On music genres

On Thursday, September 14, Kimveer Gill opened fire on students at Dawson College in Montreal. Two hours before the shooting, he left a series of blog entries on his www.vampirefreaks.com profile. News reports inferred that he was disturbed, depressed, and “goth.” In a separate incident, Joshua Ballard posted his suicide note as a MySpace bulletin on November 29, 2005. Now eulogized in Internet phenomena, Ballard profiled himself on MySpace as “emo.”

What’s the point? As music becomes less centralized and more outlets open for musicians to export their music, the greater the need becomes to make the music more unique in order to stay afloat and the more convenient it becomes to tag on a new genre label. Combined with the attraction to attaching oneself to the visual image and identity of a particular genre, this breaks the lines of traditional discrimination into an area where prejudice, hierarchy, and gentrification should not exist.

Discrimination no longer takes place only in the form of race and gender, but also visual image. Because I listen to musicians like Marilyn Manson and Skinny Puppy (both musicians favored by Gill), I may be apt to hurt my classmates. Because I am also supposedly “goth,” that means I must hate fans of hip-hop or any other kind of genre, because people as a whole must be, in my mind, worthless, no good, betraying, and deceptive.

However, those who create invisible boundaries based on music and music-related culture are perhaps not only as odious as those they classify as “bad people,” but also fall victim to ignorance and the micro-genrefication of music.

Of course genres help to compare one type of music to another as a reference point. However, since music in general is such a quickly evolving art form, designating categories to contain them is an impossible feat. Sadly, as these genres become more over-defined, the groups of people who follow each get smaller and more specified, and upsettingly, discrimination may rise.

What is the solution? Expose yourself to music that might not necessarily fit your average breadth of musical taste. Immerse yourself in different kinds of people who subscribe to different images and cultures. Realize that most music today is influenced if not blatantly stolen from similar roots. Understand that music is aural, not visual. Image is tertiary in the order of what is important to music, not secondary, and most definitely not primary.