Rule-Breakers

by Karissa Perry

Photography courtesy of Holger Wirth on Creative Commons on Flickr

The term “genre” is loosely used within the music industry. As sound evolves, what once defined common genres such as pop or R&B may not be as accurate in describing more recent music. The solution is new genres, whether they be a resulting combination of multiple pre-existing ones or a brand new niche entirely. Here are five, more obscure music genres that you may not have heard of, but should give a chance. While they may not all become your newest obsession, give a listen to some of music’s most innovative, unique sounds.

Drone

Taking minimalist music to a whole other level, drone music is best characterized as long, humming sounds that are sustained with a few changes in pitch. Each note either flows into the next or is layered with another. A subgenre of ambient music, drone music is extremely atmospheric and worth a listen if you’re looking for background music that has zero possibility of distracting you; it could also serve well for mediation, a yoga session or something to help you relax. It may not be the most exciting musical creation, but it could serve well as a sleep-inducer.

Symphonic Metal

At first listen, you wouldn’t think that uniform classical music would blend with hard, angst-y metal. However, this cross-genre, which originated in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, somehow works. The vocalists are usually classically-trained, operatic singers while the accompaniment is more metal-based, with guitar riffs and intense drumming. Think of gothic rock with some serious polishing and refinement. Maybe it’s a happy medium for those metal heads that could use a break from the screaming.

Bebop Jazz

Think of this as the intermediary between jazz and swing. Jazz music is already complex, with its array of instruments and spontaneity in melodies. However, this subgenre takes all those jazz arpeggios and chord progressions and speeds them up; you may get tired just by watching a live performance of it. As if the artists were indecisive of what their music entails, a song could jump between pitches, paces, keys – you name it. Even if this isn’t your favorite, you can’t deny that bebop jazz artists really know how to play their instruments.

Lo-fi

If you’re an avid listener of indie punk or rock, then you have probably heard of lo-fi music, which is more of a characteristic of music that evolved to become a genre. It stands for “low fidelity” and lo-fi artists release music with a lower sound quality than usual. However, similar to the cracks and breaks that can be heard when playing music on record players, these technical imperfections add to the music’s charm and have created a pretty strong fan base. Lo-fi artists typically use their own equipment and software to record, rather than using a high-tech recording studio. However, even without the backing of sophisticated recording equipment, their talent shines through.

Chillwave

A more recent subgenre, chillwave, also known as “hypnagogic pop” is a prime example of stereotypical hipster music. It can be described as pop music meshed with psychedelic music and California sound. Chillwave artists typically use synthesizers, mellow, breathy vocals and spontaneous electric melodies dispersed throughout. Imagine a day at the beach with an added electric kick to it. True to its name, the overall feel is relaxing (although drone music still wins in that category) but it has an upbeat-ness to it that would make it acceptable at the trendiest of coffee shops or even as a filler track at an urban nightclub.