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What’s the difference between style and voice?

This post loosely accompanies Gab & Jam, episode 248. What’s the difference between style and voice? (video: and podcast: )

One of the reasons that we chose this topic is because it is fascinating to us as artists AND because we know that MANY folks are tempted to feel like the terms “style” and “voice” are synonymous. –In fact, many people seem to use these words interchangeably, along with the term “genre.” We want to show how they are related, but NOT the same.

Gab & Jam, Episode 65, “Musical Artists who are Genres Unto Themselves”:

For the purposes of this discussion, “style” is synonymous to “genre,” as it is the type of music you make. As an artist, you may write music in the style of music of hip hop or rock. That is the genre in which you work. That is fixed for the particular songs—and, even perhaps, the body of work—that you do. However, an artist’s “voice” is his or her expression altogether, which may change as the artist moves between genres and styles. This means that an artist’s style may vary, but such a shift becomes a part of the artist’s voice, which is defined as his or her unique creative expression. For instance, Drake and Nas are both rappers, who create music in the rap style, but their artistic voices are distinct from one another, which is one reason why fans of one artist may or may not be a fan of the other’s music. And even as casual fans, we would likely NOT confuse one rapper’s songs for the other’s.

We alluded to this idea in one of our previous episodes (Gab & Jam, Episode 65, “Musical Artists who are Genres Unto Themselves”: ). We talked about how artists like Prince’s voice is SO strong that his creative expression is NOT associated with any ONE genre and, instead, you know him by the way his voice sounds and by his song production and, sometimes, by the topics he wrote about, because these were what he used to craft his particular musical voice. So, he could float between rock, R&B, funk, ballads, and even reggae and rap, but you would still know it was Prince. In fact, we could even say that MANY of Prince’s songs actually fell BETWEEN genres—meaning that he had elements of many genres in a song, such as “When Doves Cry,” which skirts the lines between electronic, rock, R&B, and was classified as “pop.” –We don’t REALLY view “Pop” music as a genre, but that’s a topic for a different episode…. (For a similar discussion, check out: Gab & Jam, Ep 137 Can Taylor Swift EVER Be Considered "Indie"? Podcast ) For all those foregoing reasons, Prince was an artist who has a rich musical voice.