40 Different Sub-Genres Of Rock Music

Over the last several decades, rock music has evolved and diversified considerably. This article explores 40 of the most popular forms of rock music. It’s one of the most varied musical genres around, with acid rock, alternative rock, and indie rock among its many subgenres.

Here are some of the main sub-genres of rock music:
1. Alternative Rock
2. Rock ‘n’ Roll
3. Blues Rock
4. Progressive Rock
5. Indie Rock
6. Punk Rock
7. Grunge Rock
8. Hard Rock
9. Soft Rock
10. Psychedelic Rock

Note: Please keep in mind that many artists may be placed in different genres as we go through the list of musicians. For example, Linkin Park might be called Alternative Rock or Nu Metal.

1. Alternative Rock

Alternative rock hit the mainstream in the 1980s when it was an alternative to the music that people were listening to at the time. The genre has several characteristics of traditional rock while also incorporating elements from other rock subgenres or unrelated genres such as hip-hop.

Edgy lyrics and unusual instrumentation use characterize alternative rock. On the other hand, the subgenre is ill-defined, with the term being used to describe any music that has a “similar sound to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sonic Youth are all well-known alternative rock bands.

2. Rock ‘n’ Roll

The rise of rock music is frequently linked to youthful rebellion and a rejection of social norms and gender prejudice. Rock’ n’ roll songs are bursting with energy, feature catchy melodies, and often incorporate influences from various genres of music, including country and R&B.

Rock’ n’ roll is one of the first subgenres of rock music, flourishing in the United States between the late 1940s and early 1950s. AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones are just a few iconic rock ‘n’ roll artists who significantly advanced its evolution.

The saxophone or piano was frequently utilized as the lead instrument in early rock’n’roll music. However, these instruments were later replaced or paired with the guitar.

3. Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex music is a unique blend of rock and roll, blues, country, and other styles of Latin music, particularly conjunto. Garage rock bands like the Sir Douglas Quintet and vocalists like Freddy Fender began pounding out rock and roll that was seasoned with south-of-the-border flourishes in the ’60s.

In the early ’70s, these roots developed further in conjunction with Tex-Mex’s blending of Tejano, country, and blues. In the late ’80s, Tex-Mex was established as a unique style that straddled rock, country, and Latin music

4. Blues Rock

The term “blues rock” refers to a fusion of blues and rock music. Blues rock songs have a powerful beat, rough texture, heavy guitar sounds, and blues-scale guitar solos.

The mid-1960s saw the birth of blues rock, which flourished in the United States and the United Kingdom. Bands like Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and The Allman Brothers Band were among the first to use this type of rock music.

5. Progressive Rock

Progressive rock is a musical genre that emphasizes technical skill, exotic compositions, and lyrical innovation. It first rose to prominence in the late 1960s with the creation of bands such as Pink Floyd, Rush, and Dream Theater.

A somewhat more complex form of rock music, known as progressive rock, features lengthy songs and offbeat time signatures. Progressive rock bands also enjoy using complicated compositions and instrumentations.

6. Post Rock

Post-rock is a genre of rock music that dispenses with typical conventions such as blues-based riffing, verse-chorus-verse song structure, flamboyant guitar solos, and narrative lyrics. Post-rock songs and albums are typically characterized by nonlinear song structure, extended instrumental sections, obscure lyrics, and diverse influences.

Even though post-rock bands seldom achieve broad popularity, several post-rock artists have acclaimed in the indie-rock scene. These include Tortoise, Slint, Sigur Rós, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Swans.

7. Indie Rock

Indie rock is all about using basic instruments and a straightforward tune. In the 1970s and 1980s, this sort of rock music emerged in the United Kingdom and the United States. The goal of indie rock was to expose the overcommercialization of rock music.

The words “indie music” are sometimes used to describe both independent musicians and those who fall into the indie rock categories (for more information, see our article on What Is Indie Music). The phrase may be misused; many performers fall into both groups. They are distinct yet not mutually exclusive!

The Arctic Monkeys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kaiser Chiefs, and The Killers are some of the most famous independent rock bands.

8. Punk Rock

Punk rock is typically defined as a combination of garage rock and conventional rock ‘n’ roll. It was the first alternative to traditional 70s rock music.

The subgenre features powerful chords, vocals, distorted guitars, and fast tempos. Punk rock songs frequently focus on social dissatisfaction and estrangement. The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Green Day are some of the most well-known punk rock acts.

9. Grunge Rock

Grunge, often known as the Seattle sound, is a musical genre that is heavily influenced by punk rock, hardcore punk, noise rock, and speed metal and features structures similar to hard rock and heavy metal. The early grunge movement was formed around Sub Pop Records in Seattle in the late 1980s.

