"Typology" is the study of types, or how to sort out and classify stuff. It is a perfectly useful activity that gets bad press in the popular musical press because it "puts labels on stuff, dude!" Hey, labels are how you tell the can of baked beans from the can of pineapple, so, very useful. Labels are also how you can tell the Beethoven symphony CD from the Captain Beefheart CD, so, also very useful.
We talk about different styles and genres in music. Wikipedia has a whole bunch of stuff about musical styles here. That link goes to a list of literally thousands of different named styles. Not very useful in terms of understanding the underlying principles. But it is cool, I suppose, to know that there is a style called "nardcore" that is quite different from the style called "nerdcore". The article on "genre" seems more oriented to classical music. Everywhere you run into caveats such as "these categories and boundaries are arbitrary", which is not a very useful comment.
Let me see if I can shed some light on this. Virtually all music throughout all of human history was what we might call "traditional". That is, it was local, intuitive and served fairly clear and limited social purposes. Folks got together on a Friday night and danced to whatever music was customary and available. Sometimes music for religious purposes was developed that was more meditative than somatic. There may have been more developed music from time to time such as the music used to accompany Greek tragedy, but we know very little about the details as they did not develop an adequate form of musical notation.
That was the big event in music history: the development of a notation that could accurately record the pitch of notes, the rhythmic texture and the different voices. This occurred in southern France and northern Italy around 1000 AD and was never duplicated anywhere else. It took about 500 years to perfect and we have been using this system of musical notation ever since. It has enabled a far more complex, sophisticated and durable kind of music to be developed that could best be described as "Western European art or concert music". Colloquially, it is called "classical" music, but that term always leads to confusion with the Classical period in music history from 1770 to 1827.
This kind of music, which is sometimes called "literate" music because it is based on a written tradition, contains nearly all that we would call "great" works of music. There are no great polkas in the sense I mean, nor great pieces of grindcore, nor great pieces of bluegrass. I guess I just seriously offended all lovers of those genres! Sorry, but I mean "great" in a certain specific sense. A "great" piece of music is one that has the kind of depth and perfection that means that it will last and be appreciated for hundreds of years. It is a piece of art music. Polka, grindcore and bluegrass are genres and therefore come with fundamental limits. If you do something too weird in a polka or bluegrass piece you will be accused of being inauthentic or unfaithful to the genre. The difference with art music is that you are expected to do something new, different and challenging in your symphony or violin concerto.
Symphonies and violin concertos, while often called genres (or forms) are really neither of those things. They do not have the strict boundaries of genre or definitions of forms. Only poor symphonies or violin concertos are "typical". All the great ones are unique.
So what I am going to claim is that art music (concert music, classical music) is unique in the sense that it is really not a style or genre. It is instead a cultural stream, based on the use of musical notation and written with awareness of the whole of that cultural stream going back to 1000 AD.
Now what I am saying here may seem odd or extreme because it is so different from what you read in the popular mainstream media where all genres are equally groovy and there is no awareness of history. But if you want to check on what I am saying, please read the Oxford History of Western Music by Richard Taruskin as it will give you a good overview.
The customary division of music into three broad categories of classical, popular and traditional is perfectly reasonable, though it does need a lot of explanation to be understood properly.
- Mozart piano concerto: classical
- Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball": popular
- Scottish fiddle music: traditional
If you understand how the categories work, then you can figure out the typology of just about anything. Bob Dylan? Thoughtfully crafted popular music based on the sounds and genres of traditional American music. So virtually all those different musical styles that Wikipedia lists are all in the general category of "popular" even though a lot of them are such minute niches that they are not popular in the usual sense of the word. But they fall into the category of "popular".
So let's listen to a little Bob Dylan to close: