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Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres Author(s): Jennifer C. Lena and Richard A.

Peterson Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 73, No. 5 (Oct., 2008), pp. 697-718 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 24/02/2011 11:23
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Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories ofMusic Genres

Jennifer C. VanderbiltUniversity Lena Richard A. Peterson Vanderbilt University


of symbolic





to sociology


its earliest

Music and its for both affiliationand conflict. days, given therelevance of distinctions
genres are no exception, organizing people and songs within a system of symbolic

classification.Numerous studies chronicle thehistoryof specific genres ofmusic, but

none document recurrent processes of development and change across musics. In this

article,we analyze 60 musics in theUnited States, delineating between 12 social,

organizational, Scene-based, combine and and symbolic attributes. We find four distinct genre types?Avant-garde, types genre, We the Industry-based, toform three distinct as a scene a number and Traditionalist. trajectories. We also find originate that these genre


in an Avant-garde genre. including than music.

the rest originate by discussing for

or, to our surprise, of questions symbolic raised

in an Industry-based by our findings, infields other





its advent as a discipline, sociology has generated systems of sociocultural clas Since sification fora diverse set of phenomena, includ ing forms of organization, religious belief,

(Ferguson 2004). Analyses of such classificatory schemes, however, often relegate the cultural meanings of these categories to a secondary feature of the system. In contrast, theuse of the concept ofgenre places culturalmeaning at the forefront any analysis of category construc of tion and has potential and significant general utility across domains. Genre is a conceptual toolmost often used to
classify varieties of cultural products, particu

dynamic change in classificatory schemes, although effortshave been made in domains such as nation building (Anderson 1983), social movements (Traugott 1995), name-giving prac tices (Lieberson 2000), and French cuisine

fashion,gender, sexuality,art,race, and societies at large, toname but a few.The sociological con cernwith systemic change is venerable yet, as DiMaggio (1987) notes, there isno theoryof the


Vanderbilt VU Departmentof Sociology, University, B Station #351811,2301Vanderbilt Place,Nashville,

TN The 37235-1811 authors ( to thank N. Anand, wish Shyon Howard S. Becker, Andy Bennett, Daniel


to Jennifer




Regev, Gabriel Rossman, Bill Roy, Ken Spring,

Tammy Smith, Ezra Zuckerman work. We Jason Toynbee, Mayer N. Zald, and on drafts of this for their assistance by name extreme

Paul DiMaggio, Robert Faulkner, Simon Cornfield, Frith, David Grazian, Michael Hughes, Larry Isaac, Pierre Kremp, Steve Lee, Claire Peterson, Motti

larly in the fields of visual art,popular culture, video games, film, literature, and music. It describes a manner of expression thatgoverns artists' work, theirpeer groups, and the audi ences for theirwork (Becker 1982; Bourdieu 1993). In this article, we build on the theoreti cal and conceptual use of genre to betterunder stand the dynamics of symbolic classification and change in order to identifyrecurrent soci ocultural forms ofmusic genres. To date, no one has published a systematic analysis of the char acteristic forms that music-making communi ties take or how theychange over time. *Instead, historical surveys of popular music focus atten tion on charismatic performers, analyze works

are sorry thatwe cannot recognize the anonymous ASR reviewers who provided ly helpful comments. American Sociological

1 Although encyclopedic earlier generation (Lomax 2008, Vol. 73 (October:697-718)

efforts were made 1964).

in an



AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW The second dominant approach defocalizes textand places the study of genre squarely in a social context. Some analysts apply the term to general marketing categories such as pop, clas

within the canon, and identifycultural factors thatpromote the growth ofmusic genres (e.g., Garofalo 2002; Toynbee 2000). In addition, hundreds of social scientists have studied the

nities and the social contexts that shape them. We carefully examine these studies to find uni formities in the forms ofmusic genres and reg We also identify the ularities in theirtrajectories. sequences of these genres, rather developmental than focus on themechanisms that cause gen res to transition from one form to the next. Although we examine the case ofmusic genres in the twentieth-century United States in par ticular,ourmethod of social and cultural analy sis offers a more general sociological framework?a framework potentially applica ble to all manner of phenomena where individ uals and groups construct cultural boundaries. We conclude with a discussion of thesemore general implications.

of particular




Genre organizes theproduction and consump tion of cultural material, including organiza tional procedures (Ahlkvist and Faulkner 2002; 1999; Becker Ballard, Dodson, and Bazzini and Bielby 1994; Griswold 1987; 1982; Bielby Hirsch 1972;Negus 1999), and influences tastes
and the

sical, country, urban, and jazz (Negus 1999). Most studies of taste thatanalyze surveydata to examine how groups of consumers use available genres to express their social identityor status (e.g.,Mark 1998) look at very inclusive genres MOR, or classical), closer toEnnis's (e.g., rock, "streams" or Bourdieu's (1993) "fields." (1992) Others use the terms subculture (Thornton 1996), scene (Bennett 1997), or neo-tribe (Maffesoli 1996) in ways cognate with the meaning of genre here. Alternatively, others highlight the set of cul turalpractices (Becker 1982) thatamusic com munity defines as a genre and view its textsas the product of social interactions in a specific context (Frith 1996). This sociocultural approach is found inPeterson's (1997) study of the creation of country music, as well as DeVeaux (1997) on bebop jazz, Garland (1970) on soul, Bennett (2004) on the Canterbury sound,Cantwell (1984) on bluegrass, and Kahn Harris (2007) on theEuropean varieties of heavy metal rock. Following these studies, and para phrasing Neale's (1980:19) definition of genre in film,we define music genres as systems of
orientations, expectations, and conventions that

they are embedded (Bourdieu 1993, 1995; Lizardo 2006). Recently, organizational ecologists have deployed genre tounderstand the of competitive success and restructuring organ izations (Hsu 2006; Hsu and Hannan 2005). There are two dominant approaches to the study of genre. In the first,humanities scholars typically focus attention on the "text" of a cul tural object, which is abstracted from the con text in which it is made or consumed (Apperley Devitt 2004; Fowler 1982; Frow 2006; 2006; Hyon 1996; Swales 1990; C. Williams 2006). Most musicologists employ this textual approach to identifygenre as a set of pieces of music that share a distinctivemusical language 1989). Some sociologists (van der Merwe which
employ the use






emerge, evolve, and disappear (Lamont and Molnar 2002). Musicians often do not want to be confined by genre boundaries, but, as Becker (1982) notes, their freedom of expression is necessarily bounded by the expectations of other performers, audience members, critics, and the
diverse others whose work is necessary tomak

bind together an industry, performers, critics, and fans in making what they identifyas a dis tinctive sort ofmusic. Given this definition, genres are numerous and boundary work is ongoing as genres

ing, distributing, and consuming symbolic goods.3Walser (1993:4) provides an example of

careful to show how genre is influenced by the context inwhich it ismade and consumed.2 2 on Dowd (1992) shows thesocietal influences the

of genre-as-text,


they are

shows how national (1995) etal contexts within which

anthems mirror

the soci

Kern 1996).
3 "Free because,

they are created. Other its lines of work use genre without problematizing content or development 1984; Peterson and (Bourdieu music" as Toynbee is an (2000) interesting notes, limiting case its prac


structure of popular music,

and Cerulo


TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES such boundary work: "'Heavy metal' is a term that is constantly debated and contested, pri marily among fans, but also in dialogue with musicians, commercial marketing strategists, and outside critics and censors. Debates over which bands, which songs, sounds and sightsget to count as heavy metal provide occasions for contestingmusical and social prestige." These debates not only sort bands and songs into groups, but they also distinguish individuals who are aware of currentdistinctionsfrom those who are outsiders or hapless pretenders. Boundary-defining work occurs within a shifting social, political, economic, and cultur al landscape, and the structuralfeatures of this landscape condition the actions of genre stake holders. A genre's proximal environment includes other genres thatcompete for many of
the same resources,


society and share characteristics (Gendron 2002). Ennis (1992) shows that some musics,
over the course of decades, spawn a number

