Genres are among the most discussed topics in popular music studies. The attempt to explain issues as complex and layered as how musical genres are born, how they work and what they ontologically are cannot avoid opening a box full of theoretical problems, questions and tools that need to be understood and used in order to say something significant on genre today. Despite the long story of this theoretical debate (roots of which can be traced back to ancient Greece) and the variety of disciplines involved (e.g. literature, music and film studies, but also philosophy, sociology, cultural studies and semiotics), it is difficult to find survey papers that can give an overview of such a rich research environment. This paper attempts to fill that void by trying to systematize the main (contemporary) perspectives on musical genre, in particular non-essentialist theories coming from the overlapping fields of musicology and sociology. Most importantly, its overview stresses the necessity of an interdisciplinary study of musical genre, which – as an exemplum of extraordinarily layered phenomenon of the human production of culture – intertwines technical, social, discursive, commercial, historical and other elements, thus requiring an approach capable of accounting for as much of its many layers of meaning as possible.
Altman, R. (1999). Film/Genre. London: British Film Institute.
Anderson, B. (2000). Imagined Communities. London: Verso.
Bakhtin M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (V. W. McGee, Transl., C. Emerson, M. Holquist, Eds.). Austin: University of Texas Press.
Bechis, G. (2004). Generi e Popular Music [Genres and Popular Music] (Master’s thesis, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy).
Becker, H. S. (1982). Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Born, G., & Brackett, D. (forthcoming). Genre and Music: New Directions. Durham: Duke University Press.
Borthwick, S., & Moy, R. (2004). Popular Music Genres: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1994). Pour une science des oeuvres. In Raisons pratiques. Sur la théorie de l’action (pp. 59-98). Paris: Seuil.
Brackett, D. (2002). (In Search of) Musical Meaning: Genres, Categories and Crossover. In D. Hesmondalgh & K. Negus (Eds.), Popular Music Studies (pp. 65–83). London: Arnold.
Brackett, D. (2016). Categorizing Sound: Genre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oakland: University of California Press.
Derrida, J. (1982). Signature Event Context. In Margins of Philosophy (Alan Bass, Transl.)
(pp. 307–330). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Fabbri, F. (1981). I generi musicali: Una questione da riaprire [Music genres: A question to be reopened]. Musica/Realtà, 4: 43–65.
Fabbri, F. (1982). A Theory of Musical Genre: Two Applications. In D. Horn & P. Tagg (Eds.), Popular Music Perspectives (pp. 52–81). Göteborg & Exeter: IASPM.
Fabbri, F. (2008a). Genre in Popular Music, by Fabian Holt. Popular Music, 27(3): 490–492.
Fabbri, F. (2008b). Il suono in cui viviamo: Saggi sulla popular music [The sound we live in: Essays on popular music] (3rd ed). Milano: Il Saggiatore.
Fabbri, F. (2012). How Genres Are Born, Change, Die: Conventions, Communities and Diachronic Processes. In S. Hawkins (Ed.), Critical Musicological Reflections (pp. 179–191). Farnham: Ashgate.
Fornäs, J. (1995). The Future of Rock: Discourses that Struggle to Define a Genre. Popular Music,14(1): 111–127.
Foucault, M. (1969). L’archéologie du savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
Frith, S. (1996). Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Frye, N. (1957). Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hirsch, E. D. (1967). Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Holt, F. (2007). Genre in Popular Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Krogh, M. (2020). Streaming Genre: Abstraction and Singularization in Digital Music Distribution.
Paper at: IASPM Norden Conference 2020 – Music in the Age of Streaming: Nordic Perspectives, Luleå University of Technology.
Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lena, J. C. (2012). Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Levitin, D. (2008). This is Your Brain on Music. London: Atlantic Books.
Lewis, D. K. (2002). Convention, a Philosophical Study. Oxford: Blackwell.
Moore, A. F. (2001a). Categorical Conventions in Music Discourse: Style and Genre. Music & Letters 82(3): 432-442.
Moore, A. F. (2001b). Questioni di stile, genere e idioletto nel rock [Matters of style, genre and idiolect in rock]. Musica/Realtà, 22(64): 85–102. English version: http://www.allanfmoore.org.uk/questionstyle.pdf (accessed: 23/11/2020).
Moore, A. F. (2001c). Rock, the Primary Text: Developing a Musicology of Rock (2nd ed). Farnham:Ashgate.
Moore. A. F. (2009). Style and Genre as a Mode of Aesthetics. Unpublished manuscript: http://www.allanfmoore.org.uk/styleaesth.pdf (accessed: 26/11/2020).
Neale, S. (1980). Genre. London: British Film Institute.
Negus, K. (1999). Music Genres and Corporate Cultures. London-New York: Routledge.
Peterson, R. A., & Berger, D. G. (1975). Cycles in Symbol Production: The Case of Popular Music. American Sociological Review, 40(2): 158–173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2094343
Quintero Rivera, A. (1998). Salsa, Sabor y Control: Sociologia de la Música ‘Tropical’ [Salsa, taste and control: sociology of ‘tropical’ music]. Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno.
Shuker, R. (1994). Understanding Popular Music Culture. London-New York: Routledge.
Sibilla, G. (2017). I linguaggi della musica pop. Milano: Bompiani [Popular music languages].
Silver, D., Lee, M., & Childress, C. C. (2016). Genre Complexes in Popular Music. PLOS ONE, 11(5). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155471
Thornton, S. (1995). Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Todorov, T. (1970). Introduction à la littérature fantastique. Paris: Seuil.
Tomatis, J. (2015). I generi della canzone italiana: Teoria e storia [Genres of Italian song: Theory and history] (Doctoral dissertation, Università degli Studi di Torino).
Toynbee, J. (2000). Making Popular Music: Musicians, Creativity and Institutions. London: Arnold.
Wall, T. (2003). Studying Popular Music Culture. London: Hodder & Stoughton Educational.