In today’s music scene, pop music dominates mainstream media. The general public is privy to chart-topping pop songs heard on the radio or advertised on television. However, with the rapid increase of online sites such as YouTube and SoundCloud that are accessible to anyone and everyone, the world of music is opened up beyond the realm of radio pop. Varieties of alternative genres of music are shared on these platforms. In an age where an enormous amount of time is spent online, it is not difficult to find artists that perform within these genres. Through online platforms, unique subcultures of music are discovered and artists in every corner of the world can endlessly share their creativity online, with the freedom to experiment and test new sounds unfamiliar to the commonality of music released by major production labels. With the distribution of a particular video just a click and ‘share’ button away, word of mouth (or text) spreads the names of bands and musicians quickly, which over time garner increasingly large fan bases with views and streams growing by the millions. Here are a few examples of budding genres in the online scene:
The ancient art of Mongolian throat singing was said to originate from the sounds of natural surroundings. Mongolia is the only country that continues to practice this form of singing. The physical demands of throat singing, namely a straight posture and breath management, combined with a specific mouth-movement technique, create a deep guttural sound. Today, the long tradition of throat singing is continued. In Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar, the International School of Throat Singing trains the future generation of throat singers to pass down and exhibit the unique style. Mongolian Band The Hu creatively interpret throat singing in their sound, which has been coined as ‘Mongolian Metal’. The fusion of throat singing, traditional instruments, heavy metal sounds, and videos create a powerful image that elevates the craft of throat singing. Millions have watched the band’s grand music videos and the love for this unique sound has vastly spread online. The band’s most-viewed video on YouTube, “Yuve Yuve Yu”, gained over 47 million views. The same track is the band’s most-streamed song on Spotify, with over 12 million streams. The world has seen and heard the war-like music of The Hu through online platforms like Youtube, and the band have since toured the world successfully, sharing their fusion of art and culture to all. Trance is a form of electronic dance music that came about in the 90s from Germany. The genre has evolved since then by becoming multi-influenced in various sub-genres. Trance music aims to induce a state of euphoria or high within the listener through its lengthy mixed layering and build-up-and-release structure. Listeners in the 90s gravitated towards trance music to simulate a hypnotic state. The genre has evolved into mainstream popularity in the current music world, infiltrating music festivals WITH artists interpreting the genre in their own creative ways. Major platforms such as Billboard have acknowledged the trance genre, and a mix highlighting the best of it can be found on Spotify. Armin van Buuren, known as the ‘king of trance’ by Billboard, is a Dutch DJ who is an expert on the genre. His utilisation of the psychedelic genre of music has elevated his career to new heights. He has headlined major music festivals and has over 11 million monthly listeners on Spotify. The trance genre has also reached South African ears. Many trance music festivals have been hosted in major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg with more coming up, such as the Into The Wild: Moon Child festival that was originally scheduled for 26 September but was cancelled.
“…with the rapid increase of online sites such as YouTube and SoundCloud that are accessible to anyone and everyone, the world of music is opened up beyond the realm of radio pop“
Carnatic music, a musical form originating from South India, is a widespread genre of Indian classical music. Not to be mistaken with Bollywood music, which is the soundtrack of Bollywood films, Carnatic music is an ancient musical style that depicts traditional and religious themes of Hindu culture, such as mythological stories or customs. It also traditionally accompanies Indian classical dance styles. In today’s online culture, young people have shared their own modern interpretation of the traditional art on platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud. The ever-growing modernisation of the musical form seems to have formed its own sub-culture of Indian music, evident by the extremely high number of hits and clicks online. A classic example of new-age traditional Indian art of Carnatic music is the IndianRaga performance company. The performance artists featured in the videos on their YouTube channel create innovative productions of classical music. Their success is evident in the millions of views their videos accumulate. ‘Shape Of You Indian Mix’ is their most-viewed music video, a traditional take on the famous pop song ‘Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran. The groups’ creative 21st century twist on such a traditional form of music has amassed an enormous fan base of old and young listeners, who rush online to find and replay them.
Whether it be inventing a new sound or drawing inspiration from tradition, online platforms have provided an easily-accessible space for artists in any genre of music, or any industry for that matter. Online content is boundless, and artists have the opportunity to express their musical creativity in as many forms and as many times as they wish. As easily as artists can upload content, viewers can see it. Applying this to unique genres of music, when the right sound strikes a right chord within the viewer, an artist can gather a mass following of fans the same way any signed recording artist on the charts can. Online sites provide a home for these genres of music to exist and be exposed, for one’s musical taste can be wider than that of mainstream artists.
Photos: Kayla Thomas
Illustration: Giovanna Janos