help_outline Skip to main content
audiophile foundation logo 

News / Articles

Developing Your Music Taste

Grant Stoner | Published on 9/22/2023

Have you ever thought about how your musical taste was formed?  Who or what influenced your preference?  I think it starts at a young age but can change over time and things you listened to as a kid, you may still like, but don’t always want to listen to.

I can’t give the answers to your musical evolution but maybe by giving some examples of mine, I can make you ponder it for a while, relishing those early memories.

Certainly, as with most people in their 50’s to 70’s it was first AM radio.  The pop music of the 60’s was the first thing I listened to.  But no, not quite.  My parents had music on all the time and even though I didn’t realize it, it seeped into me as a long term subtle influence.  I probably like Big Band and early jazz because of them.  Later in life hearing “Moonlight Serenade” for instance, it just sounded so familiar, like home, Frank Sinatra and classical I appreciated more later in life as well.

My secondary big early influence was my brothers and sisters.  As they slowly moved out, I was bequeathed many of their records.  I still have the classic container of 45’s primarily from my sisters.  My brother Greg took me to my first concerts (Johnny Winter was first, followed by Foghat, then Genesis).   And it took off from there.

I started playing guitar in 10th grade.  Actually, I started a few years earlier, but one snow day, my stoned friend sat on my guitar, cutting short my musical career for a few years till I got another.  I can’t overstate how much “Guitar Player” magazine influenced me.  For a while, along with some bandmates, I was into NWBHM, or New Wave of British Heavy Metal.  Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard.  But with Guitar Player I started to branch out on my own.  My sister Becky brought me to a friend’s house with Bose 901’s.  She played Jean Luc Ponty’s “Cosmic Messenger” cranked, and I thought it was amazing.  And then through the magazine I discovered all variety of Jazz Fusion, Al Dimeloa, John McLaughlin, et. All.  George Benson, Joe Pass and others followed.  I don’t think anyone in my town was into such things.

Also due to that magazine, I discovered record labels.  If you like one artist on a particular label, you may like more.  I had been liking Pat Metheny for a while, then one classic issue had Steve Tibbets.  ECM record label, Hmmm.  I’ll check out more.  I was hooked!  That issue also had Michael Hedges and Will Ackerman.  Windham Hill…ok I’ll buy up that whole catalog.

I was always fiercely independent with my taste.  I didn’t listen to things just because my friends did, or it was popular.  Nobody I knew liked the wide variety that I did.  I picked up a few strange ethnic instruments at the Santa Cruz Flea Market, and that started that kick.  I started acquiring all variety of world music and bands kinda in the genre like “Ancient Future” and DoA.

It took a while to get out of the “just guitar” mode, but as I got more instruments, I appreciated everything on another level.  I’m not good at all instruments, but I try to play everything.  So, when I see live music, or listen to the stereo, my attention shifts from bass, to piano, drums, sax everything.

Anyhow, think about why you like what you like.  The only thing I dislike is Country, but even that I’m coming around, a little.  I had a neighbor’s son who used to play rap in his backyard, just over my fence.  I hated it.  Then on a whim, I got Snoop Dogg’s “The Doggfather” and thought it was cool.  Nowadays I don’t fault anyone on the music they like.  After all, I like gamelan music, and that would drive many people nuts.  So, just be you and I’ll be me and we will all get along just fine.  Cheers!