Music Genre Research
In popular music, independent music, often generally abbreviated as "Indie", is a term used
to describe independence from major commercial record labels and an autonomous, Do-It-
Yourself approach to recording and publishing.
Independent labels have been known to strive for minimal influence on the artist they
represent, avoiding the artist-cultivating behavior of many major labels. Artists represented
by Independent labels have been known to be focused more on producing music than
becoming wealthy and/or well known. These artists use more off beat styles to create music
since they are not hindered by the record label.
Independent labels have a long history of promoting developments in popular music,
stretching back to the post-war period in the United States, with labels such as Sun Records,
King Records, Stax, etc.
In the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 1960s, the major record companies had so
much power that independent labels struggled to become established. Several British
producers and artists launched independent labels as outlets for their work and artists they
liked, but the majority failed as commercial ventures were swallowed up by the majors.
The punk rock era saw a plethora of independent labels. The UK Indie Chart was first
compiled in 1980, and independent distribution became better organized from the late
In the late 80's Seattle based Sub Pop Records was at the center of the grunge scene. In the
late 1990s and into the 2000s as the advent of mp3 files & digital download sites such as
Apple's iTunes changed the recording industry, an Indie Neo-soul scene soon emerged from
the urban Underground soul scenes of London, NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago & L.A., primarily
due to commercial Radio & the major label's biased focus on the marketing, promotion &
Airplay of Pop & Hip Hop music during this period. Independent Labels such as Dome
Records & Expansion Records in the U.K. and Ubiquity Records in the U.S. and a plethora of
others around the world as well as various "online stores" such as www.dustygroove.com,
www.soultracks.com, etc, support the Nu soul movement today.
The word "indie" is often used to refer specifically to various genres or sounds. During the
1980s, "indie" was synonymous in Great Britain with jangly guitar pop of the C-86
movement. During the 1990s a lot of Britpop bands were referred to as "indie", despite most
of the movement being signed to major labels and dominating sales charts. More recently,
the word "indie" is sometimes used as a synonym for new wave revivalist bands such as
Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. The word "indie" is sometimes used as a synonym for
alternative, a word which often bears the stigma of being associated with cynically
manufactured mass-market teen-rebellion music from major labels. Such usages of "indie"
may be considered inaccurate for various reasons: for one, stylistic qualities are often not
accurately correlated to commercial independence or adherence to indie principles (this is
particularly true when a sound becomes popular, its leading exponents are signed by major
labels and more success-oriented bands and production teams attempt to imitate the style;
this ultimately culminates in commercially driven artists sporting the same stylistic traits the
"indie" artists of a year ago had). Secondly, however pervasive any style of music (even one
as broadly defined as "guitar pop" or "post-punk rock") may become at a particular time, it
by definition cannot embody all of indie music, as, by indie's nature, there will be indie
artists, labels and entire local scenes operating outside of this style and its definitions.
There are several subcategories indie music is often grouped broadly into. Indie rock and
indie pop are the most common ones. The difference between these is difficult to pick up
from the instrumentation or sound, as both genres include distorted guitar-based music
based on pop-song conventions. If anything, the key distinction comes not from
instrumentation or structure but from how strictly they follow cultural constructions of
rockist "authenticity". There is also indie dance, which comes from a fusion of indie pop and
electronic/dance music. Crossover between electronica (mostly glitch) resulted in so-called
indietronic, electronic indie or indie electronic, for example some artists on the German
Morr Music label.
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel
music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is “music that
arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and
rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying”. Catchy rhythms stressed by
handclaps and extemporaneous body moves, are an important feature of soul music. Other
characteristics are a call and response between the soloist and the chorus, and an especially
tense vocal sound. The genre also occasionally uses improvisational additions, twirls and
Soul music has its roots in gospel music and rhythm and blues. The hard gospel vocal
quartets of the 1940s and 1950s were big influences on major soul singers of the 1960s.
Ray Charles is often cited as inventing the soul genre with his string of hits starting with
1954's "I Got A Woman". Charles was open in acknowledging the influence of Pilgrim
Travelers vocalist Jesse Whitaker on his singing style. Another view has it that a decade
would transpire until Solomon Burke's early recordings for Atlantic Records codified the soul
style; his early 1960s songs "Cry to Me", "Just Out of Reach" and "Down in the Valley" are
considered classics of the genre. Little Richard (who was the inspiration for Otis Redding),
Fats Domino and James Brown originally called themselves rock and roll performers.
