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Music is usually generally classified by Genre (Classical, Rock, Opera, ...)

There is not a lot of consensus on genre between the databases. Some have "Classic Rock" (old rock - what is old?) and Progressive Rock (?). There is also confusion between some genre e.g. New Age, Celtic and Folk.
Many have hybrid genre eg Blues-Rock.
The CD DataBase (CDDB) at GraceNote.com has 250 genres.

Your computers music software can send information about a CD (the number of tracks and length of each) and CDDB will look it up in a database of over 3 million CD's and return the title and other informataion such as songs by track and genre.

They divide them up into 25 classes as follows:
Alternative & Punk Ambient/Dream Pop, Art Rock, Avant Rock, Brit Pop, Emo, Experimental, Art-Folk, Post-Punk, General Alternative, Indie, Power Pop, Rap Metal, Pop-Punk, Riot Grrl/Queercore, General Punk, Hardcore Punk, Lo-Fi/Garage, Old School Punk, Straight Edge Punk
Books & Spoken Short Stories, Comedy, General Books, General Spoken, Poetry, Politics, Religion, Spoken Word, Stories/Fairytales
Blues Acoustic Blues, Blues Rock, Electric Blues, General Blues, Japanese Blues
Children's Music General Children's Music, Japanese Children's Song (Doyo)
Classical Baroque, Chamber Music, Choral, Contemporary, Ensembles, General Classical, Classical Guitar, Medieval, Opera, Romantic Era, Piano, Reniassance Era, Strings, Japanese Classical
Country Alternative Country, Bluegrass, Country Blues, Traditional Country, General Country, Rockabiliy, Contemporary Country
R&B General R&B, Motown, Soul, Urban Crossover, Funk
Data General Data, Applications, Games, Opearting Systems, Karaoke, Japanese Karaoke
Easy Listening Pop Vocals, Bachelor Pad, General Easy Listening, Lounge, Love Songs, Mood Music
Electronica/Dance General Dance, Club Dance, Acid House, Big Beat, Drum n' Bass/Jungle, Electronica, General Electronic, Turntablism, Minimalist Experimental, Ambient Electronica, Garage, General House, Deep House, Progressive House, Happy House, Industrial Dance, Dark Techno/Darkwave, Electro, Detroit Techno, Gabber, General Techno, Hardcore Techno, Illbient, Rave Music, Tribal House, General Trance, Ambient Trance, Hard Trance/Acid, Progressive/Dream, Tech Trance, Trip Hop, Acid Jazz
Folk Contemporary Folk, General Folk, Traditional Folk
Metal Alternative Metal, Black/Death Metal, Grindcore, General Metal, Gothic Metal, Hardcore Metal, Heavy Metal, Pop/Hair Metal, Progressive Metal, Thrash/Speed Metal
Industiral General Industrial, Minimal/Noise, Old School Industrial, Hardcore Industrial
Reggae Ska/Rock Steady, Dancehall, Ragga, Dub, General Reggae
Latin Tejano/Norteno, Brazillian, Latin Pop, Mexican, Latin Rock, General Latin, Ranchero, Salsa/Merengue, South/Central American, Spanish/Portugese, Tropical/Samba, Afro-Cuban
Hip Hop/Rap Foreign Rap, Bass Assault, East Coast Rap, Freestyle Rap, Gangsta, General Hip Hop, General Rap, Hardcore Rap, Horrorcore, Old School Hip Hop, Southern Rap, West Coast Rap, Underground Rap
Holiday Chanukka, Christmas, General Holiday, Halloween
Jazz Cool/West Coast Jazz, Ballroom, Bop, Big Band Swing, Dixieland/New Orleans Jazz, Free/Avant Jazz, Fusion, General Jazz, Latin, Ragtime, Swing Revival, Smooth Jazz, Jazz Vocals, Japanese Fusion, Japanese Jazz
New Age Ambient New Age, Environmental Music, General New Age, Meditation Music
Pop Teen Pop, Acoustic Pop, Disco, European Pop, General Pop, Japanese Pop
Gospel & Religious Christian Pop, Chrsitian Rap, General Religious, General Christian, Gospel, Christian Rock
Rock Grunge, Jam Bands, Folk Rock, Soft Rock, Hard Rock, Funk Rock, Classic Rock, General Rock, Goth Rock, Instrumental Rock, New Wave, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Rock & Roll, Ska Revival/3rd Wave, Southern Rock, Surf Rock, Japanese Rock
Sountrack Adult Film/Erotica, General Soundtrack, Film Score, Film Soundtrack, Musicals/Broadway, Television Score, Television Soundtrack, Japanese General Soundtrack, Anime, Game
Unclassifiable General Unclassifiable, Japanese Unclassifiable
World Zydeco/Cajun, Polka, World Fusion, Central Asian, Klezmer, African, Middle East/Arabic, Asian, Caribbean, General Celtic, Classical Indian, Western European, Flamenco/Gypsy, French, German, Hawaiian, Indian Subcontinent, Irish Celtic, Jewish/Israeli, Native American, Oceania, Quebecois, Eastern European, Scandinavian, Aboriginal Australian/Didjeridu, Japanese Folk, Japanese Enka, Japanese Traditional (Minzoku), General World,
Source: MikeWellsMastering.com

