental parts are put together on a digital audio workstation (the usual kind of R&B today). Or it is a term for what "rhythm & blues" meant in the middle of the 20th century, which is a very different thing than contemporary R&B.

I have no idea what "urban contemporary" should be, and "rap" is just a vocal technique that is used in many genres, but sometimes used as a synonym for "hip-hop music".

Quote:
b) Meanwhile, what's the difference between "R&B" and "pop" (a bunch of people have been nominated for both), and between "traditional R&B" and "traditional pop" (CeeLo Green, for instance, has been nominated for both).


I think the only difference is that in R&B, the singer(s) and musicians are Afro-Americans. Thus, a category of "race" rather than actual music.

Quote:
c) What's the connexion between "R&B" and what used to be called rhythm and blues?


A very tenuous if at all. Contemporary R&B evolved from various older Afro-American popular music styles which all can be traced back to mid-20th-century rhythm & blues, but that holds true for most pop music these days.

Quote:
d) What's the difference between "R&B" and "dance"?


I think it's that R&B uses the song format with vocals and meaningful (if trivial) lyrics, while dance tracks usually use neither. Yet, as with all genres, the boundaries are fuzzy.

Quote:
Question 5: what's the difference between "rock" and "pop" (or "traditional pop")? Is "rock" just old pop that Tony Bennet isn't involved in?


Rock is what happened when British beat grew up. In the time from ca. 1965 to ca. 1995, the main difference between rock and pop was that rock was a more or less authentic expression of the musicians, while pop was mainly commercially motivated. There was - and still is - much contention about these things, of course. Today, pop is no longer based on rock the way it used to be between 1965 and 1995.

Quote:
Question 6: what's the difference between "rock" and "metal"? Is it just the use of raspy/breathy phonation by the singers?
b) the category's been removed, but where does hard rock fit in?


Metal is a subgenre of rock which is hard to pinpoint to one or two criteria. It is usually characterized by riff-based compositions, heavily distorted guitars, harsh vocals, fortissimmo playing, and lyrics about things as war, death and other "dark" subjects. Hard rock is also a subgenre of rock which is similar to metal, but less so. Deep Purple are hard rock; Iron Maiden are metal.

Quote:
Question 7: what's "alternative" music? How does it differ from "rock" and "pop"? The rubric says that it must "exist outside of the mainstream", which suggests Weird Stuff... but nominees include Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Radiohead, Sinead O'Connor, The Arctic Monkeys, Gnarls Barkley and David Bowie (i.e. many of the bestselling popstars?)


"Alternative" was a term which was coined when in the early 90s, many "indie" acts got major-label deals and thus were technically no longer "indie", though their music hadn't changed much.

Quote:
b) it's not a Grammy category, but a genre people seem to talk about: what's "indie"? how is it distinguished from pop, rock, or alternative?


"Indie" is technically just music released by independent (i.e., small-scale) record companies. As most of these companies specialized in punk-derived (but no longer really punk) rock music, this genre was labelled "indie" by the music press. But there have always been independent record companies that specialized in completely different music, and in the early 90s, many "indie" bands got major deals so a new term had to be invented - "alternative", see above.

Quote:
Question 8: what is the difference between: country; bluegrass; american roots; americana; folk; regional roots? I'm kind of surprised to see that country is considered a different top-level genre from the one comprising all those other things.


"Country" is a subgenre of white American folk music (as opposed to blues, which is black American folk music), "bluegrass" a particular style of country music originating from Kentucky. "American roots" and "americana" pretty much mean the same thing, namely a music genres based on country, folk song, and blues).

Quote:
Question 9: I'm also kind of surprised to see "blues" included with folk and americana, rather than with, say, jazz. what are the differences between "blues", "traditional blues", "traditional R&B" and "jazz"? And it's not a category, but where does soul fit in?


The blues (aficionados always use the definite article) is a particular tradition of Afro-American folk music which is basically the common ancestor of jazz, R&B and rock. "Traditional blues" is blues as it was played down in the south, as opposed to such things as "electric blues" (which uses electric guitars - something the cotton pickers of Mississippi, for instance, had no idea of). Soul is a genre that evolved from rhythm & blues in the 1960s.

