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The naming of musical genres

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 11:35 pm
by Charlie
Every time the term world music gets another dig in the ribs from a journalist with nothing better to write about, I wonder which other genres went through such a hard time.

I have a feeling that the name jazz was frowned upon for many years, but for different reasons - it was considered a euphemism for sex.

So here's a first draft at identifying the different types of generic names

1. Dancing (and/or sex):
Boogie woogie
Rock 'n' roll
The Twist
The Jerk
The Hitch Hike
Rock Steady

2. Ethnic/Social

3. Regional
New Orleans
Mersey Beat

4. Locations where music is played or heard
Honky Tonk
House (shortened from warehouse)
Garage (as in garage bands of the 60s, and garage house music in the 80s)

5. Onamatopia
Boogie woogie
Be Bop
Doo Wop
Hip Hop

6. The Mind Boggles (how did they think of it?)
Black Bottom

7. Mood Music

8. Analytical/Descriptive
Rhythm and Blues
Beat Groups
Hard Rock
Heavy Metal

9. Marketing Terms
Big Band
Traditional Jazz
Modern Jazz
Mainstream Jazz
Western Swing
Folk Rock
Glam Rock
New Wave
Brit Pop
World Music


where to put?

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:27 am
by Gordon Moore
Excellent idea, plus some kind of explanation/definition (oh perhaps not (hehe))

New Age
Drum n Base?

Re: The naming of musical genres

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:32 am
by Con Murphy
Charlie wrote:where to put?

I think "Zouk" is Creole for "Party", so Category 4?

Mbalax is surely onamatopeic.

Isn't mbaqanga (like Salsa?) food-orientated*? Can't quite remember, might be mixing it up with shebeen. If not, is that a whole new category?

"Soukous" comes from the French 'secouer' (to shake), so I guess that belongs in the dance section.

Don't know about the others, but I liked the way "Soca" came to stand for "Sounds of the Caribbean and Africa" on a local London radio show a number of years ago. The "ca" part must be from "calypso" though, I would have thought.

*Edit: ... LABEL_ID=2

mbaqanga, translated, means ‘home-made’, even ‘dumpling’ or ‘porridge’.

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 10:18 am
by Neil Foxlee
Surely soca = soul + calypso. I don't think 'reggae' is onomatopoeic (I think that's how you spell it) - there's a claimed association with 'streggae', a street girl. Ragga from raggamuffin, dancehall from the place the music is played.

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 10:33 am
by tulsehill charlie
(Con, I've just seen that you got there first)
Mbaqanga - a word coined by Jazz Maniac's trumpeter Michael Xaba, refers to a kind of traditional steamed maize bread in Zulu.

Soca is simply soul-calypso. There are differing opinions as to who coined this, but Lord Shorty called his new hybrid solka, and this stuck. Eddie Grant claims to have invented the sound, by combining soul and kaiso (calypso).

Kaiso is possibly the Hausa word "kaito" which signifies approval, similar to "bravo" or "ole". "Calypso" has nothing to do with the Greek word, and is probably derived from "kaiso".

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 10:45 am
by tulsehill charlie
Tango has multiple origins, but is probably derived from from a Kongo word meaning "drum", "place of dance" or "dance motions" (Robert Farris Thompson). Kongo funeral customs were practised in Buenos Aires and in Montevideo in the early 19th century. Thompson suggests that "tango" means "walking the walk" (as in New Orleans funeral marches).

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 12:31 pm
by Dominic
Kwaito could come from the Isicamtho (township slang) word 'amakwaitosi', meaning 'gangster', or from the Afrikaans word 'kwaai', which appears to mean both 'angry' and 'cool'.

Charlie wrote:4. Locations where music is played or heard

Pub Rock!

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 12:41 pm
by Dominic
"The most accepted theory puts forró as a derivative of forrobodó, meaning "great party" or "commotion"." - Wikipedia

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 7:20 pm
by NormanD
Klezmer? The word's Yiddish origin roughly means music, or musical instrument, and the people who played it were "klezmorim", the guys with the instruments.

So, put it under no. 8?

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 7:36 pm
by judith
Would gospel & pow wow music (and others of this kind) fit under social?

blues/jazz/juke joint
meeting hall (church)

Delta blues
Chi sound
Motown? (motor city)


PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:27 pm
by Rob Hall
Let's cut to the chase. You need to take into account:

Music I like
Music I don't like

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:31 pm
by judith
And then there's censored music (from a historical aspect)

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:21 pm
by Dayna
There was one type of boring old music that people made fun of a lot here. I don't know what the real name of it was but here, they called it Elevator Music. They used to use it a lot in comical sketches of Dr. offices.
maybe that was actually New Age.

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:55 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Elevator music, new age, same thing isn't it really?

Brian Eno was having a bit of a laugh though when he did his 'Music for Films' and 'Music for Airports'.

I know pejorative terms such as schmaltz and muzak aren't really genres as such, but wonder where those terms originate?

Indie is an odd one deriving from the kind of record label - though strictly inaccurate given the vast range of 'independent' labels there are...

Re: The naming of musical genres

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 8:46 am
by Alan Balfour
Charlie wrote:6. The Mind Boggles (how did they think of it?)
Black Bottom
Dunno but Perry Bradford in his autobiography (Born With The Blues, Oak 1965) he states he published "The Original Black Bottom Dance" in 1919 which involved periodic slapping of the "backside". There's a super double-entendre recording "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" in which she plays on the phrase "showing my black bottom" ending the song with, "I done showed you'll my black bottom, now you ought to learn that dance". But that was another time and age. In today's PC world it would go down like the proverbial lead balloon!