The following table includes 50 of the most common genre listed in some popular databases.
Type Gracenote
allmusic iTunes * Jukebox 7 South
Acoustic     43    
Adult Contemporary        
Alternative Rock   1,026    
Audio Books          
Bluegrass     3  
Blues   10  
CCM/Gospel [1]   Inspirational    
Classic Rock [1]     213    
Classical     9  
Country   7  
Dance Elect./Dance   41    
Easy Listening     182    
Electronic [1]     497    
Film & Stage        
Folk   57  
Gospel CCM/Gospel        
Hip Hop/Rap   526    
Holiday     66  
House [1]     113    
Indie [1]     209    
Inspirational [1]     95    
Jazz   33  
Latin   4    
Metal   376    
Misc. [1]          
New Age [1]     36  
Pop   79  
Punk     145    
Rap     Hip Hop/Rap    
R&B/Soul   428    
Reggae   5    
Rock   667  
Rockabilly [1]     2    
Ska [1]     7    
Soundtrack   64    
Vocal/Spoken     108    
World [1]   73  

AC or A/C - Adult Contemporary: Easy listening pop such as Michael Bolton and Celine Dion.
CCM: Christian Contemporary Music
CHR - Contemporary Hit Radio
R&B: Rythm and Blues
EBM: Electronic Body Music is a word coined by Front 242 in the early 80s to describe a purely electronic style of dance music.
Indie: Independent
Others: Heavy Metal, Punk, Ethnic,
* ITunes Registry: Number is Effective Rating (total Playcount*avg Rating) in 1,000's Reports
ITunes also has "user genre" which contains hundreds of categories.
The top five genres by playcount (Alternative, Rock, Hip Hop/Rap, Electronic, R&B/Soul) account for 64% of the total playcount.

[1] Some definitions:
- Alternative music Genre including alternative rock which was coined in the early 1980s to describe punk rock-inspired music genres which didn't fit into the mainstream genres of the time.
- CCM - Christian Contemporary Music - Also referred to as Inspirational.
- Electronic - A loose term for music created using electronic equipment. In the late 1990s it fractured into many genres, styles and sub-styles.
- House - A collection of styles of electronic dance music, the earliest forms beginning in the early- to mid- 1980s. The name is said to derive from the Warehouse club in Chicago. The common element of most house music is a 4/4 beat generated by a drum machine or other electronic means (such as a sampler).
- Indie Independent music - Music with a number of stylistic and cultural attributes, characterised by independence from commercial pop music and mainstream culture and an autonomous, do-it-yourself (DIY) approach.
- Classic Rock - best of the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s
- Imspirational - Also referred to as Contemporary Christian music (CCM)
- Misc. -
- New Age -
- Rockabilly -
- Ska - Square Kilometre Array - A form of Jamaican music which began in the late 1950s. Combining elements of traditional mento and calypso with an American jazz and R&B sound
- WADM - Wireless Audio Device Manager
- World -

There is not a lot of consensus on genre between the databases. Some have "Classic Rock" (old rock - what is old?) and Progressive Rock (?). There is also confusion between some genre e.g. New Age, Celtic and Folk.

An article by François Pachet Representing Musical Genre:A State of the Art (Journal of New Music Research, 2003 Vol. 32, No. 1) states:

"Pachet and Cazaly (2000) compares 3 Internet genre taxonomies: allmusic.com (531 genres), amazon.com (719 genres) and mp3.com (430 genres). Results show that there is no consensus in the name used in these classifications.

The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) issued by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is for music and CDs what the ISBN is for books. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) the national ISRC administration agency for the United States.

The RIAA, is the national ISRC administration agency for the United States.

The European IST project CUIDADO (Content-based Unified Interfaces and Descriptors for Audio/music Databases available On-line) also does research in this area.

ID3 Genre: (126 types)
ID3 tags are data fields in an MP3 file that hold the artist's name as well as song and album titles, allowing MP3 players to use this data when searching or playing.

ID3v1 Genre (80 genre) including the following not in the above lists:
Acid Punk, Bass, Cabaret, Cult, Death Metal, Dream,, Euro-Techno, Eurodance, Gothic, Industrial, Instrumental, Instrumental Pop, Jungle, Noise, Oldies, Pop-Folk, Pop/Funk, Pranks, Retro, Showtunes, Sound Clip, Space, Techno, Techno-Industrial, Trailer, Trance, Tribal

Winamp extensions (46 genre) including the following not in the above lists:
Acapella, Ballad, Bebob, Booty Bass, Chanson, Chorus, Drum Solo, Duet, Euro-House, Fast Fusion, Folklore, Freestyle, Humour, National Folk, Porn Groove, Power Ballad, Primus, Punk Rock, Revival, Rhythmic Soul, Samba, Satire, Slow Jam, Slow Rock, Sonata, Swing, Symphonic Rock, Symphony, Tango

Other music databases are: FreeDB.org and YADB by J River, the makers of Media Center.

Radio Station Classifications:
AAA *, AC †, Asian, CHR ‡, 50s/60s Pop, 70s/80s Pop, Alternative/Modern Rock, blues, Business News, Christian, Classical, Classic Rock, Classic Hits, Country, College, Dance, Eclectic, Electronica, Ethnic, Gospel, Hard Rock / Metal, Hip Hop, Hot AC, International, Jazz, News/Talk, Nostalgia, Public, Oldies, R&B, Religious, Rock, Smooth Jazz, Spanish, Sports, Top 40/Pop, Urban:

*AAA / Triple-A - "Adult Album Alternative": "grown-up" rock. An eclectic format that blends rock, folk, blues, world music and other genres. Mostly "non-mainstream" lighter rock/pop. Includes Lenny Kravitz, Sheryl Crow.

† AC or A/C - Adult Contemporary: Easy listening pop such as Michael Bolton and Celine Dion.

CHR - Contemporary Hit Radio: Includes CHR-pop, CHR-rhythmic, CHR-Spanish, CHR - 80s

See Also:
Music Genre at wikipedia.org
Music Styles at AOL
Music at Winamp.com Browse Genres at Amazon.com
Music here

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last updated 6 Jan 2007