1. Lyrical Content
music that is about something nerdy or geeky; either through lyrics or simply being inspired by something nerdy or geeky

2. Creation
music created in some nerdy or geeky way; usually through some form of computer software/hardware or using scientific means

3. Culture
music made around some form of nerdy or geeky culture

4. Source
music that comes from some nerdy or geeky source

Music about and from Japanese animation (anime) and other “otaku” related matters

Chip Music
aka 8-bit music, Chiptune, Gameboy music, Nintendopop, bitpop
a synthesized electronic music often produced with the sound chips of vintage computers and video game consoles, as well as with other methods such as emulation.

Popular systems include the NEC PC-8801, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Amiga, Game Boy, and Mega Drive / Genesis. These systems earmarked a shift in the technological development of video game audio to a period where consoles used dedicated hardware sub-systems or sound chips to create sound.

In fact it is arguable that the term “chip music” was originally used in reference to the sample based tracker style of music on the Amiga and similar platforms; however, in its modern form, the terms “chip music”, and “chiptune” refer to music made by the sound chips found within early gaming systems and microcomputers.

many camps of chiptuners and chiptune fans have emerged:

  • Extreme purists that are only interested in music specifically reproduced by the sound chip in question (or maybe an emulator for that chip). Examples: music written in LSDJ on a Game Boy, or NSF / SID files written in a system-specific tracker (to be replayed by the system or at least some plugin)
  • Somewhat-purists that at least want to write or hear music that is possible on the sound chip in question. Examples: MOD/S3M/XM/IT (tracker) files utilizing carnal knowledge of a specific sound chip. Sometimes also referred to as “Fakebit”.
  • A more extreme version of Fakebit, which utilizes chiptune sounds but pays no mind to what is actually possible on a sound chip. Sometimes also referred to as “riptunes”. Examples: improper use of the Triforce MIDI plugin, “8 Bit Remixes” made with GXSCC or compositions designed to simulate two consoles running at once.

Circuit bending
the creative customization of the circuits within electronic devices such as low voltage, battery-powered guitar effects, children’s toys and small digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments and sound generators.

Emphasizing spontaneity and randomness, the techniques of circuit bending have been commonly associated with noise music, though many more conventional contemporary musicians and musical groups have been known to experiment with “bent” instruments. Circuit bending usually involves dismantling the machine and adding components such as switches and potentiometers that alter the circuit.


music that is comedic or humorous in nature, encompassing a wide variety of music genres. Popular types of comedy music include parody music, novelty songs, comedy rock and comedy hip hop.


is a musical culture, genre, and community tied to science fiction/fantasy fandom and a type of fan labor. The genre has been active since the early 1950s, and played primarily since the mid-1970s. The term (originally a typographical error) predates 1955.

There is no consensus definition of filk. Attempts have been made to define filk based on various criteria.

Filk has been defined as folk music, usually with a science fiction or fantasy theme, but this definition is not exact. Filkers have been known to write filk songs about a variety of topics, including but not limited to tangentially related topics such as computers and cats. In addition, while the majority of filk songs are in the folk style, other styles such as blues, calypso, and even rock periodically appear.

Another definition focuses on filking as a community of those interested in filk music and who form part of the social network self-identified with filking. The origins of filk in science fiction conventions and its current organization emphasizes the social-network aspect of filking. The social aspect of filk as contrasted with the “performer vs. audience” dichotomy of much of modern music.

Whichever definition one chooses, filk is a form of music created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, often performed late at night at science fiction conventions, though there now dedicated filk conventions in Canada, England, Germany, and the USA. Whichever definition one chooses, the boundaries of filking are muddy.

Geek Rock

a genre of music that tends not to take itself too seriously, often referencing “geek” pop culture, comic books and video games with significant doses of irony and humor.

Heavy Mithril

Metal music about epic quests, Lord of the Rings, D&D, sci-fi and other nerd topics.  Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Queen have all done songs in this category.

Named after Mithril from J. R. R. Tolkien’s works.

JRock/Visual Kei

Visual kei, or Visual Style, is an artistic movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, in the style of David Bowie. It came about in the early 1980’s, spearheaded by bands such as X Japan and Buck Tick, and has existed in various forms ever since. Visual Kei is a sub-genre of J-rock (a term referring to Japanese rock in general), with its roots in glam-rock, punk, metal and Kabuki Theater. As is usual amongst musical genres, the aesthetics are supposed to be as strong as the music in order to complement and enhance it, and although there have been many trends over the years there is no defining sound.

Despite the highly feminine appearance of many VK musicians, the majority of band members, as with other rock genres, are male.

Also, as there are no real rules to Visual Kei besides the fact that you have to put effort into a quirky appearance, there are often debates amongst fans as to which bands count as visual in the first place. In recent years, Visual Kei has begun to be used by non-Japanese bands in the US.

