1/14/08

Web Music Criticism and the (Awful) Genre System

Hello. I am Sator Arepo, the Other Guy.

In my research for my first post, I checked around for some good Music Criticism to complain about. Lo and behold, I found something!

There is, predictably, a site called

www.music-critic.com


which is, as it states, a clearinghouse of sorts for Music Criticism.

My first issue, so to speak, is the categories that they offer for your surfing pleasure and/or edification, as follows:

>Rock
>Pop

>Urban

>Jazz / Classical

>Country

>World

>Soundtracks

>Concerts

>Electronica

>Break/downs


Really? That's your genre system?! Wow.

Let's break this down systematically. And non-linearly. Pop-wise, we have:

>Rock
>Pop

>Urban

>Country

>Electronica

>Break/downs


So. Pop is not a meta-genre, just a genre separate from Rock, Country, Electronica, et al? Um, OK, I guess. Rock is not necessarily pop, and vice versa. Also, Country is not, uh, I guess, necessarily pop...there's alt-country and so on. I can sort of relate to this genre classification, in a clumsy [read: ill-conceived] way. But it is so random; is Wilco Pop, Country, or Rock? Are the Beastie Boys "Urban?" How about Bela Fleck, where does he fit in? And, not for nothing, are The Beatles Rock or Pop? However...

My real problem, vis-a-vis the breakdown of pop/rock/whatever genres is:

>Jazz / Classical

Seriously? Wow.

If Rock and Pop are different categories/genres, and Urban/Pop and Electronica/Pop are separate...do you really want to lump Jazz/Classical into one unit?

Perhaps I'm an overeducated snob. However, "Classical" is easily subdivided into, oh, say, "Chamber," "Opera," "Vocal," "Orchestral," and/or many other genres that any, I don't know, educated listener would find useful. Or helpful. Or...informative? If the site has a pop-bias, then, fine. Go with that. Why even pretend to include so-called "Classical/Jazz"?

On the other hand, if you have ever spoken with a jazz lover, you'd quickly discern that there exist well-established sub-genres, such as Big Band, Ragtime, Cool Jazz, Hot Jazz, Bop, Free Jazz, &c &c ad infinitum.

Furthermore, the lumping of Jazz with Classical totally ignores the distinction, um, at all. If you're looking for reviews of the latest Krenek (or Khatchaturian, or Korngold) CD release, do you really want to sift through all of the Diana Krall articles? If you somehow buy the argument that "Jazz is America's Classical Music," you don't know anything about the last 110 years of American composition, which is a rich field chock full of interesting, innovative, and extraordinary composers. (Nothing against Jazz, which I love, but it is not the same thing.)

The pure disregard/disdain for both Jazz and "Classical" (a word generally used to denote music composed between 1750-1835) music demonstrates the (perceived) anti-intellectual bias that pervades the popular music media.

In short, both Jazz and Classical are academic nerd musics mostly suited for nerds. This is implied. Pop genres are deserving of differentiating genres; Jazz/Classical is one lump, dead object for losers that hate guitars. Electric guitars, that is.

Finally, "Concerts" is not a genre. Surf over to their link and you'll find all sorts of shit. So...live music is a different genre than recorded...uh, studio recorded music? People are insane.

Here endeth the lesson.

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