Music, Contemporary Genres
Hey, what's that sound? Music pervades many aspects of contemporary everyday life; it appears in commercials, blares from speakers in stores and restaurants, accompanies commuters on the way to work, and energizes gym-goers when their motivation is flagging. Music festivals such as Lollapalooza (in Chicago) and the Sziget Festival (in Budapest) attract enormous crowds by featuring an extensive lineup of musicians over several days. Today's music can be divided into any number of categories and subcategories, encompassing genres such as pop, jazz, rock, alternative, country, electronic, rap, and much more.
Music, Contemporary Genres Encyclopedia Articles
Louis Armstrong, the leading trumpeter and one of the most influential artists in jazz history. Although Armstrong claimed to be born in 1900, various documents, notably a baptismal record, indicate that 1901 was his birth year. He grew up in dire poverty in New Orleans, Louisiana, when jazz was...
Bing Crosby, American singer, actor, and songwriter who achieved great popularity in radio, recordings, and motion pictures. He became the archetypal crooner of a period when the advent of radio broadcasting and talking pictures and the refinement of sound-recording techniques made the climate...
Electronic dance music
Electronic dance music, umbrella term for a panoply of musical styles that emerged in the mid-1980s. Rather than designating a single genre, electronic dance music (EDM) encompasses styles ranging from beatless ambient music to 200-beats-per-minute hardcore, with house music, techno, drum and bass,...
Encyclopedia / Music, Contemporary Genres
Sergey Prokofiev, 20th-century Russian (and Soviet) composer who wrote in a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces. Prokofiev (Prokofjev in the transliteration system of the Russian Academy of Sciences) was born into a family of...
B.B. King, American guitarist and singer who was a principal figure in the development of blues and from whose style leading popular musicians drew inspiration. King was reared in the Mississippi Delta, and gospel music in church was the earliest influence on his singing. To his own impassioned...
Alicia Keys, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress, who achieved enormous success in the early 2000s with her blend of R&B and soul music. Keys began performing at age four and playing piano at age seven, concentrating on classical music and jazz. At age 14 she began composing, and two...
Tim Rice, English lyricist who coauthored some of the most successful stage and film musicals of the 20th century. He often collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and their notable works included Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. After singing briefly with the pop group the Aardvarks during his...
Neil Young, Canadian guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known for his idiosyncratic output and eclectic sweep, from solo folkie to grungy guitar-rocker. Young grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his mother after her divorce from his father, a well-known Canadian sportswriter. Having performed...
Bruno Mars, American singer and songwriter who was known for both his catchy pop music—which often featured upbeat lyrics, blended different genres, and had a retro quality—and his energetic live performances. He was the son of Pete (“Dr. Doo-Wop”) Hernandez, a Latin percussionist of Puerto Rican...
Miles Davis, American jazz musician, a great trumpeter who as a bandleader and composer was one of the major influences on the art from the late 1940s. Davis grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, where his father was a prosperous dental surgeon. (In later years he often spoke of his comfortable...
Charlie Parker, American alto saxophonist, composer, and bandleader, a lyric artist generally considered the greatest jazz saxophonist. Parker was the principal stimulus of the modern jazz idiom known as bebop, and—together with Louis Armstrong and Ornette Coleman—he was one of the three great...
Leiber and Stoller
Leiber and Stoller, American songwriters and record producers. Jerry Leiber (in full Jerome Leiber; b. April 25, 1933, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.—d. August 22, 2011, Los Angeles, California) and Mike Stoller (in full Michael Stoller; b. March 13, 1933, Belle Harbor, New York, U.S.), working...
Art Tatum, American pianist, considered one of the greatest technical virtuosos in jazz. Tatum, who was visually impaired from childhood, displayed an early aptitude for music. At age 13, after starting on the violin, Tatum concentrated on the piano and was soon performing on local radio programs....
Frederick Loewe, German-born American composer and collaborator with Alan Jay Lerner on a series of hit musical plays, including the phenomenally successful My Fair Lady (1956; filmed 1964). Loewe, whose father was a Viennese actor and operetta tenor, was a child prodigy, playing the piano at age...
Shania Twain, Canadian musician who, with her mix of country melodies and pop vocals, became one of the most popular crossover artists of the mid-1990s. Twain took the surname of her stepfather, Jerry Twain, at a young age. After the family moved north to Timmins, Ontario, she developed an...
