This question might appear really weird, but still I ended up asking me this.

Every genre of music as we know today comes from some previous genre (as an evolution, a combination of two different genres etc...). Let's take a few examples : House comes from disco, electro comes from funk and so on... Now, it feels like everything that is created and imagined is really bounded to known genres.

So my question is composed of two parts. First of all, I would like to know some genres that appeared and took their inspiration from nothing already known at this moment.

And secondly, will it still be music as we know it today if we don't find some basic things related to one genre or another? For example a rhythm done with drums, or a song without any melody or harmony etc...

It may be unclear right now but I don't have much time to ask this question, so don't hesitate to ask for precisions.

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    genres are so minute these days they merge into everything with all bands trying to be their own genre to stand out from the crowd, from "Tech death metal" to "jungle pussy punk rock". people will always disagree on the genre of music apart from the core rock, metal , reggie, pop and dance/ RnB. Sep 18 '14 at 15:14
  • @Nathan Taylor micro genres really annoy me as I basically see the world in black or white. Interesting question, and as far as I'm aware music has always followed what has come before it, mainly because listeners like things that sound familiar. To produce a successful genre with no noticable influences.. not sure that it is possible
    – CurlyPaul
    Sep 18 '14 at 16:46
  • @NathanTaylor I see your point, and that's what I find annoying too, I figured out that trance metal was existing today... So we already know everything in music and now everything will be only a mix of everything already known? I find it quite pessimistic... Sep 18 '14 at 18:14
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    yeah it was bound to happen its only dependant on the imagination of the human race and I think as a race we have become so caught up in "getting famous" or spinning some sob story on X Factor to get a sympathy vote that music will never progress, UNLESS it travelled backwards a couple of decades. Sep 19 '14 at 7:53
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    I feel like your question is a matter of definitions (what's completely new, what's music) and a very philosophical question. I therefore voted to close as I don't think the question fits the format of the site.
    – user13400
    Sep 19 '14 at 9:20

Is it possible to create a completely new genre of music

This question might appear really weird, but still I ended up asking.

Its not weird at all. Many composers throughout history have asked this very question.

I will give a tentative "yes" to this portion of the question, with the clarification that by genre we are referring to the stylistic conventions of music, and not just a commercial marketing label as mentioned in the other answers. For more on this debate, see: What's the difference between genre and style?.

Granted, I could be wrong about this. Perhaps we have reached some kind of stylistic "saturation" where every possible stylistic choice possible has been made somewhere, and all music from now on will be doomed to repeat existing styles, but somehow I doubt it. All you have to do is look at music history to find composers contantly pushing the bounds of previous music and creating new styles of music; however, as you mentioned, this is done by modifying or mixing previous styles.

First of all, I would like to know some genres that appeared and took their inspiration from nothing already known at this moment.

I do not believe that is possible. Every new style is informed to some extent by some previous style. For this to not be the case, you'd have to strand a bunch of infants (whose pregnant mothers had been carefully isolated from all music) on a deserted island, and watch them develop their own style of music from scratch. It's an interesting thought experiment, and possibly relevant to a sci-fi author who has to construct a completely alien style music, but its not likely to ever occur in reality.

Just to illustrate the point in classical music: Atonalism grew out of the bold and unconventional harmonies that were introduced in the Romantic Era. The later were a reaction to the straightforward and formalized "Classical" harmonies, which themselves grew out from the rules governing Baroque counterpoint. This had been an extension of Renaissance polyphony, which was an elaboration of Medieval chanting, which was based (at least nominally) on Ancient Greek modes, whose origins have been lost to time. So while each of these was a huge step in music style and theory, it cannot be said to be completely unrelated to anything previously in existence. This is the nature of culture, as a sort of shared memory.

However, many new styles, when first created, are novel enough to be considered experimental, innovative, esoteric, or avant-garde. For example, Rite of Spring, though not technically atonal, was so foreign and bizarre that it apparently caused a riot at its premiere. Today, parts of it would not be terribly out of place in a film score. But it cannot be said to take inspiration from nothing preceding it.

And secondly, will it still be music as we know it today if we don't find some basic things related to one genre or another?

