Write Now: Musical, Literary Genres May Have Some Common Ground

In today’s culture one can listen to almost any genre of music. It’s a good thing and bad thing.

The good thing is that a wide variety of music is there for listening. Imagine listening to your favorite satellite radio station with its subchannels. There is a vast amount of music to be heard.

The bad thing is virtually the same. The same subchannels exist, but now a band or artist is forever linked to a certain genre and has a hard time crossing over to other genres.

It’s a blessing and a curse.

But let’s think outside the box.

What if music genres were the same as literary genres? It would make for a different kind of pairing. It’s like a waiter suggesting what kind of alcohol pairs with your dinner and desert. For some, it takes the guesswork out, and they don’t have to become nervous about knowing what is paired with what.

So for an exercise, I am going to use six musical genres and pair them with literary genres. You can agree with me or agree to disagree with me. I won’t be offended because your argument may be better than mine. I welcome your comments.

Here are the six musical genres: Motown, progressive rock, punk, pop, hip hop, and country. I have left some genres out, but that’s on purpose. I could just have chosen rock, but as much as of a fan I am of rock music, my favorite is progressive rock, followed by classic rock, hard rock, and maybe heavy metal if it still exists. My point is that rock has many subgenres as does metal. These pairings are only my opinion.


Punk music to me has always sounded angry, like the musicians were trying to get someone’s attention, or they were commenting how tough their lives were. I always thought it was an underground radical genre, and one couldn’t get a recording of a band unless one did the recording at a venue where the band was playing. Bands like the Sex Pistols, and The Clash paved the way for some bands more closely related to the new wave genre like Duran Duran, and The Jam. So dystopian literature pairs nicely with Punk music. According to masterclass.com, dystopian novels are set in societies viewed as worse than the one in which we live. Dystopian fiction exists in contrast to utopian fiction, which is set in societies viewed as better than the one in which we live.


Progressive rock is just that progressive. Is the music supposed to get better and progress? That’s in the ear of the listener. One could think that the music does get better while another listener won’t pony up the money for the lackluster bill of goods. To me, progressive rock means great musicians, difficult pieces of music to play, strong lyrics, and message to deliver. Some bands that are in the genre are Genesis, Rush, Yes, and Dream Theater. The science fiction genre pairs nicely with progressive rock. Masterclass.com said sci-fi novels are speculative stories with imagined elements that don’t exist in the real world. Some are inspired by “hard” natural sciences like physics, chemistry, and astronomy; others are inspired by “soft” social sciences like psychology, anthropology, and sociology. Common elements of sci-fi novels include time travel, space exploration, and futuristic societies.


Pop music and romantic fiction go together because most pop music is light, and usually sends out a positive message with the exception of a ballad or power ballad. But even with ballads and power ballads there can be a great ending. According to masterclass.com, romantic fiction centers around love stories between two people. They’re lighthearted, optimistic, and have an emotionally satisfying ending. Romance novels do contain conflict, but it doesn’t overshadow the romantic relationship, which always prevails in the end.


Motown that is pop music that had its beginnings in Detroit nick-named the Motor City. Motown’s infectious grooves, beautiful melodies, and perfect arrangements make it hard to resist. While the British Invasion was happening in the 60s, so was Motown. Groups like The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Temptations, and The Four Tops peacefully co-existed with their British contemporaries. I will also pair Motown with romance fiction.


I have always believed that behind the awesome rhythms, hip hop tells a story. The lyrics tell a very real story, so I paired it with realist fiction. Masterclass.com said realist fiction novels are set in a time and place that could actually happen in the real world. They depict real people, places, and stories in order to be as truthful as possible. Realist works of fiction remain true to everyday life and abide by the laws of nature as we currently understand them.


I have heard country music all my life. When I was growing up, my mother loved listening to it, so sometimes it was the only music played. When I first heard it was called country and western. Now it’s called country. Throughout the years, the genre has changed. When I first heard it there were twangy guitars, and strong vocals. Today’s country music sounds like The Eagles of the 1970s. It’s natural that country would be paired with western novels. Western novels, masterclass.com said, tell the stories of cowboys, settlers, and outlaws exploring the western frontier and taming the American Old West. The novels are shaped specifically by their genre-specific elements and rely on them in ways that novels in other fiction genres don’t. Westerns aren’t as popular as they once were; the golden age of the genre coincided with the popularity of western films in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

The genres listed here can be found at masterclass.com/articles/what-are-the-different-genres-of-literature-a-guide-to-1.4-literary-genres#the-14-main-literary-genres.

Remember that these genres are only my interpretation and other interpretations are welcome and encouraged.


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