- Jim Samson
A class, type or category, sanctioned by convention. Since conventional definitions derive (inductively) from concrete particulars, such as musical works or musical practices, and are therefore subject to change, a genre is probably closer to an ‘ideal type’ (in Max Weber's sense) than to a Platonic ‘ideal form’.
Genres are based on the principle of repetition. They codify past repetitions, and they invite future repetitions. These are two very different functions, highlighting respectively qualities of artworks and qualities of experience, and they have promoted two complementary approaches to the study of genre. The first is properly a branch of poetics, and its students have ranged from Aristotle to present-day exponents of an analytical aesthetic. The second concerns rather the nature of aesthetic experience, and is best understood as an orientating factor in communication. This perspective has been favoured by many recent scholars of literature and music, and reflects a more general tendency to problematize the relation between artworks and their reception....