Music genres in English: What is your favourite?

If you want to talk about music in English, one of the first questions you need to be able to answer is:  What kind of music do you like? To answer this, ,you’ll need to know the words for different genres (types) of music in English. Read on to find out how to explain your favourite music genre in English.


Famous composers like Mozart wrote classical music. Classical music is often performed by an orchestra (large group of musicians), a choir (a group of singers) or a soloist (just one person). People usually say a ‘piece’ of classical music rather than a ‘tune’ or ‘song’.

Jazz and blues

Jazz and blues were both originally from the USA. Jazz has a strong rhythm and notes are often syncopated (come between beats). The melody can be improvised (invented while it is played) and uses a wide range of different scales. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis are famous jazz artists. Blues is a style of music famous for being sad. The lyrics often share stories from the tough lives of the people who write blues songs.


Folk music is the traditional music of a particular group of people. In record stores, it’s common to see folk music from the UK and the USA. Country music is probably the most famous kind of folk music and is popular in many parts of the world.


Every country in the world has its own pop stars. ‘Pop’ is short for ‘popular’ music and it means just that – it is the most popular or common form of music in most countries. Wherever you go in the world, it’s easy to hear music from famous pop stars like Madonna or Lady Gaga whether you want to or not!


Rock music is famous for being loud! Rock groups use electric guitars, bass and drums to create music with a strong beat and lots of energy. There are lots of sub-genres (styles) of rock such as metal, punk and prog-rock. With so many different styles of rock to choose from, no wonder it is so popular!


Dance music is the kind of music you usually hear in clubs and bars. It has a strong beat, is often repetitive, and is perfect for dancing to. Like rock, there are many different styles of dance music. Some are slow, some are fast, but they will all get you feet moving!


Rap is different to most music genres in that it is usually spoken, not sung. The words rhyme, like a poem, and fit to the strong beat of the backing music.


If the music you like doesn’t fit one of these categories, it is probably ‘alternative’. Music might be called ‘alternative’ because only a small group of people like it or because it doesn’t fit well into another category. The alternative section of a record store is often where you will find the most unusual, interesting music.

So, what is your favourite music genre and what kind of music person are you?