30 Different Types of Rock Music

Different Types of Rock Music

Different musicians and bands have their definitions of rock music. Rock music is a genre of popular music, making it difficult to define.

Initially, rock was defined as the combination of rhythm and blues, later; it evolved into what is known as ‘pop’ music which includes strong beats and lyrics with loud instruments.

Rock music is synonymous with ‘rock ‘n’ roll,’ which is a popular music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues (R&B), jazz, and country music with electric instruments.

There are different types of rock music, as discussed in this article.

Different Types of Rock Music

Here, we will discuss the category of artistic, musical, or literary composition of rock music; the different types of rock music.

1. Indie Rock

Having emerged in the 70s-80s, this genre of rock music was produced to combat the heavy commercialism of rock music as people’s tastes differ in their choice of music; not everyone would love the loud concepts of other rock music genres.

Indie rock is all about using simple instruments and a clear melody. Its approach to music-making is a typical ‘DIY’ concept.

It typically produces major record labels independently. Some of the most popular bands include; The Killers, the Smiths, Sonic Youths, etc.

2. Psychedelic Rock

As the name implies, the concept behind this genre is the use of hallucinogenic imagery, lyrics, and sounds.

Its songs are highly influenced by the social and cultural upheaval of the time with drug use.

Some of the most famous bands known for this choice of genre include; The Beatles, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, etc. Psychedelic rock is an example of different types of rock music.

3. Alternative Rock

Distorted guitar sounds, reflective and sometimes politically charged lyrics together, with unconventional song structures are the characteristics of this genre.

Edgy lyrics and experimental use of instrumentation often define it. Some of its famous artists include; The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, amongst others.

4. Rock ‘n’ Roll

With electric guitars, drums, bass, solid but simple backbeat, catchy melodies, and high energy level, one can never go wrong with rock ‘n’ roll, especially for youths.

This genre is often associated with rejecting social norms and gender discrimination alongside youth revolt.

Some famous artists of this genre include; Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, amongst others.

5. Blues Rock

Heartbreaks, loneliness, and life struggles would have influenced this genre because its lyrics often reflect these feelings.

As the name implies, this genre draws its musical influences from traditional blues and rock music.

Its pieces typically have aggressive texture and blues-scale guitar solos. The Allman Brothers Band, Z.Z.

Top, and Led Zeppelin, amongst others, were among the earliest bands to adopt this style.

6. Progressive Rock

 Progressive rock is another example of different types of rock music. It is known to utilize complex compositions and instrumentations.

This genre of music is characterized by long and progressive songs, as the name implies. Bands like Pink Floyd and Dream Theatre made this genre known in the late 60s.

7. Punk Rock

Punk rock is a newly-born alternative to traditional rock ‘n’ roll music in the 70s.

This genre emerged as a reaction to mainstream rock music, with raw and fast-paced sound and aggressive vocals characterizing it.

It is known to address issues such as social inequality and alienation, working-class oppression, and even government corruption.

This genre draws influences from various other genres. The Ramones, The Clash, Black Flag, Green Day, and Dead Kennedys are some of its famous rock bands.

8. Acid Rock

Acid rock is known to incorporate long jam sessions and heavy sound distortion.

Many people consider this genre and psychedelic rock the same, while others think psychedelic is a subgenre of acid rock.

Some of its most widely-acclaimed bands include; Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, and Pink Floyd.

9. Garage Rock

This genre is often recorded at home, featuring fast-paced guitar riffs and simple, energetic, and sometimes chaotic performances.

Derived its name from the idea that many bands that played this style are often self-taught and whose passion is driven by raw energy and feral aggression.

Chunk Berry, Link Wray, The Sonics, The Seeds, and The Stooges are some of its most famous artists.

10. Soft Rock

As much as these two don’t usually go together, they still make a good pair.

This genre borrows elements from folk-rock, baroque pop, and brill building to produce a softer sound.

Eagles, Air Supply, and Hall & Oates are among its most famous artists.

11. Funk Rock

Distorted guitar sounds, funky bass lines, and synths define funk rock. This genre combines elements of funk and rock music.

Keyboards and drum machines are used in their pieces.

12. Folk Rock

Folk rock, another example of different types of rock music, features acoustic guitar and other folk instruments.

It is a genre that blends traditional folk music with heavy guitar riffs and drums of rock music.

Bob Dylan and the Byrds are awarded the credit of being the first artists to attempt blending the two genres.

The Mamas & The Papas, The Albion Band, Crosby, and Stills are some of its famous artists.

13. Electronic Rock

Another example of different types of rock music is electronic music.

As the name implies, it is a genre that combines rock instruments with electronic instruments, which remains the distinctive feature of the genre.

Depeche Mode, The Killers, Radiohead, and Muse are some of its famous artists.

14. Jazz Rock

Jazz-rock incorporates essential characteristics of heavy guitar riffs, bass lines, and drum styles.

