Different Types of Music
Music is a basic, essential part of human existence. It is not something that was "invented," it seems to just have been naturally born into us. It springs up in every culture around the world independently, and each cultures comes up with different spins and varieties on music. Here are some of the big ones.
The blues are the main precursor to most British and American pop music. They were developed in the late 19th century, and were named the blues because of their melancholy lyrical content and minor chords, pentatonic scales, and slower, plodding beats. Blues revolves mainly around the guitar. It started getting popular in the 1910's and '20's, with the famed Mississippi Delta Bluesmen like Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, and Son House. It experienced a revival in the 50's and 60's, where it morphed into and blurred with Rock 'n' Roll, led by luminaries like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf. It entered its more modern stage with Rock/Blues Musicians such as the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and late electric guitar virtuosos Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Jazz is an American-based music genre made up primarily of instrumental work that covers a massive catalogue of work. It's main characteristics are typically horn, drum, and base instrumentation with a major focus on improvisation. Any instrument can be used in jazz, as it is immensely flexible as a genre. It got its start in Chicago and New Orleans around the same time as blues - in fact, the two are often merged together - with Trumpeters like Louis Armstrong, and eventually, it evolved into the hugely popular swing bands of the Depression and War era, such as the clarinetist Benny Goodman's and pianist Duke Ellington's Bands. Various offshoots sprung off in the 30's through the 70's, with Bop musicians Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie taking over in the 50's, to be replaced by Cool Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist John Coltrane. It has continued in many different forms and is still popular today.
Rock and Roll
Rock and Roll is the child of Blues, Jazz, and Soul. These genres were mostly associated with African American culture for a long time before the 1950's, when they became popular among white American and British youth. It started with the doo-wop of Buddy Holly, the Shirelles, and the Shangri-La's and took off in a major way when Elvis Presley started singing old Blues tunes in a rock-type fashion. The British took over Rock in the 1960's with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin leading the British invasion. Rock became inextricable from psychedelic drugs and hippie culture in the 60s and 70s Vietnam era after the Beatles released their seminal Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. Blues musicians-turned-rock such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison led the movement in the early 70's, until all three died of drug overdoses, and rock took an ugly turn: Disco. The flashiness of disco led to the explosion of synth and hair-metal rock of the 80's, and rock started to lose popularity. It took off again in another form in the 90's, with grunge and alternative rock, led by Nirvana and metal bands like Jane's Addiction and Metallica. Most popular music today is directly descended from Rock and Roll.
Hip-Hop and Rap became popular in the 80's and 90's as an offshoot of the Rhythm and Blues and Soul movements led by the Motown Recording company musicians, James Brown, Al Green, etc. Rapping, rhythmically spoken poetry, took off with the gangsta-rap bands NWA and Public Enemy, who controversially rapped about political and social issues confronting the African-American community. Rap hit its peak in the mid-90s, when legendary late rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. led the pack. After that, rap remained popular, but lost some of its lyrical content with the prevalence of thug rap. More recently, rap has regained its political voice in rappers like Common, Lupe Fiasco, and Immortal Technique. It is more and more becoming merged with typical pop music in the work of Timbaland, Kanye West, and Beyonce Knowles.
Classical music is on a totally different plane than today's popular music. It covers a broad range of genres, but tends to be grouped together in record stores nowadays. Traditionally, it started as church music or royally sanctioned pieces that were put on by large orchestras. It experienced an explosion during the renaissance, and some of the first household-name composers appeared in the baroque era, with Vivaldi, Handel, and Bach. It remained popular among elites during the classical (Mozart, Salieri) and Romantic (Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Tchaikovsky) eras. It started to taper off in the late 19th and 20th centuries, but has still produced spectacular composers in the minimalist and modern traditions. Most major cities today have a professional orchestra of some sort, but popular music remains centered around rock and hip hop.
Folk music is more or less the music of the people. Because there was no recording industry before the 20th century, and because folk music tends to be passed down orally rather than in a written format, there isn't a strong record of this music of the past. It is generally accessible music that lyrically focuses on issues of the day. All countries have their own folk music. In the United States, it has seen relative popularity because of musicians like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez, but it is no longer considered the "music of the people," so much, since the widespread availability of radios and the affordability of all modern albums has made all music accessible in a format other than expensive concerts.
Tango is a type of dance music created in the brothels of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a populist folk music that was specific to Argentina for a number of years before it was brought to the international stage by Carlos Gardel in the 1920's. Since it meshed with Jazz music relatively well, it gained a following in Europe and the United States.
Punk rock differs from Rock and Roll because of its volume, level of distortion and anarchist ideology. While rock was the anti-establishment music of the 50's and 60's, by the 70's, it had started to become a normal part of the culture and had lost some of its edge. Punk is what took its place. Started by Iggy Pop and the Stooges, whose album "Raw Power" is considered the loudest album ever made, it was popularized by bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash. Punk lost some of its steam after the 80's, and modern punk isn't as anti-establishment as a lot of rap. It's distinguishable by it's often shouted lyrics, incredibly high distortion level, frenetic drumming, and the fact that musical talent isn't always as important as raw power.
There are many, many other genres of music, too many to count. To name a few: heavy metal, emo, techno, choral, a cappella, etc. Regardless, it's clear that music is an essential part of the human experience.