However, as rock music moved away from its R&B roots in the 1960s, Brown claimed that he
had always really been an R&B singer. Little Richard proclaimed himself the "king of rockin'
and rollin', rhythm and blues soulin'", because his music embodied elements of all three, and
because he inspired artists in all three genres.
With a career that spanned the entire history of rhythm and
blues, from '50s doo wop to '80s soul, Marvin Gaye exemplified
the maturation of romantic black pop into a sophisticated form
spanning social and sexual politics, Marvin Gaye was one of the
most consistent and enigmatic of the Motown hit makers. He was
one of the most successful soul artist ever.
Gaye favoured romantic and sometimes sensual ballads and felt that his desire to move into
a more mainstream, sophisticated style was hampered by Motown's demand for hits. For a
singer as unenthusiastic as Gaye later claimed to be, he gave almost every song an inspired
reading. His Top Ten Hits include "Pride and Joy,"
Hip hop music is mainly based on the concepts of rapping, free styling etc. The music
is used to express concerns of political, social, and personal issues. Hip hop began in
the Bronx in New York City in the 1970s, primarily among African Americans.
Rapping is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in rhyme and verse,
generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Hip hop arose during the 1970s
when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City, especially in the
Bronx. Block parties incorporated DJs who played popular genres of music, especially
funk and soul music.
Examples of Hip Hop artists:
• Busta Rhymes
Samples of Hip Hop Music:
Pop music is a music genre that developed from the mid-1950s as a softer alternative
to rock 'n' roll. It has a focus on commercial recording, often orientated towards a
youth market, usually through the medium of relatively short and simple love songs.
While these basic elements of the genre have remained fairly constant, pop music
has absorbed influences from most other forms of popular music, particularly
borrowing from the development of rock music.
Characteristics of the pop genre:
• A focus on the individual song or singles, rather than on extended works or
• An aim of appealing to a general audience, particularly teenagers.
• An emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities
• An emphasis on recording, production, and technology, over live performance
• A tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments
Examples of Pop artists:
• Britney Spears
• Christina Aguilera
Samples of pop music:
Rhythm and blues (also known as R&B) is the name given to a wide-ranging genre of
popular music created by African Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the
early 1950s and beyond, the term "rhythm and blues" was frequently applied to
blues records, for instance, John Lee Hooker's "I'm in the Mood" became number-
one on Billboard R&B Music Charts. By the 1970s, the term "rhythm and blues" was
being used as a blanket term for soul and funk. Since the 1990s, the term
"Contemporary R&B" has been used to refer to a modern version of soul and funk-
influenced pop music.
Examples of RnB artists:
• Alicia keys
• Chris Brown
• Trey Songs
Samples of RnB music:
Rock music is a genre of popular music that entered the mainstream in the 1960s. It
has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country music and
also drew on folk music, jazz and classical music. The sound of rock often revolves
around the guitar back beat laid down by a rhythm section of electric bass guitar,
drums, and keyboard instruments such as organ, piano, or, since the 1970s,
synthesizers. Along with the guitar or keyboards, saxophone and blues-style
harmonica are sometimes used as soloing instruments. A group of musicians
specializing in rock music is called a rock band or rock group. Many rock groups
consist of an electric guitarist, lead singer, bass guitarist, and a drummer, forming a
quartet. Some groups omit one or more of these roles or utilize a lead singer who
plays an instrument while singing, sometimes forming a trio or duo; others include
additional musicians such as one or two rhythm guitarists or a keyboardist. More
rarely, groups also utilize stringed instruments such as violins or cellos, woodwind
instruments such as saxophones, and brass instruments such as trumpets or
Examples of Rock Artists/band:
• Linking Park
• Marilyn Manson
• Guns and Roses
Samples of Rock Music
Grime first emerged in England, a development from UK dance hall, garage and Hip
hop. Grime is typified by complex 2-step break beats, generally around 140 beats per
minute and constructed from "different" sounds. Stylistically, grime takes from many
genres including UK Garage, dancehall and hip hop. The lyrics and music combine
futuristic electronic elements and dark, guttural bass lines. Grime music videos have
been criticised by politicians and also artists within the Grime scene, such as JME, for
their violent content. In a move to censor this, Channel AKA has with the pressure
from the police begun to sift through grime videos, being highly selective with the
ones that are broadcast.
Examples of Grime artists:
• Roll deep
Grime Music Samples: