In a journal article called Development of my Taste in Music
, I am giving a long, meandering autobiographical account of how my taste in music developed. Here I'm going to just highlight the main albums that shaped my tastes, or where I'm not sure what the exact album was, are representative of the direction my taste was taking. To the best of my ability, I will list albums in the order that I first listened to them. For some classical music, I will list a different recording, because the original vinyl is not available on Last.fm, or I just don't remember what it was. This is a work in progress, and gaps may be filled in as time goes on. It is fairly lengthy, but if you're short on time, you can just look over the album covers.
This is not my first recording of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, but it is the one I later bought on CD. Both were sold in the supermarket as part of a classical music collection that featured a different composer each week. My parents bought a set of classical music records at the supermarket, and this set provided my first introduction to classical music. I was mainly into ballet music, and the Peer Gynt Suite was one of my favorite pieces.
The first record I ever bought myself was a Mary Poppins soundtrack. It had an illustrated cover, and it had fewer songs than the CD linked to above. I'm not sure if it was the Julie Andrews version.
I didn't own the soundtrack, but I did see the movie many times as a child. This movie featured cartoons set to classical music, including works of Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Dukas, and Mussorgsky.
This album furthered my interest in Bach and began my interest in electronic music.
This began my interest in instrumental film music. I subsequently got the soundtracks to The Empire Strikes Back
, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
, The Phantom Menace
, Chariots Of Fire
, The Piano
, and others. Like the ballet music I was already interested in, instrumental film music is normally composed to help tell a story. It has to express the feelings or temperament of various characters, capture the essence of certain situations, and pull together various themes.
I wasn't that into the popular music of the day, but I did like the Carpenters
a lot. This is one of the records I had of them. Karen Carpenter was one of the most emotionally expressive singers I have ever heard, and Richard Carpenter was a talented composer of pop music. They sometimes did excellent covers of The Beatles
or of Burt Bacharach
is the first singer/songwriter I began listening to with any regularity. I don't remember which is the first album I heard by him. This is one of the albums I remember having at home. What I like about him is that he combines emotional sensitivity with a very masculine voice. Among male singers, he's one of the best.
This introduced me to Holst's Planets and to Tomita's synthesizer performances of classical music. Together, Wendy Carlos and Tomita instilled in me an interest in the classitronic
genre and electronic
music in general, and they helped further my interest in classical
The music from Carl Sagan's Cosmos introduced me to Vangelis
, who was the first serious composer of contemporary electronic music I began listening to. My copy of the soundtrack included other music too. This one focuses on Vangelis.
This is the album that jumpstarted my interest in both rock
and progressive rock
. Thanks to researching the individual members, I got into Yes
, The Buggles
, King Crimson
, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer
. Thanks to following members of Asia and of these other bands, I also got into GTR
, Emerson, Lake & Powell
, and Gps
Of all the bands that Asia led me to, Yes
was the most significant. It would later replace Asia as my favorite progressive rock group. The first Yes albums I listened to had no members of Asia on them. This one had none because it was out at the same time as Howe and Downes were involved with Asia. Another one I came across had the original members on it. But eventually, I came across their more classic music, and I bought almost every Yes album available. I got into the solo work of some members, especially Rick Wakeman
and Steve Howe
, and through following Yes members, I got into Jon & Vangelis
, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
, Art of Noise
, Bill Bruford's Earthworks
, and others. I have also followed the work of some of their children, especially jazz drummer Dylan Howe
After Asia awakened my interest in rock, I began to appreciate many other contemporary rock groups. I don't recall who I liked or listened to first. Among the groups I liked, The Go-Go's
are a band I kept more of a sustained interest in. I bought each of their studio albums, and I took an interest in the solo work of Belinda Carlisle
and Jane Wiedlin
. The music of the Go-Go's had a stronger connection to punk rock than other bands I listened to, and this gave their music an edge that other bands didn't have. Other artists I was listening to around the same time included ABC
, Big Country
, The Cars
, Duran Duran
, Men at Work
, and The Police
At this time, I had started to buy cassettes, but I was still buying records too. For example, I got Beauty and the Beat
on cassette but Vacation
is notable for being the first foreign language artist I enjoyed listening to. Half the songs on this album were in German, and the others were in English. The title song came in both German and English versions. (Note that Last.fm is not listing the album version. It is listing a single with multiple versions of one song. But the title and cover match the album I had.)
