The Difference Between Genre And Style In Music

The Difference Between Genre And Style In Music

If there’s one subject that’s caused more confusion than any other it has to be this one. Some people mean genre when they say style, while others mean style when they say genre. As humans we are a confusing bunch at the best of times, but what doesn’t help is different sites and companies intermingling these two words.

This makes it almost impossible to distinguish between genre or style. If you want the true definitive answer to what’s the difference between genre and style when it comes to music, keep reading.

Genre

According to dictionary.com, genre is defined as; 

a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like

However, when it comes to music, genre takes on a different role in modern society. Musically speaking a genre is a far broader “net” that can include a number of styles. For instance, Blues is a genre of music. But within that genre, there are a number of styles including;

  • Chicago Blues
  • Mississippi Blues
  • Delta Blues
  • Country Blues
  • Electric Blues
  • East Coast Blues
  • Louisiana Blues
  • Memphis Blues
  • And So On

So in this case the genre is blues and the styles are the types of blues defined by geographical or stylistic regions.

Style

According to dictionary.com style is defined as;

a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character

This fits in quite nicely with our understanding too. As you saw above, we distinguished the style of blues with reference to a particular characteristic from a certain area etc. which are instantly recognisable as being of that particular form.

listening to music

What’s The Difference Between Style & Genre?

We used the term “net” above to describe genre, the idea being that genre is a very broad term. Like in the example we used, Blues is a genre of music but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Within that “net” or genre we’ve caught a great number of “fish” or styles. Including Delta Blues, Mississippi Blues, Chicago Blues and so on.

The overall subject can be referred to as the genre, but the various types that make up that genre are known as styles. This allows you to develop your own style whilst working within a certain genre. 

Another way of putting it would be to say that genres are the main categories, and styles are the sub-categories. If Rock music is a genre, the various styles of rock music make up that genre. Styles like punk, alternative, heavy, etc. These can all be classified as rock but they are sub-categorised into their various styles of rock.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many genres are there in music?

There are more than 1,300 genres of music worldwide according to Spotify.

What does style or genre mean?

Genre is a broad term that covers the whole range and style is the component parts that contribute to that genre. For instance the genre classical music has styles including opera, baroque and so on.

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