Do you have big ears?  No, I am not actually referring to the size of your literal ears, but rather the scope of your listening, playing, writing, or performing musical repertoire.

Ask yourself :

  • Do you ever feel that your taste in music is great, but some of your friends or your parents taste in music is lame?
  • Do you shy away from listening to music that is not familiar to you or is not in your preferred genre?
  • Does your music library seem to be limited to only one or just a few genres?
  • Does your music library consist solely of what you are listening to on syndicated FM radio?
  • Do you feel you are too old or too young to be listening to certain artists or music genres?
  • If you are a musician, composer, or artist, do you stick to one genre because you feel that is the only way that you can or are expected to express yourself?

If you answered yes to anyone of the questions above, then you may be interested in enlarging your musical ears a bit.

The answer to these questions requires some serious personal reflection.  I am not suggesting by these questions that one needs to love every song or piece of music or genre that comes along an individual’s audio airwaves, or that one start to dislike the music they’ve already come to love, but developing an open minded active listening style can open up some wonderful new and exciting musical experiences to listeners, musicians, and artists alike.  Taking the time to size up or measure your musical ears will give you the opportunity to further develop your musical taste and creative abilities by opening up new world’s for your ears and mind to explore and expand in.

To be honest and realistic about this topic, there are going to be genres and artists one person may prefer over others, and others may actually hate; but what drives the decision to like or hate a certain artist, piece of music, or genre? Is the decision to like or dislike a song, artist, or even a whole genre based on true active listening (big  musical ears), or is it based on an ingrained dictation of what one should like, such as the protocol of one’s social upbringing, peer pressure, prejudice, or preconceived ideas?  Even worse, could some one’s taste in or collection of music be purposefully devised to be an outward symbol of their persona, such as the desire to be perceived by others as an intellectual, rebel, or something else?

To be fair with that last question, many of us just simply, consciously or unconsciously, choose music that jives with our personal ideals, emotions, or what is going on in our lives at the time; that is only natural.  When music truly reflects the heart and soul it becomes real and it can truthfully speak about who we are, how we feel, and what we love.  If we allow different musical styles and genres to come into our lives we can discover what so many artists out there have to say that we may never have otherwise heard.  We can experience the joy of discovering exiting and inspiring new sounds and rhythms . What musical gifts have all these, unknown to us, artists of various genres created for all of humanity to discover?  Let’s find out. We just might like it, if we give something new and different an honest try.

So how should one go about this honest soul search and enter down the road to the further development of one’s musical taste? To develop big musical ears takes time, effort, bravery, and honest reflection. It may even require learning to develop a taste for some music. So give new sounds a fair chance before you decide. Ask yourself  what you like and dislike about this piece of music.  Then ask yourself why do you like or dislike certain aspects of it. Chew on some new sounds for awhile, maybe even for a few days, before you make your assessment.

Here is a great  way to get started in growing those ears a bit. Use a music app such as Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music to search out different genres and artists you are not familiar with, or that you think you don’t like.  Search out some of the genres listed below and have a good listen.  Just for fun, purposefully pick some of the genres you don’t think you’ll like and give them a try.

Before you journey on, I have a personal disclaimer: Certain musical creations of any genre can be devoid of any restraints on language and subject matter, so always be true to yourself in regards to your conscience or moral standards. I would never suggest that anyone endeavor to listen to music that would go against one’s  moral standards or conscience. Also, if you are currently at an age that your parents are in charge of your musical choices, then perhaps you should have them accompany you on this journey. 

For the sake of having an actual end to this article, I am just going to cover the genres and sub-genres of Country, Rock, Blues, Folk, Jazz, Classical, and Latin music to a fairly reasonable extent. This is not exhaustive list of genres and sub-genres.  The list is ever growing.


If you don’t particularly care for country music, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t like country music as a whole.  Not only is this genre always evolving into other genres, there are many sub-genres that have been spawned from it’s original roots. Country music  originated way back in the 1920’s in the southern United States.[1]

Stylistic roots:

  • Appalachian Folk Music
  • Blues
  • Celtic folk
  • Old-time music


  • Bakersfield Sound
  • Bluegrass
  • Bro-country
  • Close Harmony
  • Honky-tonk
  • Jug Band
  • Progressive Country
  • Nashville Sound
  • Neotraditional Country
  • Outlaw Country
  • Red Dirt
  • Western Swing
  • Texas Country

Fusion genres:

  • Alternative Country
  • Country Rock
  • Psychobilly
  • Rockabilly
  • Gothabilly
  • Cowpunk
  • Country Rap
  • Sertanejo
  • Southern soul
  • Tejano           [1] entire list

Rock : 

Rock Music came on the scene in the 1950’s and 60’s and has origins in the US and the UK. Rock, like any other genre, is not immune to change.  Just like Country, Rock has it’s roots, and it has spawned many sub-genres.  Muddy Water’s said it best ” The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll”[2].  As you can see by this, no means exhaustive, list of Rock’s sub and fusion genres, a lot of it crosses over to other genres like Country, Folk,  Jazz, Blues, Funk, Reggae, Latin, and Rap. Remember all of this happens because thankfully the artists who helped shape these genres, either had or have big ears.

