I have listened to a lot of music in my life, enough to think I know what people should listen to if they want to understand certain genres of music.
So I present here three lists of essential albums (or pieces, in the case of western art music) which give the listener an understanding of these genres. And I present them in authoritative order, meaning that the first list is for the genre I know the most about, the second I know a little bit less about and the third I know far less about.
Core Curriculum for Pop Rock Music
Core Curriculum for Jazz
Core Curriculum for Western Art Music (aka “Classical”)
As you can see there isn’t anything for Hip Hop, nor is there for electronic music or dance music (often lumped together). I know nothing about these genres and do not pretend to know anything.
As for genres such as blues and folk (and basically any “roots” genre), I know a fair amount about these genres but choose to omit lists for both of them for two reasons:
- I don’t know enough to get truly authoritative, especially when it comes to before 1960 or so AND
- So much of what I know about these genres comes from my experiences of pop rock music, and its sources.
I hope you find these lists useful. If not, please comment.