Why You Should Learn To Play All Styles Of Music

A versatile musician is a good musician. Versatile in their approach and professional life as well as versatile in their abilities to play their instrument/sing. One thing that creates this versatility is learning to play in every musical style and idiom. Not only does it help to increase your understanding of your instruments place in the style but also opens you up to new rhythms, feels, phrasing, dynamics etc that go with the particular style.

Take for example the heavy metal guitarist stereotype. Someone that wants to play fast and loud. Branching into classical guitar can help them build ridiculous technique which will in turn translate into more complex riffs and solos in their preferred genre.

Not only does this improve your skill set but it can also make you more employable, If you are great on your instrument but can only play in one style then you miss out on work that someone else who is similar in skill but diverse in styles will take.

Below is a rough list to get you started in most styles. Comment below for additions that you think I should add. Obviously different styles will place more or less emphasis on your chosen instrument but try and at least learn them all in some capacity.


Classic Jazz: Louis Armstrong – “West End Blues”

Bebop: Charlie Parker – “Koko”

Modal Jazz: Miles Davis – “So What”

Fusion: Mahavishnu Orchestra – “Vital Transformation”

Outlaw Country: Waylon Jennings – “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean”

Bluegrass: Flatt & Scruggs – “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”

Delta Blues: Robert Johnson – “Hellhound on My Trail”

Chicago Blues: Magic Sam – “Sweet Home, Chicago”

Cosmopolitan Country: Charlie Rich – “Behind Closed Doors”

California Singer/Songwriter (’70s): Joni Mitchell – “Free Man in Paris”

Psychedelic (’60s): The Byrds – “I See You”

Country Rock (’70s): New Riders of the Purple Sage – “Henry”

Alternative Country: Uncle Tupelo – “Graveyard Shift”

R&B (’60s): Otis Redding – “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”

R&B (modern): D’Angelo – “Brown Sugar”

Soul (’60s): Sam & Dave – “Hold On, I’m Comin'”

Neo-Soul: Kem – “I Can’t Stop Loving You”

Garage Rock (’60s): The Barracudas – “Baby Get Lost”

Garage Rock (modern): Bass Drum of Death – “Dregs”

Proto-Punk: Richard Hell & The Voidoids – “Blank Generation”

Punk: The Clash – “Janie Jones”

Hardcore Punk: Black Flag – “Nervous Breakdown”

Progressive Rock: Yes – Siberian Khatru

New Wave: Blondie – “Heart of Glass”

Post-Punk: Gang of Four – “Damaged Goods”

Surf Rock (’60s): The Centurians – “Bullwinkle Pt. 2”

Surf Rock (modern): Man or Astro-Man? – “The Heavies”

Synthpunk: Suicide – “Ghost Rider”

Art Rock: Brian Eno – “Baby’s on Fire”

Ambient: Brian Eno – “Music for Airports”

Disco: Chic – “Everybody Dance”

Rockabilly (’50s): The Johnny Burnette Trio – “Train Kept A-Rollin'”

Rock ‘n’ Roll (’50s): Buddy Holly and the Crickets – “That’ll Be the Day”

College Rock (’80s): R.E.M. – “These Days”

Grunge: Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick”

Heavy Metal (’70s): Black Sabbath – “Supernaut”

Thrash Metal (’80s): Megadeth – “Killing is My Business…And Business is Good”

No Wave: Sonic Youth – “Death Valley ’69”

New Traditionalist Country: George Strait – “Amarillo By Morning”

Swing (’40s): Benny Goodman – “Sing, Sing, Sing”

Britpop: Blur – “Country House”

Shoegaze: My Bloody Valentine – “I Only Said”

Ska (Jamaican): Toots & the Maytals “Pressure Drop”

Ska (2 Tone): The Specials – “A Message to You, Rudy”

Roots Reggae: Burning Spear – “Marcus Garvey”

Tropicalia: Caetano Veloso – “Tropicalia”

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