Quote:
Question 10: "Latin". Is it just a racial/ethnic genre? Is it a linguistic genre (lyrics not in english)? Or is there some sort of musical distinction? In particular, is "tropical Latin" just a political place-of-birth distinction, or an actual stylistic genre? Why is "latin jazz" considered a type of jazz, while "latin pop" isn't considered a type of "pop"?


As you say, a matter of race more than of music, though there is such a thing as a genre of Latin American music.

Quote:
Question 11: Is there any clear definition of "world music"? I was thinking it would be things outside the european tradition, but nominees have included Irish, French, and even American music. Why is reggae, for instance, not considered world music? Are Latin songs automatically excluded? Somehow, Yo-Yo Ma IS included, though...


"World music" is indeed a very fuzzy notion. Technically, it is everything except classical, jazz, rhythm & blues, rock, (western) pop, etc. However, European folk music is often considered "world music".

But to paraphrase what I said yesterday, none of this is relevant to the Grammy Award categories, which are simply defined by what was nominated for them. The most glaring case seems to be the nomination of Lady Gaga (as commercial a pop star as you can get) for "alternative".

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:58 am 
Sanno
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WeepingElf wrote:
But to paraphrase what I said yesterday, none of this is relevant to the Grammy Award categories, which are simply defined by what was nominated for them. The most glaring case seems to be the nomination of Lady Gaga (as commercial a pop star as you can get) for "alternative".

Which as far as I can tell, did not happen.

Here is Wikipedia's list of nominees for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammy_Award_for_Best_Alternative_Music_Album. Lady Gaga's name does not appear anywhere.

Here is Wikipedia's list of awards and nominations for Lady Gaga's work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Lady_Gaga. The word "alternative" appears nowhere on the list.

I don't know where Sal got the notion that Lady Gaga had received a Grammy nomination in the "Alternative" category. I challenged him on it and he never responded.

I know this is a minor point and all, but if you want a real-life demonstration in how fake news gets spread, look no further.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Thank you for your correction, linguoboy. I wasn't aware that Salmoneus was in error on this point.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:30 pm 
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Sorry for delayed response.

I'm just going to collect up a few bits from this thread side-by-side to help me think about them clearly.


Pop vs Rock vs Metal

[quote=Zomp]
Or: it's rock that doesn't really offend anyone-- you and your mother can both enjoy it... Whatever exactly you add to pop to get rock... if you add a lot more of that, you get hard rock... you can't play it for Mom at all. Add even more and you get metal.[/quote]

[quote=Zomp][pop=] More vocals, less drums, more danceable, arguably kind of insipid. [rock= ] Louder, more banging drums, the singer sounds angrier][/quote]

[quote=Zomp]the Beatles are pop, the Rolling Stones are rock.[/quote]

[quote=Soap]Pop music seems to be much faster-paced, with higher tones and a predominance of female singers... Pop music is much more likely to play at a retail store becuase of its softer and less intrusive sound, and perhaps also the general brighter mood. Some rocks songs will play, but they will be played quietly[/quote]

[quote=Ryu][pop=] Short, 3-minutes songs with a catchy chorus. [rock=]Rock is music based on drums and electric guitars. [metal=] defined by its guitar tones more than its style of vocals. Metal has heavy, distorted guitars; loud, binary drums; a darker imagery [rock vs metal:]if the guitarist uses pentatonic scales, the drummer uses its hi-hat a lot, and the vocalist sings about girls and cars, it's probably hard rock; if the guitar sounds like a low grumble and uses minor scales, the drummer uses a double bass drum, and the vocalist sings about death and Satan, it's probably metal.[/quote]

[quote=WE][metal=]It is usually characterized by riff-based compositions, heavily distorted guitars, harsh vocals, fortissimmo playing, and lyrics about things as war, death and other "dark" subjects. Hard rock is also a subgenre of rock which is similar to metal, but less so.[/quote]


OK, so I get then that metal has "heavily distorted guitars", raspy/harsh singing, minor scales (interesting!). A few clarifications, though:
- I thought heavily distorted guitars were a characteristic of 'rock' (or 'pop') from the '60s/'70s in general? Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Hendrix, etc?
[as an example of what I mean, here's the guitar track someone's isolated from a Beatles song[/quote]. [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWGOTM46lg8]Hendrix. Iron Butterfly. The Kinks.etc.]
So is this something that's common to metal and old-style pop/rock/etc, or am I missing a key difference here?