Most genres evolve out of one ormore ear lier musics thatdevelop in analogous sectors of



sion, ethnic rivalries, gender relations, demo graphic shifts, and culture wars, for example, United shape thecourse of genre histories. In the racial discrimination and prejudice have States, played a vital role in the emergence and subse quent development of genres (Crouch 2007; Lott 1995). Genres also vary widely by popularity and longevity.Some music forms, like rock-n-roll, become very popular and last over a long peri
od of time. Some,

attention, and legitimacy. Competing genres often include both thedominant genre in a field and fledgling genres contesting for the same opportunity space. Prosperity, war, depres




rockabilly, glitter rock, punk, heavy metal, and emo, forming a rock stream. Although some of we rock's progeny came and went in shortorder, was identi consider each a genre in so far as it fied as such by participants and commentators. Not all commercial music can be properly considered a genre in our sense of the term. We consider music crafted for specific types of
venues or referred to as commercial

which received recog pop spawned rock-n-roll, nition as a distinct genre beginning in 1954 (Ennis 1992). In thedecades since, rock-n-roll has spawned numerous new genres, including

variants. These families of music retain their coherence through shared institutions,aesthet ics, and audiences. We follow Ennis and call these sets of genres "streams" through which a number of genres may flow. For example, rhythmand blues (R&B), countrymusic, and

to be non-genred music. Examples include Tin Pan Alley, Broadway show tunes, and com mercial music crafted for a specific demo graphic and designated by a commercial category (e.g.,middle of the road [MOR], music for lovers, dance music, and easy listening


but short-lived (Brewster and Broughton 2000). Others, like polka, thrive over many decades without becoming widely popular (Shepherd, Horn, and Laing 2005), and many, such as big
beat, range northern rock have soul, only psychedelic a transitory country, existence. and In

like disco,

are very


of addition, the efforts many lonemusical exper imentalistsgo unheralded, and theirdistinctive styles do not become genres within our defini tion of the term.4 titioners that what they say play isguided by thedic

sounds of the moment, and not by the expectations of other players, audiences, or crit well ics, they nonetheless play within conventions understood (Attali by progressive jazz musicians

tates of the musical

Much the same argument holds forpop and teen music. At its core, pop music is music found inBillboard magazine's Hot 100 Singles chart. Songs intended for thepop music market usually have theirdistinguishing genre charac teristics purposely obscured or muted in the interest of gaining wider appeal (Weisbard 2008). Artists making suchmusic may thinkof theirperformances in terms of genre, but the organizations that assist them in reaching the chartmost certainly do not.As a case in point, artistdevelopment expertLou Pearlman played a vital role in creating the "boy band" sensation of the late 1990s (e.g., Backstreet Boys, O Town, and 'N Sync) by putting together per formers who answered casting calls. Such star-making is a fascinating and under researched topic but beyond our focus here.


1985;Lewis 1996). 4Mildred Cummings and her "Little Miss

performances (Mazor 2003)


Emmitt minstrel(Tosches2002), Miller, the yodeling

are two examples.


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW States during the twentieth century. Because genre boundaries are contested and fluid,and no one has attempted to exhaustively and contin

That said, genre music can transform intopop music, and consequently the pop charts are a mix of "pure" pop (i.e., a succession of hits thataremarginally different)and songs derived from genres that are popular at themoment, such as rap or punk. Thus, pop is considered a demo chart,a way of doing business, or a target but not a genre (Anand and Peterson graphic, 2000; but seeWeisbard 2008). We restrictourselves tomusic created in the commercial marketplace and thuseliminate the function innonprofit or grant-based economies have different creative,organizational, financial, mechanisms than audience, and critical support do commercial musics (Caves 2000). The types and trajectories of genres among nonprofit musics therefore take on distinct forms from those thatare focal here (Arian 1971).
many "classical" and "art" musics. Genres that

ually document all themusic genres in the United States, it proved impossible to find a definitive universe of musics fromwhich to choose a representativesample.Accordingly, we

began with Ennis's (1992) listofmusic streams, which includes rock-n-roll, pop, Black pop, countrypop, jazz, folk,and gospel. Ennis (1992) identified streams as such because each had distinctive institutional structures, aesthetics, and symbolic identities. His model is a good

sociological examination of thepopular music field,but it isdated. To includenew kinds ofU.S. music, we added musics that do not fit neatly
into one of these seven streams.

which This article builds on two priorworks in we closely examined the features of four twen U.S. musics that seemed to expe tieth-century rience a complete developmental trajectory (Lena and Peterson 2006, 2007). We selected R&B grunge from the rock stream,rapfrom the stream, bebop from the jazz stream, and blue We then grass from the countrymusic stream. read extensively in the academic and popular
press about each.

Critics, fans, and music promoters regularly invent genre terms, but many of these are not widely used in the relevantmusic community. To form a set of genres, we consulted refer

ence works and music-related magazines to find termscommonly inuse. Because we need make judgments about ed enough informationto the forms and histories of genres,we limitedour

We found thatover time each music took on different forms thatwere roughly comparable across the musics examined.We designate these and Traditionalist genre forms. Finally,we dis covered thatover the course of itshistory, each of these music communities began as anAvant then garde genre, became Scene-based, and finallyTraditionalist, a tra Industry-based, jectory we abbreviate as AgSIT We chose the four cases in our initial analy ses for their musical differencesfrom each other and for thewealth of secondary material avail able on theirhistories.We did not choose them for their representativeness of a larger class of musics, nor for differences in their trajectories of growth. The strong similarities in the devel opmental patterns of the fourmusics led us to seek out a large set ofmusics that might not fit To this trajectory. bound our search we limited our study to genres established in theUnited
as Avant-garde, Scene-based, Industry-based,

we coded types ofmusic genres and then dis cussed them until we had agreement on the proper coding.We coded several hundred books and articles to get reliable data on 60 genres.5 We do not claim that these genres comprise a representative sample of all genres in the twen United States. We do, however, tieth-century that the sample is sufficiently large, and argue the genres sampled sufficientlydiverse, to illu minate patterns ingenre forms and trajectories. Based on the four preliminary case studies,

focus to which we could find at least musics for two reliable sources. Working independently,

the current analysis is designed to answer two questions: What are the attributes thatorganize musics into genres, and how are these genres organized intodevelopmental trajectories?Our design is inductive, so our goal is to generate theory,not test it.

each list of the key sources used in classifying citation for each and the full biographical genre, on the in the Online source, is available Supplement site ( ASR Web

5 A





Are thegenre forms Avant-garde, Scene-based, Industry-based, and Traditionalist adequate to musics inour sample of 60 gen describe all the musics evince at We find that (1) all of the res? least one of these genre forms, (2) with the exception of Scene-based genres, each of the musics, genre forms ismissing in some of the and (3) none of themusics have genre forms other than these four. we examined all the relevant To be sure that of attributes genres ineach of the60 sample gen res, we created and iteratively refined a con ceptual template to classify each of the 60 musics. Table 1 shows this template,with the four genre types represented in the columns. Each of the 12 rows represents a dimension common to all sample genres, and each cell represents the specific attributes characteristic of a genre type. So, for example, in theupper left corner cell, "creative circle" is the repre sentative organizational form of Avant-garde The entries in each column of Table 1 repre sent an ideal-typical construction of a genre type; theydo not operate like entries in theperi odic table of elements or the genetically-based taxonomies in biology. This is because each specific attribute isnot both necessary and suf ficient to code amusic as a particular genre.This be tableof attributesshould therefore considered a conceptual tool for understanding genre. By making more detailed distinctions among attri
butes, itwould be possible to create more than type par the four-genre types. However, resolution is the most twelve-dimension by simonious. four genre genres.

community and who is beyond itspale by cul tivatingdistinctive dress, adornment, drug use, and argot.6The sources of income to artists and

the amount and kind of press coverage a genre receives largely reflect theorganizational form, locus, and goals of thegenre. These factors are of specific interest to scholars working at the intersectionof political economy, urban social dynamics, and cultural production. Finally, the source of a genre name can be used to distin guish genre types and reveal processes of col lectivememory and discursive structures that linknomenclature togenre forms. In the remain der of this section,we consider the attributesof with the each of the four genre types, starting



Avant-garde genres are quite small, having no more than a dozen participants who meet infor Borrowing a term from mally and irregularly.
fine arts, we call such creative

Circles are leaderless, fractious, and typically unravel in a matter of months from lack of recognition or because a subset of the partici pants gains wider recognition. These genres form around members' shared dislike of some music of theday and thequest for aspect of the music that is different. Members play together in an effortto create a genre ideal for informally thegroup. This ideal, and specifically the musi cal ideas thatare central to it, may emerge from



records, and playing with different kinds of







The first threedimensions inTable 1 identi fy the prototypical organizational form, scale, and locus of activity for genres. Genre ideal is the vision of the music held by those most involved in thegenre, including the fundamen tal values they see embodied in the music. The next dimension describes the degree towhich performance conventions are codified and the form of such conventions. These vary widely from being very open and experimental torigid ly codified. Technological features of music making, distribution, and enjoyment do much to constrain genre development, and changes in these features often augur the emergence of new genres. Through boundary work, genre members identify who is a member of a genre

assert thatprevailing genres are predictable and emotionless and, flaunting the fact that they cannot play instruments in conventional ways, make what others consider loud and harsh sounds. This was the experience of both the thrash metal and punk Avant-garde genres (Kahn-Harris 2007; McNeil andMcCain 1996). In craftingmusic that is "new," avant-gardists
may combine elements of genres that are usu





between some punk,

correspondence and musical difference; "styles" argue that riot grrrl, straight edge, anarcho are differentiated by and White power music different and philosophical, not musical, distinctive

is not


a direct

ness (Schilt 2004; P. Williams 2006).


>s m n 2

^h -.-_

Genre Forms O

property ^Ideal Member Genre Create Goals intellectual Produce or community heritage Preserve music it pass and revenue, new on


unknowing employers endorsements festivals Virtually Press Community National Coverage Genre-based press critique and advocacy none



Production innovations






bars, highly

Argot Local, experimental

virtual and Sporadic translocal, Medium: Traditionalist Industry-Based Avant-Garde Attributes 2 Local, Scene-Based codifying linked Clubs, field Established Local Creative Organizational Form > circle associations scene Internet

Low: rnet

Scene Self-contributed, for Artists Income activities, of Sources Sales, grants, contributed, licensing, self-contributed partners, Self merchandise, heritage Industrial firmssellproducts Festivals, tours, academic Signals Used to Stylized Emblematic Source Mass Eccentric "style" Drugs Adornment, ofspecific Dress, of membershipSiteor Stereotypic Genre marketed muted genre and Namecritics orgenre-based group Scene members, Mass media industry Academics, categories deviation to High: shaped by industry Hyper: attention style National, worldwide Local to international much Against Work established Boundary Against Market driven Against deviants music rival within musics media

settings great

O -??-???-????-?=?-_z=_z_______=_z_z^empty spaces scenes S

Table Forms v? 1. Genre Attributes and


TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES ally treated as distinct. Bauck (1997:232), for example, describes how Avant-garde grunge melded different genres together:"Grunge con tained the energy, volume and distortion of hardcore punk, butwas generally played at a far slower tempo.While borrowing themelodic lines and hooks of heavy metal, grunge left macho posturing and gratuitous gui behind the
tar solos."


The desire to produce a new music drives groups to engage in experimental practices, including playing standard instruments in unconventional ways, creating new musical and instruments, modifying objects thathave not

previously been used in theproduction ofmusic. For example, in theirearly shows, Iggy and the Stooges, anAvant-garde punk band, "played" a food blender filled with water and a micro phone, danced on a washboard wearing golf shoes, and drummed 50-gallon oil drums with hammers (McNeil and McCain 1996:41). The ethos is often expressed through experimental the idiosyncratic grooming, dress, demeanor, and argot of circle members, but these are not (yet) consolidated intoa distinctive genre style. Avant-garde genre members do not receive remuneration for theirparticipation in genre related activities. They earn money for per forming conventional types ofmusic and from

Austin, Texas; Cohen [1991] on theLiverpool scene; Becker [2004] on jazz inKansas City; Grazian [2004] on blues inChicago; andUrquia [2004] on salsa inLondon). These local scenes may be in communication with similar scenes in distant locales whose members enjoy the same kind of music and lifestyle. Such com munities cohere through the exchange of infor mation andmusic, which is made simplerwith theadvent of quick, small-parcel shipping com panies and digital technologies such as the Internet (see Laing [1985] on punk, Kruse [2003] on alternative rock, Schilt [2004] on riot grrrl,and Kahn-Harris [2007] on deathmetal). Some scenes are essentially, ifnot entirely, vir tual; fans, musicians, and critics find each other on the Internetthrough listservs and chat rooms (Bennett 2004; Kibby 2000; Lee and Peterson 2004). A Scene-based music genre may take any or all of these forms (Bennett and Peterson 2004), but here we focus primarily on the local

and partnersoften contributea range ily,friends, of resources.Avant-gardists commonly live with little recognition and many privations. These
conditions may retrospectively be roman


In addition,


Scenes, musical and otherwise, commonly emerge inneighborhoods where rents are low, police supervision is lax, and residents tolerate diversityof all kinds (Florida 2002; Lloyd 2006). Such neighborhoods nurture a scene, and the lifestyle by growing around it, fosteringconstant interaction among scenesters (Gaines 1994; Thornton 1996; Urquia 2004; Walker 2006).
often drawn from the entrepreneurs, ranks of scene-participants, music become pro club owners, and band managers. Some moters, founded record companies, Scene independent based papers, fanzines, radio and Internet and sites. Local news stations, criminal elements Business


ticized as bohemian, but they contribute to the demise ofmany Avant-garde genres. The music and the people making it receive virtually no press coverage, which makes itexceedingly dif ficult for scholars to find accounts of Avant garde musics that did not evolve intomore institutionalizedforms.The new music receives numerous appellations, but the eventual name is generally applied retrospectively by promot
ers, critics, and historians.

often arrive in the area to support the scene and to derive profits from it. Scene musicians and ancillary creative people often cannot support themselves entirely from themusic. They typ ically take low-skill service jobs in the com munity and depend onmoney and other support
from partners,



develop, these neighborhoods draw bothmore casual scenesters andmerchandisers of thegenre lifestyle,hastening the end of intensely local genres (Shank 1994). Innovative technology often plays an impor tant role in Scene-based genres. For example, the development of inexpensive, powerful, portable, and relatively compact sound ampli fiers in the late 1930s was important in the development of bluegrass (Rosenberg 1985),






For more than a decade, scholars analyzing music communities across theglobe have used tyof spatially-situated artists,fans, record com panies, and supporting small business people (see, e.g., Shank [1994] on rock and country in
the concept of "scene" to refer to a communi


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW authorities confirm scenesters' sense of their importance and solidify scene solidarity (Thornton 1996).
Scene-based genres have a loose

urban blues (Grazian 2003), honky-tonk coun music (Peterson 1997), and bebop (DeVeaux try innovations can also 1997). Technological the balance among elements of the change DJs were thecen music. In theearly days of rap, ter of interest, but when Grandmaster Flash modified the turntablemixer, he solved the technical challenges of producing steady rhythm,and the next set of innovative practi tioners turned theirattention toward lyricalcon tent and techniques of oral delivery. This effectively refocused crowd attention on the rapper, and DJs ceased to be the focus of inno vation or attention (Chang 2005; Fricke and Ahearn 2002; Lena 2003, 2004). Conventions of performance and presentation are rapidly codified in Scene-based genres. These conventions grow out of efforts to find thebest way to express new musical ideas, but theyoftenput performers indirect conflictwith practitioners of other genres competing for the same resources. These frictions between rival scenes can be quite contentious and visible, as with swing when bebop scene members fought musicians (Lopes 2002), orwhen, urged on by a radio DJ, rock fansmet in a Chicago stadium tobreak dance records and chant "disco sucks." Ornette Coleman even had his specially-made instrument smashed by fellow musicians who felt upstaged by his complex and aggressive way of playing hard bop (Rosenthal 1992). Social conventions, including stylesof clothes

tional form characterized by nested rings of varying commitment to thegenre ideal. Clusters of those most responsible for the distinctive characteristics of themusic are at the center. Next, there is a ring of committed activists whose identity, and sometimes means of employment, is tied to the scene. Outside of this is a ringof fanswho participate in the scene more or less regularly.The outer ring ismade up of "tourists" who enjoy activities within the scene without identifying with it.Such distinct rings are characteristic ofmature scenes like the Chicago blues in the 1990s (Grazian 2004); newer scenes exhibit similar rings of commit ment, but their structure ismuch more fluid (Cohen 1991). As with other aspects of Scene-based genres, disagreements over the name of an emerging a consensually genre abound. Nonetheless, name usually emerges by the end of the agreed Scene-based phase, because the community bers themselves want to consolidate the identi music and itsassociated lifestyle.The tyof the
chosen name is sometimes an press, critics, merchandisers, and scene mem


representationof a genre's sound, such as bebop and doowop. More often a name has to do with straight edge), but our sample genres have a wide variety of name sources. Industry-Based
Industry-based sexuality (e.g., jazz, rap, funk, rock-n-roll, and


tude," are codified inScene-based genres. In the early 1940s, when Bill Monroe was trying to establish bluegrass music as distinct from the hillbilly music of the day, he dressed his band in tailored outfits that emulated the dress of Kentucky gentlemen horse-breeders (Rosenberg 1985). Other examples of adornment in Scene based genres include psychedelic rock fans' beads and tie-dye clothes, punks' Mohawk hair cuts, goths' "corpse paint" makeup, and bebop pers' berets. These adornments help distinguish members from nonmembers, particularly from devotees of competing genres. They can also symbolize whole constellations of beliefs and
practices known to scene members. For exam






music genres are so named

because their primary organizational form is the industrial corporation. Some are multina tional in scope, but others are independent com panies organized to compete directlywith the multinationals. Frith (1996:77) describes such genres as being located within the "market based popular music field."7Along with indus trialfirms, theprime actors in this field include singers and musicians who contract for their array of ancillary service providers, from song
services, genre-targeted audiences, and a wide

ple, straight-edge punk rockers draw a con spicuous "X" on the back of their hands to declare they have forsworn alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and promiscuous sex (Haenfler 2006). The harsh negative reactions of "squares" and

7 See Peterson and Berger (1975), Lopes (1992), Negus (1999), andDowd (2004).

TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES publishers to radio stations and diverse retail


For a genre to thrive for long in this large apparatus, itsfansmust number in thehundreds of thousands, and market logic demands ever largernumbers. Corporate interest in a partic ular genre lasts as long as its sales potential is increasing (Negus 1999). The otherwise high lycompetitivemultinational entertainmentcon glomerates collectively fight the unauthorized use and distribution of theircopyrighted music, doing whatever they can to frustratethe devel opment of new genres (Peterson 1990). At the same time, industrialfirms thataremore close ly linked to theirmarkets, such as Motown, Rough Trade, and Sugar Hill Records, can be instrumental in the development of genres (Toynbee 2000). Simplified genre conventions are codified in the interestsofmaking, measuring, andmar keting Industry-based genres. Firms trainnew artists towork within highly-codified perform
ance conventions, and record

as may portraya genre lifestyle innocent funand feature its colorful surface aspects, theymay spin the lifestyle as a danger to its fans may claim its"lawless, (Thornton 1996), or they anti-social, and hedonistic" fans pose a danger to society (Binder 1993). In 1969, at the time of the Woodstock and Altamont festivals, psy chedelic rock faced all three readings (Santelli 1980). This negative attention typically draws even more fans to a genre (Cocks 1985; Laing 1985; Thornton 1996). The media may also ignite a "moral panic" inwhich genre spokespeople, police, political

larly coach songwriters and artists to make simplemusic, clearlywithin genre bounds, that



authorities, religious leaders, parent groups, teachers, and moral pundits provide a willing press with lurid quotes. Press coverage often highlights racist, classist, or sexist tropes. For example, in 1943 to 1944 bebop jazz was blamed for the widespread White-on-Black race riots atmilitary bases and in Northern industrial cities (Lopes 2002). Forty years later,rapmusic was similarlyblamed when riots erupted inLos Angeles following the Rodney King trial(Chang Tensions over race, class, and gender 2005).
also emerge within munities. For genre com Industry-based when of numbers example, large

innovations have tury, technological standardized and simplified the production of music to satisfy the needs ofmass production. Trade magazines' weekly charts of song sales and Industry-based annual music awards help guide industrydecisions about the relative suc cess of individual songs and whole genres (Anand and Peterson 2000; Anand andWatson 2004; Watson andAnand 2006). In theprocess, genre names become more clearly fixed, but, at the same time, different Scene-based genres thatwere thought to be antithetical may be melded intoone category (Peterson 1997). National media bring a budding Industry based genre to the attention of amass audience with stories about its seemingly discordant music and the large number of genre fanswith unconventional lifestyles (Gillett 1974; Laing 1985). This coverage, however, is usually ill informed about themusic and often frames a genre in three contradictoryways. Journalists

typing strategies also facilitate sales because company personnel will know how to catego rize andmarket the "product" (Longhurst 2007; Negus 1999), and potential consumers can be identified throughanalysis ofmarketing demo graphics data (Negus 1999). Over thepast cen


to a mass




more educated, liberalNortherners flocked to the bluegrass community in the 1960s, they were characterized as "drug-taking freeloving pinkos," towhich they responded by character
as violent

izing working-class, Southern bluegrass fans



and lifestyle

elements of dress, adorn

are exaggerated and mass

marketed tonew fans of Industry-based genres. The "grunge aesthetic," for example, inspired fashion designer Marc Jacobs to incorporate wool ski caps, and Doc Marten flannel shirts, boots intoPerry Ellis's 1992 spring collection (Moore 2005). Likewise, advertisers often cap italized upon the popularity of a genre to pro mote their products. In the early 1990s, for lyused to refer to grunge rock,was used to sell consumer products like Budweiser (the "alter native beer") and todescribe the MTV program "Alternative Nation." A generation earlier, the popularity of political protest prompted amajor company to pronounce, "Columbia Records brings you the revolution" (Santelli 1980). New fans attracted to an Industry-basedgenre by intensive merchandising often raise the ireof more committed genre participants. New
example, the moniker "alternative," common


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW publishes schedules of events, recounts recent

genre events,

recruits argue over what constitutes authentic ity inmusic, musicians, and signs of group affiliation (Grazian 2004; Peterson 1997),while committed, longer-term fans and performers engage in a discourse about lost authenticity (Cantwell 1984; Eyerman and Jamison 1998; Lopes 2002). This tension is sometimes divisive enough to propel some genre members into forming new genres, either Avant-garde or Traditionalist.



and academic classes, butmuch instruction in musical technique and genre lore is received via one-on-one interaction with established per formers and other aficionados. Committed Traditionalists expend a great

techniques, profiles both venerated and rising artists and groups, and reviews new and remas tered historical records released by thenumer ous small record companies devoted to the genre. There are usually scholarly publications





Traditionalist genre participants' goal is topre serve a genre's musical heritage and inculcate the rising generation of devotees in the per formance techniques, history, and rituals of the genre. Fans and organizations dedicated toper petuating a genre put a great amount of effort into constructing its history and highlighting exemplary performerswho they deem fit into the genre's emerging canon of exemplars (Lee 2007; Regev 1994; Rosenberg 1985). Periodic gatherings of genre artists and fans at festivals, celebratory concerts, and reunions are characteristic ofTraditionalist genres. These rituals give devotees the chance to gather and momentarily live in the spiritof the genre and reaffirm its continuity (Rosenberg 1985). New and old performers will often play together, enacting a ritual of renewal through thevener ation of the old timers and the "discovery" of
new talent. Performers and

genre originated. For example, Traditionalist US. punks claim thatpunk developed inNew York and Detroit during the late 1960s and early locate 1970s, while British Traditionalists in 1970s London (Longhurst punk's founding of adherents 2007). Retrospectively, as Traditionalist genres decrywhat they identify the adulterating consequences of commercial exploitation of genre music, and they censure
artists who are seen as catering to corporate

with each other about the deal of energy fighting models they construct to represent a genre's music and the canon of its iconic performers. Traditionalists argue over which instruments and vocal stylings are appropriate, and they may even battle over the place and time that a

monly relyon employment outside thegenre, so these gatherings provide themost significant proportion of their earnings from performing genre music. They may also earn additional money from selling records, musical instru ments, and genre-related ephemera. Many fans sing, play an instrument,or act as promoters of genre events, so the division of labor is less distinct between fan, artist,and industrythan in Industry-based or fully-developed Scene-based



interestsor values. This censure can be seen in thedenigration of "crossover" rap artists of the 1980s likeVanilla Ice or Digital Underground, who are derided forhaving "made Rap palatable
to white, suburban youth class, across the country" attain

(Light 2004:140).

ment, and regional origins are often used as markers of authenticity.To play bluegrass, for example, it is said a musician must beWhite, working class, rural, and preferably from the



Artists, promoters, and fans join clubs and associations devoted to theperpetuation of the genre thathold performance contests and cre
ate annual "best of..." awards. Adherents of

Traditionalist genres communicate at a distance magazines, throughnewsletters, journals, trade and Internet discussion sites, throughwhich a they fabricate and promulgate a history for genre (Bennett 2004). The genre-oriented press

Appalachian mountains (Rosenberg 1985); you must be young,White, and an underachiever to perform punk music in an exemplary fashion (Laing 1985); and to really play salsa, a musi cian must be Latin American (Urquia 2004). Even journalistic and academic accounts of Traditionalist genres engage in such demo graphic profiling (Kelley 2004). Other outsiders often conflate stories of a genre's exotic origin with itspresent Traditionalist form, and these who want toknow stereotypes influence tourists something about the genre. Grazian (2003:13) tourists come to reports thatwell-meaning to find blues played by "un Chicago expecting

TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES educated American black men afflicted with blindness or some other disability, playing in ramshackle joints thatare dimly lit, unbearably music smoky, and smelling as funky as their


way intoa number of thegenre's guage made its In the late 1940s, Bebop made the transition intoan Industry-basedgenre as the major record companies bought the recording contracts of the leadingBop artistsand began topromote the music to the general public. The national press music, as well as Bop regularly reported on the artists' and fans' antics.Many stories described thezoot suit fashions, argot, racialmixing, juve nile delinquency, and drug taking (Lopes 2002). Much of the national media attention initially derided Bop, but by themid-1950s themedia was increasingly positive, leading to a rapid swelling in the ranks of casual listenerswho wanted to vicariously live thedangerous lifeof the "hepcat." Numerous marketers obliged with mass production of distinctive emblems of the
scene status. The record companies, to draw songs.

AgSIT Genre Traiectories Based on our four case studies,we expected all genre trajectories togrow fromAvant-garde cir cles, but just 40 of the 60 genres we sampled began thisway, and only 16 experienced the fullAgSIT trajectory.Bebop, a form of jazz that emerged in the early 1940s, exemplifies a genre that experienced the full trajectory.Like other Avant-garde genres, Bebop coalesced around a small group of experimentalists, includingCharlie Parker and "Dizzy" Gillespie. They attracted the attentionof other young jazz players, most notably Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Christian, who were dissat isfied with the big-band swing of the time (DeVeaux 1997). Their collective stylistic inno music, vations, dedication to creating Black art and charismatic leadership created a consensus around theBop genre ideal (Lopes 2002). Genre music conventions coalesced as Bebop came to be played by small combos of musicians on acoustic instruments, usually led by a saxo and characterized by a series phone and trumpet, of fast extended solos improvised on a song's harmonic structurerather than on its melody.

more casual fans, began backing the starBop performers with string sections, a move that signaled the Industry-based genrewas reaching
its end.

Genres thatexperience the explosive growth and aesthetic dilution characteristic of an Industry-based genre tend to suffera crisis as their many casual fans find a new focus of atten tion. In this instance, the growth of both R&B and Rock music drew fans away fromBebop. Not surprisingly,the general media reduced its coverage of Bebop, and the major record com

panies reduced theirmarketing and financial support of genre artists, sometimes terminating
their contracts to review rather

experiment in small clubs, a Scene-based genre clubs such as developed. Bop-dedicated Birdland opened and several specialty record companies, like Blue Bird, were established. The always contentious jazz press hotly debat ed the music, politics, and behavioral "excess es" of the music's practitioners and devotees. A set of sartorial, linguistic,and behavioral mark ers developed, allowing Bopsters to identify each other and enact the circle's criticism of the status-quo music scene. Evoking the image of French bohemian artists, Dizzy Gillespie and otherBoppers wore black berets, but theprime symbol of Bop group allegiance was theuse of an elaborate vocabulary todescribe themselves, swing players, ignorant fans, demanding man
agers, varieties

the Avant-garde




portive of Bebop
In response, ways garde to revitalize genres



the media

increasingly saw it as music


than as a newsworthy lifestyle. some musicians new explore a genre ideal, and new Avant efforts. For from these

example, Bebop artists helped to spawn Hard bop, Cool jazz, Free jazz, psychedelic jazz, and third stream genres. At the same time, hard core Bebop fans, who were dismayed by the adulterationsmade in the Industry-based genre and by the hordes of touristic fans, took wry pleasure fromBebop's downfall and set about trying to recreate Bebop as ithad been in the glory days when itwas Scene-based. In time,
these musicians, scholars, and fans created a set


This rapidly evolving argotmade itpossible to deride outsiders in theirpresence, and the Ian

of drugs,


the authorities.

