What is a genre? What is a subgenre? Explained

GENRES & SUBGENRES: What are they and how do they differ?

As we all know, the cosmic differences between genres are damn near deafening in the full spectrum of EDM. Let us just take a small glance at what genres are and what they can become with the right creativity and auditory engineering. Just a couple of acute differences in some genres and on the contrary even larger and more distinct differences that make up the intricate world of subgenres. Genres can be thought of in comparison just like your primary colors, (red, blue, green, yellow) and subgenres can be compared to secondary colors  (orange, green, and purple). By that, we mean; we can label genres as the originating or initial structure of the respective style of music and we can label subgenres as any sort of mixture, bi-product, or derivative by the genre it began with or was inspired from. We will clarify, define, and discuss each of these compartments of classifying music in great detail a little later.

These principles lay concretely for all genres, and generally, only change every so often with the rise of a new immerging genre and or it’s subsequently evolved subgenre. The new genres are usually experimental and slow to hit the circularity until enough traction is made from a couple if not a handful of tracks and lastly finds its way into the genre and subgenre outer-lying families.

Firstly, the basic google definition of “genre” is a category of musical composition characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. Also, genres can be found in literature, film, and various other art forms like horror, comedy, and romance.

Some basic genres that may ring a bell are “rock”, “hip-hop”, and “country music”. In addition to those genres are a couple examples of their sub genre’s such as “soft-rock”, “old country” and “metal rock”. These well-known mainstream genres encompassed the pop-culture music scene from the ’80s and beyond along with many many more. You know and have heard at least a couple different hit songs from these genres in your daily lives.

Now that we have a general idea of what genres are, we can now explore what genres and subgenres are apparent in the greater EDM world. The couple that holds the most weight would be original crowd favorites such as house (music) and techno. They dominated the music charts and albums throughout their origins in the early rave scene days of the ’80s and 90’s across the world. As time went on, decades passed, and trends, favorites, and dancefloor hits were changing, not to mention at an astronomical rate.

With the 2010’s claiming EDM as its flagship music phenomena, we saw dance music from the earlier days evolving into a new hybrid of dance music and maintaining contemporary and modern sounds, samples and vocals to end up with a high energy track that appealed to the masses. This appeal didn’t slow down through the 2010s and meteorically rose with the demand from worldwide listeners. Those fundamental example genres such as house-music and techno-music were also evolving and with slight differences and additions. Those additions gave way to a whole new genre, and people ate it up. Subsequent to making small changes and improvisations to appeal to different crowds, it allowed for fusion to happen and again gave birth to several new subgenres.

Enough about the totality of genres. What is the textbook definition of a subgenre? 
Subgenre: A subcategory within a particular genre


EDM Genre Definitions & Examples: 

  • Dubstep: a form of dance music, typically instrumental, characterized by a sparse, syncopated rhythm and a strong bassline.

Examples: Skrillex, Zomboy, Excision, Bassnectar, Skream, Benga, Flux Pavilion, 12th Planet, and Virtual Riot.

  • House: a form of dance music characterized by a repetitive four on the floor beat and a tempo of 120 to 130 beats per minute (BPM).

Examples: Swedish House Mafia, Kaskade, Eric Prydz, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Fedde Le Grand, and the late Avicii

  • Techno: a style of fast, heavy electronic dance music, typically with few or no vocals. The central rhythm is often in common time, while the tempo typically varies between 120 and 150 beats per minute (BPM).

Examples: Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Aphex Twin, Nina Kraviz, Charlotte De Witt, and Green Velvet. 

  • Trance: characterized by a tempo lying between 110–150 bpm (BPM), repeating melodic phrases, and a musical form that distinctly builds tension and elements throughout a track often culminating in 1 to 2 “peaks” or “drops”.

Examples: Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Paul Van Dyke, Cosmic Gate, Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, Paul Oakenfold

Subgenre Description & Examples:

  • Trap: is a style of hip hop music that was born in the Southern United States ’90s with heavy influence from artists like 3-6-Mafia, Waka Flocka Flame, and Young Jeezy.  Trap music was then given a facelift by the bass-music community and gave rise to a new era of Trap utilizing 808 drums, heavy bass-lines, and plenty of filthy build-ups and drops with an exclamatory hip-hop fusion and cohesive properties.

Examples: Flosstradamus, A-Trak, UZ, RL Grime, Bro Safari, LOUDPVCK, and Dotcom  

  • Bass-House: is 

Examples: Jauz, Joyryde, Malaa, AC Slater, Ephwurd, Drezo, Ghastly, BLVCK KARIBOU, and Dustycloud

  • Tech-House: 

Examples: Fisher, Claude Von Stroke, Chris Lake, and Solardo

  • Psytrance:

Example: Seven Lions (some times),Neelix, and John Fleming