- what are "binary drums"?

- I'm less sold on the sociological indicators. On pop being 'inoffensive' - isn't all popular music basically inoffensive? Other than Nazi metal and the really homophobic strains of some Caribbean music, I guess. The 'Mom' criterion, as hans notes, probably doesn't work for modern generations, including mine. [it's true that my mother doesn't like any of that stuff - she was a folk kid rather than a rock kid - but that's not really a generational thing]. And the stuff they play in shops sounds pretty rocky/metally to me usually - or its the really depressing everything-sounds-like-coldplay-now stuff. Maybe I go to the wrong shops.

- rock as music based on drums and electric guitars seems to make sense at first... but isn't almost all pop music based on drums and electric guitars, and sometimes keyboards of some sort? At least, up until the invention of synthesised fake-drums?

- incidentally, if the music "sounds like a low grumble and uses minor scales, the drummer uses a double bass drum, and the vocalist sings about death and Satan, it's probably" ... well, the 19th century! (or occasionally even the 18th century...).



Additional question: where do such things as grunge and garage rock fit into this?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:07 pm 
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Of course I have to continue.

Salmoneus wrote:
OK, so I get then that metal has "heavily distorted guitars", raspy/harsh singing, minor scales (interesting!). A few clarifications, though:
- I thought heavily distorted guitars were a characteristic of 'rock' (or 'pop') from the '60s/'70s in general? Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Hendrix, etc?
So is this something that's common to metal and old-style pop/rock/etc, or am I missing a key difference here?

First, the Beatles example you give is a bit atypical: they only had a couple of songs with this level of distortion. Similarly, the Stones used relatively light overdrive, except for "Satisfaction". On the other hand, the Who and Hendrix used overdriven guitars much more consistently, and are closer to the "hard rock" category.

Second, compare the examples you give to a song by Metallica:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnKhsTXoKCI
Here, the guitars sound much lower. They "roar" and "grumble" in a very different way. At this level of distortion, you can't even play a major third chord without getting a discordant mess, so you're limited to fifths. And you can mute the strings and still get a chug-chug sound. That's metal.

Salmoneus wrote:
- what are "binary drums"?

I meant that hard rock drummers tend to keep a bit of "swing", some sense of syncopation. By comparison, metal drummers keep a more rigid 4/4 rhythm, BA-dum-BA-dum-BA-dum-BA-dum. Compare the drums in Smoke on the Water (with an almost jazzy feel) to the ones in Breaking the Law (which sound nearly robotic).

Salmoneus wrote:
- I'm less sold on the sociological indicators. On pop being 'inoffensive' - isn't all popular music basically inoffensive? Other than Nazi metal and the really homophobic strains of some Caribbean music, I guess. The 'Mom' criterion, as hans notes, probably doesn't work for modern generations, including mine. [it's true that my mother doesn't like any of that stuff - she was a folk kid rather than a rock kid - but that's not really a generational thing]. And the stuff they play in shops sounds pretty rocky/metally to me usually - or its the really depressing everything-sounds-like-coldplay-now stuff. Maybe I go to the wrong shops.

Well, it all seems a bit tame now, but the Stones were seen as dangerous back then, "Would you let your sister go with a Rolling Stone?". Hendrix was shocking with his untamed display of sexuality. Jefferson Airplane was pissing off lots of people with their thinly-veiled references to LSD. Punks used provocative, offensive lyrics, and sometimes toyed with Nazi imagery. Black metal bands use blatant Satanic imagery. And so on.

The problem is that yesterday's shocking becomes today's normal, which becomes tomorrow's quaint. Rock is based on pushing the boundaries, but once the boundaries have been pushed... they become inoffensive enough to be played in supermarkets. It's like a treadmill. It's true for lyrical content. It's also true for guitar distortion: Led Zeppelin seemed very loud when they started, but now they sound almost wimpy compared to the average MTV band. Some of Lady Gaga's sounds wouldn't have been out of place on a Marilyn Manson song twenty years ago.