of institutionstopreserve the memory and prac tice of the music through education in the
schools, festivals, album reissues, and other

features of Traditionalist genres. Increasingly,


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW Punk rock, Rockabilly, Salsa, Urban blues, Western swing,Hillbilly, and Rock-n-roll (see Table 2). Of these, Bebop most closely resem bles Heavy metal, Old-school rap, Punk rock, and Rockabilly in the spectacular and con tentious Industry-based phase of their trajecto

Folk revival music, Gospel, Folk rock, Heavy metal, Honky-tonk country, Old-school rap,

Bebop was interpreted as a modern art form worthy of scholarly attention and preservation in themajor conservatories of classical music (Lopes 2002; Peterson 1972). The February 28, 1964 issue of Time magazine, for example, fea tured Thelonious Monk on its cover and described his eccentricities not as signs ofmad ness but of creative genius. Fifteen othergenres followed the sameAgSIT trajectory as Bebop: Bluegrass, Chicago jazz,

As Table 2 shows, nine musics in disparate streams, includingAlternative country,Disco, Gangsta rap, Jumpblues, Psychedelic rock, and Thrash metal, experienced Avant-garde, Scene based, and Industry-based genres but have not

Table 2. AgSIT Genre Trajectories_

Avant-Garde BeBop Bluegrass Jazz x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x Rap x x x x x x x x x x x x x Blues x x x x x x x x x x x x x Scene-Based Industry Based Traditionalist

Jazz Chicago Folk Revival Folk Rock Gospel Heavy Metal Hillbilly HonkyTonk Old-School Punk Rock Rockabilly Rock-n-Roll Salsa Urban Western

x x x x

x x x x Swing Alternative Country x x x Disco East Coast Gangsta Rap xxx Grunge Rock Jazz Fusion Jump Blues xxx xxx xxx


xxx Psychedelic Rock xxx Thrash Metal West Delta Coast Gangsta Rap x x x Blues Jazz x x x x x x x xxx xx x

DooWop New Orleans Black Metal

Country Boogie x x Death Metal Free Jazz x x Garage Grindcore x x x x

Hard Bop x x x x House x x Jungle South Texas Polka x x Techno Laurel Canyon_x_ x x

TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES formed a Traditionalist genre. Since there is often a gap of five ormore years between the


Finally,while most Avant-garde genres either wither or develop new scenes, from time to time anAvant-garde circle explodes, spawning several new genres. Such Avant-garde genres are usually labeled by the place they came togeth er, such as the loose collection of singer-song writer-musicians who gathered in the bucolic canyons above Los Angeles in the late 1960s and as we identify the "Laurel Canyon" circle.8Like

collapse of an Industry-based genre and the coalescence of a Traditionalist genre, it is pos sible that theymay experience a "revival" in
to come. In several cases, the creative


energies thatmight have gone into tradition building went instead towardbuilding new gen
res. Most


Broughton 2000; Chang 2005; Curtis 1987; Lee and Peterson 2004; Lena 2006). Three musics in our sample, Delta blues, Doowop, and New Orleans jazz, developed a Traditionalist genre without ever being an Industry-based genre. This may be due to par ticular features of the racialized system for music distribution in the firsthalf of the twen which limited the accessibility of tiethcentury, Black music. Beginning in the thirdquarter of bothDelta blues andNew the twentieth century, as revivals Orleans experienced jazz

Gangsta rap, and Psychedelic rock Americana; newer forms spawned, respectively, of dance music likeTechno, House, and Jungle; top-40 rap; and glam rock (Brewster and




all Avant-garde genres, the artists associated with Laurel Canyon were quite eclectic, but were united in theirdislike of the music of they the day, including pop, glam, and psychedelic rock. The Laurel Canyon circle did not devel

tinct genres, including the singer-songwriter style of James Taylor and JoniMitchell, Folk rock led by the Byrds, cosmic country exem plified by theFlying Burrito Brothers, the coun tryrock of theEagles, and thepsychedelic pop of The Mamas and The Papas (Hoskyns 2006; Walker 2006). SIT Genre Traiectories

op a cohesive Scene-based genre, but itsefforts were central to the floweringof several quite dis

Traditionalist genres. The history ofDoowop is a bit different.Doowop started in the 1950s when young African American vocal groups began to use theirvoices to simulate theBlack pop music of theday.As the stylebecame more popular, theirvocal renditionswere augmented by R&B bands, and Doowop merged into the Black pop-music stream (Pruter 1996). were live We found 11genre trajectories that genres but never became ly Scene-based nor formed a genres Industry-based Traditionalist genre.Most of these communities their genre ideal, purposively maintained to a narrow group. Death metal is an appealing

and homophobic lyrics, as well as devotees' antisocial behavior, foreclosed any distribution bymajor music companies (Kahn-Harris 2007). Less extreme examples include Free jazz, Black metal, Garage, Grindcore, and South Texas polka. Country boogie and Hard bop were both absorbed intoothergenres, so theydid not enjoy a separateTraditionalist period. At theend of the


its often violent,



Among our 60 genre trajectories, 11 began as Scene-based genres and moved to an Industry based or Traditionalist form (see Table 3). The first five genres inTable 3 grew out of preex isting domestic Scene-based genres, and six imports from abroad took on distinctive iden tities in theUnited States. Swing is the only one of these 11musics to go throughthe entire SIT trajectory in the twen tieth century. It developed in the late 1920s when sweet dance bands incorporated elements of "hot jazz" into their music. Composers and orchestrated hot jazz improvisation arrangers over written dance-band parts, satisfying both dancers and jazz fans. In the hands of Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman, Swing became thedominant formof industrial pop music by the late 1930s. Its withered in the late 1940s, Industry-based form but a vigorous swing Traditionalist genre

1990s, threedance musics, House, Jungle, and Techno, enjoyed continuing vital development and produced numerous permutations through Scene-based media (McLeod 2001).



inAvant-garde genres and name practice was centered. after the place where it

it, Walker (2006)we follow thecommon identify like

the circle

had no agreed


in the day. To


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW SIT Genre Trajectories Scene-Based Industry-Based

xx x x x x

Table 3.


Swing Christian Contemporary Conscious Rap Humor

Contemporary Gospel

x x x x x x x x x x x x

Reggae Soca Tango Chicago Polka Cleveland Polka Milwaukee Polka_x_x_

emerged a decade later (Magee 2005; Shipton 2001). Contemporary Christian music grew out of young gospel musicians' efforts to incorporate elements of rock into their religiously-themed music (Darden 2004). Likewise, Conscious rap, Contemporary gospel, and Humor rap emerged from efforts to combine scenes (see Krims [2000] and Rose [1994] on Rap; see Darden

phase. Instead, each became part of the foun dation for later forms of Latin, Rock, and Rap music (Dudley 2004; Roberts 1979; Shepherd et al. 2005). Finally, threeforms of polka music coming from centralEurope took on distinctive forms in Midwestern industrial cities, fostered by Scene-based institutions (Shepherd et al. 2005). None of the polka musics developed into Industry-based genres, but all sustained an extended Traditionalist genre. IST Genre Traiectories

on Contemporary gospel). Reggae, Soca, and Tango, Caribbean and Latin music forms that came to theUnited States and developed dis tinctive attributes here, had no Traditionalist

Heilbut [1997],andThompson[2000] [2004],

Soul is a good example of this pattern. African American religious singers had long borrowed fromBlack secularmusic and rhythms to give their sacred songs intensityand popular appeal. Following World War II, singers raised in the church reversed the process, bringing elements of energized Gospel music into their secular songs. These effortsrangedwidely, from the rocking songs of Little Richard and the shouts of JamesBrown to theballads of numer ous R&B quartets. This work coalesced as a coherent genre in thehands ofRay Charles and Ahmet Ertegun, theAtlantic Records owner and producer. In 1954, Charles had a huge hit when he transformed thewell-known Gospel World toMe" anthem "My JesusMeans the into the secular "I Got aWoman (way over town that's good tome)." Over the next 10 years, many artists followed his lead, including Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cook, JackieWilson, andWilson Picket (Garland 1970; Gillett 1974; Guralnick 1999). In the 1960s, Motown Records became very
successful by crafting a line of "softer," "safer,"

Nine of our 60 genre trajectories, as depicted in Table 4, began as Industry-based genres and then developed scenes; six then experienced Traditionalist phases. We did not anticipate this sort of trajectory but identified a number of cases thatshare this"anomaly." On close inspec most of these genres con tion,we found that

soul songs. Cool jazz, Funk, New jack swing, andNu metal likewise emerged from the efforts of successful artists working with industrial
record company

spicuously share a source in thepooled efforts of a few creative musicians paired with
arrangers, producers, and industry marketers

working in the field of Industry-basedmusic.