This is the first Rush
album I ever heard. Rush was the best progressive rock group I was listening to that had no connection to Asia. Others included Genesis
, and Saga
While in high school, I checked out a recording of La Mer and the three Nocturnes. It probably wasn't the one shown here. This instilled in me a love of impressionism
, and La Mer became one of my favorite pieces.
Thanks to my first college RA, who was also into progressive rock, I learned about Renaissance
. This is the first album I bought by them. This was the first progressive rock group I heard with a female singer. Annie Haslam was operatically trained and may be the best singer in progressive rock. Also, the music was exceptionally good. What I had was a three-record set, not a remastered CD.
Thanks to the same RA, I discovered the electronic band Tangerine Dream
is the first album I ever heard by them. I used to dance and exercise to Tangerine Dream before I knew anyone else danced to electronic music. Their music was a precursor to the psychedelic trance
genre, which I would get into in the 21st century.
Through college radio, I was starting to get into punk rock
. This didn't extend far beyond the Dead Kennedys
. Their music was worthwhile for expressing anger over stupid things in society, but for the most part, I was more into music that was more musical and less angry.
Though listening to CHOM-FM, I got into The Box
, a band from Montreal. This album was mostly in English with some songs based on the Little Prince. One song had some French in it.Laurie Anderson
is one of the most intellectual artists I have ever heard. Her work is experimental and avant garde. Her lyrics are strange and surreal, and her music is orderly without using standard rhythms. There is some passing similarity to early Genesis
, and notably she has performed with Peter Gabriel
. She also seems to anticipate Björk
, but Björk's music is more emotional. Overall, her music is her own, and I cannot name anyone who sounds enough like her to give a clear idea what to expect.
From the summer of 1986 onward, I was regularly listening to Music from the Hearts of Space
, a radio program dedicated to slow music, usually in the new age
and space music
genres. This is one of the most impressive works of electronic space music I ever heard on that program. It was published on the Hearts Of Space
label, and I later bought the CD. In general, this program played a large role in furthering my interest in new age, space music, and electronic music.
I discovered jazz
when I heard Artie Shaw
, a clarinetist and band leader from the swing era, on the radio. This first led to an interest in swing
, then it expanded to include many genres of jazz. Pictured above is the Artie Shaw CD I ordered from BMG.Swing Out Sister
is the first vocal jazz
artist and also the first smooth jazz
artist I got into. I discovered them through MTV rather than out of the interest in jazz triggered by Artie Shaw. Their music is sort of a downtempo blend of jazz and Burt Bacharach style pop. Corinne Drewery
has a smooth, beautiful, laid-back voice, and she has often sported a beautiful Louise Brooks style pageboy bob. I have loved Swing-Out Sister from the beginning. Some related artists I listened to included Basia
This is my first album by Miles Davis
, one of the most important and innovative jazz musicians of the 20th century.
After I got my first CD player, I bought one new CD, then I decided my money would be better spent on used CDs. This was one of the first used CDs I picked up. I didn't know who Kim Angelis
was before, but it looked like an interesting album, and I enjoyed it a lot. This is gypsy-inspired world music on the violin, and it was my first album of instrumental world music.
This was my first album of traditional Irish music. I previously had albums by The Pogues
, but they were more punk rock and drinking songs.
The first album I ever heard that mixed jazz and classical. For a long time, I misremembered this as a Duke Ellington album. After being unable to find it, I checked the online catalog of the library I listened to it at, then ordered a copy of the record through ebay. Most of the pieces were composed by Jacques Loussier
, whose name I had forgotten when I discovered his own performances years later. That set off an even greater interest in this kind of music, and I collected many jazz versions of classical music.
The first album I ever heard by Enya
. When listening to Enya, it felt like her music was reaching into my soul. Besides singing in English, she sang in Latin and Gaelic. My interest in Enya led to an interest in Clannad
, which is her family, her sister Moya Brennan
, and the similar Canadian artists Marcomé
and Loreena McKennitt
This album gave me an appreciation of more introspective jazz. It also illustrated how something that wasn't jazz, such as a tune from a musical, could be turned into jazz.