Salmoneus wrote:
- rock as music based on drums and electric guitars seems to make sense at first... but isn't almost all pop music based on drums and electric guitars, and sometimes keyboards of some sort? At least, up until the invention of synthesised fake-drums?

Well, it seems that way now. But "traditional pop" existed before rock became famous, and doesn't use electric guitars. Anyway, my position is that "pop" and "rock" have a fairly large overlap.

Salmoneus wrote:
- incidentally, if the music "sounds like a low grumble and uses minor scales, the drummer uses a double bass drum, and the vocalist sings about death and Satan, it's probably" ... well, the 19th century! (or occasionally even the 18th century...).

It's no coincidence that metal musicians are among the most likely to use elements of classical music.

Salmoneus wrote:
Additional question: where do such things as grunge and garage rock fit into this?

Grunge is a very specific term in time and space. It's a bunch of bands from the Seattle region who started in the late Eighties, on independent labels (i.e. it's a subgenre of indie rock), and played a particular mixture of metal-ish riffs, depressing lyrics, memorable choruses, and a punkish don't-give-a-fuck attitude. Really, this is only a handful of bands: Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam (plus a few lesser-known ones such as Mudhoney). They became famous with the overnight success of Nirvana: this is what made "indie rock" the thing, pretty much kickstarting the Nineties. So the genre became famous, even though it was always very limited.

Garage rock is... hard to define. The name originated in the Sixties, when lots of teenagers discovered rock and started making bands at the same time, even though they had little budget (i.e. rehearsing in a garage) and little musical knowledge. So it means "simple, amateurish rock". The Troggs and the Kingsmen are good examples; most of those bands were pretty much one-hit-wonders.

It seems the word was resurrected in the Noughties, but I'm not sure what exactly these bands have in common. "Simple happy rock with overdriven guitars, but not too distorted because otherwise people will think we're a hard rock band." Or something like that.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:46 pm 
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Belated comment: I think it's a bit weird that the term "rock" covers both 1950s rock'n roll and hard rock, but not metal. I've got the impression that hard rock is musically closer to metal than to 1950s rock'n roll.

Oh, and while we're talking music genres - years ago, when I still occasionally bought music from Amazon, I once bought the original version of Dancing in the Street", and I noticed that apparently Amazon had classified the song's genre as "Rap & Hip Hop". WTF? Ok, by now it's well possible that someone, somewhere has made a hip hop version of that song, but the original version? I strongly suspect that some Amazon employee had trouble telling the different music styles commonly associated with black people apart.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:47 pm 
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Ryusenshi wrote:
Garage rock is... hard to define. The name originated in the Sixties, when lots of teenagers discovered rock and started making bands at the same time, even though they had little budget (i.e. rehearsing in a garage) and little musical knowledge. So it means "simple, amateurish rock". The Troggs and the Kingsmen are good examples; most of those bands were pretty much one-hit-wonders.

It seems the word was resurrected in the Noughties, but I'm not sure what exactly these bands have in common. "Simple happy rock with overdriven guitars, but not too distorted because otherwise people will think we're a hard rock band." Or something like that.

I associate it with a particular kind of low-fi production that was popular with 90s indie bands, such as many of those on the Matador label. (90s pop featured a 60s music revival in much the same way at the 80s saw a revival of the 50s. If there was a 70s revival in the 00s I missed it, because by the end of that decade we were in a full-blown 80s revival that hasn't died yet.)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:07 pm 
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Ryusenshi wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
- I'm less sold on the sociological indicators. On pop being 'inoffensive' - isn't all popular music basically inoffensive? Other than Nazi metal and the really homophobic strains of some Caribbean music, I guess. The 'Mom' criterion, as hans notes, probably doesn't work for modern generations, including mine. [it's true that my mother doesn't like any of that stuff - she was a folk kid rather than a rock kid - but that's not really a generational thing]. And the stuff they play in shops sounds pretty rocky/metally to me usually - or its the really depressing everything-sounds-like-coldplay-now stuff. Maybe I go to the wrong shops.