Aretha Franklin, American singer who defined the golden age of soul music of the 1960s. Franklin’s mother, Barbara, was a gospel singer and pianist. Her father, C.L. Franklin, presided over the New Bethel Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, and was a minister of national influence. A singer...
Rick Rubin, American record producer whose light touch and keen ear made him one of the most sought-after producers in popular music. Rubin grew up listening to heavy metal and early punk, and he frequently took the train into Manhattan from his Long Island home to see New York punk pioneers the...
Michael Bublé, Canadian singer and songwriter who found fame in the early 21st century with a combination of reworked swing-era classics and original ballads. As a child, Bublé enjoyed a particularly close relationship with his grandfather, who introduced him to the crooners of the 1930s and ’40s....
Christina Aguilera, American pop singer who emerged during the teen pop explosion of the late 1990s and experienced almost instant commercial success. Along with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, Aguilera got her musical start on the Disney Channel’s The New Mickey Mouse Club. After recording...
Rihanna, Barbadian pop and rhythm-and-blues (R&B) singer who became a worldwide star in the early 21st century, known for her distinctive and versatile voice and for her fashionable appearance. She was also known for her beauty and fashion lines. Fenty grew up in Barbados with a Barbadian father...
Marvin Gaye, American soul singer-songwriter-producer who, to a large extent, ushered in the era of artist-controlled popular music of the 1970s. Gaye’s father was a storefront preacher; his mother was a domestic worker. Gaye sang in his father’s Evangelical church in Washington, D.C., and became a...
Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole, American musician hailed as one of the best and most influential pianists and small-group leaders of the swing era. Cole attained his greatest commercial success, however, as a vocalist specializing in warm ballads and light swing. Cole grew up in Chicago, where, by age 12, he sang...
Lin-Manuel Miranda, American actor, composer, lyricist, and writer who created and starred in stage productions that blended modern musical forms with classic musical theatre. Perhaps his best-known work was Hamilton, a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton. Miranda was born to parents of Puerto...
David Bowie, British singer, songwriter, and actor who was most prominent in the 1970s and best known for his shifting personae and musical genre hopping. To call Bowie a transitional figure in rock history is less a judgment than a job description. Every niche he ever found was on a cusp, and he...
Katy Perry, American pop singer who gained fame for a string of anthemic and often sexually suggestive hit songs, as well as for a playfully cartoonish sense of style. Katy Hudson was raised in southern California, the middle child of two itinerant born-again Christian ministers. Nonreligious music...
Duke Ellington, American pianist who was the greatest jazz composer and bandleader of his time. One of the originators of big-band jazz, Ellington led his band for more than half a century, composed thousands of scores, and created one of the most distinctive ensemble sounds in all of Western...
Tina Turner, American-born singer who found success in the rhythm-and-blues, soul, and rock genres in a career that spanned five decades. Turner was born into a sharecropping family in rural Tennessee. She began singing as a teenager and, after moving to St. Louis, Missouri, immersed herself in the...
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber, English composer and theatrical producer whose eclectic rock-based works helped revitalize British and American musical theatre, beginning in the late 20th century. Lloyd Webber studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, and at the Royal College of Music. While a student, he began...
Shakira, Colombian musician who achieved success in both Spanish- and English-speaking markets and by the early 2000s was one of the most successful Latin American recording artists. Shakira, who had a Lebanese father and a native Colombian mother, started belly dancing at an early age and by age...
Bruce Springsteen, American singer, songwriter, and bandleader who became the archetypal rock performer of the 1970s and ’80s. Springsteen grew up in Freehold, a mill town where his father worked as a labourer. His rebellious and artistic side led him to the nearby Jersey Shore, where his...
Julio Iglesias, Spanish singer and songwriter whose romantic image, magnetic stage presence, and expressive music made him one of the best-selling artists of all time. By the early 21st century he had sold hundreds of millions of albums in more than a dozen languages. Iglesias was born and raised...
Pharrell Williams, American musician who was involved in a number of pop hits as part of the producing team the Neptunes, as a songwriter, and as a solo performer. Williams was a percussionist in his school band when he was a child, and he found a kindred spirit in saxophonist Chad Hugo. Williams...
Kander and Ebb
Kander and Ebb, American songwriting duo made up of John Kander (b. March 18, 1927, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.) and Fred Ebb (b. April 8, 1928?, New York, New York, U.S.—d. September 11, 2004, New York City), who collaborated for more than 40 years—from the mid-1960s to the early 2000s—to produce...