Southern gospel developed quite differently. While the genre is highly inflectedwith Black influences, the designation "Southern" is used to clearly distinguish itspredominantlyWhite, close-harmony stylefrom related trends inBlack Gospel. Southern gospel was an unintended byproduct ofmarketing effortsbegun in 1910 by theVaughn Music Publishing Company to sell theirnew line of religious songbooks fea turingfour-partharmonies. The company hired


or arrangers.


Industry-Based Cool Movie New Jazz Cowboy Jack Swing xxx Funk xxx xxx Soul Southern Gospel Nashville Sound Nu Metal Outlaw x x x x xxx x x xxx xxx Scene-Based Traditionalist



amale quartet toperformworks from the song books in churches across the South and the Midwest. Four-part quartets had not been pop ular previously, but theywere themost cost efficientway to promote songbooks. Touring quartets rapidly became popular, and enter prising singers formed publishing companies and sent out singing quartets of theirown. This created a great demand fornew songs well suit ed to four-partharmonies. By 1940, perform ances were also held in town halls, theaters, was where theatricality schools, and under tents ed forRCA in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1960s thatgroups again obtained contractswith major labels. By the 1980s the old circuit no longer drew young fans, but the formhas expe rienced a revival as a Traditionalist genre since the 1990s (Goff 2002; Murray 2005). The Nashville sound was also an unintend was the ed byproduct ofmusic industry actors. It work of major music corporation producers
who were also important to success. Several quartets record

Hollywood movie lots devoted tomaking "B" Western films (Peterson 1997). Outlaw country coalesced in the mid-1970s Nashville

Jones and Johnny Cash (Malone 2002). Led by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, artists

dition of "hard countrymusic," runningfrom JimmieRodgers and Hank Williams toGeorge

as a reaction to the growing banality of the sound, but it represented a long tra

with theirown road bands away from the large

corporately-owned studios. This "outlaw" move

began to flaunt theirdrug use, write theirown songs, choose theirrecordproducers, and record

ment became

a genre

in 1976 when RCA

repackaged previously-released material by Jennings, Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser as "Wanted: The Outlaws," which became the firstcountrymusic album to sell a million copies. Many artists followed in the wake of this success, but the music has not had a Traditionalist phase. Instead, the outlaw spir it and way of making
loosely-organized as Texas country,

notablyOwen Bradley, Herbert Long, and Chet Atkins. Beginning in the late 1950s, they cre ated an assembly-line system of production in
an effort to produce coun standard, high-quality at a low cost. Professional trymusic songwrit




records has animated

movements, such rock, Alternative

Avant-garde Southern

ers provided

songs that were




sion" musicians created arrangements in the studio.What began as a system of production soon developed distinctmusical qualities that collectively became known as the Nashville sound (Hemphill 1970). The genre flourished in the 1960s, was supplanted in the 1970s, and to date ithas not had a Traditionalist form (Jensen Nashville sound,Cowboy music 1998). Like the was the byproduct of a system of creating recorded music; it was produced in the



a set of professional

country, and hellbilly (Ching 2001, Malone 2002). Our sample genres suggest thatnot all indus trial environments are equally congenial to the development of new musics. While themajor

companies (measured ina way appropriate to the time) accounted formost popular music pro duction in the twentieth-century United States, six of the nine musics in our sample?Cool jazz, Funk, New jack swing, Soul, Southern
developed in unaf and Nu metal?were


filiated, independent record companies that were in competition with the major labels.


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW are broken or truncated,all the sampled musics went through a Scene-based phase. The Theoretical Social-Cultural Utility of Genre and


This article examines the attributes,forms, and trajectories of commercial music genres in the twentieth-century United States. Based on exploratory case studies of Bebop jazz, Bluegrass, Grunge rock, and Rap, we found thateachmusic community can be characterized by clusters of 12 attributes:organizational form, scale, and locus ofmusic production; codifica tion of performance conventions; the role of technology,press coverage, and boundary work; the identity work of participants, including their goals, dress, and argot; sources of income for artists; and finally thevarying sources of genre names. We found that combinations of these we attributes cluster into four genre forms that and Traditionalist. To gauge the generality of these genre attri butes, forms, and trajectories,we examined 60 kinds ofmusic found in theUnited States.We discovered that these four genre forms were sufficient to account for variations in the sam pled musics. We also found that the develop mental features of thesemusics fitone of three distinct genre trajectories. Two-thirds of the Avant-garde circles. sampled musics started in Most of these thengenerated supportfrom local people and institutions,attracted the attention
of mass call Avant-garde, Scene-based, Industry-based,


The forms and trajectories we discovered in music of the twentieth-century United States seem similar to those of other social forma tions. We described how new music genres coa lesce frommusicians' dissatisfactions and their ability to attractan activemusic scene.Much the

national visibility,a number became thedomain of those seeking topreserve the traditionalgenre ideal.9 A smaller number of musics emerged within scenes, usually becoming Industry-based genres and thenTraditionalist genres. Perhaps the greatest surprise was that nine musics emerged within themusic industry,as artists, producers, ormarketers seized the opportunity to innovate, and several of these developed Scene-based and Traditionalist forms. It is notable thatwhile many musical trajectories



after a period



demic disciplines thus resembles musics in the firstthreephases of the Much AgSIT trajectory. the same process is found in the development of churches that grow from sects or cults. Whether derived from an existing denomination as a sect, or born fromfresh inspirationas a cult, these groups can experience similar develop mental paths as AgSIT genres, until they too wither or become established churches (Stark and Bainbridge 1985;Wallis 1975). The musics we studied changed inpatterned in other ways that may mirror processes domains. The music and lifestyleofmany gen resmoved from being novel and experimental
to being seen as unexceptional, fixed, or old

ible colleges" of scientists and scholars in the humanities. These groups form around faculty's and students' dissatisfaction with thedominant practices in a given discipline, and some of these factions become well enough established that theyare able to gather sufficient resources toproduce and convey knowledge (Crane 1972; Frickel and Gross 2005). The growth of aca



to take place

in the "invis

that should be taken when asserting This tra is the predominant genre trajectory. AgSIT the story of genre develop jectory roughly mirrors and works in many ment recounted popular Caution is a danger There critical evaluations. retrospective that this is as much a reconstructed myth as an accu of events. We try to avoid this poten rate accounting tial bias as much as possible by relying on sources to the times that the events being close written described took place.