Well, it all seems a bit tame now, but the Stones were seen as dangerous back then, "Would you let your sister go with a Rolling Stone?". Hendrix was shocking with his untamed display of sexuality. Jefferson Airplane was pissing off lots of people with their thinly-veiled references to LSD. Punks used provocative, offensive lyrics, and sometimes toyed with Nazi imagery. Black metal bands use blatant Satanic imagery. And so on.

The problem is that yesterday's shocking becomes today's normal, which becomes tomorrow's quaint. Rock is based on pushing the boundaries, but once the boundaries have been pushed... they become inoffensive enough to be played in supermarkets. It's like a treadmill. It's true for lyrical content. It's also true for guitar distortion: Led Zeppelin seemed very loud when they started, but now they sound almost wimpy compared to the average MTV band. Some of Lady Gaga's sounds wouldn't have been out of place on a Marilyn Manson song twenty years ago.


Somewhat related to offensiveness of popular music, I've always found it a bit amusing that apparently, for much of the Cold War, narrow-minded old men in the leadership of Western countries saw rock, pop, etc. as a Communist attempt to subvert the free world, while at the same time, narrow-minded old men in the leadership of actual Communist-ruled countries saw the same music as a decadent capitalist bourgeois attack on their own societies.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 6:43 am 
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As a side observation, I've got the early Blues Gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson in my collection. When I listened to some of his stuff ("God moves on the water", "John the Revelator", "If I had my way I'd tear the building down") I realised I'd discovered the origin of rap!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:24 am 
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Salmoneus wrote:
Question 5: what's the difference between "rock" and "pop" (or "traditional pop")? Is "rock" just old pop that Tony Bennet isn't involved in?

instrumentation. bands with a singer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer are probably rock. bands that lack one of these things are probably not rock. bands that do not have an electric guitar are almost certainly not rock. bands that do not have a guitarist are absolutely not rock.

you can add instruments to the basic template but by the time you have a crumhorn section you may not be dealing with rock anymore.

Quote:
Question 6: what's the difference between "rock" and "metal"? Is it just the use of raspy/breathy phonation by the singers?

the difference is Hardth

Quote:
b) the category's been removed, but where does hard rock fit in?

hard rock has more Hardth than rock, but not as much Hardth as metal.

Quote:
Question 7: what's "alternative" music? How does it differ from "rock" and "pop"? The rubric says that it must "exist outside of the mainstream", which suggests Weird Stuff... but nominees include Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Radiohead, Sinead O'Connor, The Arctic Monkeys, Gnarls Barkley and David Bowie (i.e. many of the bestselling popstars?)

alternative music is music that isn't quite weird enough to be experimental, but is weird enough that you might hear it on college radio. alternative vs. idemnative is orthogonal to rock vs. pop. radiohead is alternative rock, the beatles are idemnative rock [but could've been alternative at the time had such a category existed then!], lady gaga is alternative pop, idk who the fuck idemnative pop is

Quote:
b) it's not a Grammy category, but a genre people seem to talk about: what's "indie"? how is it distinguished from pop, rock, or alternative?

aesthetics mostly. if you can imagine someone with very large plastic-framed glasses and a three-day beard or blue lipstick as appropriate (or, nowadays, both) listening to it it is probably indie. for particularly extreme cases of indie, see the Indie Folk Girls who have Indie Folk Girl Accents which inflict horrible disfigurements onto the already notoriously mutilated english vowel system as a deliberate stylistic affectation, the phonetic equivalent of how everything tim burton makes looks Like That

Quote:
Question 8: what is the difference between: country; bluegrass; american roots; americana; folk; regional roots? I'm kind of surprised to see that country is considered a different top-level genre from the one comprising all those other things.

good question. country has slide and/or jangly electric guitars and bluegrass is i think generally oriented around the string band instrumentation and style but idk the rest

Quote:
Question 11: Is there any clear definition of "world music"? I was thinking it would be things outside the european tradition, but nominees have included Irish, French, and even American music. Why is reggae, for instance, not considered world music? Are Latin songs automatically excluded? Somehow, Yo-Yo Ma IS included, though...

are you familiar with herr moldbug's noun phrase "race opera"

zompist wrote:
For almost all the American music, and some of the Latin, you could probably get most of the classifications by asking three historical questions: when did black people invent it? when did white people take it up? and do black people still listen to it? That'd make an interesting chart, in fact...

bad take. black people invented like, the banjo. and delta blues (which is one of the most musically important things to happen in america even though it's like "hey what's this thing with the strings on it how do i use it like a bunch of drums", or rather precisely because it's like etc). and reinvented rap, which was originally germanic but we sort of forgot about it.

