Music has always played an important social role in our society and how music evolved over time is largely a consequence of its suitability for particular social occasions; ceremonies, festivals, celebrations, funerals, etc. The music that was sung or played at each of these occasions had it’s own peculiar characteristics and composers would write music for particular occasions with these characteristics in mind. This gave rise to what we refer to in music as genres.
Eventually music would evolve beyond its use for particular social occasions and become a social occasion in itself. New genres of music would continue to evolve as composes experimented with new ideas and new ways of arranging and organising music, and many types of music previously used only for particular occasions became independent genres in their own right.
Popular music genres of the past and today include the Symphony, the Concerto, the Mass, the String Quartet, the Sonata, dance forms like the Waltz, Mazurka, & the Minuet, dramatic genres like the Opera, Oratorio, & Ballet, as well as many, many more.
Below are links to articles about some of the common and popular music genres.