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Music and its Many Genres

Team StoryWeavers|March 24, 2022, 08:42 IST| 24

The human brain loves classifying information. It’s our way of understanding and simplifying the complex world we live in. Putting things into categories makes it easy and quick to understand any topic. When it comes to books, we have fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, memoirs etc. In movies, we have comedies, horrors, action, thrillers and so on. So it is with music. 

Music is categorized by something called a ‘genre’. Genre (pronounced  ‘Jon-rah’) is a French word, which means ‘kind’ or ‘sort’. In music, genre is a way to categorize different styles into certain shared traditions or set of conventions. These traditions are usually based on the instruments used, the style and origin of the music and the cultural context that shapes it. Peter van der Merwe, a musicologist and author from South Africa, describes genre as pieces of music that share a certain style or “basic musical language.” Oftentimes, musical genres overlap to create something called a ‘subgenre’ or a new genre altogether. 

In recent times, thanks to the internet, artists now have the ability to share their music across the world. This means music today is more diverse than ever. Which also means a whole lot of new genres. Let’s take a look at some of the genres of music across the world and gain a better understanding of them.

Genre is also sometimes defined by certain key instruments

Genres in India and the rest of the world:

India and music go a long way back in history. The first known record of it is from 30,000 years ago in the Bhimbhetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh which depict music instruments and dance. Be it any genre, the use of ragas i.e certain melodic frameworks is heavily relied upon in any music form in India. Broadly speaking though, Indian music can be classified into three categories:

    1. Carnatic Music: Traced back to the 13 -14 century and thereafter, this type of music originated in South India during the Vijayanagara Empire. The main emphasis of this genre is on vocals (gayaki). Prominent instruments used in this kind of music are the Veena, Kanjira, Shruti box, Mridangam, Flute and Violin amongst others. According to folklore, Tallapakka Annamayya, a Hindu saint from the 15th century is the first known composer in Carnatic music. Other famous artists from current times include KJ Yesudas, Bombay Jayshree, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Aruna Sairam, etc.
    2. Hindustani Music: Traditional Hindustani music dates back to the Vedic times. It diverged from Carnatic music in around 15 -16 centuries, due to Islamic influences with the advent of Mughals in India. Akbar’s reign is considered to be the peak of Hindustani music, especially because of musical maestro Tansen’s innovations. This genre has many sub-genres namely Dhrupad, Dhamar, Tarana, Khyal, Thumri, Tappa and  Sadra. Prominent instruments used in this musical tradition include Sitar, Pakhwaj, Tabla, Shehnai, Santoor, Sarod, Harmonium amongst others. Many consider Tansen as the founder of Hindustani music. In current times most famous artists in this genre are Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, etc.
    3. Folk Music: It is said that language changes every 15-20 km in India. Similarly, folk music too, is very diverse in India. To name a few styles – Bhangra, Garba, Haryanvi, Lavani, Bihu, Marfa, Odissi, Rajasthani, Rabindra sangeet, etc are popular all over the country. These differ not only in terms of the instruments used but also the time and place of it being played. Most of these are accompanied by certain dance forms. Some of the popular artists in current times are Falguni Pathak in the Gujrati Garba genre, Gurdas Maan in Punjabi, Bhupen Hazarika in the Assamese genre, amongst many others.

Different music genresInternational music has a different set of genres altogether. Some of the most popular forms in the American music industry being Hip-hop, Jazz, Blues, RnB and Country. If you move to the European continent, some genres sound a bit similar to the American ones and some change altogether. For example, American traditions of Rock music and Blues underwent a series of changes in the UK to give birth to the genre of Metal music.

It can be said that countries across the world have their own style of folk music genres and others too, which makes the count of genres almost impossible to keep up with. 

In recent times, with the rise of the internet and the ability to share music across the world, there has been a huge rise in the number of genres. With the increased access to music all over the world. Musicians today are able to blend music from across the world and come up with a new genre altogether. It is safe to say now that a lot of popular music today doesn’t quite stick to one particular genre. 

Boy band - BTSTake K-Pop music, for example, made famous across the world by the boy band BTS. Although technically it is Korean Pop music, it is considered to be an all-encompassing genre, comprising elements of Rock, Jazz, Hip-hop, RnB, Reggae, Electronic and more! Bollywood music also follows a similar pattern of mixing genres. Some of the most popular Bollywood songs like Chaiyya Chaiyya or the recent hit number Kala Chashma,  mix up more than two genres in a single song. 

Some people believe that one’s personality traits influence their choice of music. There’s no scientific evidence to prove if this is true or not. What is true for sure though, is that music is a uniquely human experience and it is subjective in nature. There are a lot of different kinds of music all around the world. One should definitely explore as much of it as possible. You never know what you like till you try it! 

Keep exploring, keep learning and keep having fun!

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Relax! Cool it. Let the music do it.

Convert your love for MUSIC into a flourishing career!

Jack of all trades, master of many – Shaurya Hirlekar

Jaltarang experiment (DIY)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many genres of music are there?


There are over 1,000 music genres that exist today and the number is only growing. Technically, there can be infinite music genres especially in today's age where the internet has sprawled numerous mash-ups of genres.

2. What genre is BTS?


The music of BTS is categorised as K-pop, a genre that was born in South Korea.

3. What was the first genre of music?


Vocal music and Folk music are considered to be the oldest genres of music.

4. What is the most popular genre of music in 2022?


According to music streaming service Spotify, pop is the most popular genre of music in 2022.

About the Author

Charu, a feminist and an accidental writer, is yet to master the art of writing about herself. Always curious to learn new stuff, she ends up spending a lot of time unlearning the incorrect lessons. She enjoys all sorts of stories – real, fictional, new, old, hers and would love hearing yours too. Feel free to ping her at to share anything that you think is worth sharing.

Leave a Comment




August 5, 2020

Thank-you byju’s for much information about music.. Because i want to be a singer and I am also I am a big fan of BTS too so I purple you ARMYYY????

Shivangi Yadav

June 24, 2020

I am also an army (bts fan)


May 26, 2020

Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.


April 25, 2020

is there the entries open for women’s day

Astha Gupta

April 22, 2020

Seeing about BTS really makes me happy
I purple you ?

Vaibhavi Upadhye

April 20, 2020

I am also a diehard fans of BTS (member of A.R.M.Y.)??

Vaibhavi Upadhye

April 20, 2020

Yess I am also diehard fans of BTS??


April 20, 2020

What an educational article. Loved it.

Utsa Barai

April 20, 2020

I love sad song ❣️?

Trrishan Saha

April 20, 2020


Swetha Sekhar

April 19, 2020

I am studying carnatic and folk music for the last 7 years.
Thank you BYJU’S for this informative content

Harinder Pal Singh

April 18, 2020

I am a big fan of BTS. ARMY! Fighting


April 18, 2020

I am an army too
( That means that I am a fan of bts)


April 18, 2020

I am a big fan of k-pop music especially BTS???


April 17, 2020

Excellent , interesting and very informative


April 17, 2020

Incredible content, Byjus!

Atharva Pratap Singh

April 17, 2020

Learning has become fun and I want to say a special thanks to the BYJU’S group of teachers


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