Grunge became commercially successful in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl jam’s Ten were released. The popularity of alternative rock and the success of these bands, contributed to the rise of grunge music at the time.

10. Spazzcore

Spazzcore is a type of loud, fast, hardcore punk music that includes elements of noise and grindcore, but with a stronger basis in math rock focused on complex rhythms and difficult guitar melodies. Its origins can be traced back to 1996 when Frodus was defined in an ad for Lovitt Records in Punk Planet by the Washington D.C.-based label.

To test whether or not the public could accept the non-genre through advertising, Shelby Cinca of Frodus conducted a buzzword social experiment in 2002. The study was inspired by a reading of an article about how Sub Pop created its moniker as a joke and used the term Grunge in an advertisement to advertise their music in the early 1990s.

As a result, the term spazzcore was eventually adopted by worldwide emo and punk scenes. Still, it has remained as an underground vernacular that hasn’t yet been embraced as a popular invented category/term.

11. Psychedelic Rock

The psychedelic movement has had a huge impact on psychedelic rock. Bands who play this style of rock music utilize trippy studio effects such as reverb, distortion, reversed sound, and phasing to provide the subgenre its own distinctiveness. This is generally done in conjunction with the original application of instruments such as wah-wahs and feedback-enhanced electric guitars.

Psychedelic rock was originally invented by The 13th Floor Elevator, Jefferson Airplane, and the Flaming Lips.

12. Anatolian Rock

Anatolian rock, sometimes known as Turkish psychedelic music, was created in the mid-1960s and is characterized by foreign rock bands. Here’s a summary of the genre’s history and some of its best artists.

Influenced by legendary bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Status Quo, and Omega, Turkish musicians, began experimenting with the combination of Turkish folk and rock.

The psychedelic rock scene in Turkey began with Anatolian rock and was followed by a devoted fan base that has endured to this day. With the country’s significant cultural shifts, such as the introduction of multiparty democracy, western music took root in the area, culminating in 1968.

13. Acid Rock

Acid rock is a form of rock music that was popular in the psychedelic era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The name acid test came from the LSD subculture, which centered on large group gatherings called acid tests.

Acid rock is a type of psychedelic music associated with the United Kingdom (Pink Floyd, the Jimi Hendrix Experience), New York (the Blues Magoos), and Texas (13th Floor Elevators). On the other hand, San Francisco was ground zero for acid rock and psychedelic music as a whole.

14. Glam Rock

Glam rock, in its classic form in the United States from roughly 1972-1974, emerged from several disparate musical movements: a move away from what was seen as the harsh sobriety of metal, prog, and hard rock bands that would become known as “classic rock,” an interest in retro Fifties three-chord rock and roll, the rise of bubblegum music targeted at teenagers during the late Sixties, and a cultural backlash against gender restrictions.

On the other hand, the typical glam rock song was loud, stomping, basic, and vivid. With big guitar riffs and frequent calls to join in singing, it encouraged audiences to sing along. (The normal glam track had heavy tribal rhythms with a lead vocal that blurred at least some gender distinctions.)Many other artists, on the other hand, were unwilling to be confined to one style and dabbled in Glam (Queen, David Bowie, ELO, Cheap Trick).

15. Math Rock

Math rock is a post-hardcore and indie rock genre characterized by unique harmonic and time signatures, as well as progressive rock-inspired guitar riffs. While most math rock bands feature lead vocalists, there are some instances of extended instrumental sections in the music. In many ways, the math rock scene resembles 1970s progressive rock, but without the high concept lyrics and less regard for catchy choruses.

Math rock is a musical genre that developed in several independent rock scenes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many math rock artists come from Chicago, Louisville, and Minneapolis. In addition, Washington, D.C., and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, have been home to notable math rockers on the East Coast. In the West, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego have fostered their styles of math rock music.

16. Noise Rock

Noise rock is a catch-all for music produced by a wide range of artists that incorporates experimental and avant-garde composition, punk rock, and industrial sound to create a sound characterized by extreme volume and atonality.

These Noise rock bands can mix traditional structure with experimental elements, such as the music of Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr., or may entirely reject Western musical concepts and create abrasive yet vast soundscapes from guitar feedback, electronic instruments, and percussion. Bands in this category include Japan’s Melt-Banana, Lightning Bolt from Providence, and Oxbow from San Francisco.

Noise rock is sometimes classified as a branch of both punk rock and post-rock: Some noise-rockers embrace the confrontational aspect of punk while others stick to the minimalist instrumentality.