To some extent, this is going to depend on what you mean by "music". Is John Cage's 4'33 truly music? What about music improvised by elephants? For more on this type of debate, see: What is the difference between a collection of sounds and music?

However, I feel that this question, as worded, contains an inherent logical self-paradox that makes any affirmative answer impossible. If we don't find anything at all that is "related" in some way to some type of existing music, then by definition it cannot be music "as we know it". However, it may well still be music as we don't know it.


All music comes from the same concept... pitched sounds and silences. Therefore, the quick and dirty answer to the question is a resounding NO in E flat with a two beat silence afterwards.

The concept of genres is not a musical concept. It is a marketing concept. The only reason that a scuba-diver-metal-bachata-core genre might exist is because some industry marketing guru decided that there was a demographic out there who would buy it because they can relate to it.


No, you won't be able to come up with something which is sufficiently recognisable as music which shares literally nothing in common with any existing style.

However, plenty of people, especially in electronic music forms, will decide to label their music with a new genre which reflects their style in some way. It sometimes feels like there's one genre for each dj, Scouse House, Dub-core, squeaky shoe-core (which is worth googling), clown core, etc.

Basically, you can name your music in a new way, but it'll be readily recognisable as an existing style or combination of styles.

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    But are there any existing proofs, theorists that thought of this? I could create the Bubblish where I breath under water and it makes a random rhythm while playing an underwater harp or something... Why wouldn't it be music? And I know about Dub-Core and so on. It's typically not a genre, but a sub-genre. Dub-core enters completely in the Dub category. It will become a genre if it is popularly recognized as a new genre. Ex : Dubstep is now a genre. It wasn't a few years ago, only a sub-genre. Sep 19 '14 at 8:56
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    If there's some recognisable elements of meldody, rhythm, harmony, it'll bear resemblance to some of style. There are more 'arts' styles which use randomised noise, expressing ideas as sound, sonifying data etc. - So it won't be 100% original. - It's also worth noting that "random" is a very problematic term in music, if you have your head in a bucket making sounds, you are deciding what sounds to make.
    – AJFaraday
    Sep 19 '14 at 8:59

It seems reasonable that in 1000 years time, there will exist music which is completely removed from any known genre that exists now. It would sound totally alien to 21st century ears. It will likely have developed through a chain of minor genre permutations. In theory, nothing prevents a person from inventing this music today, so I believe that it is possible to invent a new genre. The difficulty of this is another question...


Perhaps it depends what you call "Music".

For example, the rhythm of a train running by has been used/referred to in many tunes and used as inspiration for rhythms, or directly sampled. Let's take it back to a time before anyone had done that...

Is the train a musical instrument ? No - until someone starts seeing it as such.

So would there be a genre of "Train Music" ? Sure - but only if people (audiences in general) decide that it's a genre - although people generating train music might advocate their new genre.

There's also the notion of what you call a genre. Recently there was a rapper (I'm afraid I don't remmeber his name) who had a few hits which involved using samples of musical shows, with a hiphop beat added, for a chorus while rapping over a rhythmic verse. Is that a new genre ? Or is that too specific, and just a "style" or branch of rap ?

re "And secondly, will it still be music as we know it today if we don't find some basic things related to one genre or another? " - yes and no. It's music if someone interprets it as such, just like the train track.

There was a group in the 70's who experimented with making rhythmless music, and avoided common chord / melody progressions. Again my memory fails me for the name. They went as far as having sentences stop halfway through a word to destroy the rhythm in syllables. I'd say that was probably a new genre, had it caught on. Frankly to me it sounded awful, but to them it was music and who are we to argue, haha.

I'd imagine it's possible for a sound (like the train example) or some other aspect of life which hasn't previously been interpreted as music to inspire a new direction, perhaps a new genre, and perhaps this is happening as we speak. But as others have pointed out, the channels which would make such art available or apparrent to all are so hung up on fame and money that we're unlikely to see much outside of the current safe areas.

