The Opposite of Every Genre


(This post originally appeared here.)

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When The Echo Nest data alchemist Glenn McDonald built a web app for listening to any genre or subgenre of music in the world in seconds, his creation drew lots of attention. Boing Boing co-founder Mark Fraunfelder called it one of his favorite two things, at one point.

Part of that project involved discovering which of these genres are most closely related to each other. As a scientist type, McDonald’s next question was, well, what would happen if one were to plot the most dissimilar genres? In other words, if you know what kind of music you really, truly love, what kind of music would you most likely detest above all others?

The simple solution to this problem — to look at that map and figure out which dots are farthest away — might be obvious to the average person. However, that map exists on two dimensions, and The Echo Nest has many more ways of analyzing audio (in addition to what people say about music).

McDonald’s solution: to create a 12-dimensional analytical space to represent each of 12 audio attributes, plot each of the genres along those 12 audio dimensions, then turn that 12-dimensional shape inside out by inverting each point through the origin of the space. Simple, right?

That approach reveals each genre’s opposite based on all of these audio attributes (Acousticness, Beat Strength, Bounciness, Danceability, Dynamic Range Mean, Flatness, EnergyLoudness, Mechanism, Organicness, Tempo, Valence), leading to a far subtler and more accurate reflection of each opposite genre.

As one test of whether his 12-dimensional answer (don’t try to envision it without Aspirin nearby) to the opposite-genre question makes sense, let’s look at which genres are closest to the center of that map — i.e. the most typical-sounding — and which genres are outliers, sounding closest to the opposite of most genres.

Genres closest to the center of the map include “definitively mild forms such as mellow goldjam band, and soft rock,” writes McDonald, while choral music was the biggest outlier on the map. Meanwhile, “the opposite of choral music turns out to be schranz, and the opposite of symphonic black metal is roots reggae, and the opposite of straight edge is bossa nova covers.”

Let’s see if it passes another test. Here’s the opposite of each music genre (you can listen to all of the genres here):

