P.D. Magnus (research)

Music genres as historical individuals

with Evan Malone and Brandon Polite

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Musicians, listeners, and record labels sort music into genres like jazz, punk, heavy metal, and so on. Metaphysically, what kind of thing is a genre? This paper explores the idea that music genres are historical individuals. The obvious way to develop this is to think of a music genre as being like a biological species. Although that approach has much to recommend it, we argue that it faces an insuperable difficulty. We suggest, instead, that a genre is a collection of works held together by an institution or social practice.

The first on-line draft of this paper was posted 14jan2024.