Music Genre Guide

Here are definitions of some musical genres we use to identify various types of records. Often a record will be identified by more than one genre. For more complete explanations users are encouraged to do their own research or contact us with questions.


Answers: Records that were directly inspired by an earlier record. They can be straight answers, parodies, change of genders, instrumentals or an artist answering his own record.


Beatnik: Relating to the bohemian jazz n’ bongos rebels of the late 1950’s and early 60’s.


Black Rockers: Frantic Black Rock n’ Roll like Little Richard.


Bluegrass: String band country music that began in the early 1940’s featuring intricate picking and high vocal harmonies.


Blues: Rural and urban Black music that combines African rhythms and European folk melodies. The first line of a verse sung over the first four bars is most often repeated as the second line.


Bop Vocals: Wordless scat singing or spoken jazz slang.


Cajun: White music from East Texas and Southwestern Louisiana often sung in French.


Country: Rural White string band music.


Country Boppers: White music with a beat stronger than Honky-Tonk but not as pronounced as Rockabilly.


Covers: Songs or instrumentals that were recorded earlier by another artist or the same artist. NOTE: Many people use this term only for recordings that came out a few weeks or months later to cash in on the popularity of the original.


East L.A: R&B and/or Soul inspired SoCal Chicano ballads or uptempo songs. Sometimes referred to as the Lowrider sound.


Exotica: Music with a flavor of the Far East, India, Polynesia, Africa, Hispanic countries and even Outer Space. Often uses unusual instrumentation and effects.


Frat: Primitive Rock n’ Roll dance music from the late 1950’s to the mid 60’s.


Garage: Teenage mid 1960’s music having a raw immediate sound.


Girl Groups: Black or White female vocal groups.


Gospel: Black or White spiritual music.


Gulf Coast: R&B and Rock n’ Roll from the southernmost parts of East Texas and Louisiana.


Holiday: Music with a holiday theme.


Honky-Tonk: Early amplified post-war Country music with a backbeat for fast or slow dancing.


Horror: Music with a scary or morbid feel in lyrics and/or instrumentation.


Hot Rod: Car related vocals or instrumentals.


Instrumentals: May have some vocal or vocal interjections but is basically instrumentation only.


International: Music either released outside the United States or made by a non-US artist.


Jazz: Improvisatory music of Afro-American rhythms and European melodies.


Movies: Music from a specific film or relating to it.


New Orleans: Music either from New Orleans or which has that city’s distinctive style of R&B.


Novelty: Records usually meant to be more comedic than musical.


Pop: Mainstream White music or music made by a Black artist in a White mainstream style.


Psychedelic: Later 1960’s garage music featuring distortion, fuzz, feedback and often surrealistic LSD imagery.


Punk: Raw 1970’s music made in reaction to over orchestrated rock by speeding up and stripping down lyrics and instrumentation.


R&B: Rhythm and Blues, the post-war small combo music that evolved from large Black dance bands.


R&B Vocal Groups: Black harmony groups doing both ballads and jump tunes.


Rock and Roll: A simpler White form of R&B with an even more pronounced beat.


Rockabilly: Mid-tempo to fast White stringband music with a very pronounced R&B/Blues influence. Later additions of drums, piano and sax edge it towards Rock n’ Roll.


Rocksteady: Jamaican music that came after Ska, smoothing it out with a Soul influence.


Ska: The jazzy shuffle style from Jamaica combining Black island rhythms with U.S. R&B - particularly that of New Orleans.


Soul: R&B and Gospel inspired music beginning in the mid 1960’s ranging from driving dances to smooth ballads.


Surf: Instrumentals with heavily reverbed guitar or vocals with surfing related lyrics.


Swamp Pop: A high humidity ballad sound which began in East Texas and Louisiana that combines Teen, Honky-Tonk and New Orleans R&B.


Teen: Slow to mid tempo songs with White teenage-inspired lyric content.


Tex-Mex: Southern Texas Chicano R&B ballads and uptempos.


Weirdo: Eccentric unclassifiable recordings.


White Vocal Groups: White harmony group ballads and uptempos.


Zydeco: Black Cajun accordion R&B from the Gulf Coast.