Nerdcore hip hop

a sub-genre of hip hop music characterized by themes and subject matter considered to be of general interest to nerds, though it can appeal to others as well. Self-described nerdcore musician MC Frontalot has the earliest known recorded use of the term in the 2000 song “Nerdcore Hiphop”.  As a niche genre, nerdcore generally holds to the DIY ethic, and has a history of self-publishing and self-production.

There are hip hop artists who have recorded compositions which focus on similar topics, but who are not generally considered nerdcore (an example would be Blackalicious, a group which does not claim to be nerdcore, despite science-oriented songs like “Chemical Calisthenics”). Conversely, one does not need to concentrate on those topics to be nerdcore: most of the songs by well-known performer Frontalot do not focus narrowly on stereotypically nerdy topics. The difference is largely one of self-identification; the group Blackalicious does not identify as “nerds”, while Frontalot does.

aka Nintendo rock
is a music genre that fuses aggressive styles of modern rock with chiptune and video game music. Nintendocore emerged from various styles of hardcore punk and heavy metal, and has been influenced by many other musical genres.

Steampunk music is very broadly defined: “debates rage about exactly what constitutes the steampunk sound.” This range of steampunk musical styles can be heard in the work of various steampunk artists, from the industrial dance/world music of Abney Park, the inventor/singer-songwriter creations of Thomas Truax or of the ‘mad scientist’  1980’s fame, Thomas Dolby, the Carnatic influenced music of Sunday Driver, the hip-hop of Professor Elemental, the darkwave and progressive rock sounds of Vernian Process, the Unextraordinary Gentlemen, the electronic sounds of The Wet-Glass RO, Darcy James Argue’s 18-piece big band Secret Society, the folksy sounds of Jonah Knight, and the musical storytelling of Escape the Clouds. The British-American composer David Bruce’s 2010 octet ‘Steampunk’ was commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

Video Game Music

Music from and about video games


a singing synthesizer. Its signal processing part was developed through a joint research project at the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain in 2000. Backed by the Yamaha Corporation it developed the software into the commercial product “Vocaloid”. The software enables users to synthesize singing by typing in lyrics and melody. It uses synthesizing technology with specially recorded vocals of voice actors or singers. To create a song, the user must input the melody and lyrics. A piano roll type interface is used to input the melody and the lyrics can be entered on each note. The software can change the stress of the pronunciations, add effects such as vibrato, or change the dynamics and tone of the voice. Each Vocaloid is sold as “a singer in a box” designed to act as a replacement for an actual singer. The software was originally only available in English and Japanese, but as of Vocaloid 3, Spanish, Chinese and Korean have been added.

The software is intended for professional musicians as well as light computer music users and has so far sold on the idea that the only limits are the users’ own skills. Japanese musical groups Livetune of Victor Entertainment and Supercell of Sony Music Entertainment Japan have released their songs featuring Vocaloid as vocals. Japanese record label Exit Tunes of Quake Inc. also have released compilation albums featuring Vocaloids.

Wizard rock (Wrock)

is a genre of rock music that developed between 2002 and 2004 in the United States. Wizard rock bands are characterized by their performances and humorous songs about the Harry Potter universe. Wizard rock initially started in Massachusetts with Harry and the Potters, though it has grown internationally. Wizard rock embraces a do it yourself ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through social networking channels.

Although most listeners of the genre are fans of Harry Potter, some bands have attracted listeners outside of the books’ fanbase. Wizard rock songs are often written from the point of view of a particular character in the books, usually the character who features in the band’s name. In contrast to mainstream bands that have some songs incorporating literary references among a wider repertoire of music (notably Led Zeppelin to The Lord of the Rings), wizard rock bands take their inspiration entirely from the Harry Potter universe. When performing live, wizard rock bands often dress as characters from the novels.

Other Genres

Time Lore Rock aka Trock
A genre of rock derived from the series Doctor Who. Many believe that YouTube partner, Alex Day, aka Nerimon, is the creator. Alex Day, along with Liam Dryden (littleradge), Charlie McDonell (charlieissocoollike), and Chris Beattie (CowInParachute), together make up Chameleon Circuit.  They have introduced Trock to the mainstream industry with their album which released on June 1, 2009 from DFTBA Records.

Furry Music
Music of the furry fandom

Brony Music
Music inspired from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by the fandom

Faerie Music

Science Music


3 responses to “Genres

  1. Allo! Interesting! Is there a reason you didn’t go with Nerd-Folk with the likes of the Doubleclicks and whatnot? I also like to research nerd music as well so this is a great blog post! ^_^

  2. (And, btw, do you have a twitter?)

  3. Although he is not in any listed category, you might consider adding Baba Brinkman if you update this list. The closest is sort of “nerdcore”, but he explicitly rejects that label. He raps on science, atheism, and medieval literature, among other things.

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