a cappella -> ska punk

abstract hip hop -> video game music

acid house -> drone

acid jazz -> japanese psychedelic

acid techno -> drone

acousmatic -> schranz

acoustic blues -> neo-industrial rock

acoustic pop -> ska

adult album alternative -> pagode

adult standards -> ebm

african percussion -> melodic death metal

african rock -> balkan brass

afrobeat -> video game music

afrobeats -> post rock

aggrotech -> contemporary post-bop

albanian pop -> folk punk

album rock -> glitch

alternative country -> spanish pop

alternative dance -> doo-wop

alternative emo -> grupera

alternative hip hop -> medieval

alternative metal -> malagasy folk

alternative pop -> tamil

alternative rock -> telugu

ambient -> ska

ambient idm -> british blues

andean -> industrial metal

anime -> texas blues

anti-folk -> breakcore

arab folk -> speedcore

arab pop -> folk punk

argentine rock -> quebecois

art rock -> indian pop

atmospheric black metal -> bachata

atmospheric post rock -> azonto

australian alternative rock -> comic

australian hip hop -> post rock

australian pop -> balkan brass

austropop -> sxsw

avant-garde -> progressive psytrance

avant-garde jazz -> ebm

avantgarde metal -> lovers rock

axe -> symphonic rock

azonto -> atmospheric post rock

bachata -> funeral doom

baile funk -> dark ambient

balearic -> japanese psychedelic

balkan brass -> african rock

banda -> dreamo

bangla -> rap rock

barbershop -> bubblegum dance

baroque -> schranz

basque rock -> chilean rock

bass music -> japanese psychedelic

beatdown -> coverchill

bebop -> aggrotech

belgian rock -> rockabilly

bhangra -> post rock

big band -> aggrotech

big beat -> canterbury scene

black death -> dub

black metal -> roots reggae

bluegrass -> speedcore

blues -> industrial metal

blues-rock -> ambient idm

bolero -> speedcore

boogaloo -> hard alternative

boogie-woogie -> neo-industrial rock

bossa nova -> rap metal

bounce -> dark ambient

bouncy house -> marching band

brass band -> grave wave

brazilian gospel -> peruvian rock

brazilian hip hop -> post rock

brazilian indie -> art rock

brazilian pop music -> uk post-punk

brazilian punk -> malayalam

breakbeat -> electroacoustic improvisation

breakcore -> folk rock

breaks -> drone

brill building pop -> ukrainian rock

british blues -> ambient idm

british folk -> gabba

british invasion -> spanish pop

britpop -> regional mexican

broken beat -> japanese psychedelic

brostep -> doo-wop

brutal death metal -> lovers rock

brutal deathcore -> lovers rock

bubblegum dance -> free improvisation

bubblegum pop -> spanish pop

c-pop -> uk post-punk

c86 -> austropop

cabaret -> aggrotech

calypso -> gothic symphonic metal

canadian indie -> pagode

canadian pop -> merseybeat

cantautor -> brazilian punk

canterbury scene -> chalga

cantopop -> no wave

capoeira -> nu gaze

ccm -> comic

cello -> schranz

celtic -> gabba

celtic christmas -> hardstyle

celtic rock -> neue deutsche welle

chalga -> canterbury scene

chamber pop -> quiet storm

chanson -> russian punk

chaotic hardcore -> lovers rock

chicago blues -> industrial metal

chicago house -> warm drone

chicago soul -> witch house

chicano rap -> dark ambient

chilean rock -> basque rock

chill lounge -> psychedelic rock

chill-out -> canterbury scene

chillwave -> comic

chinese indie rock -> balkan brass

chinese traditional -> progressive psytrance

chiptune -> outsider

choral -> schranz

choro -> neo-industrial rock

chr -> experimental

christian alternative rock -> highlife

christian christmas -> classic funk rock

christian dance -> electroacoustic improvisation

christian hardcore -> cumbia

christian hip hop -> video game music

christian metal -> grupera

christian music -> comic

christian punk -> rumba

christian rock -> soul blues

christmas -> hard trance

christmas product -> speedcore

classic chinese pop -> rap metal

classic funk rock -> video game music

classic garage rock -> ambient idm

classic rock -> glitch

classic russian rock -> quebecois

classical -> progressive psytrance

classical christmas -> progressive psytrance

classical guitar -> schranz

classical period -> schranz

classical piano -> schranz

comedy -> aggrotech

comic -> shimmer pop

contemporary country -> rockabilly

contemporary jazz -> ebm

contemporary post-bop -> aggrotech

cool jazz -> aggrotech

country -> jam band

