How 'sniffy' are you when listening to alternative music styles?

The ‘What are you Listening to’ threads are a treasure trove of new ideas, but when items are out of your normal ‘comfort zone musically’ how rapidly do you decide it’s not to your taste?

I know personally I have assumptions/pre-conceived ideas about certain genres and artists and I’d probably not invest too much time looking at them, but you have to wonder what you’re missing out on!

I think that going through a few tracks with 20-30 second snippets is generally enough to decide, especially with mainstream new releases, but many albums only really get their hooks into you after several listenings - so with a familiar artist you’re prepared to grit your teeth and try a few times before deciding, but perhaps not with unfamiliar artists.

It depends. A lot of jazz I need only a few seconds to know whether I like it or not (generally not, but it depends on the type of jazz. Freeform is a definite no). Hip hop likewise. TBH though I find ‘genre’ to be a fairly poor indicator - apart from, perhaps, jazz. You may have got the impression that I don’t like jazz. There are hints about that in this message. But some jazz I really like. Circle Songs (particularly number 6) by Bobby McFerrin I really like, and some others of his. Take Five by Dave Brubeck I like. Some of Moondog (actually, quite a bit) I like. And so on. So while sometimes a few seconds is enough to tell me when I don’t like something, more usually I will give it longer. And sometimes when I listen to something I like it to begin with but then find that it isn’t really going anywhere.
I find it difficult to go by genre.
It also is hard to define ‘like’. Pentangle (and others) really move(d) me. But sometimes (e.g. Flight of the Cosmic Hippo by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones or much of Uakti) I like because it makes a really nice noise, IYSWIM.

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I do see what you mean (I think?).

I suspect most of us have our favourite artists/genres but are open to exploring other areas.

Part of the problem I think is that within a genre there are popular ‘gold standards’ say Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue for jazz which I have in several formats - enjoyable yes, but not what really floats my boat.

So as a follow-on from that example if we simply sample ‘the greats’ and decide we dislike a genre on that basis, chances are we miss out on many examples of the genre that we’d absolutely love.

Perhaps part of my reason for posting this is that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find music I’m enjoying playing that I’ve not played a hundred times before - maybe it’s an age thing?

Some music is just noise to me. At its worst I have an instant dislike and want to remove myself from the source or turn the volume right down. Some I can bear, to various degrees from just switch off mentally and ignore, to, if live, mildly appreciate people’s singing or playing - but not at all wanting to play the music again for its own sake. Then of course there is music on the fringe, some of which I might like (e.g jazz is a style I don’t like, but some jazz-rock is ok). As for how long it takes to decide with any particular piece, I suppose it is related to that scale - from a few seconds, to a few minutes.

I can tolerate styles I don’t like far more when in the context of live performance and in the company of others enjoying it, e.g a restaurant with a jazz band, whereas I would not listen for myself.


I think real quality shines through in genres that are not my usual thing. So I can hear good things in some of the best jazz or rap for example (I think the Kate Tempest album is remarkable). What I think is true looking at what I buy is that if it is a genre I like I am perfectly happy with what you might call 3 or 4 star albums.


You’ve probbaly hit the nail on the head - real quality shines through - I don’t generally (for example) like rap or hip-hop that much but occasionally you hear tracks and just recognise there is real musical talent at work.

I suspect that it is partly an age thing - in several ways. We (most of us) have formed much of our musical tastes, likes, dislikes in our youth. But music moves on, and they don’t make music exactly like that any more - why should they? Plus at that age, having been exposed to relatively little music, any music that is new to us at the time, and affects us will affect us more than is likely to happen now. And we are not as rebellious as we were, in most cases, I suspect. I have not found any music that has as profound an effect on me as (in my case) Pentangle had on me in the late 1960s.
As for finding new music, I used to find John Peel and Bob Harris did that job admirable. Sadly no longer. So the three main sources for me are a nearby forum, Gnoosic and Spotify.

… and another thing is we have significantly more ‘genre fluidity’ than we did. Which is good.

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This forum and “What are you listening to” threads have hugely broadened my listening.
I have bought a LOT of CDs/downloads in the last 2-3 years, often because of logging in here ?!
Love investigating new music and more of what I already enjoy - fantastic - keep up the good work all !
I now listen to quite a lot of music I would not have even considered a few years ago - just seen ‘Diamanda Galas’ mentioned - never heard of her - now investigating
Luv it !


Yep. A lot of threads in that part of the forum have broadened my musical horizons (along with 6 music). Combine that with Qobuz and Tidal and i’ve discovered music i don’t think i’d have come across in normal listening mode. That’s what it’s all about in the end.


