Two misunderstood genres worthy of a second chance

Joel Tinseth and Drew Brady


As with all new things, house music has been rather misunderstood by many as it has climbed to the top of our Spotify playlists. To some, house is the mecca of musical innovation. To others it is just another sound in the ever-expanding wasteland that is contemporary music. In order to better understand the genre, I pulled aside senior and resident house expert Erick Fesler to explain the genre to me.

Originating from Chicago in the early 1980s, house has recently experienced a surge in popularity among young adults. House typically consists of minimalistic and repetitive 4/4 drum beats, synthesized bass lines and off-beat high hats. If you’ve enjoyed the music of Avicii, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia or Deadmau5, you are already part of the movement.

House music remains dominant in clubs and in the mainstream pop scene, while maintaining a presence in the underground scene, where it actively adapts to the needs of over-caffeinated teens everywhere. House is the soundtrack of youthfulness: lively, blithe and ready for a good time.

Typical instruments in house music include a drum machine, personal computer, sampler, sequencer, synthesizer, turntable and a keyboard.

Mastering house is difficult, because its minimalistic nature forces artists to be precise and hard-hitting, with no room for error. When mixing a house song, an artist can’t add too much, or else the basic elements that make music house would be gone. This delicate balance makes house a very challenging genre to master, because an artist has few ways to compile a catchy song.

Since its inception, house music has fused with other genres to spawn a whole wave of subgenres. Fesler listed a few off to me, the most notable ones being G-house, bass house, tropical house, future house, deep house, electro house, hard style, tech house, jump house, progressive house, among many more. Much like the Constitution of the United States of America, house’s success and popularity is largely due to its ability to adapt and change by merging with other genres.

House has spread like wildfire in the past few decades, expanding from its humble roots in Chicago all the way to Europe and Asia, and for good reason; its ability to adapt is unmatched by any other genre of music, and its invasiveness into our Pandora suggestions is uncanny.



In the world of music, certainly one of the most influential genres is simultaneously one of the most underappreciated: jazz. Jazz has no set of rules or an all-encompassing definition; accurately defining jazz would take an entire issue of the Patriot Press.

The history of American music was forever changed in 1901 when a man named Louis Armstrong picked up a cornet at the age of thirteen. Armstrong was the trumpeter that brought solo improvisational jazz to the mainstream. This skill consists of a solo musician performing a solo on the spot through the various keys of a song.

Supposedly, the upbeat feel of most swing jazz lifted the spirits of Americans during the Great Depression. A pioneer to this era of jazz was Duke Ellington. After studying piano for most of his youth, Duke popularized the big band sound, which would define a generation.

After the 1930s, composers including Duke began integrating genres of the world into jazz. Jazz compositions started very simple, but thanks to Duke, Dizzy Gillespie, and many more, jazz started blending faster tempos and complex harmonies. This formed the sub-genre of be-bop. As jazz evolved, it became more than just music for the background of a Bing Crosby movie; it became interesting.
Be-bop led to more complex compositions. Composers like Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk were stretching what jazz was by becoming performers and pushing their instruments and their bands to their limits.

Later in the 50s, Latin composers took what jazz meant to them and stretched the genre even further to expand beyond just America. These foreign concepts and creative composers created new genres like R&B, rock & roll, and even hip-hop.

What makes a jazz so versatile is its ability to evoke a multitude of emotions. Songs like Duke’s “Take the A-Train” give listeners a nostalgic sense of happiness. Ballads like Miles Davis’ “Round Midnight” give listeners a melancholy ambiance. Latin hits like Denis DiBlasio’s “Coconut Champagne” move people’s feet like no other genre could.

Jazz is a truly wide genre, with a sub-genre for everyone. You can find jazz in underground subways, in movie soundtracks, sampled in hip-hop songs or in your grandparents’ record collection. Don’t turn away from a music truly too broad to generalize and too important to ignore. Jazz is now.