• Rose Smith

Listening to Every Genre Ever

Photo Source: PxHere

“What kind of music do you listen to?” This question is one of the first things people tend to ask each other. Like the clothes you wear, we often tend to make assumptions on people based off of the music they like to listen to. A relatively common answer would have to be, “I listen to everything,” but while that might be a common answer, it tends to draw a lot of skeptics. After all, what does everything even mean? Would that mean all kinds of music in equal measure, or does it mean that you don’t tend to take genre into account when you seek out music? One day, I decided to try to find out what listening to every genre was like, and thus began my genre journey.

The first step to listening to every genre was finding out a way to separate genres out. Sure, there are simple, general genres such as rock, jazz, etc., but what about the sub-genres? If I polled a bunch of electronic music fans about the artists they listened to, the answers can vary wildly. Some like the loud, abrasive sounds of electrotrash, and some like the atmospheric sounds of ambient, yet both genres are technically electronic music. It would be a good idea to find an outside authority to separate genres apart, even better if it were compiled in one central place and from a site I could trust.

Enter Every Noise at Once. Every Noise has been around since 2013 or 2014 (2013 is when the website’s Twitter account was created, but the Spotify API’s beginning date signals 2014). Created and maintained by Spotify data analyst Glen McDonald, Every Noise is a massive graph that attempts to organize Spotify’s genres. To date, there are 5,224 genres on Spotify. The genres are separated through musical themes, history, or regional similarities. Many could criticize that it might make music too granular, but Every Noise solves the generality problem that I had been struggling with before while still providing a great framework to work off of. It also provides playlists of each genre, so I don’t have to hunt for examples of the genre myself.

Now that I’ve found a site to give me a list of genres, I had to come up with a method to listen to all of them. If I listened to one song per genre, then I couldn’t say that I really listened to it. It’s possible that I had actually stumbled upon the worst bebop jazz song ever, and I might have actually enjoyed the genre as a whole; however, I don’t want to torture myself with music that I'm really not into for too long. I decided that 3 songs per genre were a sensible amount given the volume of what I have to listen to anyway. I then would score each genre from 0-3. I would give a point for each song I liked listening to. Like is an intentionally vague word here. I figured that if I enjoyed a song enough to leave a heart on it, I would add it to my “Every Noise” playlist and give the genre a point. I also go in alphabetical order, so it is easy to add newly added genres to the list as time goes on.

As of this writing, I have completed 1603 genres out of 5,224, meaning I am 30.69% of the way there after about a year and a half. I have projected that it will take me three and a half more years to finish this genre journey given the pace that I have been going. Of the genres I have listened to, over half of them received a ‘0’. It is easy to assume here that I didn’t like these genres, but most of the genres that received a ‘0’ simply didn’t have any songs that stuck out to me, leaving themselves as more forgettable than offensive to my ears (though some did reach into that territory—looking at you, Death Industrial). Of the songs I listened to, I liked about 20% of them, which means one in five. In the grand scheme of things, this would seem like a sensible proportion. I have not done any digging into the themes of the songs I liked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it matched my music taste outside of trying to listen to every genre.

I don’t believe that this genre journey has expanded my music tastes as much as I anticipated, but it did open my world up to different forms of musical expression and history. If anything, if I found a genre I hadn’t heard of or a country I didn’t know much about, I would take a quick google search and learn a little more about the source of the song. I also found music that I never would have heard if not for Every Noise. For instance, Brighton Indie introduced me to Gender Roles and Orchards, two bands that I listen to frequently. I certainly have grown to appreciate music and why someone would like it, even if it’s not necessarily my cup of tea.

I’m not sure if I would recommend going on the same genre journey as I have, but I would recommend checking Every Noise out and expanding your horizons when it comes to music. Music is such a big part of many people’s lives, and it’s never too late to find a new sound that you resonate with. In short, I have been enjoying my long road to discovering new and interesting music, and I’m excited to see where my genre journey will take me next.

If you’re curious, I have linked my Spotify playlist that keeps track of my liked songs down below in case you want to see what I have liked so far. I recommend shuffling the playlist; you do need access to Spotify to play the songs for longer than 30 seconds from your browser, but you only need to sign up for free or connect your Facebook account to take a listen. If you don't want to deal with setting up a Spotify account, below the playlist link is a couple of Youtube videos of my favorite songs that I discovered through my genre journey.

Peggy — "Orchards" (Brighton Indie)

Joel Remmel Trio and Aleksander Paal — "Norale" (Estonian Jazz)

Mery Celeste — "Busur" (Bogor Indie)

Trash80 — "Icarus" (Chiptune)