From time immemorial, music has inspired human beings to do things they never imagined. It is commonly said that it can make angels of beasts, free our minds of racing thoughts and danger and give peace to our souls when we are on the verge of giving up. It is for this reason that humans have had such a timeless connection with music and while it has evolved over the years, what holds true is the fact that it never loses its inspirational effects.
There are many genres of music and it is nearly impossible to write the whole list down. There are many factors considered when classifying music into various genres. These factors could range from the type of instruments used, the number of singers, the type of message passed across and the ambiance the music creates. In this article, we shall look at a few categories of music with a view to understanding what they mean, what their origins are, and with what kinds of audience the music resonates.
We have all heard of hip-hop or better-referred t as rap music. It was not until the 70s that hip-hop burst onto the music scene. This style of music is characterized by stylized rhythmic music that is often accompanied by rapping and a chanted piece that is often rhymed. Hip-hop was popularized by Negroes and Hispanics in the United States and is seen to have been inspired by the struggles undergone by these minority groups at a time when the US was still grappling with the ghosts of racial prejudice. Common names in this industry include Tupac Shakur, Notorious Big, Dr. Dre among many others. While hip-hop gained favor among these groups, it was not particularly welcome the world over, as the lyrics used are usually coarse and not necessarily approved among certain age groups or within certain castes.
Now on to Jazz, a more celebrated music kind despite its long history. Like hip-hop, Jazz was popularized by African Americans, especially those living in New Orleans over 100 years ago. Unlike hip-hop that can be composed and sung exclusively by one artist, jazz is often performed in bands and a typical jazz band is an ensemble of musicians as well as a variety of musical instruments. Members of this band are assigned roles depending on their strengths. There are those that excel at vocals, there are the drummers, there are the percussionists, pianists as well as a team [usually made of women] that accompany the vocalists. The New Orleans Rhythmic Kings is perhaps one of the most discussed jazz bands. There are also popular names such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Count Basie Orchestra, just to name a few.
Lastly, one of the most popular music genres is reggae. Contrary to popular perceptions, reggae did not originate from Jamaica or Ethiopia but has its roots in New Orleans as well. This music style features a rhythmic variation of dance hall and hip-hop. It is only in the 1960s that reggae started taking Jamaica by storm as local musicians used it to condemn the maltreatment of slaves from Africa. This music genre is commonly composed or performed using musical instruments such as bass, cornets, drums, percussionists, etc. Popular names like Bob Marley from Jamaica and Lucky Dube from South Africa would later emerge as some of the greatest icons in reggae music. Reggae has lots of fans around the world for the fact that it also advocates for a simplistic way of living characterized by generosity and sympathy for the suffering. However, many people are turned off by the fact that it also advocates for the unchecked use of marijuana.
Aside from the major music genres pointed above, there are still many, many more and the list would never end if we decided to discuss them. Just to scratch the surface though, we have R&B, Blues, Soul Music, and more recent ones such as Techno that are associated with millennials. There are also those kinds that are specific to certain regions, such as rhumba in central and eastern Africa, Bongo in Tanzania, and the East African coastal areas, just to mention but a few. Some even defy description and are simply referred to as soundtracks, such as the popular ones used in movie scores by Lisa Gerrard, Hans Zimmer, and Atli Orvassen. Whatever your style or preference is, what remains true is that music is the greatest of all human inspirations, and perhaps the only weapon effective enough to smash generational, class, and racial barriers.