I've always tended to believe that gothic music stemmed from something spooky and mysterious, enchanting, perhaps reminding one of a silent vampire film, a spooky house that's supposedly haunted, or graveyard. The " gothic" tag was attributed to certain post-punk bands who began to have a gloomier or spookier edge to their nihilism. unfortunately the tag has not only stuck but has been stuck onto everything that contains certain elements in the music or appearance of a band, no matter how shallow.
this is not to say that certain music doesn't have "gothic" elements to it. the error most people make is that these elements transform the whole experience into something " gothic". deep vocals, horror film sounds and lyrics concerning romantic sadness. These can all be interesting, depending how well done they are. but often bands that use these elements are truly rooted in punk or metal.
Due to the fact that the gothic subculture is so varied in itself, there is no one style of music that all goths enjoy. The original gothic music (e.g. Bauhaus, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, etc) is popular among goths, as is its various incarnations such as darkwave, deathrock and modern gothic music and gothic rock (e.g. Lacuna Coil, Entwine and Type O Negative). Many goths also enjoy metal, death metal and black metal, and bands with a gothic look such as Cradle of Filth are popular. A lot of goths enjoy 80s music in general, and the goth club scene features a lot of dark electro music. But, every individual goth has their own different and diverse taste, which of course can include any genre of music.
But we also have to remember that gothic music comes in all shapes and sizes and since it has been around for so long there's a ton of subcultures within the umbrella that is Goth.
Metal Goth - The term "gothic" was first used to describe the sound of Joy Division and afterwards it was applied to a loose group of bands catering to the same audience. Nowadays bands with a metal background aim at that " gothic" scene as well, and label themselves "gothic metal". The term "gothic" is subject to as much manipulation and controversy as the term "metal". Metal gothic refers exclusively to slow, atmospheric music with a generally sad or trancelike atmosphere. Like traditional heavy metal and everything progressive, gothic music is performance music and not utilitarian folk and dance music.
EBM - stands for Electronic Body Music. what is the most important in EBM music I think are Lyrics. The music is mostly heavy programmed synths + " ebm beat". You have to look back to the days when electronic music first became popular with such bands as kraftwerk, tangerine dream, klaus schultze etc in the 70s. They've introduced the public to the sounds of synthesizers. In the beginning of the 80s there was this big movement called punk! EBM was a kind of electronic punk in the attitude of both genres are the same, only the tools differ. EBM is hard moving, aggresive electronic music. most beats are very fast and the lyrics are more shouting than singing.
Gothic music can be varying in style and hard to pinpoint but here are some examples of music that is either straight out goth or associated with the scene:
'Siouxsie and the Banshees'- One of the first and the best, a very unique style that shaped bulk of the goth movement.
'Sisters of Mercy'- A major influence on most bands coming through presently
'The Cure'- Known especially for their albums 17 seconds, a lesser extent, Disintegration and Bloodflowers.
'Christian death' 'Only Theatre of Pain'- the first death rock album
'Front line assembly'- Is industrial music but is listened to by many goths
'VNV nation'- EBM but same deal as Front Line Assembly
'Frank the Baptist'- Folkish-goth: a great band just making a name for themselves
'Bauhaus'- 'Bella Legosis Dead' by Bauhaus was touted as being the first ever goth song
'The Doors'- A big influence on some early goth music
'Type O Negative'- First goth/doom metal band
'Cinema Strange'- Circus styled deathrock
'45 Grave'- Early deathrock
'The Birthday Party'- Nick Cave's second band, big contributor to the scene
'Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds'- Nick's third band, still loosely associated with the scene and enjoyed by many in the scene
'The March Violets'- Highly under rated
'Cocteau Twins'- Dreamy but brilliant
'Fields of Nephilim'- Another of the originals
'Joy Division'- Not strictly goth but not far off, adopted by goth fans as goth music
'Killing Miranda'- Industrial goth, short lived, but a good example of the scenes ability to poke fun at itself (very tongue-in-cheek music)