Stylistic  roots:

  • Rock and Roll
  • Rockabilly
  • Blues
  • Electric Blues
  • Folk
  • Country
  • Rhythm and Blues


  • Alternative rock
  • Art rock
  • Experimental rock
  • Garage rock
  • Glam rock
  • Hard rock
  • Heartland rock
  • Heavy metal
  • Indie rock
  • New wave
  • Post-punk
  • Post-rock
  • Progressive rock
  • Psychedelic rock
  • Punk rock
  • Roots rock
  • Soft rock
  • Surf

Fusion genres:

  • Baroque pop
  • Blues rock
  • Country rock
  • Dance-rock
  • Folk rock
  • Funk rock
  • Industrial rock
  • Jazz fusion
  • Latin rock
  • Noise rock
  • Pop rock
  • Raga rock
  • Reggae rock
  • Samba rock
  • Sufi rock        [3] entire list


The Blues actually predates Country and Rock. It originated in the Deep South of the United States in the late 19th century.[4]  During one of the darkest times of the history of the United States (the days of slavery), this wonderful and powerful genre was born, and is thankfully here to stay. The slaves that lived during that harrowing time expressed their feelings and thoughts with song.   Their music had a different sound that carved out it’s own unique place in the world. The Blues came from their roots in Africa, and the scale they primarily used to make music came with them. That scale (the pentatonic scale) helped to shape, not only the Blues, but much of the American  and British Rock as well as Country.  There are various forms of the pentatonic scale and many of these forms have there roots in Africa, Scotland, China and many other parts of the ancient world.[5]

Stylistic roots:

  • Work songs
  • Spirituals
  • Folk music


  • Acid Blues
  • African Blues
  • Blues Rock
  • Boogie-Woogie
  • British Blues
  • Canadian Blues
  • Chicago Blues
  • Classic Female Blues
  • Contemporary R&B
  • Country Blues
  • Delta Blues
  • Detroit Blues
  • Dirty Blues
  • Electric Blues
  • Gospel Blues
  • Hill country Blues
  • Hip Hop
  • Hokum Blues
  • Jazz Blues
  • Jump Blues
  • Kansas City Blues
  • Louisiana Blues
  • Memphis Blues
  • New Orleans Blues
  • Piano Blues
  • Piedmont Blues
  • Punk Blues
  • Rhythm and Blues (R&B)
  • Soul Blues
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Swamp Blues
  • Texas Blues
  • West Coast Blues

Fusion genres:

  • Blues Rock
  • Gospel Blues
  • Punk Blues
  • Rhythm and Blues
  • Soul Blues     [4] entire list


Folk music is probably one of the oldest and most diverse forms of music. This simple yet compelling genre spans the globe and knows no time barriers. It could be said that folk music is the genre that describes the human condition. According to one Wikipedia author, “Folk music is one of the major divisions of music, now often divided into traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. There are many styles of folk music, all of which can be classified into various traditions, generally based around some combination of ethnic, racial, religious, tribal, political or geographic boundaries.[6]” This same author states, ” As well as dividing songs according to geography, it is possible to [sic] categorise them by subject matter.”

Stylistic roots:

  • Traditional Music

Derivative forms by region:

  • North, Central, South American and the Caribbean
  • Asia: East, Southeast, Northern, Central, Caucasus and South Asia
  • Europe: Northern, Eastern, Southeastern, Western and Southern Europe
  • Middle East and North Africa: Southwest Asia, North Africa
  • Oceania and Australia: Polynesia, Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: East, Southern, Central and West Africa

Derivative forms by subject matter:

  • War song
  • Anti-war song
  • Sea songs, including sea shanties
  • Drinking song
  • Work song
  • Love song
  • Child Ballads (tragic ballads)
  • Protest song
  • Murder ballad
  • Sporting song

Fusion Genres:

  • Folk Metal
  • Folk Rock
  • Neofolk
  • Anti-folk            [6] entire list 


Following closely behind the Blues came a whole new genre: Jazz.  Jazz was born in the late 19th and early 20th century. Just like it’s close cousin the Blues, Jazz came out of the Southern United States; more specifically out of New Orleans.  Jazz gave American music a whole new sound.  According to author Russell Roth, “Jazz is seen by many as ‘America’s classical music.’ ” [7]

Stylistic origins:

  • Blues
  • Ragtime
  • Spirituals
  • Folk
  • Marches
  • Classical


  • Avant-garde Jazz
  • Bebop
  • Big Band
  • Chamber Jazz
  • Cool Jazz
  • Free Jazz
  • Gypsy Jazz
  • Hard Bop
  • Latin Jazz
  • Mainstream Jazz
  • Modal Jazz
  • M-Base
  • Neo-bop
  • Post-bop
  • Progressive Jazz
  • Soul Jazz
  • Swing
  • Third Stream
  • Traditional Jazz