Salmoneus wrote:
- I'm less sold on the sociological indicators. On pop being 'inoffensive' - isn't all popular music basically inoffensive? Other than Nazi metal and the really homophobic strains of some Caribbean music, I guess. The 'Mom' criterion, as hans notes, probably doesn't work for modern generations, including mine. [it's true that my mother doesn't like any of that stuff - she was a folk kid rather than a rock kid - but that's not really a generational thing].

the mom criterion mostly works for me, but she likes therion

Quote:
- rock as music based on drums and electric guitars seems to make sense at first... but isn't almost all pop music based on drums and electric guitars, and sometimes keyboards of some sort? At least, up until the invention of synthesised fake-drums?

al jolson was v early pop and was Not That, depeche mode was right-after-the-invention-of-synthesized-fake-drums pop and was also Not That

Quote:
- incidentally, if the music "sounds like a low grumble and uses minor scales, the drummer uses a double bass drum, and the vocalist sings about death and Satan, it's probably" ... well, the 19th century! (or occasionally even the 18th century...).

mozart is not terribly popular nowadays but most metal bands would know that first piece

Quote:
Additional question: where do such things as grunge and garage rock fit into this?

grunge is a thing that some very bad people who did a lot of heroin did in the early 90s. it was popular among very bad people who did a lot of heroin, especially because it displaced hair metal, which did nothing wrong. hair metal was about having very good hair and very good fashion sense and playing sick guitar solos in between anthemic shouting about whatever, ideally winning at the sort of masculinity status game that involves doing lots of sex and drugs but in a way where you actually enjoy it. grunge was about being a loser chode who did the occasional sex and even more drugs but in a way where you hate it also you only know four chords and can't do anything but play each one four bars at a time. then kurt cobain shot himself and the world breathed a sigh of relief, the end

Mornche Geddick wrote:
As a side observation, I've got the early Blues Gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson in my collection. When I listened to some of his stuff ("God moves on the water", "John the Revelator", "If I had my way I'd tear the building down") I realised I'd discovered the origin of rap!

it's probably been reinvented many times. like how that cowboy singer dude reinvented throat singing because he wanted something to do other than yodel

Ryusenshi wrote:
It's no coincidence that metal musicians are among the most likely to use elements of classical music.

exhibit checc dis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05njPSdMRzE

that is an example of a particularly far out doom metal band. the differences between this subgenre of extreme metal and the others, including black metal, death metal, blackened death metal, death doom metal, atmospheric black metal, funeral doom metal, depressive suicidal black metal, industrial metal, transcendental black metal, black n' roll, blackgaze, melodic death metal, technical death metal, symphonic metal, drone metal, thrash metal, sludge metal, stoner metal, noise metal, grindcore, deathgrind, goregrind, cybergrind, power metal, progressive metal, and djent, are in fact the most important subject in all of musicspace, and i shall proceed to define them all at length in the followi

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:28 am 
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jk this thread is about transcendental black metal now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhpOQsYMFIM

sal i await ur response to hunter hunt-hendrix's e-famous e-manifesto "Transcendental Black Metal: A Vision of Apocalyptic Humanism". it cites meillassoux iirc. wat is ur take on Renihilation... must the Haptic Void be transcended or is it all postcolonial nationalist dreck?? bone thugs n burzum am i Rite

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:59 am 
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Nortaneous wrote:
you can add instruments to the basic template but by the time you have a crumhorn section you may not be dealing with rock anymore.


You've clearly never heard of Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention and the like then. (sure neither of those go in for specifically crumhorns, but you can definitely imagine them doing that).

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