Noise rock can be heard in many post-punk and post-hardcore music scenes, such as Austin’s deliberately aggressive noisecore sound, Texas’s Butthole Surfers, and the intricate prog-meets-metal structures of mathcore. The Locust’s strange alien New Wave feel, and Austin, Texas’s Butthole Surfers’ scuzzy filthy psychedelia are two examples.

17. Roots Rock

Roots rock is influenced by traditional American music styles such as blues, country, and folk. The origins of roots rock date back to the late 1960s in reaction to the rise of progressive rock at the time. In the 1980s, when heavy metal and punk were on top, roots rock was quite popular.

There are many types of roots rock, including country rock, southern rock, blues rock, heartland rock, and swamp music. Los Lobos, The Allman Brothers Band, and The Marshall Tucker Band are three well-known roots, rock bands.

18. Folk Rock

Folk rock is a fusion genre that combines folk music with the heavy guitar riffs and rhythms of rock music. This subgenre dates back to the early to mid-1960s in the United States.

It was Byrds and Bob Dylan who pioneered the technique of mixing folk music with other genres. Even though the new hybrid folk-rock music style didn’t appeal to the folk movement at the time, it quickly went mainstream.

The Albion Band, The Mamas & The Papas, and “Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young” are some of the band’s well-known followers.

19. Arena Rock

The term “arena rock” is not used to categorize a subgenre of rock but rather a form of music designed to be played in large venues. But what sets it aside from regular rock music?

Setting the scene, however, isn’t as simple as it seems. In an arena setting, for example, rock bands necessarily employ a more hard-edged style of music with louder guitar effects and anthemic choruses. Arena rock is also known for its distinctive visual appearance, which commonly includes fireworks and smoke Generation effects.

Queen exemplifies arena rock music. Bon Jovi, Foreigner, and Journey are other well-known bands that helped to popularize this kind of rock music.

20. Hard Rock

Hard rock music is a style of rock and roll that includes powerful vocals, loud, thumping drums, and bass guitar. A rock band made up of lead, rhythm guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a lead singer or frontman with a strong or commanding voice (though one of the musicians may occasionally perform as the primary vocalist) is typical. In addition, a keyboard player is sometimes present in hard rock bands like Dream Theater and Deep Purple.

Hard rock songs feature loud, distorted riffs and solos played repetitively. Feedback may also give the music a “hard” or “heavy” quality. The goal of hard rock is to be energizing, and the lyrics must focus on positive things such as freedom, partying, beautiful partners, sex, and the singer’s appreciation of all four.

21. Soft Rock

The term “soft rock” refers to a music style that emphasizes catchy pop melodies, slick studio production, and pleasant sound aesthetics. Bands that feature guitar (either acoustic or electric), keyboards, bass guitar, and a drum kit are the typical performers of this subgenre. Male vocalists lead soft rock bands, as well.

Soft rock music, unlike more abrasive forms of rock such as punk and heavy metal, has broad crossover appeal among fans of folk and R&B. Soft rock’s biggest artists—including Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, Elton John, and James Taylor—have had substantial Billboard Top 40 hits, particularly during the genre’s commercial peak in the 1970s and 1980s.

22. Funk Rock

Funk rock is a mix of funk and rock developed in the 1960s by James Brown, among others. According to one writer, their music “triggered the musical transition from fifties rock and roll to sixties funk.” At the same time, another biographer claims that Richard’s mid-1950s road band, The Upsetters, was the first to combine funk with rock and roll.

The first known recording of funk rock was produced in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s by acts such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience (later work / Band of Gypsys), Eric Burdon and War, Redbone, Rick Derringer, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Wild Cherry, Average White Band, Gary Wright, Trapeze, The Bar-Kays, Black Merda, Parliament-Funkadelic, Betty Davis and Mother’s Finest.

23. Garage Rock

Garage rock is a style of simple, garage-based rock music. The term was coined in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the United States and Canada when garage rock bands emerged.

The style is defined by a high level of energy and is often accompanied by simple chord progressions and unbridled aggression. Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Link Wray, and Chuck Berry are just a few of the artists who affected the development of garage rock music.

The British Invasion, the subsequent rise of bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and the mid-1960s’ introduction of genres including psychedelic rock helped the genre grow.

24. Space Rock

There’s a bit of a “space geekiness” about space rock. It features lengthy song constructions emphasizing instrumental textures and reverb-laden guitar sounds. Lyrics that focus on science fiction and outer space are also common.

The genre of space rock was initially developed by Pink Floyd, who is regarded as its creator. The space rock is the first type of rock music to be classified as such; examples include Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, and Interstellar Overdrive.

Other noteworthy space rock bands include Spacemen 3, Hawkwind, and Eloy.