When listening to something new I prefer to listen to a whole album. If there is some track or tracks that have raised my interest I will usually give the whole album another spin on another day. There are days I connect with an album or do not so usually I need more than one listen to get a feel for the artist. I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of new artists and different styles of music that I have discovered in the past few years through the “What are you listening to in 2020 and WHY might anyone be interested?” thread on this forum. I have used Tidal and now Qobus to explore artists catalogues but the majority of introductions to new artists have come from the family members, friends, and the “WAYLTAWMIABI” thread. Life is grand and happy I found the Naim Forum!


If you liked the John Peel shows, if you haven’t already discovered it, you could try this which is trying to carry on the ethos:

Available on vtuner and consequently the Naim streamers as well although unfortunately only MP3 128kbs.

As with the original Peel shows, there will undoubtedly be plently of stuff you won’t llike, but I’ve discovered some great music through it. Though unlike with the Peel shows where all the eclecticism was in one 2 hour show, this is spread out over a number of DJs so it’s not impossible you could get longer periods of ‘German bleep music’!


I take ‘alternative’ to mean music I wouldn’t normally listen to. So…I’m sniffy I guess. If I see anything in regard to, say, Elton John, Queen, (non-Peter Green) Fleetwod Mac, Elbow etc…I just scroll past. Do I know what I’m missing? Yep!

But music or bands and singers I don’t know, especially if coming from more ‘left field’ perspective (whatever that is, lol) or simply if it just looks interesting - I’ll gladly give an ear. Or two if in stereo!
A snippet on the Forum* will lead me to check out Bandcamp, Google, whatever.
*for which I have been very grateful in hearing some great music

And if I like, buy. Gotta support good music and musicians, especially the young jazz players out there and (quelle surprise!) the great Ese And The Vooduu People.

(Yes, it’s a blatant plug! I admit it)

I find Radio Paradise a great way of being exposed to new music (relatively) painlessly. I find about 80-90% enjoyable and unchallenging but there are always some tracks that I would never have listened to. I have discovered many new to me artists but mostly in genres I liked anyway. I still cringe when jazz or classical comes on but at least I dislike it from experience rather than prejudice!

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I had some friends from my uni days visiting this weekend. He’s the chap who has been buying 2-3 albums/ CDs a week for the last 25 years or so, and is my source of new / interesting music. This weekend, rather than bring a few CDs with him he just brought a list and I added them from my Qobuz subscription. A painless way to try before you buy. However, I won’t be buying Lankum!

I will admit to being very ‘sniffy’, having bought a number of CDs/LPs based on mag reviews et al, only to find they are not ‘my thing’. Life is made so much easier now by the ability to sample tracks and artists on the likes of the river. Some of the genre tags are very broad churches to me e.g. blues can be thick and heavy guitar or wonderful vocal like John Lee Hooker, folk can be lyrical and wonderfully backed or simply tambourine shakers.

I don’t stream, as I’ve enough content on CD & vinyl (complemented by radio), much of which I need to sort through and it’s a case of enjoying what one has. I’m also conscious of the 2nd/3rd album syndrome.

Nowadays I am deeply suspicious of genre tagging - my ear just tells me if I like it and that’s that. I avoid prog, rap.

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Indeed. The mix of poetry, rap, beats and raw emotion in her lyrics is very compelling.

I will give most music a chance with the exception of Opera and Jazz, both genres I normally find distinctly unpleasing to my ear. That being said, a friend or the radio plays, on rare ocassions, something I would not choose to listen from these genres and once or twice over the years I have been introduced to something I like. However, there is so much music from genres and artists I do like to listen to I don’t feel like I am missing out by restricting what I listen to, more giving myself more time to enjoy what I like.

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I’d love to increase my very limited knowledge and collection of classical music. I prefer melodic strings and a big classical sound but don’t know where to start apart from the obvious choice (4 Seasons etc). I’m not a big fan of the type of work that sounds like they’re slowly murdering a piano. Bashing it to death.

In the uk there’s a radio station called Classic FM which plays just individual tracks (e.g. symphony movements) rather than whole works if they’re long. I think some individual ‘shows’ may be themed, i.e. focussing on particular classical styles, though as I’ve only listened while in the car I’m nit certain. It is a good way to hear different works - I guess it may be on internet radio, or there may be others either on internet radio or possibly on the airwaves your way.

One thing I’ve done very little of is comparing different recordings of the same piece - that is a whole new area of music appreciation awaiting me!