I'm looking for a word to distinguish electronic music from non-electronic music. I'd like to categorize into these two terms and I am aware that acoustic music or maybe even analog music might be the first things that come up everybody's mind.

However, if music is categorized into electronic and acoustic music, where do I put Rock songs? I mean they are not electronic in terms of Techno, Dubstep, House etc., but they are also not acoustic like a String Orchestra or a Piano song, since acoustic means without electronic amplification.

What would you suggest? Will I need more categories to cover everything? Or would you still put Rock music into one of the two given categories without question? If so, why?

Edit: To avoid confusion I'd like to add that my task is to categorize full songs by their genres and group them into the 2 mentioned categories. Although a Techno song may have an acoustic guitar in it, the song would still be classified to the electronic category of course. Now all I need is the right word for the opposite of electronic music and electronic genres, or let's call them digitally produced music maybe. So this other category should contain acoustic guitar songs, Rock music, piano songs, orchestra songs, big band melodies etc. I hope this specifies my needs better.

  • Consider that piano music is "digital".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 12:10
  • Are you talking about e-pianos or synthesizers? Or why would a piano be digital? It is an acoustic instrument, just like a guitar. Commented May 4, 2019 at 12:27
  • And consider that many older electronic organs were "analog".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 12:56
  • 2
    Sorry, I can't follow your comment. But according to your phrasing I assume this was meant to be derogatory. Therefore I'd like to ask you to clarify and answer what I asked for or simply help me with my original question instead. Commented May 4, 2019 at 12:57
  • No, I'm being purely technical. Fingers are "digits" (look it up). And older electronic organs used analog RC (resistor/capacitor) circuits rather than digital counters. (Of course, in another sense of "analog" most musical instruments are analogs of something else.) (Yep, it's confusing, and there's no "airtight" terminology -- you just go with the accepted jargon.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 13:06

1 Answer 1


Spotify has a category called Acoustic Rock. (Amazon Music also has this category.)

Guitar World has an article entitled The 25 Greatest Acoustic Songs in Hard Rock.

EDIT Note that the songs mentioned in the "25 Greatest Acoustic Songs in Hard Rock" include Stairway to Heaven (and many others), which has a distinct minority of "acoustic song." The OP might consider a techno song with acoustic guitar to simply be techno. /edit

You could distinguish your electronic / non-electronic dichotomy as:

Rock / Acoustic Rock


Hard Rock / Acoustic Rock

EDIT The Beatles are, by definition, Rock. But how would you classify the track Blackbird (on the White Album)? It consists of acoustic guitar and a single vocal. I think it would be natural to categorize the entire album as Rock, including "Blackbird." If the OP requires the precision to call that track Acoustic Rock or Soft Rock or even Folk, then the OP will need the additional categories. /edit

  • Thanks for your help. Although this is a good solution for the example of Rock, it also means more categories will be necessary. Because classifying Rock in the same electronic category as Techno does not seem right. So I am more looking for a word to describe everything except typical electronic music like Techno, House, Trance etc. One could also say everything that is played live (except for obvious electronic instruments like synthesizers or samplers) and everything produced. Commented May 4, 2019 at 14:15
  • Your question did not state that you had a need to reduce categories ("more categories will be necessary"). What is your motivation for reducing a category count?
    – rajah9
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 17:09
  • I'm going to site this answer from a sister site: musicfans.stackexchange.com/a/501 . "What's the difference between house and techno?" They are both electronic dance music. Perhaps your question would get your desired response if it were migrated (and perhaps rephrased) on that site.
    – rajah9
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 17:14
  • rajah9 - That was just a thought, so I was asking if more categories will be necessary. The thing is that I'd like to classify short songs and jingles into "electronically produced" and the opposite of that. It is really hard to explain since English is not my native language on the one hand, but also because I am really unsure of how to classify that. Commented May 5, 2019 at 13:30

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