1982, 1992; 2007; Bourdieu 1990; DiMaggio Regev 1994; White and White 1965). If art musics are considered in the way we have done a genre phase based on institutionalval here, orization and governmental-philanthropic sup portwould probably be found,and thisart-based simply substitute for the phase might

principles that could explain the dynamics of diverse collectivities. Numerous sociological studies examine the social processes of genre dynamics in various forms of cultural expression, focusing on the valorization of a cultural form as art (Baumann

fashioned. This particular patterned change Weber's idea of the rou strikesus as similar to tinization of charisma (Weber 1947), and this similaritymay point us towardmore general

TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES Traditionalist phase experienced by some com mercial genres. In the case of Bebop, the val orization processes emerged near the end of its Industry-based genre (Lopes 2002). Is itpossi ble that there are characteristics of the Traditionalist phase thathave, to date, prevent ed the valorization of blues and rock as art despite the concerted efforts of numerous groups (Lee 2007; Regev 1994)? In the course of our work itbecame abun dantly clear thatgenres do not all have the same commercial music. One might distinguish between genres thatare onlymarginally differ ent and those thataregerminal, that is, theyrep Genre Context in Interactional and Macro


music or the field of influence inaltering either

most importantele Rival genres are among the ments ina genre's environment,and as we noted above, contentious battles between rivals often shape Scene-based musics. The historical record offers many examples of such conflict, includ the streetfightsbetween "mods" and "rock ing ers" in the early days of rock-n-roll in the United Kingdom. We know very little,though, of the role these frictions play in the develop ment of genres. It could be that competition over resources produces similarities between

resent a significant departure from existing musics. Such germinal genres tend to spawn a number of genres thatare only marginally dif ferentfrom them. For example, the germinal genres of Bebop, Rock-n-roll, and Old-school Hard bop and Cool jazz, rap begat, respectively, psychedelic and glam rock, and Gangsta, booty
rap, and numerous other variants. If this dis

would be important to tinctionproves useful, it ask why germinal genres emerge when and where theydo.

A great deal of popular writing about music genres focuses on descriptions of the interaction among participants, but this is an under researched area and, except for a few illustra
tions, we are have given it scant possible attention research here. ques numerous

Much writing on genre emergence focuses on the ingenuityand creativityof particular artists. It is clear from the detailed descriptions of key artistsand Avant-garde genres, however, that with the cultural entrepreneursare often familiar of earliermusics, and these stories development may condition their actions as they set out to form a new music. Similarly, there may be pres sures for a genre to acquire particular institu tional features thatare isomorphicwith those of in the organizational others field. Hesmondhalgh (1998), forexample, shows that theorganizational and institutional dynamics of themusic industry frustrated the attempts of post-punk bands to operate on a democratic


What are thediscursive andmusical struc tions: tures that concatenate into genre ideals and produce symbols of inclusion and exclusion?
How do performance conventions emerge, and

what is theprocess of elective affinityand resis tance by which lifestyles emerge? Is there an optimum level of competition between musi cians, old and new genre fans, industryactors, and between genres for creating genres and theirdevelopment? Why do some Avant-garde circles attract scenes while otherswither?Why

do some genre participants seek innovation while others tryto maintain traditions? And are thedynamics of identityformation differentfor
Avant-garde, Scene-based, Industry-based, and

The dynamics of field opportunity structures seem to dictate that when a dominant genre is only one of the contending new genres aging, will be able to take its place. Is this process inevitable, and what happens to the other con testants?Do theyget absorbed by thewinning genre? Do they simplywither? Or do they con or solidate their strengths as Scene-based Traditionalist genres and survive on the margins of commercial music? Much of thisarticle focuses on field-level fac tors ingenre dynamics. Nonetheless, we brack eted several importantfactors to make thedata we Most importantly, did not take manageable. into consideration the intimate relationship between creative communities in theUnited States and those inEurope and otherparts of the world. A full understanding of genres in the United States must take into account these diverse influences and collaborations. In addi disco dance music have taken root in countries around theworld and are being reimported to
tion, genres such as bebop, punk, rap, and post

Traditionalist genre participants?


AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW States We have said little about themacro social conditions thatgive rise to specific innovations or periods of innovation.The greatmajority of musics in our sample were created in the sec ond half of the twentiethcentury. It might well be an artifact of our limited resources for his torical research, or the tendency of histories to blur distinctions among more distant events and phenomena, but it is plausible that there has been an accelerated rate of genre formation. Features of U.S. culture, political economy, communication, and technologymay have pro moted and sustained unique levels of innovation in the second half of the century. For example, theUnited States emerged from World War II with its industrial infrastructure intact,andmost of the key inventions in radio, television, and recordmaking were made in thepostwar peri od. In the 1950s, teenagers' newfound wealth fueled the explosive growth in themarket for commercial music. Growing worldwide com prehension of theEnglish language made U.S. commercial music popular, and growingworld wide popularity of thethree-minutesong format, and the confines of an eight-note scale, influ enced the freer sonorities and meter of folk musics around theworld. More recently, the newfound ease ofmusic creation, distribution, and consumption, made possible by digitaliza tion and the new media, may fuel the develop
ment of diverse

in transformed versions. Likewise, Avant-garde and Scene-based gen resmodeled on exported U.S. genres emerge in many countries, but few systematic studies explore the processes involved or theways in which the genres are transformed (Condry shows thatdiscrimination against marginalized elements of our society has had a complex influence on genre formation and tra jectories (Cantwell 1984; Crouch 2007; Lott musics in our sam 1995). Indeed,many of the ple emerged from the experiences ofmarginal ized elements of society, most prominently African Americans, youth, immigrants, women, and individuals from slums and other impover ished areas, such as the South. By way of con 2006). Research

the United

trast,the lifewaysand complaints of the wealthy have not inspired the development of any of the commercial genres in our sample. Why is this the case, and what is its specific impact on genre attributes and trajectories? We were surprised by the counterintuitive musics discovery that several twentieth-century emerged as Industry-based genres (IST), which suggests the importance of furtheranalyzing the role of corporations ingenre formation and development. Multinational corporations often inhibitmusical innovation; to sustain profits, firms constrain artists toproduce onlymargin ally different aesthetic content (Dowd 2004; 1992; Peterson and Berger 1975; Lopes Weisbard 2008). How does the increasing role ofmultinational corporations in the early stages ofmusical innovation effect the incubation of musics in Scene-based genres (Negus 1999)? Looking for profits, the industrial sectormay

"prematurely" harvest Scene-based genres. What are the consequences for the aesthetic content and trajectory suchmusic? It is entire of century,cor possible that, in the twenty-first ly music industry may stifle porate control of the the development of autonomous genres of the On sort that flourished in the twentiethcentury. theotherhand, the myriad technological changes with the stimulated by digitalization, together of radical restructuring corporate organizations, may provide opportunities for thedevelopment of new germinal genres. One such possibility is the emergence of new genres based entirely on the electronic manipulation of sound (Puckette 2007).

We have focused on identifying develop mental sequences ofmusic genres; the causal mechanisms that aid genres as they transition from one genre form to the next were not our concern here. However, having identified the prevalent genre types and trajectories, future research might seek thenecessary and sufficient conditions for the production of these genre forms and their sequencing. Our study shows thatdefining music genre sociologically as a creative group process rather
than as a discourse about



the world.

ket category facilitates understanding the processes of classification and systematic change. It also provokes a range of questions about the social structureof genres, thedynam ics of theirtrajectories,and the ways these shape music. Itmay also shed light on processes of classification and change in other creative domains in sociology, the arts,management, and the sciences. More broadly, this inductive schema illustratesboth the relevance of sociol


or a mar

TYPES AND TRAJECTORIES OF MUSIC GENRES ogy to the study of culture and the centralityof the study of culture to the problems of con -. temporary sociology.
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