The Curse Of The Genre – Mathcore

Moore’s Law may be still rocking for the computer industry, but it seems there is an equivalent expansion of music genres underway (Peel’s Law, anyone?). Hardly a day goes by where we don’t encounter an ever-more-obscure sub-genre of Dubstep, for example (which itself is but a fledgling moniker)…

Words In The Way

Creative Commons License photo credit: fdecomite

It’s quite rare that musicians explicitly name their own genre; usually, they just plunge headlong into the business of creating sounds they like, and it’s only afterwards that someone else tries to write about it. As such, music genres are a sort of conceptual filing system created by journalists and fans that allows them to cross-reference acts and identify trends within the burgeoning – and often overwhelming – world of nascent music.

One interesting example of this is Mathcore, which ostensibly derived from Math Rock (neither are genres which any particular artist readily admits belonging to). The criteria for being dubbed a Math Rock band seem to be little more than utilising unusual tempi or time signatures. Mathcore, then, is even more vague – the preceding criteria presumably apply, but there is also the implication that the music is perhaps a bit more noisy and programmed.

Math/Music – Not What It Says On The Tin

When I first heard of the Math rock/core genre, I presumed it would have a very scientific, mechanical or mathematical basis – tunes composed by obeying specific mathematical functions, principles or processes (see the mathematics of music as told by Vi Hart).

However, these genres have little (at least explicitly) to do with Math, and the nomenclature is fairly arbitrary – in fact, the concept of mathematical music as outlined above is generally assigned the rather less fetching name of ‘algorithmic composition’. So while there may be great cultural cachet associated with knowing the latest and most obscure genres – and it certainly can provide plenty of talking points of reference – the genrefication of music is not something that musicians themselves should be too concerned with. Listen to music, learn from it by all means, and cross-pollinate with scant regard to naming conventions – the more you ignore genres when creating music, the greater the chance that you may even create your own…

In the meantime, here’s a tester – what genre is this video?


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