What is the difference between a genre and a sub-genre, and what makes a distinction between sub-genres worth making?
This is stems from a discussion about metal with a friend but really extends to all genres. We both like metal, but I am woefully under-educated when it comes to sub-genres within metal, which came up when the metal background playlist I'd put on jumped from Trivium to The Hü to Metallica to Powerwolf to Sundrowned. My friend argued it was tonal whiplash to jump between so many different types of metal, whereas in my brain it's all just metal - I can obviously see there are differences between the music, in the style of vocals, the other instruments in play and the general tone, but I hadn't really considered that they were separated areas of metal, or that individual genre names really exist.
I was introduced to a lot of labels here (I have been informed that the bands above are metalcore, folk metal, thrash metal, power metal and post-metal respectively, though I obviously don't know for certain if that's right) but I was most confused with the distinctions for early Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, where they were described as "just metal" and more of a sub-genre to rock at that point. This brings up my main question for you guys - Where does the distinction between a sub-genre and a new genre in it's own right begin? In a similar vein, Are there certain criteria that a sub-genre has to reach before it is classed as it's own full genre?
Our own discussion on this was... Varied, to say the least. We had pretty solidly agreed that metal was distinct enough from rock to be it's own genre, and the wide array of sub-genres of metal itself seems to back this up, until we opened our discussion up to a couple of other friends who them brought up that apparently there is a dilemma within the genres of rock and metal when it comes to bands like AC/DC and Guns n Roses, where they can be seen as either genre, which then blurs the line separating them. The discussion them spilled over into other genres - is Trap a district genre of its own, or is it a sub-genre of Hip-hop? Within the wide umbrella term of electronic music, it's easy to see that (for example) House and Drum & Bass are very different, but are they sub-genres of Electronic music as a genre, or are they distinct enough to be their own genres?
The biggest confusion came when asking how does pop music fit into this? When everything from The Beatles to Katy Perry is classed as pop music, what does that make the genre as a whole? A theory was posited that whatever is popular at the time is "pop" music, but a genre then gets retroactively applied once their style of pop is no longer the popular style, though I'm not quite certain of it's validity.
Finally, a question of my own - How necessary is sub-genre specificity to the music itself, and the enjoyment of it? I feel it is obviously possible to enjoy music without giving it a specific label, but learning to classify music seems to simultaneously lead to ease of exploration and gatekeeping between genres.
As an aside, I'd like to make it very clear that I know next to nothing about how to classify different metal sub-genres, so if I've mislabeled anything I can only apologise. I am more than happy to be educated on mistakes and/or recommended better examples of any genre I've listed or any others.
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