What is Pop?

Pop is music specifically designed for mass appeal and commercial success. It can have almost any kind of instrumentation and musical characteristics. The main thing is that it be catchy, upbeat, and – well – popular. Because it’s explicitly designed for commercial success rather than artistic inventiveness, pop music is controversial in the world of professional musicians. Some musicians look dow... »

What is Hip-Hop?

Hip hop is more than a genre: it’s a cultural movement sweeping up music, poetry, dance, art, fashion, and political philosophy. A lot of people use rap and hip-hop synonymously, but strictly speaking hip-hop is a cultural movement (including music), whereas rap is a specific musical technique often employed in hip-hop music. According to hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaata, there are four pillars of ... »

What is Rock Music?

Driving, intense, energetic, and almost always loud, rock music was the most popular form of music for decades before hip-hop went mainstream. Dominating the airwaves for nearly 50 years, rock spawned dozens of sub-genres – everything from intricate, lyrical folk-rock to the most brutal forms of extreme death metal. It’s played in small bars and sold-out arenas, garages and concert halls, and has ... »

Harmony

Harmony is what you get when you play two or more notes at the same time. It’s one of the most important concepts in music — the building block of chords, song structures, and all sorts of performances. Along with rhythm and melody, it’s one of the three main concepts in music. You can think of harmony as the “vertical” structure of music, whereas melody is its “horizontal” structure. In other wor... »

Rhythm & Blues

Rhythm & Blues

What is R&B? R&B stands for “Rhythm & Blues”. It’s a loosely-defined genre of music, and can refer to a number of different genres that are musically very different from each other. All of these artists have at one time or another been referred to as “R&B”: Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, Mariah Carey, Prince, the O’Jays, the Weeknd. That covers a huge range of musical styles! S... »

What is Jazz?

What is Jazz?

Jazz is a diverse genre encompassing a huge variety of styles. Of all the genres of popular music, jazz is the most musically complex, and it has a reputation for being hard to follow, especially for people accustomed to more musically straightforward pop music. Jazz was born in dance clubs and now is performed in symphony halls. It was invented by people on the margins of society and is now studi... »

Rhyme Scheme

Definition Rhyme scheme, along with meter, is one of the main features of traditional verse poetry. Rhyme schemes are often determined by the form of the poem – for example, sonnets have a very specific rhyme scheme, while cinquains have another. Rhymes work best when the poem has a rhythmic quality, so rhyme schemes are most common in traditional verse (which has a steady rhythm, or meter). Rhyme... »

What is Blues?

What is Blues?

The blues is the trickster of musical genres. It’s a joyful, exuberant music full of upbeat rhythms and playful humor – but it’s also a deeply sad music that deals with suffering and loneliness. It’s a music of dance halls and wooden porches, open fields and grimy factories, the city and the country, the North and the South. The blues captures something deeply familiar, yet impossible to describe.... »

Staff

Staff

What is a Staff? In musical notation, the “staff” is a set of five lines and four spaces. Each line and space corresponds to one of the white keys on the piano, so staffs are usually easiest to read on pianos and other keyboard-based instruments. But this kind of musical notation is used for many other instruments as well. Here’s an example of one kind of musical staff with the names of each note.... »

Meter

What is Meter? “Meter” is the underlying structure of a musical beat. It refers to the “count” of a song, or how many individual beats you would count out if you were tapping your foot to the beat. Most commonly, the meter will be a 4-count, meaning it has a pattern in which you count 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. However, many other songs have a 3-count or a 2-count meter. More rarely, you may find songs wit... »