During my second year of grad school, I was listening to a local radio station that played new age
and contemporary jazz
. It seemed that jazz was taking a new direction, and although I didn't have a name for it, this direction was represented by artists such as Special EFX
, Michael Franks
, the Yellowjackets
, and Acoustic Alchemy
. I eventually came to recognize this as the genre called smooth jazz
, and it wasn't long before I lost interest in many of these artists, even getting rid of some of the albums I had bought. But I did retain my interest in Acoustic Alchemy, and this is an album that I kept and still enjoy.
This is the last album by Miles Davis
. After checking the release date, I realized it could not have been my first Miles Davis album, since I had Amandla before this was released. But Miles Davis was enough of an innovator that it still gets its own place in this list. This album was an attempt to combine rap with jazz, and it is the first album to give me any appreciation of rap
There is no album linked here. Besides listening to albums, I spent much of the 1990s downloading tracker music to play on my Amiga. This is electronic music that was composed and played back on the Amiga, or sometimes other computers, using sound samples or synthesized sounds for instruments and playing music in four tracks. Although the Amiga natively had four tracks, later formats could support 8 tracks by sharing a track with two instruments at the same time. There were covers of non-tracker music, as well as lots of original music. Much of it fit the techno
genre, a genre of electronic dance music.
This album dispelled any lingering stereotypes of electronic music as cold or machine-like, useful only for dancing, novelty, or weird, spacey music. With this album, Suzanne Ciani
demonstrated the use of synthesizers for emotionally meaningful music, giving electronic music the same legitimacy as acoustic music.
The first album I ever heard by Keiko Matsui
, who quickly became my most beloved jazz artist. She plays some of the most beautiful and feminine music I have ever heard. Her music is routinely classified as smooth jazz
, but it doesn't fit the description given for it. Her music is mainly a mix of jazz
, new age
, and traditional japanese
music, and it might best be described as third stream
. My interest in her has led to an interest in other Asian women jazz pianists, such as Hiromi
, Helen Sung
, and Junko Onishi
. It has also led to a general interest in Jazz Piano
artists, such as Bob James
, Jessica Williams
, and Chick Corea
I should also mention that although she is not a singer, a song or two on some of her albums have lyrics, sung by a professional singer. This album includes the beautiful song Mover
, which is one of my all-time favorite jazz songs. It is also my very favorite jazz song sung by a man.
In the early 1990's, I was starting to get interested in fusion
, because I didn't yet know the term smooth jazz
, and I understood that some of the artists I liked, such as Pat Metheny
, were fusion artists. So I checked out a fusion anthology, probably Atlantic Jazz Fusion
, and I was really impressed by Jean-Luc Ponty
, who played fusion on the electric violin. I soon bought two albums by him, this being one of them. Unlike the smooth jazz artists I knew, Ponty's music had great energy to it. My interest in fusion would continue with Bill Bruford's Earthworks
, Al Di Meola
, Allan Holdsworth
, Miles Davis
, Chick Corea
, and others. This album is notable for the track New Country
, which makes country
music sound good. This may have led to my interest in the Dixie Dregs
, a fusion group that incorporated elements of country music.
This may be the first Sarah McLachlan
album I ever heard. I borrowed her first two albums from a friend, and although this was her second, I think I listened to it first. Once I heard Sarah McLachlan, it felt like I was hearing real music for the first time. This is not to put down some of the music I have listed here already. It's just that there was something very powerful in her music that I hadn't heard before. Thanks to her Lilith Fair project, I later discovered Heather Nova
, another favorite of mine.
When I first heard Tori Amos
, I thought she was Kate Bush
. I think that was mainly because the volume was down low. It wasn't long before I realized that Tori Amos was much better. Both of them sang and played the piano. In the same vein, I later discovered Vienna Teng
and Agnes Milewski
, two other piano-playing singer/songwriters who have become favorites of mine.
Although I had listened to other female singer/songwriters before Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos, it was these two who really put the female singer/songwriter on the map. They poured themselves into their music in ways earlier female singer/songwriters I had heard hadn't. They weren't just putting prettier voices on the same kind of music men made. Since discovering these two, I have found many other female singer/songwriters of similar appeal, such as Björk
, Emm Gryner
, Skylar Grey
, and Jann Arden
, those mentioned above, and more.
