There are so many different types of singing styles and genres out there. Throughout the centuries, the many different cultures around the world came up with their own scales and modes, and different types of music emerged.
These styles, or genres of music, are just as diverse and varied as the cultures themselves. Each genre has its own special characteristics that make it different from others, and each genre presents unique challenges for singers.
On the other hand, your singing styles and genres are learned. As you grow, you may have liked so much a particular genre of music because your dad or mom plays that type of music often. Subconsciously, you have come to like that type of music, and you have patterned your singing style after those artists you usually listen to.
Here’s a list of the most common genres of music, tips for singing each one, and some well-known examples you might recognize.
If music is food, then pop is candy. It’s fun and romantic, but not overly sentimental. With dance and rhythm at its heart, pop music has dominated a lot of American music over the past 30 or so years, and many singers have come and gone.
You might be surprised to learn that rock is a grandchild of the blues. After it became heavier and more dance-ably rhythmic, the music began to “rock” – and rock and roll was born!
It grew up to become rougher and edgier, and now, rock vocal sounds are as diverse as in any other genre. Today, rock singers include voices as different as Adam Lambert, Tom Araya of Slayer, James Hetfield of Metallica, and Bono of U2.
But that rougher and edgier part of rock has to be, at least in some ways, a defining characteristic of the rock voice. Otherwise, it confused with an adult contemporary or pop voice.
Opera and Classical
Often considered the most formal and restrictive of all genres of singing, classical and opera singing actually require the greatest amount of freedom. Much of it is sung with uncontrolled vibrato and total emotional release.
Adult contemporary is such a unique genre, because singers from relatively different genres often get put into this camp as well, or end up here at the height of their career.
It has been called “vanilla,” bland and boring, but often, the most magnificent songs ever are forever embedded in its charts.
Hip hop, the heavily rhythmic and rhyming singing that often accompanies rapping and beat-boxing, emerged in the 1970s, and has grown steadily in popularity since then.
In fact, that popularity has turned into tremendous influence on other singing genres, including pop and country. Its origins are many, but the most apparent are funk, disco, reggae, and the blues. Singers of hip hop are diverse, but the singing generally takes on edgy and sometimes nasal qualities.
Blues and Jazz
The blues were born in the American south from the spirituals of slaves and the call-and-response music of the Southern church. Think of jazz as its slightly more sophisticated child who never forgot its roots.
Jazz singing is characterized by clear, “speech level” singing and distinct consonants, while blues singing has a rough or rootsy edge to it, sometimes with a natural Southern accent.
The R&B bands usually consist of two guitars, a piano, bass, drums, and saxophones. Sometimes there are background vocalists.
R&B singers make use of sustained tones vibrato in ballads. Moreover, many phrases in the lyrics are usually conversational and may not require vibrato. The lyrics play a crucial role in an R&B song. The voice also should vary to serve as a reflection of the lyrics. Plus, R&B singers need to project their voices. Hence, they need to use microphones for this reason.
Of course, that’s not all! There are so many different styles of music to discover, as well as sub-genres within each category.
Singing styles and vocal types are two different things. Yet, when you combine both, you can come up with a distinctive character and style. Your singing style, of course, distinguishes you from other singers. The more unique your singing style, the more chances you have to make it to the top. Colored by the music genre of choice, you can then slither your way to stardom if given a chance.