country blues -> industrial metal

country christmas -> melodic metalcore

country gospel -> rap rock

country rock -> spanish pop

coverchill -> math rock

cowpunk -> indian pop

crossover thrash -> coverchill

crunk -> atmospheric post rock

crust punk -> coverchill

cuban rumba -> industrial metal

cumbia -> dreamo

current -> balkan brass

czech folk -> new wave

dance pop -> zeuhl

dance rock -> outsider

dance-punk -> jazz fusion

dancehall -> indie shoegaze

dangdut -> rockabilly

danish pop -> merseybeat

dark ambient -> trapstep

dark black metal -> dub

dark wave -> soul blues

darkstep -> new weird america

death core -> lovers rock

death metal -> lovers rock

deathgrind -> lovers rock

deep funk -> video game music

deep house -> dark ambient

deep soul house -> warm drone

deeper house -> dark black metal

delta blues -> neo-industrial rock

desi -> post rock

detroit techno -> drone

digital hardcore -> mariachi

dirty south rap -> atmospheric post rock

disco -> neofolk

disco house -> drone

discovery -> balkan brass

djent -> cumbia

doo-wop -> filthstep

doom metal -> bachata

downtempo -> canterbury scene

downtempo fusion -> psychedelic rock

dream pop -> riddim

dreamo -> world

drill and bass -> celtic rock

drone -> breaks

drum and bass -> new weird america

drumfunk -> drone

dub -> post-metal

dub techno -> japanese psychedelic

dubstep -> japanese psychedelic

dutch hip hop -> video game music

dutch house -> dark ambient

dutch pop -> basque rock

dutch rock -> peruvian rock

early music -> schranz

east coast hip hop -> atmospheric post rock

easy listening -> ebm

ebm -> free jazz

electric blues -> anime

electro -> dark ambient

electro house -> electroacoustic improvisation

electro swing -> japanese psychedelic

electro trash -> new weird america

electro-industrial -> avant-garde jazz

electroacoustic improvisation -> metalcore

electroclash -> electroacoustic improvisation

electronic -> canterbury scene

emo -> grupera

enka -> breakcore

entehno -> spanish punk

estonian pop -> british invasion

ethereal wave -> spanish hip hop

ethiopian pop -> indie rock

eurobeat -> zeuhl

eurodance -> electroacoustic improvisation

europop -> marching band

eurovision -> merseybeat

exotica -> electro-industrial

experimental -> intelligent dance music

experimental rock -> world fusion

fado -> speedcore

fallen angel -> grupera

faroese pop -> neue deutsche welle

filmi -> uk post-punk

filter house -> electroacoustic improvisation

filthstep -> doo-wop

fingerstyle -> speedcore

finnish hardcore -> coverchill

finnish hip hop -> martial industrial

finnish pop -> rock ‘n roll

flamenco -> funk rock

folk -> hardcore techno

folk metal -> grupera

folk punk -> turkish pop

folk rock -> new wave

folk-pop -> breakcore

footwork -> dark ambient

forro -> nintendocore

fourth world -> metalcore

freak folk -> neue deutsche welle

freakbeat -> world fusion

free improvisation -> bubblegum dance

free jazz -> futurepop

freestyle -> electroacoustic improvisation

french hip hop -> video game music

french indie pop -> no wave

french pop -> folk punk

french rock -> jam band

funeral doom -> tropical

funk -> video game music

funk metal -> rumba

funk rock -> rumba

future garage -> japanese psychedelic

futurepop -> free jazz

g funk -> dark ambient

gabba -> british folk

gamelan -> electro-industrial

gangster rap -> dark ambient

garage pop -> coverchill

garage rock -> malayalam

german hip hop -> neofolk

german indie -> merseybeat

german oi -> rumba

german pop -> rock ‘n roll

german punk -> malayalam

glam metal -> rumba

glam rock -> malayalam

glitch -> southern rock

glitch hop -> canterbury scene

goregrind -> lovers rock

gospel -> turkish pop

gothic americana -> spanish pop

gothic metal -> grupera

gothic rock -> world

gothic symphonic metal -> grupera

grave wave -> jazz funk

grime -> video game music

grindcore -> lovers rock

groove metal -> rumba

grunge -> grupera

grupera -> grunge

guidance -> melodic death metal

gujarati -> new rave

gypsy jazz -> neo-industrial rock

hands up -> electroacoustic improvisation

happy hardcore -> electroacoustic improvisation

hard alternative -> malagasy folk

hard bop -> aggrotech

hard glam -> rumba

hard house -> electroacoustic improvisation

hard rock -> malayalam

hard trance -> free improvisation

hardcore -> coverchill