The first album I ever heard by Bel Canto
, who played electronic dance music that was both accessible and exotic, featuring the beautiful singing voice of Anneli Drecker
, who sang not only in English but also in German and French. I first heard Bel Canto on the radio, then bought this album.
The first album by October Project
. I first heard October Project on the radio, and both of their albums were out before I bought either. I'm not sure which one I listened to first. I loved their music and lyrics, which were emotionally rich. The lyrics were so important to October Project that the lyricist was considered a member of the band even though she didn't perform. Also, the lead singer, Mary Fahl
, quickly became my favorite singer and remains so to this day.
The first album I ever heard by Sarah Brightman
, a very talented soprano who also sings opera and show tunes. This album was full of water-themed songs.
The first album I ever heard of the music of Hildegard von Bingen
, a nun from the 12th century. Hers is the earliest music I have ever listened to recordings of. It is very beautiful singing by women in Latin, and I have bought several other recordings of her music by other artists.
When I first heard the song Silence
, sung by Sarah McLachlan
, I was floored. It combined a medieval sound with modern electronics, and it was one of the most incredible things I had ever heard.
I first heard Capercaillie
when I walked into a store with my father. I asked who was playing, and since the store was going out of business, they let me have the CD I heard for free. It was a Scottish band that played traditional and African-influenced Celtic music, sung in Gaelic or English by Karen Matheson.
This collection of Yes
covers got me interested in artists on the Magna Carta
label, as well as in other collections of covers of progressive rock artists. Years later, when Magna Carta was on Audio Lunchbox, I bought several albums on the label.
This album turned me on to the fun, whimsical jazz of Raymond Scott
In the late 1990's, I started getting into country
music sung by women, and I think it was the Dixie Chicks
who started this interest. This led to an interest in Faith Hill
, Sara Evans
, and Martina McBride
. More recently, I've started to listen to Jewel
, whom I was already into as a singer/songwriter, as a country singer. Although I enjoy women singing country, I have not gotten interested in men singing country.Evanescence
is the first new band I liked in the 21st century. It's also the first metal band I ever liked. Until then, the metal I had heard had horrible vocals. But Amy Lee
was a talented singer who brought emotional sensitivity to her work.
The first solo album by my favorite singer. This album is notable for instilling in me an interest in operatic music. She sang one opera song on this album, and it was wonderful. This led to an interest in The Opera Babes
, Charlotte Church
, the Aria series of Paul Schwartz
, and opera
singers such as Kathleen Battle
. It also renewed my interest in Sarah Brightman
I was already into some of Beethoven's symphonies, but I hadn't listened to them all. So I went through this boxed set, which I once got for joining the Musical Heritage Society, and listened to every one of Beethoven's symphonies. This deepened my interest in Beethoven, and as MP3s were then cheap on emusic, I bought other symphony cycles (including Liszt's piano versions), Wagner's piano and choral version of the 9th, the piano quintet, as well as all of his string quartets, piano concertos, and piano sonatas. In general, the early 21st century was a time when inexpensive MP3s were available from multiple services. Using emusic, Audio Lunchbox, and Amie Street, I built up my classical music collection. Among other things, I bought symphony cycles of Arnold Bax
, Jean Sibelius
, and Gustav Mahler
, several symphonies by Kalevi Aho
, a lot of Johannes Brahms
, Sergie Rachmaninoff
, Antonio Vivaldi
, Johann Sebastian Bach
, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
. I also bought and listened to Brilliant boxed sets of the complete works of Mozart and Bach.
One of the first albums I got from emusic. This effectively combined Bach with swing, which sounded a lot different than Pierre Gossez
or Jacques Loussier
. I subsequently collected several albums featuring jazz versions of classical music.
Some excellent covers of the music from Kind of Blue
. This inspired me to make playlists of other covers of the same music. This turned out to be a good way to discover jazz artists.Electric Universe
was the first psychedelic trance
artist I began listening to. This is a genre of electronic dance music that normally has a lot of activity going on in it. It's complexity helps keep me from being bored while its rhythm helps me exercise. Since starting with this band, I have bought many psychedelic trance albums, and it has become the main genre I listen to while exercising.
