We all know that Metal is the greatest genre of music ever to bless ears the world over. For the sake of argument (and this article) however, let’s cast that completely unbiased statement aside.

Metal alone has countless sub-genres.

Metal alone has countless sub-genres.

A genre’s origin usually is as touchy a subject as it is complex. Some genres simply took after the names of popular acts (ie: the lore behind the Death metal genre and the band Death), while others are smashups of established genres like Metal-core, the bastard child of Hardcore Punk and Heavy Metal who used Melodic Death Metal as a midwife. No matter the origin, a fight over whether they’re necessary or not is always bound to start a few international conflicts…no? Ok, fine they’ll certainly start a few arguments right?

One the many struggles both emerging and established artists face is defining “their sound”. In a world where making music -of quality or not- is becoming easier and easier by the megabyte, having a flavor unique to one’s own vision could prove to be a precious commodity. The conflict doesn’t revolve around people who acknowledge that fact however, it’s the opponents of genre labeling who whip themselves intoi a frenzy over categorizing music. It is because of these “creative purists” that the need for labeling music and lumping it into genres is questioned.

To their credit, there does not seem to be much of a consensus in regards to what is or isn’t a genre today. A study performed by the authors of Representing Musical Genre: A Study of the Art showed that among 3 internet “genre taxonomies” (allmusic.com, amazon.com, and mp3.com) only 70 words were found common between them despite having 1,680 genres in total across the three sites. What one person calls something, another person could call it something else and have just as good an argument for how they see it…how confusing.

Nevertheless, there are practical reasons behind genres. The study of music (…or “musicology” as snobby elitist scholars like to call it) is just one of the many reasons genre labeling is important. While musicology is used as an umbrella term encompassing studies related to music, there is no doubt that genres often played an important role in those studies…and did I mention musicology has been around for centuries? Academic observations of music has provided us with tremendous insight into times before we were born. Now where would we be without music, the study of music, and the analysis of various genres?

Click to view a nifty interactive "genre by state" map!

Click to view a nifty interactive “genre by state” map!

While genre labeling has gotten a bit out of hand recently (I’m looking at you Nightcore and Djent), it is important that academics and students of various forms of music are able to do the education, Kanye, and immortalize the multiple varieties of music throughout history by noting genres and their qualities. Much of the vitriol thrown at the subject is a result of self imposed creative restrictions. Instead of keeping a focus on performing the activity that gives them the creative freedom in the first place, artist become swallowed up by critique and think a bit to much about the art…and that should be left to us critics! Simply put, it’s an integral part of music history no matter how much it’s hated, so just learn to appreciate it.

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