Genre (from French genre – genus) is a historically established division, the type of work in the unity of its form and content. They differ in the way of performance (vocal, vocal-instrumental, solo), purpose (applied, etc.), content (lyrical, epic, dramatic), place and conditions of performance (theater, concert, chamber, film music, etc.).
Historical song, aria, romance, cantata, opera, march, waltz, prelude, sonata – all these are examples of various musical genres. Each of them combines many works. Waltzes, for example, were written by almost all composers of the 19th – 20th centuries. Thus, a genre is a certain type of musical work within which an unlimited number of compositions can be written. Genres differ from each other in features of content and form, and these differences are caused by life and cultural goals, peculiar to each of them. Take, for example, the march. All his rhythm, texture, melody and other expressive means are ideally suited to the step. A completely different example is a lullaby. Everything is different here: a different purpose of music, a different content and form. The music of the lullaby should calm the baby, wrap it with warm caress, immerse it in the measured rhythm of motion sickness.
An amazing and inexhaustible variety of genres directly related to life. The healing magic songs of the Kazakhs, the songs of forest hermits in ancient India, the songs that awaken babies (along with lullabies) are among the Yakuts. In some African communities, singing accompanies litigation, in Arab countries there were a kind of encyclopedia songs, catalog songs, they listed crafts, stars, winds, tribes. Original genres of musical and poetic disputes, competitions. In the art of the troubadours of the 11th-14th centuries such a genre was Tenson – a song-debate on artistic, psychological or philosophical topics. Azerbaijani deişme – dialogue songs. For the Eskimos, the song argument was more severe: it was a bit of a bloodless musical and poetic duel that resolved life conflicts. The vanquished retired from the tribe.
With an innumerable variety of specific circumstances in which genres were born, their development also had general laws. So, all the peoples in antiquity believed that the success of a business depends on deities whose patronage must be achieved. This magical purpose was followed by music. Repeated, persistent repetition of melodies and rhythms turned music into a spell. Music helped a person to work. Thus were born the songs associated with agricultural work – mowing, reaping, threshing; songs of camel drivers from Arabs, spinning songs, songs of laundresses in Europe. The most important events of history, the exploits of heroes and national heroes formed the basis of the first epic genres. All peoples have family and everyday songs – lullabies, wedding songs. In everyday genres of different classes, a line of entertaining music was gradually outlined. In Kievan Rus IX-XI centuries. it was represented by the art of buffoons (see Old Russian music). In England, XVI-XVII centuries. these are “masks”, entertainment performances with music. Their predecessors were “inter-events” of the 12th-14th centuries, performed at feasts in between meal changes.
The struggle of the people for their rights, revolutionary movements gave rise to music that rallied the rebels and inspired them to fight. Intonations of courage (appeal), solidarity are heard in the songs of the French Revolution of 1789-1794. They infiltrate the songs that were sung in the pre-revolutionary years in our country, during the years of the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars.
Genres directly involved in life are sometimes called primary, applied. As musical art developed, new genres arose, such as prelude, fugue, fantasy, symphony, instrumental concert, opera. They are no longer immersed in the thick of life, but as if raised above it. Their main goal is the spiritual enrichment of man. Genres of serious music demanded that the creators of the strain of all creative and personal forces: the genius of human thinking found a vivid expression in them. It is no accident that the names of I.S.Bach, V.A. Mozart, L. Beethoven, P.I. Tchaikovsky, M.P. Mussorgsky, D.D. Shostakovich are pronounced with the same respect as the names of W. Shakespeare, I. Newton, A. Einstein, D.I. Mendeleev. Serious music genres require deep, focused perception from listeners. These genres differ from each other in both content and form. Here we have the symphony – one of the most capacious and complex genres, in terms of the breadth of life, reminiscent of a novel or drama. But is it possible to imagine that all serious music consisted only of symphonies? After all, a symphony, like opera, is a large-scale work, generalized in form. And a person also needs an artistic understanding of the most subtle movements of his inner world. And in the musical art genres of the chamber plan appear: elegy, nocturnes, lyrical plays.