Genre, Textual Meaning, Producers & Audiences

This week we covered genre, textual meaning, producers and audiences. We discussed “genre worlds”, meaning that media texts are subject to adaptions, they differentiate from others but not too much so that we don’t understand them (Frith, S 1996). Genre includes codes and conventions, it’s a social construct and is there to categorise texts.

The set reading I looked at this week was ‘Studying Popular Music’ by Tim Wall (2003) and a second reading by Yu-Ching Lin (2009), ‘Exploiting Genre for Music Emotion Classification’. This second reading adds examples to how genre is created and received by an audience.

The key points I noticed in Wall’s chapter are: the understanding of genre, not just classification but the meaning; how genre changes from people to people, depending on the context and who and the limitations with previous academic sources that allow Wall to approach this chapter from various angles.

According to Yu-Ching (2009), “genre and emotion provide complementary descriptions of music content and often correlate with each other”. For example, R&B is usually sentimental and Rock is often aggressive with a narrative of rebellion. These genre conventions also provoke emotion as well as categorising the songs to a certain genre. Research shows a correlation amongst genres and emotion classification, for example, Cluster 4 (genre), has emotion synonyms such as; aggressive, fiery and manic in response to the genre. Presumably, this could be ‘rock’ due to the conventions socially constructed with it.

To understand a genre, Franco Fabbri (1982) created ‘5 broad categories of rules’: formal/technical rules, semiotic rules, behavioural rules, social/ideological rules and commercial rules. With a combination of these, one can understand the music and genre rather than just seeing a ‘type’ of music (Wall, T 2003).

Genre is constantly “debated and contested” (Walser 1993, 4) meaning they’re always changing with technology introducing new ideas and cultural changes. As an audience, genre is argued as it means something different to each person and depending on the context and who is saying it, genre can be different from person to person (Wall, T 2003). For example, one person may refer to themselves as liking ‘rock’, whereas a more underground, niche fan may specify with a sub-genre like “post-punk rock’.

In terms of genre, I’d like to further research into the ‘rock’ genre. Textual analyses of rock sub-genres, involving codes and conventions of the artists themselves, would help distinguish the differences within sub-genres.


Wall, T, (2003). ‘Genre’. In: (ed), Studying Popular Music Culture. 1st ed. UK: Hodder & Stoughton Educational. pp.(179-188).

Yu-Ching, L. (2009) Exploiting Genre for Music Emotion Classification. Taiwan: Telecommunication Laboratories, Chunghwa Telecom.

Frith, S. (1996) Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walser, R. (1993) Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. United States: Wesleyan University Press.



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