What is Transgenre Music Nonbinary?
Transgenre Music Nonbinary is the concept of music beyond boundaries, blending various genres to transcend traditional classification and categorization.
Music is universal. Found in every culture and society, music is as fluid as water and as flexible as wind. It reflects and impacts every aspect of our lives. It is part and parcel of the human condition. Existing since antiquity, music
has a way of standing the test of time; though sometimes seeming to be in a state of stagnation, it is an ever-evolving medium. It is that constant evolution that occurs in its most profound sense when it intersects with alternative styles. Everyone can recall when they first heard or experienced a “new” musical genre.
Music travels. It is impervious to borders or walls. It crosses and links cultures and peoples. It blends the past and present while creating the present and future. Though some styles are more prolific than others, music in of itself, is constantly being exchanged among peoples of the world. Jazz is perhaps the most reinvented genre of music created within the last 100 years. It has many offshoots as it has variations of itself. Jazz was Negro intellectualism expressed in a universal language that was considered beyond the grasp of the modern emancipated man.
It was an aural metaphor for a people seen but rarely recognized, it was the screams of the terminally silenced, demanding to be heard. Jazz was born from southern blues, as were country and western. And although the latter offshoot were traditionally performed primarily by whites, they used the same narratives of the Negro, beseigned with and lamenting trials and tribulations, heartache and hope.
Not only has it influenced numerous variations of itself, it has also influenced other styles that have functioned
in the same capacity. Hip-hop, borrowing heavily from R&B classics also served as the unfiltered, often graphically violent and brutal soundtrack of urban life in America, only to became a phenomenon across the globe adapted by others to tell their own stories of oppression, rampage and hope for liberation. Jazz can be labeled as traditional, swing, big band, bebop, hard bop, modal, Latin, gypsy, neo-soul, acid, etc. This highlights how all of these hybrid variations resulted from reimagining this profound and versatile artform. Naturally, it has crossed over to the genres ranging from classical to R&B which evolved into adult contemporary, and eventually arriving at what is now called smooth jazz.
Whether performed by a solo artist in a small coffee shop or featured on the great orchestra stages of the world, jazz has demonstrated not only the complexities of music but its abiding unity as well. It highlights the diversity of the music and the inclusivity, it creates without having to be anything more than a reinterpretation of itself. Jazz, like western classical music, has been scored for television, stage, and cinema to supplement the storytelling, and to build an emotional arc, adding sensory dimension to the visual arts. This is a small sampling of how music has long been striving for diversity while neglecting inclusion.For some artists, being pigeonholed for a particular style of music becomes restrictive, isolating and segregating; yet it is these artists who have led the charge for creative autonomy by mixing and mingling the past with the present, the familiar with the unfamiliar, near and foreign, to ensure what I call future music.
The trend in rap music of sampling or lifting lyrics, beats, or rhythms from previously recorded music in that genre articulated the desire to speak to the “now” with a voice from the past and with great commercial success, while also having a monumental impact on culture and society. Technological advances have allowed creatives with little or no formal music education to become world renowned, dispelling the notion that only those privileged enough to attend conservatory or institutions of higher learning as the only path to artistic expression. Although musical styles fall into various categories such as jazz, rock ‘n roll, R&B, classical, hip-hop, etc., it is undeniable that music, in and of itself, is malleable. Oftentimes, music blurs the line between cultures, societies, and even belief systems, and in doing so, reveals its universality.
Music is political. Music has been at the forefront of every significant and historical event of the modern era. The blues narrated the hardship of slave life and oppression, just as the Negro spiritual spoke to the hope and optimism of freedom. Jazz was the soundtrack of prohibition, the high life and the ghetto. Rock ‘n roll took center stage in defiance of the old-world order to champion new ideas and opportunities, while at the same time addressing social issues ranging from police brutality, social inequality, the falling of the Berlin Wall and the former Soviet Union, to ending the abhorrent conditions of South African Apartheid and many struggles found in between. Disco music of the 70s gave the world its first glimpse into LGBTQ life, coming out of the proverbial closet and making its community not only heard but seen with artists and bands like Grace Jones, Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Barry White, LaBelle, Culture Club, Stevie Wonder, Chic, David Bowie and Elton John, that crossed over and bonded music to the world of fashion, and it continues to do so today.
I would argue the father of the concept of transgenre music was the legendary "Bop-whap-a-loo-bapper" Little Richard who clearly influences the style of bands like Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode and even Devo. These pioneers of a expressing their narrative through coded messaging and flamboyant presentations has undoubtedly influenced current artists like Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and Jacob Collier, Kamasi Washington, and even country music sensation Mickey Guyton. The songs of Broadway have made a similar contribution in providing a platform on which stories and songs are shared, consumed and exported with its presence in jazz, especially as the foundation for the Great American Songbook. Hip-hop or rap, in its various incarnations, has been integral to the political landscape as a pro and con, addressing the urban experience and the ongoing to struggle to improve the human condition through our shared humanity. Up and coming artists such as Kim Petras, Shawnee, Doug Pinnick, ROES (formerly known as Angel Haze) and the list is growing exponentially.
The goal of the Transgenre Music Nonbinary project is to create dialogue and community devoted to the future of music that crosses boundaries, intersecting at the humanity of others, while encouraging artists to consider the power of non-conformity. These and many other visionary artists are pushing us forward by fusing the idea of inclusion and diversity. Transcending the expectations to belong to a specific genre, this will be a platform for those who feel restricted by traditional music labeling and an eclectic space to encourage and foster artistic exploration.
This is Transgene Music Nonbinary. Music Beyond Boundaries.