A musical genre is a category that brings together musical compositions that share different affinity criteria, such as their function (dance music, religious music, film music...), their instrumentation (vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music...), the social context in which it is produced or the content of its text.
While the traditional academic classifications in musical genres have fundamentally attended to the function of the musical composition (what the piece is composed for, as in the previous examples), the modern music genre classifications, used by the recording industry, have paying more attention to specifically musical criteria (rhythm, instrumentation, harmony...) and cultural characteristics, such as the geographical, historical or social context; Thus, the concept of musical genre has been assimilated to that of musical style, and today it is common for flamenco, rock or country to be classified as a genre (example: "rock is a musical genre with a very marked rhythm" ).
Academic classification of musical genres
Musical works have traditionally been separated by genre according to the purpose for which they have been composed, that is, according to their social function and their instrumentation (functional or material criteria).
Sorting by function
Religious music: music that has been created for a religious ceremony or cult (mass, etc.).
Secular music: is the genre to which all non-religious music belongs.
Dramatic music: musical theatrical works belong to this genre, in which the singers act representing their character while they sing (opera, musical, etc.). Among them we distinguish:
Opera buffa (Italy)
Tragédie lyrique (France)
Comedie ballet (France)
Grand Opera (France)
Singspiel (Germanic area)
Oratory, non-religious liturgical genre.
Incidental music: is the music that accompanies a play, a television program, a radio program, a movie, a video game and other forms of expression that are not musical in principle.
Film music: is the music, usually orchestrated and instrumental, composed to accompany the scenes of a film or theater and support the cinematographic narration. Although it can be considered as a type of incidental music, it constitutes a musical genre in itself.
Classification by instrumentation
Vocal music : all music in which the voice intervenes. Vocal music without any accompaniment is called “acapella”. If it is a group of voices, it is called choral music.
Instrumental music: works performed exclusively by musical instruments, without the participation of the voice. Within classical music, if the group of instruments is reduced, we speak of chamber music. When the musical work is performed by an orchestra, we speak of symphonic music. If the instruments that perform the work are electronic, we speak of electronic music.
Pure or abstract music: it is music without reference to the extramusical; does not try to describe or suggest something concrete beyond what the listener is able to perceive and feel
Programmatic music: it is the one that is based on a literary program, guide or extramusical argument. It is music that tries to tell a story or tale, the life of a character, etc. A derivation of this genre is descriptive music, which is the one that describes a landscape, phenomenon or event (a battle, a storm, etc.)
Musical genres in current music
When the expression "musical genre" is currently used in non-academic contexts, such as commercial ones, in authors' societies or by popular music criticism, it is used