hardcore hip hop -> atmospheric post rock

hardcore punk -> coverchill

hardcore techno -> contemporary jazz

hardstyle -> new weird america

harmonica blues -> neue deutsche harte

harp -> schranz

hawaiian -> speedcore

heavy christmas -> south african jazz

hi nrg -> canterbury scene

highlife -> christian alternative rock

hip hop -> atmospheric post rock

hip house -> drone

hiplife -> atmospheric post rock

horror punk -> rumba

hot -> qawwali

hot adult contemporary -> rock ‘n roll

house -> electroacoustic improvisation

hungarian pop -> merseybeat

hurban -> symphonic rock

hyphy -> atmospheric post rock

icelandic pop -> axe

illbient -> experimental

indian classical -> ebm

indian pop -> gospel

indian rock -> bubblegum pop

indie christmas -> dance rock

indie folk -> neue deutsche welle

indie pop -> comic

indie rock -> world

indie shoegaze -> tropical

indietronica -> jazz fusion

indonesian pop -> rockabilly

industrial -> comic

industrial metal -> country blues

industrial rock -> country blues

intelligent dance music -> experimental

irish folk -> gabba

irish rock -> peruvian rock

israeli rock -> venezuelan rock

italian disco -> electroacoustic improvisation

italian hip hop -> post rock

italian indie pop -> pagode

italian pop -> jam band

j-alt -> mariachi

j-dance -> outsider

j-idol -> jazz fusion

j-metal -> grupera

j-pop -> texas blues

j-punk -> malayalam

j-rap -> canterbury scene

j-rock -> rumba

jam band -> latin christian

jangle pop -> malayalam

japanese psychedelic -> dub techno

japanese r&b -> outsider

japanese standards -> balkan brass

japanese traditional -> schranz

japanoise -> dub techno

jazz -> aggrotech

jazz blues -> neo-industrial rock

jazz christmas -> speedcore

jazz funk -> j-pop

jazz fusion -> new wave

jazz metal -> cumbia

jazz orchestra -> ebm

jerk -> post rock

judaica -> neurostep

jug band -> aggrotech

juggalo -> atmospheric post rock

jump blues -> neo-industrial rock

jump up -> new weird america

jungle -> canterbury scene

k-hop -> canterbury scene

k-indie -> merseybeat

k-pop -> zeuhl

k-rock -> balkan brass

kannada -> indie rock

kirtan -> schranz

kiwi rock -> filmi

kizomba -> japanese psychedelic

klezmer -> electro-industrial

kompa -> progressive rock

kraut rock -> intelligent dance music

kuduro -> dark ambient

kwaito -> space rock

laiko -> yugoslav rock

latin -> experimental

latin alternative -> outsider

latin christian -> jam band

latin christmas -> dance-punk

latin hip hop -> dark ambient

latin jazz -> industrial metal

latin metal -> grupera

latin pop -> british blues

latvian pop -> jam band

lilith -> ska

liquid funk -> electroacoustic improvisation

lithumania -> merseybeat

lo-fi -> indian pop

louisiana blues -> neue deutsche harte

lounge -> melodic metalcore

lovers rock -> power electronics

luk thung -> yugoslav rock

madchester -> world

makossa -> neo-progressive

malagasy folk -> groove metal

malayalam -> brazilian punk

malaysian pop -> rockabilly

mambo -> pop emo

mande pop -> alternative metal

mandopop -> no wave

manele -> japanese psychedelic

marching band -> ebm

mariachi -> rap metal

martial industrial -> post-disco

math pop -> tamil

math rock -> smooth jazz

mathcore -> lovers rock

mbalax -> melodic hard rock

medieval -> alternative hip hop

medieval rock -> austropop

meditation -> schranz

mellow gold -> turkish pop

melodic death metal -> rumba

melodic hard rock -> flamenco

melodic hardcore -> rumba

melodic metalcore -> rumba

melodic progressive metal -> grupera

memphis blues -> industrial metal

memphis soul -> witch house

merengue -> funeral doom

merengue urbano -> atmospheric post rock

merseybeat -> spanish pop

metal -> cumbia

metalcore -> rumba

mexican indie -> outsider

mexican son -> neo-industrial rock

microhouse -> post-metal

minimal -> schranz

minimal techno -> dark black metal

minimal wave -> outsider

modern blues -> talent show

modern classical -> progressive psytrance

modern country rock -> comic

moombahton -> drone

more classical piano -> schranz

more indie pop -> tamil

more melodic death metal -> malagasy folk

more tech house -> dark black metal

more thrash metal -> rumba

motown -> adult album alternative

mpb -> nintendocore

musique concrete -> schranz

nashville sound -> rap metal

native american -> hard trance

neo classical metal -> grupera

neo soul -> experimental