It is a genre that combines jazz and rock music elements with features of complex harmonies, improvisation, and fusion of different musical styles.

Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat, and Tears are among the famous artists of the genre.

15. Gothic Rock

A distinctive feature of this genre is its dark, atmospheric sound which features haunting melodies and creates the mood.

Its poetic nature has made it an integral part of the Goth subculture.

Its artists include The Cure, Siouxsie, The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, and the Banshees are amongst its famous artists.

16. Geek Rock

Including unconventional instruments like accordions, adding elements inspired by the Geek culture to rock music along with a little bit of humor, this genre draws its influences from various genres; punk, pop, and indie, which includes science fiction, fantasy, and video games.

Some well-known artists include; Nerf Herder, MC Frantalot, Jonathan Coulton, and Weezer.

17. Instrumental Rock

By showcasing the musicians’ technical skills and abilities, this is one of the different types of rock music that it genre features intricate bass lines and complex drumming patterns.

Instrumental rock music uses the fundamental characteristics of rock music, which ranges from soft and mellow to intense and aggressive, with a greater focus on catchy melodies and more solo artists than lyrical rock music.

Some remarkable artists include; Steve Vai, Delicate Steve, and Ry Cooder, amongst others.

18. Yacht Rock

As weird as this sounds, it does exist. From the name, it is a form of rock music accompanied by videos shot on yachts.

Also known as west coast sound and adult-oriented rock, this genre is melodic and strays from complex rock music.

It can be described as soft and often includes elements of jazz and R&B. The Doobie Brothers and Toto are among the few names that popularized this genre.

19. Jam Rock

Jam rock is derived from psychedelic rock music with iconic live performances. This genre relies on improvisation.

It is a relatively new style that originated in the late 80s to 90s.

20. Glam Rock

Glam rock is known as one of the most iconic cultural phenomena of the 70s.

The genre prioritizes catchy melodies, extreme theatricality, and hip-shaking rhythms. Some of its notable bands include Rex, Slade, New York Dolls, and Sweet.

21. Arena Rock

Although not considered a genre of rock, rather a style of rock music intended to be played in large venues.

This genre is known for its unique visual aesthetic encompassing fireworks and smoke effects.

A perfect example is Queen. Other notable bands include; Bon Jovi, Journey, and Foreigner.

22. Art Rock

This experimental genre has an artistic vibe that needs to be listened to while relaxing instead of dancing.

The Pretty Things, Pink Floyd, and Procol Harum are notable artists of this genre.

23. Stoner Rock

Characterized by groove-laden sounds, distortion, slow-mid tempo, and heavy bass.

This genre combines three genres of music into one, from acid rock, doom metal to psychedelic rock.

Monster Magnet, Queen of the Stone Age, and Kyuss are some of the most prominent names in its industry.

24. Sleaze Rock

Sleaze rock is often confused with glam rock. This genre shares many similarities with glam rock and some elements from hard rock. L.A., Guns, and Faster Pussycat are among the most notable of its artists.

25. Britpop

Owing to the fact that it is aimed to bring back the “British-styled” alternative rock music, this genre is believed to be more of a cultural movement with a British influence. Super Grass, Sleeper, and Oasis are some of its bands.

26. Surf Rock

This genre of one of the different types of rock music can be classified into two due to its name; instrumental surf and vocal surf.

The latter is believed to add vocal harmonies to guitar sounds, and the former is defined as using heavy electric guitars to mimic the sounds of crashing waves.

The Beach Boys, The Ventures, and The Bel-Airs are among its notable bands.

27. Classic Rock

Classic rock is known for its emphasis on guitar and drum-based instrumentation.

This genre features extended instrumental solos and improvisation. Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Beatles are some of its notable artists.

28. Space Rock

Space rock comprises lengthy song structures with instrumental textures and reverb-laden guitar sounds.

It has a little bit of “space geekiness” in it. Its lyrics revolve around science fiction and outer space.

Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Interstellar Overdrive, and Spacemen 3 are some of its notable releases.

29. Experimental Rock

Experimental rock is a genre that encompasses improvisation, rhythms, and odd structures.

It is often associated with art rock because both heavily rely on improvisation. Sonic Youths, Swans, and The Velvet Underground are some of its bands.

30. Industrial Rock

 Provocative sounds, controversial vocals, and themes define industrial rock.

Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, and Orgy are some bands that helped the genre gain popularity.


From mild exercise to strenuous activity, lonely times, happy times, or even sad times, there is rock music for every occasion that correctly conveys the emotions and feelings of its listeners.

Rock music will provide something for everyone if there are guitars, amplifiers, and drums.

Having a single definition for rock music is difficult because it keeps evolving.

Its distinctive feature and attitude have made it a cultural heritage that has stood the test of time.

So sit back, plug in those headphones, and explore the different types of rock music discussed, and you will be swept off your feet as they connect with your soul!

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