11 music genres that sound completely made up
Modern music is boxed into so many genres that sometimes, you might come across one that sounds completely made up. But with the rapid rate at which music is evolving, it is interesting to see new genres that push the very limits and definition of what qualifies as 'music'. Here's our pick of the 11 most interesting ones:
You know how you always have that one hipster friend who listens to the weirdest, most obscure music and then forces it on you over and over again? And when you do finally listen to it, it sounds like some angry guy rubbing steel wool over a guitar to the background sound of a typewriter being kicked down the stairs? Well guess what! Apparently this bizarre stuff that your friend tortures his/her ears with is an actual, legitimate music genre - it’s called ‘Japanoise’ - and that’s just the surface of it.
Modern music is a multitude of strange and eclectic soundscapes that constantly evolve to break out of pre-defined genres. Gone are the days where you could just be a fan of ‘rock’. Now you have to pick between ‘garage rock’, ‘krautrock’, ‘rockabilly’, ‘post-rock’ or ‘pop-rock’ (No, not the candy! Pop-rock is an actual thing). In this day and age where the new overshadows the old more frequently than ever, genres are multiplying in number, while at the same time losing their very essence and meaning.
Indie rock used to mean any rock music produced under an independent label. But today, it just defines the sound popularized by that first wave of indie rock artists and has very little to do with whether the artist is actually signed under a small/independent record label. So fetched from the underbelly of the beast that is modern music, here are the 10 weirdest music genres that’ll make you question the boundary between noise and music:
Warning: If you have your headphones on, now would be a good time to take them off!
Although it sounds like a busy day on a Tokyo street, Japanoise is not exactly just a bunch of noisy Japanese people. It can sound way more jarring than that! As the name suggests, it is a sub-genre of ‘Noise Rock’ that originates in Japan. The video above is from the most "famous" Japanoise artist ever, Merzbow, whose works are often considered more social protest or performance art than "music”. But several Japanese artists don’t like being clubbed under the umbrella of ‘Japanese’, arguing that use of the term is a way of ignoring the differences between musicians who don't necessarily follow the same approach.
There’s a funny story as to how this genre got its name. Shoegaze as a genre emerged out of the 80’s psychedelic music in the UK. The press at the time found it ridiculous how the artists had zero stage presence, as most of them would just stand around, detached, seemingly ‘looking down at their shoes’.
The reality was that the style of music required heavy use of effect pedals to produce the rich textures of sound, so the artists are more mostly looking down! Popular artists that belong to this genre include Porcupine Tree, M83 and Slowdive among many others.
3. Baby Metal
With a name that juxtaposes two words that have no business being next to each other, this music genre is definitely a weird one. And nothing really gets weirder than Japan - musically or otherwise! Baby Metal is a new sensation that has been sweeping the internet.
It basically includes J-pop dance numbers combined with ripping thrash metal, a symphony of the cute (or as the Japanese call it - ‘kawaii’) and the brutal, smashed together and somehow it doesn’t sound half bad. If it did, would Stephen Colbert invite them on their show?
Oi! is a sub-genre of punk rock (yes, the exclamation mark is part of its name) that originated in the UK somewhere in the 70’s. Basically, it’s so punk that even regular punk rockers would be like “That’s some messed up sh*t.” The genre gets its name from the distinct ‘Oi’ that the lead singer of Cockney Rejects used to introduce the band’s songs. The genre had a mass anti-establishment appeal - meant to draw in the working classes, the punks, and the skinheads. But after a large number of white nationalists started entering the scene, the music was viewed as racist and slowly faded into obscurity. Apart from Cockney Rejects, popular Oi! bands include The 4-Skins, The Blood, Combat 84 and other bands you’ve never heard of!
5. Italian Occult Psychedelia
Starting 2013, every year, a music festival called Thalassa happens in Rome. Thousands of fans come together to celebrate Italian Occult Psychedelia, a music genre that is built on all things occult from the world of Italian pop culture. It’s an amalgam of Italian horror B-movies, spaghetti westerns, the films of Federico Fellini and what not. Italy is a country that’s bound by superstitions and blind beliefs (as any Mafia based movie would demonstrate) and IOP (as the genre is often abbreviated) aims to bring the collective Italian superstitions and hauntology to the collective consciousness of the listener. Heavy stuff!
6. Pirate Metal
As the name suggests, Pirate Metal is heavy metal music that borrows heavily from pirate myth and lore. The lyrics are full of pirate slang and the performances are all centered around ‘wenches’ and ‘meade'. A lot of folk instruments like flutes and concertinas are also incorporated into the act and the costumes and revelry complete the show. The video above is of Alestorm, arguably the most famous pirate metal band.
7. Tuvan Throat Singing
This one will actually blow your mind. Tuvan throat singing, also called Mongolian throat singing is an art form of overtone singing, where the performer produces one steady pitch and then adds several varying pitches to it. It’s a spectacular sight to behold and the culture has a deep-rooted history, with the art form being passed on for hundreds of years among the sheep herding tribes of Mongolia.
The music is deeply tied to the geographic and cultural roots of the tribes. It is believed that the vast, open landscapes of the Mongolian steppes allows the voice to carry great distances. It is not uncommon for a performer to search far and wide for the right river or landscape to find the perfect location for the performance. With a history of deep animism, the art form is believed to have evolved with the mimicking of nature’s sounds, like the howl of the wind and the babble of a brook.
A genre that smashes two philosophically opposite musical themes together, dance-punk as a sound emerged out of the 70s during the post-punk movement. The sound is characterized by the influence of funk and disco, producing a more danceable style of punk music. But you can’t really dance to the music -maybe groove a little - and the lyrics often touch upon themes of alienation, angst and rage. So maybe dance-punk is an accurate terminology after all. Popular acts include Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bloc Party.
If you want to know the answer to 'What happens when Mario eats one mushroom too many?' the answer can be found in the dissonant, nostalgia-raping, psychedelic sounds of Nintendocore! The genre fuses video game music with modern hardcore punk, heavy metal and other blaring genres of music. If you've played Pokemon on your Gameboy for long hours while listening to heavy-metal, this musical experience won't be too strange for you! Famous pioneers of the genre include bands like Minibosses, The NESkimos, Sky Eats Airplane and Retrocious.
10. 1-Bit Symphony
Some of us instantly get nostalgic when we listen to 8-bit music tracks like the ones we heard on the soundtracks of classic arcade games like Mario and Pacman. But how do you think you’ll handle 1-bit sound? Or even better, a 1-bit symphony!
The creator of the 1-bit Symphony, Tristan Perich, made a symphony that automatically plays when you plug a headphone jack into a single, simple microchip. It’s basically the sounds of transistors turning on and off in the circuitry. Technically, all digital music is basically just that, but when you trip it down and remove the time signatures and structured melodies, it sounds pretty damn weird.
11. Whatever the hell John Cage's 4' 33'' is!
For the uninitiated, John Cage was an American experimental composer and music theorist. Somewhere in the late 40s, under the influence of Zen Buddhism, Cage began contemplating the very essence of music and put forth an idea that any sounds may constitute music. So with a firm grip of the obvious, he wrote a four-minute-thirty-three second piece called 4’ 33’’. It’s basically 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, but there’s more to it than just that.
The philosophy underlying it is that every time it is performed, the ambient sounds of the orchestra, theater or wherever the piece is being performed, becomes the music. That includes people clearing their throat, coughing, a random phone vibrating or what not. And because each setting is unique, it can never sound the same twice! Either way, we hope you enjoy the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of the composition above!
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