The Four Music Zones

Our culture loves to categorize people and things into tidy boxes. If we have to live with music genre labels, why not embrace them? We took the liberty of mapping them out to illustrate where our label resides.

Right Brain Records supports Right Brain Music. What’s that? 

You may have heard that the left hemisphere of the human brain is associated with logic, structure, analysis and language, while the right half is associated with intuition, imagination, curiosity and risk-taking. (Here’s a good article on this topic.) 

Music requires both hemispheres to varying degrees. Left Brain Music is more structured and conforming, while Right Brain Music is more open and adventurous. 

This chart illustrates how many so-called music genres fit into this concept:

Music Zone Matrix (RBR).jpg

The rewards of Left Brain Music are based on success in fitting into existing expectations, often in replicable ways. The rewards of Right Brain Music are based on ignoring or defying expectations, and creating unique experiences that can’t be reproduced. 

In the chart, the degree of structure is the big difference between the two domains. Structure includes things like defined styles, scripted arrangements, song formats, defined melodies and alleged rules of tonality – basically everything we were all taught that proper music consists of. Left Brain Music is structured. In this world it’s everywhere around us. Yet it’s only half of the spectrum.

Why is that? I have theories and you may as well, but that’s for another conversation.

Right Brain Music may be less popular now, but that's mostly due to lack of exposure. It's a vast territory ripe for exploration. 

Right Brain Music isn't necessarily free-form. It may sound exotic or familiar in some ways (sometimes both). The big distinction is that Right Brain Music is mostly shaped by musicians in the moment, and often through unique interactions with each other. This music usually cannot be repeated - unless, of course, it’s recorded. In that case we can re-experience it and uncover new layers each time we listen.

I’ll stop there and let the picture tell the story. What do you think?