25. Electronic Rock

Electronic rock music is popular and incorporates conventional rock instruments such as guitar, bass, drums, and lead vocals with electronic equipment like synths, samplers, and drum machines. It originates in the late 1960s but has evolved over many decades to include psychedelic rock, industrial rock, new wave, heavy metal, synthpop, electronica, and EDM styles.

The electronic rock genre has music stars such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Moby, Panic! at the Disco, and Radiohead. In addition, alternative rock bands thrived in the scene, including LCD Soundsystem, Ratatat, Innerpartysystem, Starset, and Celldweller.

26. Experimental Rock

Experimental rock is a style of rock music that pushes creative limits to their extremes. It’s where musicians try out their most outlandish ideas!

In the 1960s, experimental rock developed in the United States, incorporating improvisation, unusual structures, and rhythms. Because both subgenres rely heavily on improvisation, many people connect art rock with experimental rock.

Sonic Youth, Swans, and The Velvet Underground are just a few of the bands that have created experimental rock.

27. Surf Rock

Surf rock was a trend in southern California’s surfing community during the early 1960s. Instrumental and vocal surf are two variants of surf rock. The former is characterized by the use of reverb-heavy electric guitars to mimic the sound of breaking waves, while the latter also adds vocal harmonies to the guitar sounds.

The Beach Boys are widely recognized as the creators of the surf genre. The Surfaris, Ventures, and Bel-Airs are other well-known bands who were part of this subgenre.

28. Britpop

The 1990s in the United Kingdom: Britpop was a musical style with a British influence that emerged in the 1990s. It is said to have started in the 1990s in the United Kingdom. However, some claim it was a cultural movement rather than a distinct genre reacting to US-influenced grunge music.

The movement aimed to restore the “British-style” alternative rock music that originated with The Beatles and other British rock bands. Britpop bands, including Supergrass, Oasis, and Sleeper, supported the crusade by performing pieces of Britpop music.

29. Art Rock

The sound of art rock has an experimental aesthetic, whether in time signatures or rhythms. In the 1960s, this avant-garde form of rock music gained considerable popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pieces of art rock music are intended to be listened to while relaxing at home, instead of dancing to it. A few names that pioneered the art rock subgenre include Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, The Pretty Things, Pink Floyd, and Procol Harum.

30. Stoner Rock

Stoner rock is a crossover style that combines three distinct genres of music. It incorporates subgenres such as acid rock, doom metal, and psychedelic rock. The subgenre was birthed in the 1990s, and it’s known for its groove-laden beats, deep bass levels, distortion, and slow-mid tempo.

Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Monster Magnet, and Queen of the Stone Age are some of the most well-known figures in the stoner rock music industry.

31. Instrumental Rock

Instrumental rock is simply defined as rock music with no vocals. This musical genre emerged during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States.

It focuses on catchy melodies and embraces the basic features of rock music. Instrumental rock, unlike lyrical rock music, has a higher concentration of solo performers.

The Bill Doggett Combo’s “Honky Tonk” is an example of instrumental rock. A sinuous saxophone-organ lead and a catchy rhythm characterized the song.

Steve Vai, Delicate Steve, and Ry Cooder are just a few of the incredible instrumental rock musicians.

32. Jazz Rock

Jazz-rock is a combination of jazz and rock music. This style of music became popular in the 1960s. Jazz-rock, a form of music that combines numerous musical genres, is also classified as a subgenre of jazz fusion.

The basic elements of jazz music, such as improvisation and groove, are combined with the heavy guitar riffs, bass lines, and drumming styles of rock music in jazz-rock songs. The subgenre also emphasizes the use of electronic instruments and dance rhythms.

Jazz-rock was pioneered by bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Soft Machine.

33. Sleaze Rock

Sleaze rock is a glam rock form characterized by elements of hard rock. This genre, like glam rock, is frequently mistaken for Hardrock. However, it’s impossible to deny that the two subgenres have a lot of similarities.

Sleaze metal was first referred to in the 1980s. The decade of greed saw the creation of a large number of sleazy rock bands with members wearing torn jeans, mesh shirts, and big wigs.

Hanoi Rock, L.A. Guns, and Faster Pussy cat are just a few of these groups.

34. Gothic Rock

In the mid-1970s, gothic rock emerged in the United Kingdom as a reaction to punk. It has darker themes and sounds, reverbs, melodic bass chords, and jangling guitars.

The poetic aspect of the genre has made it an essential element of the goth culture. The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Cure, and Fields of the Nephilim are just a few of the best goth rock bands ever to live. In addition, gothic rock’s early works, such as Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead, have inspired a whole generation of goths.