Fusion genres:

  • Acid Jazz
  • Afrobeat
  • Bluegrass
  • Bossa Nova
  • Crossover Jazz
  • Dansband
  • Folk Jazz
  • Free Funk
  • Humppa
  • Indo Jazz
  • Jam Band
  • Jazzcore
  • Jazz-funk
  • Jazz Fusion
  • Jazz Rap
  • Kwela
  • Mambo
  • Manila Sound
  • Nu Jazz
  • Neo Soul
  • Punk Jazz
  • Ska Jazz
  • Smooth Jazz
  • Swing Revival
  • World Fusion       [8] entire list


The term Classical music  is a common term to describe all the periods of this genre. However, some feel using this term to describe all the periods of this genre is a misnomer, as there is actually a specific period referred to as the Classical period. Because of the common use of the term Classical music to describe all the periods, I will refer to all the periods as sub-genres within the main genre of Classical.

Classical music roots go way back to ancient times. The periods listed here will start with medieval times (500-1400 C.E.) and extend into the  21st century. There are just too many sub-genres of each period, which can be categorized by style and ethnic origin, for me to list here, so please just check out a few different periods and see what you discover.

Periods of Classical Music:

  •  Medieval (500–1400) including
  •  Ars Antiqua (1170–1310)
  •  Ars Nova (1310–1377)
  •  Ars Subtilior (1360–1420)
  • Renaissance (1400–1600) eras.
  • The common-practice period, which includes:
  • Baroque (1600–1750)
  • Galant Music (1720s–1770s)
  • Classical (1750–1820)
  • Romantic eras (c.1780–1910)
  • The 20th century period (1901–present) which includes
  •  Modern (1890–1930) that overlaps from the late-19th century
  •  High Modern (1930–present)
  •  Impressionism (1875–1925) that also overlaps from the late-19th century
  •  Neoclassicism (1920–1950), predominantly in the inter-war period
  •  Postmodern (1930–present) eras
  •  Experimental (1950–present)
  • Contemporary (1945 or 1975–present)    [9] entire list


  • Latin music, or the music of Latin America, has a mixed bag of origins, and has a vast sea, literally from A to Z, of of sub-genres that where created all over the world.

According to author Ed Morales, ” The origins of Latin American music can be traced back to the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the Americas in the 16th century, when the European settlers brought their music from overseas”.[10]

Latin music’s wide variety of styles and rhythms has people dancing all over the planet.

Stylistic origins:

  • Classical Music
  • Music of Spain
  • Music of Portugal
  • Music of France
  • Music of Africa
  • Music of Indigenous American


  • Axé
  • Bachata
  • Baião
  • Bambuco
  • Banda
  • Batucada
  • Biguine
  • Bolero
  • Bomba
  • Boogaloo
  • Bossa nova
  • Brazilian rock
  • Cha-cha-cha
  • Changüí
  • Charanga
  • Choro
  • Compas
  • Conga
  • Conjunto
  • Contradanza
  • Corrido
  • Cuarteto
  • Cueca
  • Cumbia
  • Danza
  • Danzón
  • Duranguense
  • Filin
  • Forró
  • Frevo
  • Funk carioca
  • Guaguancó
  •  Guaracha
  • Gwo ka
  • Huapango
  • Huayno
  • Jarabe
  • Joropo
  • Lambada
  • Lundu
  • Mambo
  • Mariachi
  • Mazouk
  • Merengue
  • Méringue
  • Milonga
  • Música popular brasileira
  • Norteño
  •  Nueva canción
  • Nueva trova
  • Orquesta típica
  • Pachanga
  • Pagode
  • Pambiche
  • Pasillo
  • Payada
  •  Plena
  • Porro
  • Punto guajiro
  • Ranchera
  • Rasin
  • Reggaeton
  • Rondalla
  • Rumba
  • Salsa
  • Samba
  • Sertanejo
  • Seis
  • Son
  • Son jalisciense
  • Son Jarocho
  • Son montuno
  • Songo
  • Tango music
  • Tejano –
  • Timba
  • Tonada
  • Trío romántico
  • Tropicália
  • Twoubadou
  • Vallenato
  • Vals criollo
  • Zouk

Fusion genres:

  • Alternative
  • Ballad
  • Hip hop
  • Jazz
  • Pop
  • Reggae
  • Rock      [11] entire list



  2. ” The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll” Song by Muddy Waters
  7. Roth, Russell (1952). “On the Instrumental Origins of Jazz”. American Quarterly. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 4 (4): 305–16.
  10. Morales, Ed (2003). The Latin Beat: The Rhythms And Roots Of Latin Music From Bossa Nova To Salsa And Beyond. Da Capo Press. p. xiv.

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