How Do You Define Rock Music?Posted by Mike Schuck
We all have our own definitions of what constitutes rock music, but how defining is valid? What about your definition makes you feel good? If you are in a genre that other people consider not-rock, then what does that tell you about their musical taste?
I believe it is important to be aware of where your boundaries are as an artist because it can help you develop as a musician. It also helps determine if someone else’s definition of rock is legitimate or not.
There are three main components when defining rock music. They are song structure, lyrical content, and overall tone. Let’s take a look at each one individually.
This article will talk more about why song structure matters for defining what type of music is considered rock. I will also discuss some examples of songs that may not fit into the category due to they do not match this theory.
Definition of hard rock
Hard rock is typically described as music that uses heavy drums, bass lines, guitar riffs, and vocals that are an easy listen.
Music with lyrics that express strong emotions is also considered hard-rock music. An example of this would be The Beatles! Their songs can be very emotional and dramatic.
Hard rock bands often use metaphors and analogies in their lyrics to emphasize a theme or convey a message. For instance, “Bad Boy” by Mötörhead is an example of how they use metaphor to describe relationships.
The song starts off describing someone who is always there for you as a good friend, before it gets more personal and intense. This illustrates what kind of song this is – they use analogy and storytelling to achieve a climax.
Definition of heavy metal
Heavy metal is often described as being about substance over style, but that doesn’t really work because it takes too long to get to the style part! Metal music can be hard to describe because there are so many versions and variations.
Some people say that only white guys in tight leather pants listen to heavy metal, which isn't very accurate. Some artists like Pink Floyd or Radiohead are considered classic rock bands, but they aren't necessarily categorized as heavy metal.
Heavy metals come from all different musical genres, including blues, jazz, classical, punk, and anything else you can think of. Artists such as Led Zeppelin, Tool, and Black Sabbath incorporated elements of everything into their sound, making it difficult to pinpoint what genre they belong to.
Music lovers have lots of terms to describe different styles, which makes it harder to generalize what kind of music constitutes heavy metal.
Definition of pop metal
What is sometimes referred to as “pop metal” or just plain “metal,” is often characterized by very radio-friendly songs that feature catchy melodies and lyrics about fantasy and/or occult themes.
Many people associate heavy music with something for the feet to stomp around to while listening. This is not wrong, but it is only half of what defines rock music.
The other defining element is how well the song uses instruments and how complexly they are used. Songs that have lots of guitar riffs in combination with strong vocals are considered more rock.
Music genres such as funk and soul also contain large amounts of instrumentation and complexity, making them hard to define clearly. Technically, anything without an identifiable chorus is considered instrumental!
Some examples of rock bands include The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, ACDC, etc. Some examples of harder styles are nu-metal (like Motörhead) and alternative (think Paramore). A few soft ones exist as well like Adele and Taylor Swift.
Definition of punk rock
Punk is always changing. What defines punk music today may not define it tomorrow. For example, you can listen to almost any genre and find parts that are influenced by punk. Hip-hop has been referred to as having a punk influence due to its use of drop DMS songs and lyrics about breaking down barriers and being yourself.
Rock music comes in many forms these days and one must be careful to not include too much bias when defining what makes something rock. People contribute to the definition of rock depending on their personal biases and experiences.
For this reason, there is no single definitive answer for how to describe rock music. Definitions will constantly evolve and shift because people place different values on the term rock. Some value raw energy, while others appreciate strong melodies and vocals, and still more may prefer technical guitar or bass playing.
This article will try to avoid putting too much weight on any one quality to help demystify the word “rock”.
Definition of hard dance
What is considered rock music today was not always defined as such. Before artists could be called “rock,” they had to prove themselves by engaging in what we now refer to as hard-dance songs or genres. Artists like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd are often categorized as rock due to these styles being part of what defines that genre.
Hard dance is typically characterized by lyrics that discuss relationships, sexuality, politics, and other heavy topics while incorporating bass drops, breakdowns, and/or synth sounds. These components make the song sound big and powerful!
Music producers have incorporated this style into many different types of songs (not just for musicians to listen to) because it helps create an effect of empowerment. A simple way to understand this is how moving music can influence us — creating strong emotions.
Definition of dance music
What is Dance Music?
Dance music can be described as songs with very upbeat, infectious melodies and lyrics that talk about relationships and love. These are typically not too heavy or profound, but they will get you moving!
Some examples of this type of music are:
“Give Me Your Love” – The Chainsmokers
“Closer”- Ariana Grande
“I Like It” -Justin Bieber
Many people describe this genre of music as ‘pop’ due to the fact that it is more accessible for most listeners.
This is because these songs usually have simple chord structures and easy to understand vocals. They may even use some slang which many people know how to sing (or at least like).
Overall, this genre of music comes across as fun, carefree, and engaging.
Definition of electro house
Electro music is typically characterized as having very strong melodies, powerful vocals, and interesting instrumentation. Dance songs with lyrics that emphasize clever wordplay and fun imagery are also part of this genre.
Some musicians classify electro as strictly dance music, but this category is increasingly collapsing under its own weight. Artists such as David Guetta have mixed electropop and hip hop styles into their recordings, while artists like The 1975 incorporate elements of rock.
Electro has become so large it can be difficult to define just what makes an album or song fit the bill. This is totally okay! There are many genres within our musical vocabulary that feel blurred together at times.
This article will try to put some definitions to terms related to electro music by breaking down the genre into different categories.
Definition of pop
What is popular music? This term gets thrown around a lot, so let’s get some definitions! According to Merriam-Webster, popular means “of, relating to or characterized by popularity.” The word also has a less positive definition as “inferior in quality.” A song can be considered rock if it sounds like other songs that we have labeled as such, but not all rock music needs to sound very hard or intense.
Pop music comes in many forms: rhythmically oriented pieces with lyrics that tell a story (pop ballads), tracks with catchy melodies and/or licks (power ballads), uptempo dance tunes, etc. It does not need to be about stories or emotions either; instead, it must have strong rhythms and/namelows to attract listeners.
Some examples of what we consider to be classic rock are mentioned above, but here are two more:
The song I chose for you features a soft melody and simple chords that use no tritone (a slightly sharpened second degree minor chord).
It is called a power ballad which typically feature powerful vocals, melodic lines, and romantic lyrics.
Classic rock does not necessarily have to be exclusively made up of bands that are known. For instance, how would you define Pink Floyd? They are usually categorized into this genre, but there are several albums that do not fit the description well enough to make them members.
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