I discovered Linkin Park
on July 7, 2007 while watching the Live Earth concert on TV. I enjoyed their blending of rap and metal. This was my first time hearing music like this. Even the string quartet covers of Linkin Park sound awesome, which demonstrates how good their music is.
I got into Björk
after some of her live albums became available as MP3s on emusic and Audio Lunchbox. This is the live version of her first album. At one time, she was my most scrobbled artist, and she is still up there.Jorane
is a great singer/songwriter. This album is mainly in English, but it has some French songs, and most of her other music is in French. Being from Quebec, she has the gutteral French accent I prefer. It is mainly in her role as a cellist that she has influenced my taste in music. She plays rock music with the cello, and this led me to want more. Because of her, I started to listen to Vitamin String Quartet
, The Piano Guys
, violinist Lindsey Stirling
, cellist Tina Guo
, and a string quartet called The Muses
. This also renewed my interest in classical crossover artists, such as Bond
, a string quartet doing pop versions of classical music, leading to related artists such as Escala
and violinist Vanessa-Mae
. There is also violinist Lucia Micarelli
, who does both pop versions of classical and classical versions of pop music.
I listened to a recording of these three symphonies that came in a boxed set of classical music I once got cheap. I liked them so much, I began collecting the music of Hadyn on Audio Lunchbox, because it was cheaper there than on emusic. But Audio Lunchbox went out of business before I could complete my collection, and emusic raised its prices around the same time. So I left both services and bought Brilliant's Haydn Edition, a boxed set of 150 CDs. Unlike my other Brilliant boxed sets, I haven't finished this one, because I've been using Spotify on my tablet instead of playing CDs.
I came across this album while browsing the Bis
catalog. It gave me an interest in percussion music, and after I left emusic and joined Napster, I streamed a variety of old percussion albums by Enoch Light
After leaving emusic, I began using YouTube more to discover artists. Kina Grannis
is one of the first singer/songwriters I began listening to on YouTube. I first noticed her through covers she did. Then I listened to her own music. The same pattern repeated with Marié Digby
and Clara C
. I have listened to albums by each of them.소녀시대
, known in English as Girl's Generation, is the group that got me into k-pop
through their music videos on YouTube. This is an album I bought of their music. I am mainly into girl groups, such as 2NE1
, After School
, Girl's Day
, Miss A
, and Wonder Girls
. I'm also into some solo artists, particularly Boa
, and IU
. And I occasionally enjoy boy bands, such as B2ST
and Super Junior
In the past, I had seen old record albums with beautiful women on the cover. Looking for this sort of album, I came across the works of Martin Denny
, Les Baxter
, and other artists in the exotica
genre. This is the album that gave the genre its name. This genre combines exotic sounds, such as those associated with the South Pacific or Africa, with mid-20th century pop sensibilites. It is faux world music that doesn't sound like any traditional folk music, but it does sound exotic and appealing.
Although I have maintained a strong interest in Swing Out Sister
and have listened to other jazz vocalists, my general interest in vocal jazz
didn't come close to my interest in instrumental jazz until I heard Karrin Allyson
. I guess most of the vocal jazz I heard before didn't have the right singer, or it focused too much on the singer at the expense of the music. Karrin Allyson has a powerful, commanding voice that easily handles different styles of jazz, and she also plays the piano and doesn't skimp on the instrumental part. My interest in her has led to leads on other jazz singers I enjoy, such as Eliane Elias
, Astrud Gilberto
, Lizzy Parks
, and Erin Boheme
t.A.T.u. is the Russian duo of Julia Volkova and Lena Katina. Both are very talented singers who play off of each other instead of singing in unison, creating an exciting polyphony of voices. I loved them as soon as I heard them, and t.A.T.u. quickly rose to become my most scrobbled artist. They have some of the same appeal as k-pop. Like Korean, Russian is a guttural language, which is something that holds a strong appeal for me. While I have tried listening to other Russian artists, I have not yet found any with the same appeal as t.A.T.u., nor have I found any English-language duos or groups with the same appeal.