Definition of Popular Music

The term popular music is extremely vague, covers a wide field of musical endeavour and ranges over a long period of time; there has been “popular music” ever since man made music for his own pleasure. The difficulty is to draw a distinction between serious or, less accurately, classical music and the other forms in existence, especially as much of the material in the popular field is taken quite seriously by many people. It might be preferable to call this type of music, light music. This term would effectively cover music of a more transient nature, which would not be expected to have a lasting appeal except to the most diehard adherents of a particular style or form. This is not to denigrate such music or to detract from its worth, for it is certainly as valuable in its own way as any other sphere of musical creativity. The area covered by the term light music is enormous, ranging as it does from folk music to heavy metal rock, operetta to jazz, country and western to big band dance music and film and Broadway musicals to current chart pops. It is difficult to place all these varying styles and numerous forms into any sort of comprehensible collection, and one that is retrievable and makes any sort of sense to library staff, researchers or users of any kind.