neo-industrial rock -> country blues

neo-progressive -> makossa

neo-psychedelic -> tamil

neo-singer-songwriter -> ska

neo-synthpop -> free improvisation

neo-trad metal -> rumba

neoclassical -> underground hip hop

neofolk -> post-disco

nepali -> ska

neue deutsche harte -> country blues

neue deutsche welle -> celtic rock

neurofunk -> new weird america

neurostep -> new weird america

new age -> hardstyle

new beat -> electroacoustic improvisation

new jack swing -> experimental

new orleans blues -> j-alt

new orleans jazz -> aggrotech

new rave -> outsider

new romantic -> outsider

new wave -> outsider

new weird america -> darkstep

ninja -> canterbury scene

nintendocore -> ranchera

nl folk -> russian punk

no wave -> glitch

noise pop -> cumbia

noise rock -> smooth jazz

nordic folk -> hard trance

norteno -> dreamo

northern soul -> witch house

norwegian jazz -> schranz

norwegian pop -> pagode

nu age -> jump up

nu disco -> drone

nu gaze -> capoeira

nu jazz -> japanese psychedelic

nu metal -> malagasy folk

nu skool breaks -> electroacoustic improvisation

nueva cancion -> speedcore

nwobhm -> cumbia

oi -> coverchill

old school hip hop -> dark ambient

old-time -> aggrotech

opera -> progressive psytrance

operatic pop -> hard house

opm -> venezuelan rock

oratory -> aggrotech

orchestral -> schranz

orgcore -> cumbia

outlaw country -> russian rock

outsider -> dance rock

pagan black metal -> roots reggae

pagode -> adult album alternative

persian pop -> brazilian punk

peruvian rock -> irish rock

piano blues -> neo-industrial rock

piano rock -> pagode

piedmont blues -> neo-industrial rock

pipe band -> neurostep

poetry -> melodic death metal

polish hip hop -> post rock

polish pop -> merseybeat

polish reggae -> symphonic rock

polka -> industrial metal

pop -> outsider

pop christmas -> rap rock

pop emo -> ranchera

pop punk -> mariachi

pop rap -> atmospheric post rock

pop rock -> texas blues

portuguese rock -> basque rock

post rock -> post-disco

post-disco -> post rock

post-grunge -> malagasy folk

post-hardcore -> cumbia

post-metal -> bachata

post-post-hardcore -> malagasy folk

post-punk -> glitch

power blues-rock -> glitch

power electronics -> lovers rock

power metal -> malagasy folk

power noise -> jazz fusion

power pop -> telugu

power violence -> coverchill

power-pop punk -> rumba

progressive bluegrass -> speedcore

progressive electro house -> drone

progressive house -> electroacoustic improvisation

progressive metal -> grupera

progressive psytrance -> choral

progressive rock -> axe

progressive trance -> free improvisation

protopunk -> glitch

psych gaze -> tropical

psychedelic rock -> world fusion

psychedelic trance -> musique concrete

psychill -> psychedelic rock

psychobilly -> malayalam

pub rock -> glitch

punjabi -> neo-progressive

punk -> smooth jazz

punk blues -> coverchill

punk christmas -> south african jazz

qawwali -> ukrainian rock

quebecois -> yugoslav rock

quiet storm -> art rock

r&b -> experimental

r-neg-b -> experimental

ragtime -> aggrotech

rai -> art rock

ranchera -> melodic metalcore

rap -> atmospheric post rock

rap metal -> mariachi

rap rock -> mariachi

reggae -> post-metal

reggae fusion -> funeral doom

reggae rock -> video game music

reggaeton -> dark ambient

regional mexican -> dreamo

renaissance -> schranz

retro metal -> smooth jazz

riddim -> dream pop

riot grrrl -> glitch

rock -> telugu

rock ‘n roll -> hot adult contemporary

rock catala -> basque rock

rock en espanol -> qawwali

rock steady -> indie shoegaze

rockabilly -> indonesian pop

romanian pop -> canterbury scene

romantic -> progressive psytrance

roots reggae -> post-metal

roots rock -> spanish pop

rumba -> rap metal

russian hip hop -> neofolk

russian pop -> zeuhl

russian punk -> chanson

russian rock -> outlaw country

salsa -> groove metal

samba -> rap rock

schlager -> merseybeat

schranz -> free improvisation

scottish rock -> tamil

screamo -> malagasy folk

screamo punk -> coverchill

sega -> nu gaze

serialism -> progressive psytrance

sertanejo -> chinese indie rock

sexy -> experimental

shibuya-kei -> outsider

shimmer pop -> comic

shimmer psych -> tejano

shiver pop -> comic

shoegaze -> riddim

show tunes -> ebm

singer-songwriter -> breakcore

ska -> ambient

ska punk -> vietnamese pop

skate punk -> smooth jazz

