Music Map Reveals What “Melodic Death Metal” and Every Other Genre Actually Sound Like

A designer at Echo Nest has helped create a new map that details just about every musical genre in existence and the bands that comprise them.

The term shoegaze is somewhat evocative, but not very descriptive, musically. Other genres are similarly open to interpretation: intelligent dance music, chillwave, crust punk, freak folk, math rock, screamo, and even good old-fashioned house music. These genres’ names don’t always telegraph their sounds, leaving music-discovery fans confused when they find out what elements make up that song they like. Fortunately, someone is working toward clearing the air on the airwaves.


Music-obsessed designer Glenn McDonald works at the sonic data hub Echo Nest. Recently, he unveiled a new project: the algorithm-based map of musical genres called Every Noise At Once. It’s a fairly comprehensive look across the vast and sundry types of music, including plenty of kinds you probably never knew existed.

Like a music discovery service you can go walking around inside, users are invited to let Every Noise scan through all the different sounds automatically, or click on one of the listed genres to hear a sample. Once you discover that, hey, shoegaze apparently means that for My Bloody Valentine-style music, you can click the “>>” link and find another map designating all the specific bands that make up said genre.

Have a look at some of the different genres’ maps in the slide show above.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.