Benny Goodman, American jazz musician and bandleader and a renowned 20th-century clarinet virtuoso. Dubbed the “King of Swing,” Goodman was also a complex personality whose relentless pursuit of perfection was reflected in his approach to music. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Goodman...
Music, Contemporary Genres Subcategories
Country music's roots lie in the ballads, folk songs, and popular songs of the English, Scots, and Irish settlers of the Appalachians and other parts of the American South. Country songs regularly feature stringed instruments such as the fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and the genre is especially associated with ballads and dance tunes. The gap between country and the mainstream of pop music narrowed with the replacement by electric guitars of more traditional instruments, though country music has retained an unmistakable character as one of the few truly indigenous American musical styles. The genre's celebrated artists include such diverse performers as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, and Kacey Musgraves.
"Folk music" means different things to different people; its definition varies according to the part of the world and the period of history. Typically, folk music is thought of as a type of traditional and generally rural music that was originally passed down through families or other small social networks. Traditional village society had a robust musical life, and folk songs were composed to tell narratives, to commemorate various milestones and events in the human life cycle, to serve as an accompaniment to dancing, and more. In the 20th century, folk music notably came to be used more broadly by dissident movements, and the musical form was taken up by those seeking social and economic reform, opposing wars, or advocating for environmental protection. This kind of protest music was notably created by folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie (whose vast compositional library included "This Land Is Your Land"), Pete Seeger, and Joan Baez. By the end of the 20th century, the concept of folk music was dominated by recent creations drawing on musical and poetic features that associate them with older traditions. Folk-music elements were increasingly incorporated into pop music, leading to the creation of mixed genres such as folk rock, performed by groups such as Bright Eyes and Mumford & Sons.
Do you prefer your music to be a little off-the-cuff? Perhaps jazz would fit the bill! Jazz music, which was developed by African Americans and was influenced by both African rhythms and European harmonic structure, first appeared at the turn of the 20th century and has since undergone several distinctive phases of development. Although any attempt to formulate an all-encompassing definition of jazz may be hopeless, jazz music is often identified with the use of syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, deliberate deviations of pitch, and original timbres. Renowned jazz musicians and composers such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, as well as celebrated jazz singers such as Billie Holiday, made an indelible mark in jazz's constantly evolving history and continue to serve as a major influence and inspiration for countless musicians.
Whether you love it or hate it, pop music can be hard to avoid. That's because its defining characteristic is its popularity within a culture (or across multiple cultures). Historically, popular music was thought as of any non-folk form that acquired mass popularity; more recently, it can be defined as any commercially oriented music principally intended to be received and appreciated by a wide audience. Popular music styles tended to move westward from Europe to the United States until the early 20th century, when new American forms such as ragtime and Broadway musicals were enthusiastically embraced in Europe. Since then, Western popular music has been dominated by developments in the United States. Popular music has variously included musical forms such as ragtime, jazz, swing, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, rock, disco, hip-hop, and rap.
Rap & Hip-Hop Music
Rap music originated in African American communities in New York City during the 1970s, but its popularity and global impact rapidly expanded. Rap evolved as one element of the hip-hop movement, which originally included not only rapping but also deejaying, break dancing, and graffiti painting. Hip-hop was also the wellspring of several staple techniques of modern pop music, including digital drumming and sampling. Rappers such as Ice Cube, Eminem, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Cardi B have achieved global prominence.
Are you ready to rock out? Rock music originated in the United States in the 1950s, and by the '90s its impact was apparent on a global scale. Rock became the most inclusive of musical genres; if other kinds of music—e.g., classical, jazz, easy listening, country, folk, etc.—are marketed as minority interests, rock defines the musical mainstream. Rock's origins lie in rock and roll, a new form of American popular music in the 1950s that was personified early on by Elvis Presley. Other successful rock singers, musicians, and groups include Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, Courtney Love, Bob Dylan, and Patti Smith.
In the music world, the terms "rhythm and blues" and "soul" both initially described types of African-American popular music with origins in the 1940s and '50s. However, the terms' definitions have evolved significantly over time, as both categories saw the incorporation of elements of pop and electronic music, among other changes. Celebrated soul and R&B artists include Etta James, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse, Usher, and Alicia Keys.
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