  • Music is an art form using sound. Art is the expression of skill or imagination. So if you find a way to express your imagination using the sound of a train, I would certainly call it music.
    – ONOZ
    Oct 25 '15 at 15:33
  • @ONOZ Yep I agree - But tha's the difference : If it's artistic expression using a train then that's music. If it's just a train passing thern that's mechanical noise. Just a case of the interpretaion - or actually, the intention of the person creating the noisy device. Re a train: no real intention to make it sound rhytmic, just an accident of design. Re someone who has ampled that same sound and used it for artistic expression: Music. Oct 26 '15 at 14:41
  • It's a bit like Tracy Emin's unmade bed. It's just a a bed.. until she presented it as art, then it's art (whatever anyone thinks of her art lol) Oct 26 '15 at 14:43
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    "Train music" has definitely been done, by the way. youtube.com/watch?v=N9pOq8u6-bA
    – AJFaraday
    Nov 15 '18 at 11:37

I think it's possible...I always refrain from saying anything is impossible.

When thinking of creating or discovering new genres, don't count out new instruments that have yet to be invented (due to technology advances and new discoveries...Techno and such wouldn't be around without drum machines) or fresh mashups with 'new' sound sources (whale songs, noise from outer space, etc.). Perhaps we'll encounter an alien race and they will be able to 'play' music by using their brain to excite our neurons w/o going through the eardrum. The perfect name for this genre would be "MindMeld-lody". :)

Also 'genre' is a manmade classification and, just like scientific classifications, there could be a re-classification if different characteristics/patterns are identified. This is analogous to finding new DNA information which links different species...it requires a rethinking.

Alan Lomax and his GLobal Jukebox project used his custom developed Cantometrics to describe cultural music from the globe. He analyzed music using 37 different dimensions.

What if we decided to re-organize music by incorporating just one of this dimensions. This could potentially change things quite a bit..perhaps opening doors for 'new' genres.


YES its possible to create a new genre. Imagine you picked up Metallica, transported them back in time to Mozart's era. The audience would all agree that Metallica is a completely different style of music, or genre. The only similarity is that both Mozart and Metallica are using the same elements of music - rhythm, pitch, harmony. But the combinations of sound and typical patterns used in modern heavy metal are different than Mozart. And certainly the texture of an electric guitar sound or a modern drum set is very different. And the vocal techniques. And the lyrical content. And the general feeling of the music. And the desire to head bang rather than swivel your hips. A genre doesn't have to be 100% unique, but there's certainly a tipping point where it sounds sufficiently different from another genre.

We'll come up with new instruments that are not brass, strings, etc. The electronic age brought about a revolution in instruments beginning with analog synths, then digital, and all manners of manufacturing to give us drum heads, etc. Something else will come, maybe the chemical age or the biological age or some age we just can imagine right now. Then a new set of instruments will dominate along with the beliefs and emotions of that era which are different than today....and new genres.

I partially agree that it may be more difficult to create new genres since we've already "used up" a few. And with computers we can technically simulate every possible instrument sound. Though we are human, not computers, and the way we decide to arrange the music will likely be a surprise.

For now, you can explore new genres by simply doing something different. Instead of playing your guitar with a pick, play it with stick. Instead of using sticks to play drums, play with tools from the garage. Instead of writing lyrics in English, write in mumbles. If you get together with your same band members, same instruments, and same music theory, you'll get largely the same genres.

Genre means different. Go be different.


Before we can say a musical genre is unique or distinct from other musical genres, we must have a definition of genre that doesn't rely on human-created taxonomies, such as 'folk' or 'art' music. For example, biology relied on human-created taxonomies of animals for a long time before DNA sequencing was discovered. DNA sequencing may not be perfect, but it provides a rough basis function over which examples may be categorized in relation to other examples.

There is a lot of promising work in the fields of auditory scene analysis and neuroscience. In particular, musical fingerprinting is being used to identify a song that is playing.

Anita Little's MusicBox shows an example of categorizing music using principle component analysis on a variety of features. Her visualization shows how different pieces of music are related to each other in this feature-space. This kind of approach could be used to scientifically determine whether a genre is truly unique or is similar to an existing genre.

An interesting extension of her work might be to allow a user to click in an unknown part of the feature-space and then use those features to generate an example, allowing you to explore completely original musical genres.

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