They Never Even Knew
This chapter examines the concept of genre through an array of theoretical lenses. The first point is that music genres are relational: they are defined by their similarity to and difference from other genres. The chapter then advocates for a genealogical approach to history, with an emphasis on the conditions of a genre’s emergence. Other concepts explored are the importance of scale or level in understanding how genres function as assemblages; that authorship in genres arises from collective dialogue among participants in a “genre world”; and that genre functions through repetition and difference in a process of iteration or citation. The latter half of the chapter proposes a model for a range of possible relationships between musical categories and group identities. The chapter closes with a discussion of the importance of “crossover” for understanding music-identity relations, and of the role that music industry popularity charts will play in the book.
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