35. Jam Rock

Jam rock is a new type of rock music that emerged in the late 1980s to early 1990s. During that period, free-form extended jams captured the world of rock music by storm, signaling the creation of the jam rock subgenre.

The style emerged in the early 1970s with bands such as The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, and Bluesy Riffs playing legendary live concerts that inspired its creation. Improvisation is strongly emphasized in this subgenre.

36. Industrial Rock

Industrial rock is the bastard child of industrial music and rock music. It’s characterized by loud distortion, provocative sounds, and controversial vocalizations and topics. However, Industrial rock emerged in the late 1970s, with Cromagnon, Chrome, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Throbbing Gristle among the pioneers.

The 1990s marked the beginning of the genre’s shift from underground to popular, with its first appearances in major publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin. However, until then, it had not gained much popularity or mainstream acceptance. Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, and Orgy are a few of the bands that helped popularize the subgenre.

37. Geek Rock

Geek rock, often known as nerd music, is a subgenre of rock music that blends aspects of the geek culture into songs. It typically includes unusual instruments such as ukuleles and accordions, as well as a pinch of humor.

The subject matter and lyrics are usually drenched in geek culture.

The Geek rock genre was established in the late 1990s, making it one of the newest forms of rock music. Weezer, Nerf Herder, and Devo are some of the most well-known geek rock bands.

38. Yacht Rock

OK, this may seem a bit strange, but it is real. Yacht rock is a style of music that includes yacht-based film clips. In the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, it became immensely popular. Other well-known names for this form of music are adult contemporary rock and the west coast sound.

What is yacht rock, exactly? To begin with, it’s melodic and differs from hard rock in some respects. It’s delicate and frequently incorporates elements of R&B and jazz muThere is more variation than you may think within this topic. The subgenre was popularized by names like Steely Dan, Toto, and The Doobie Brothers.

39. Classic Rock

The term classic rock refers to a type of rock music that was produced and popularized during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Classic rock is a broad category that includes psychedelia from the ’60s and early ’70s and album-oriented rock (AOR) in the 1970s; it also includes heavy metal and college rock in the 1980s.

Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Eddie Van Halen are among classic rock’s most celebrated guitarists. Classic Rock Bands are also popularfor their iconic lead singers, including as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses.

Over time, more rock artists were played on classic radio stations. In the past, you may have heard Pink Floyd, the Jackson 5, Bonnie Raitt, and R.E.M. on different stations, but now their songs are aired by many classic rock channels nationwide.

40. Metal

Metal (or simply metal) is a style of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily in the United Kingdom and United States. Heavy metal bands developed a thick, imposing sound characterized by distorted guitars, long guitar solos, strong beats, and loudness.

In 1968, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple were all formed. Critics derided them even though they attracted a large audience.

During the 1970s, several American bands transfigured heavy metal into more approachable styles, including raw, sleazy Alice Cooper and Kiss; blues-rooted Aerosmith; and flashy guitar leads and party rock of Van Halen.

From the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, Judas Priest was one of several metal bands that pushed the genre’s development by jettisoning much of its blues flavor. Motörhead brought a punk rock attitude and an increased emphasis on pace in the late 1970s.

Bands in the new wave of British heavy metal, such as Iron Maiden and Saxon, began to follow this pattern around the same time. Conversely, Fans recognized metalheads or headbangers after the decade.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which Website Is Best For Music?

There are many great websites out there that offer superb music streaming services. However, if you’re looking for the best website for music, then you’ll want to check out Spotify. Not only does Spotify offer an impressive catalog of songs, but it also gives users the ability to create custom playlists and listen to radio stations.

What Are The Ways To Promote Your Music?

There are numerous ways to promote your music:

  • You can start by performing at local venues and open mics. This will help you get your name out there and give you the opportunity to build a following.
  • You can also promote your music online through social media and streaming platforms.
  • Make sure to post regularly and interact with your fans to keep them engaged.
  • You can also submit your music to blogs and podcasts for exposure.
  • Consider entering competitions and attending music festivals. These events can help you reach a wider audience and potentially land a record deal.

What Are Things To Consider Before Buying A New Bass Guitar?

The thing to consider is your budget. How much can you afford to spend on a new bass guitar? Some great guitars are available for under $200, but if you’re looking for something really high-end, the price tag could be well over $1,000.


Rock music is a genre that has evolved over the years, spawning different sub-genres in the process. While classic rock and metal are two of the more well-known styles, many others deserve attention. From yacht rock to geek rock, there’s something for everyone who enjoys this type of music. Have you explored all of the different types of rock music out there? If not, we suggest you start doing so! There is more variation than you may think within this topic.