skiffle -> industrial metal

skweee -> japanese psychedelic

slam death metal -> coverchill

slovak pop -> quebecois

slovenian rock -> rock catala

slow core -> dance rock

sludge metal -> lovers rock

smooth jazz -> space rock

soca -> atmospheric post rock

soft rock -> mellow gold

soukous -> piano rock

soul -> witch house

soul blues -> christian alternative rock

soul christmas -> breakcore

soul jazz -> aggrotech

soundtrack -> jump up

south african jazz -> scottish rock

southern gospel -> ska

southern hip hop -> atmospheric post rock

southern rock -> glitch

southern soul -> witch house

space rock -> smooth jazz

spanish hip hop -> ethereal wave

spanish indie pop -> comic

spanish pop -> merseybeat

spanish punk -> mpb

speed garage -> dark ambient

speed metal -> cumbia

speedcore -> traditional folk

spoken word -> melodic metalcore

steampunk -> venezuelan rock

stomp and holler -> neue deutsche welle

stoner metal -> lovers rock

stoner rock -> smooth jazz

straight edge -> coverchill

stride -> aggrotech

string quartet -> schranz

suomi rock -> balkan brass

surf music -> glitch

swamp blues -> grave wave

swedish hip hop -> video game music

swedish indie pop -> pagode

swedish pop -> rock ‘n roll

swedish punk -> coverchill

swing -> aggrotech

swiss rock -> merseybeat

sxsw -> austropop

symphonic black metal -> roots reggae

symphonic metal -> grupera

symphonic rock -> axe

synthpop -> outsider

taiwanese pop -> no wave

talent show -> merseybeat

tamil -> alternative pop

tango -> aggrotech

tech house -> choral

technical death metal -> lovers rock

techno -> drone

teen pop -> outsider

tejano -> neo-progressive

tekno -> electroacoustic improvisation

telugu -> power pop

texas blues -> pop rock

texas country -> chilean rock

thai pop -> experimental

thrash core -> coverchill

thrash metal -> coverchill

throat singing -> tekno

tin pan alley -> aggrotech

traditional blues -> industrial metal

traditional country -> rap metal

traditional folk -> aggrotech

trance -> free improvisation

trance hop -> rockabilly

trap music -> atmospheric post rock

trapstep -> drone

tribal house -> drone

tribute -> classic russian rock

trip hop -> canterbury scene

tropical -> funeral doom

trova -> industrial metal

turbo folk -> kraut rock

turkish pop -> gospel

turntablism -> post rock

twee pop -> austropop

uk garage -> dark ambient

uk post-punk -> glitch

ukrainian rock -> brill building pop

underground hip hop -> neoclassical

underground rap -> video game music

uplifting trance -> free improvisation

urban contemporary -> experimental

vallenato -> melodic progressive metal

vaporwave -> quiet storm

vegan straight edge -> coverchill

velha guarda -> industrial metal

venezuelan rock -> steampunk

video game music -> deep funk

vienna indie -> rockabilly

vietnamese pop -> ska

viking metal -> rock steady

violin -> schranz

viral pop -> yugoslav rock

visual kei -> mariachi

vocal house -> drone

vocal jazz -> aggrotech

vocaloid -> british invasion

volksmusik -> experimental

warm drone -> metalcore

welsh rock -> peruvian rock

west coast rap -> dark ambient

western swing -> neo-industrial rock

wind ensemble -> jump up

witch house -> comic

wonky -> experimental

workout -> electroacoustic improvisation

world -> gothic rock

world christmas -> rap metal

world fusion -> freakbeat

worship -> afrobeat

ye ye -> breakcore

yugoslav rock -> laiko

zeuhl -> hi nrg

zim -> madchester

zouglou -> atmospheric post rock

zouk -> japanese psychedelic

zydeco -> pop rock

Clever folks might notice that the list is not reflexive — in other words, that the opposite of a cappella is ska, while the opposite of ska is Vietnamese pop. Good observation. How can it be? McDonald explains:

“It would be [reflexive] if there were a direct hit, but there rarely is. So if you go from a dense cluster on one side into a sparse area on the other, the displacement to find the nearest genre to the second point can easily be sufficient that the reverse opposite comes closer to some neighbor of the original than to the original itself. Like, imagine doing this operation on a globe. The opposite of NYC falls in the Indian Ocean, so the nearest opposite city is Perth or something. But the opposite of Perth is Bermuda.”

Again, you can listen to each of these genres here.

(This post originally appeared here.)