Words to describe music

Mercuria and the GemstarsI am challenged when coming up with terms to describe music by the bands I like. The best way I know how to do this is, “They sound like ___ .” (Insert similar band’s name there.) And what if they don’t sound like any other band? I don’t have a good way to describe their music.

Along the same lines, wine terminology leaves me cold. “Oak-ey. With a hint of banana.” Etc. When was the last time you drank or ate some oak? And would you like a wine that tastes like banana? Wine terminology also adds in a snobbery factor… people who don’t spend a lot of time and money pondering the nuances of fine wine can’t really understand it.

The relatively poor photo is captured from a video I took of the band Mercuria and the Gemstars, a Denver band that I do like.


5 Replies to “Words to describe music”

  1. After writing a music column for 21 years (’82 – ’03), the main reason I quit the column was that I was finding myself repeating the same words and phrases to describe the music. (Two biggies were “atmospheric” and “ethereal.”) So I quit because I had run out of ways to describe music.

  2. I also don’t like comparing bands to each other when trying to describe their sound. But that IS the fastest way to communicate a possible connection you might have with a band you haven’t heard yet. Last.fm and Pandora and Amazon all use recommendation systems based on “if you like that band then you will like this band” and it works really well. Another way to describe music is by genre “reggae” or “psychedelic” but psychedelic might mean something much different to you than it means to me. An interesting question for sure! One thing I love about Spotify is that I don’t have to guess any longer what a band sounds like…I can just listen and decide for myself right now!

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