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The relation between typography and music genres, explained


top questioning yourself if there is a relationship between the typography used in the logo of different music bands with the type of music they play. The answer is plain and simple, the answer is yes. Although most of the times the logo of a band defines its genre it is the whole design spectrum (from the  font through the color to any other related design aspects) that most of the times defends and reflects the music each band or solo artist serves. Most musicians and musical acts see album artwork, logos and set-design as their extension into the realm of aesthetics being expounded in their music. Throughout history, fonts and typography are the easiest way for bands to “tap into a particular style of music, largely because of precedents set by bands already established in that genre”. From Black Sabbath’s edgy typefaces with sharp corners and overloaded letters to Hip-hop’s stencil fonts Typeroom is inviting you to a world full of letters designed by and for music.

Ransom-note effect for punk

Punk is a rock music sub-genre, which started back in mid-70s and is mainly characterized by rough approach of music composition, not focusing on playing skills. Resulting to fast powerful songs with short length often combined with political lyrics, Punk culture adopted the DIY movement, with bands producing and distributing their music by themselves. This handmade aesthetic paved the way for the appropriate typography used on album covers, posters and general punk artwork. Mainly we encounter rough letterforms, hand-drawn lettering, stencil or the “ransom note effect” with different typeface per letter as used by the “Sex Pistols”. This typeface was simulating the ransom note effect.


Swirling sterns for heavy metal

Heavy metal developed between late 60’s and early 70’s and could be considered as the evolution of rock music. Black Sabbath seems to be the pioneer band for heavy metal genre which is characterized by loud noisy sound, detuned guitars with distortion, emphatic beats and screams on vocals.

This genre’s extreme characteristics influenced it’s design language as well with the use of edgy typefaces with sharp corners and overloaded letters. The depiction of horns is connected with extended and/or swirling letter stems. In Heavy metal’s sub-genres such as Death metal is difficult to recognize the lyrics and bands emphasize more on the tone of the vocals rather than the information of the lyrics. Following this, typography focuses on the general image of the band’s logo without being necessary to understand the name instantly.


Stencil for hip-hop

Hip-hop music is associated with hip-hop culture, the culture that formed in the 70’s parallel to block parties in New York City. The sound is based on rhythmic beats (DJing) and in most cases rapping (MCing). Hip-hop music and graffiti are connected directly, as being parts of the whole hip-hop culture and reflecting the expression of attenuated classes. Many hip-hop acts adopted the graffiti technique on typography either by using stencil fonts or “tag” characteristics – FYI, tag is graffiti artist’s personal signature, which can stand by its own or accompany a whole drawing.  


Heavy swirling for psychedelic rock

Psychedelic rock attempts to bring into sound the experience of using hallucinogenic drugs. The genre achieved great success in the 60’s as it focused on the use of exotic instrumentation, experimental recording techniques, loose rhythms, and free-flowing style. Instead of delivering clear messages, psychedelic posters advertising rock’n’roll concerts were often a task, trying to decipher the message was part of the game.

The goal after all was not to deliver messages as succinctly and efficiently as possible, but rather, to engage the viewers for as long as possible -to tease them with hard to read feasts for the senses.

Vibrant hallucination-like color combinations, wild Victorian type and heavy swirling, fluid hand-drawn letters were typically used with complex drawings. White space was considered beta noire to the psychedelic poster designers, whose style of work was intended as a reaction to the prevailing ‘clean’ Swiss style of typography.