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Genres

January 14, 2011

Yesterday I rediscovered an old album as one sometimes does. All the songs on it are kind of crazy awesome, but “Divine” contains a little reference I’ve always been particularly fond of; “you’re like Jodie Foster taking off but nobody sees it”.

My mind drifted towards the topic of genres. It’s always been a troublesome subject. I have ripped a majority of my CD collection and been careful to tag them properly. The tag I always left out has been and will probably always be GENRE.

Reviewers seem to have an endless supply of imagination when it comes to the classification of a new species of music. From the outside seen, it has become as silly and self-important as the language of wine tasters. But… whenever I try to describe a taste in more detail than good/bad, I find myself sliding into a proto-wine-taster mode of communication. Synesthesia seems inevitable.

And talking about music gets hard if you don’t use neologisms. If some new piece of music is something between jazz and metal, with a bit of opera thrown in, how could you not say something like “metal lounge opera” (which I would listen to, at least once)? We like to label things, and when existing labels don’t cut it, we make new ones. But we also make things that don’t readily fit into the brevity of a label.

Hence my problem with genre-tagging.

The whole point of tagging something with a genre is so that you can search and sort by it. If I then get too anal about it and try to really zero in on the perfect tag for each album, the fragmentation would become so large as to make the whole thing not matter anymore. I would probably start second-guessing every song, too.

On the other hand, if I decide to use broad descriptions like “pop”, “rock”, “metal” and so on, then I must decide how broad they should be. And then I would get anal about that instead.

These things being as they are, I still would have pegged For All Happy Endings as “dark pop” or something.

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