5 Most Popular Types of Piano Music

types of piano music

Have you decided to take up piano lessons? If the answer is yes, it is time to get introduced to the different types of piano music. Having a clear understanding of your preferred genre will help you learn better. Also, it will help you find the best piano teacher for yourself. 

So, before heading out for your first piano lesson, let’s learn about the 5 most popular types of piano music in the world. We will be discussing the musical styles as well as the maestros in here. 

5 Most Popular Types of Piano Music 

You will be surprised to know that there are at least five major types of piano music, such as: classical piano, jazz piano, Pop Rock Piano, R&B Piano, and Blues Piano. 

After reading about each of these genres, I hope you will be able to pick up the most suitable type for you. Let’s get started. 

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1. Classical Piano

Hands down, classical piano is the most difficult yet intriguing piano style. This genre was developed in the late 18th century and was played only on the royal courts in central Europe.

Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach are considered as the forefathers and the most powerful pianists of this genre. 

However, the lineage came down to the common mass during the Renaissance and the classical genre got diversified. The classical style rapidly transformed into various segments and emerged as Romantic, Baroque, and Modern piano styles. 

The diversification of classical piano paved the way for great pianists like Chopin, Handel, Debussy, Haydn, and Tchaikovsky.

Most of the piano students all around the world are first introduced to classical music as it introduces the students to musical theories and various playing techniques. Most piano teachers consider it as the foundation of all types of piano music. 

If you want to learn more about classical piano music, listen to the 10 most famous classical pieces ever.

Notable Classical Pianists 

Most famous classical pianists are Johanne Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

After the renaissance, the most prominent romantic classical pianists were Johannes Brahms, Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, and Claude Debussy.

Domenico Scarlatti, Francois Couperin, and John Frederic Handel are considered as the best baroque pianists till date.

Famous Classical Compositions 

  1. Prelude No.1 in C – Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Serenade No. 13 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  3. Moonlight Sonata – Ludwig van Beethoven
  4. Brahms’ Lullaby – Johannes Brahms
  5. Waltz No. 2 – Dmitri Shostakovitch

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2. Jazz Piano 

Jazz emerged as the most prominent piano genre after the classical piano style. It is a rather modern musical style developed in the late 1800s and rose to prominence in the early 1900s in America. 

Besides stride and boogie, Earl Hines is considered as the ‘father of modern jazz piano’. The early jazz scene flourished around New Orleans, Chicago, and New York between 1920-30. 

Pianists such as Scott Jopin, Fats Waller, and Jelly Roll Morton were the early pioneers in developing jazz piano as a prominent musical genre. 

Deviating from classical forms, Jazz piano was a revolution in itself. It stands on entirely different ideologies, techniques, rhythms, and harmonies than classical piano music. 

Jazz music focuses on ragtime, boogie-woogie, random improvisation, and bee-bop to create harmonious musical compositions. 

According to the piano teachers, Jazz is one of the most easiest piano music genres to learn. However, you will need a strong musical sense to master jazz piano, because it is based on improvisation. 

Jazz piano is also a symbol of liberation from the aristocratic musical environment of classical piano. 

Notable Jazz Pianists 

Thelonious Monk is one of the most prominent stars of jazz piano. He not only composed unforgettable improvised piano pieces, but he also popularized the genre throughout the world. 

Other notable jazz pianists are Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarrett, and Duke Ellington.  

Famous Jazz Compositions 

  1. Tea for Two – Art Tatum
  2. Night Train – Oscar Peterson
  3. Portrait in Jazz (Album) – Bill Evans
  4. Take Five – Dave Brubeck

3. Pop-Rock Piano  

The newest musical type that came out as a prominent piano genre is the pop-rock piano. This genre emerged in the late 1950s. However, it rose to prominence in the 19070s.

 Unlike other piano music types, rock-pop genre is heavily mixed with electronic music, software-based developments, and improvisation based on jazz.    

According to music historians, the pop-rock genre is the combination of classical, jazz, and blues music. 

If you are willing to experiment with your musical skills, you should definitely go for the pop-rock piano music genre. 

Notable Pop-Rock Pianists 

Image Credits: BBC

Modern day star Billy Joel is one of the most prominent names in the pop-rock piano genre. British rock musician Elton John and Pink Floyd front-man Roger Waters took the genre of rock-pop to a new height. 

Other notable pop-rock pianists are John legend, Freddie Mercury (Queen), Ray Charles, lady Gaga, and Ray Manzarek (The Doors). 

 Famous Pop-Rock Compositions 

  1. Julia Dreams – Roger waters
  2. Changes – David Bowie
  3. Yesterday – The Beatles
  4. Tiny Dancer – Elton John
  5. Bohemian Rhapsody – Freddie Mercury

Did you know Mozart never played piano?
He played harpsichord.
To learn more facts like this, read the History of Piano.

4. Rhythm and Blues (R&B) Piano 

Another genre that emerged from the United States is the Rhythm and Blues piano. Rhythm and Blues, commonly known as R&B is a musical genre developed by African-Americans in the late 1950s. 

This genre is heavily influenced by jazz, gospel, and traditional blues music. This genre focuses on repetition of notes, rhythms, and complex composition of verses.

You can learn this type of piano very easily. As this genre focuses mostly on improvisation, you need to grow good musical sense to master this type of piano.

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Notable R&B Pianists 

John Legend is truly the legend of R&B piano. Other than him, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, D’Angelo, Marvin Gaye, and Prince are the biggest names in Rhythm and Blues genre.

Famous R&B Compositions  

  1. Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
  2. At Last – Etta James
  3. Brick House – Commodores
  4. Dance to the Music – Sly and the Family Stone
  5. Easy – Lionel Richie

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5. Gospel Piano  

Interestingly, this genre of piano was developed in the religious environment. It focuses on chords, notes, and repetitive compositions.  

There are lots of interesting chords like suspended chords in gospel music. It derives heavy influence from the Blues and Jazz. 

Gospel music or church choir music focuses greatly on introductory compositions. It may seem easy, but you need to learn about the basics of piano playing.

Notable Gospel Pianists 

Thomas A. Dorsey is one of the forefathers of gospel music. He dedicatedly created and played gospel compositions for about 50 years. 

Other notable gospel pianists are Gordon Mote, Anthony Burger, Hovie Lister, and Cory Henry. 

Famous Gospel Compositions

  1. Amazing Grace
  2. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  3. Sing Low, Sweet Chariot
  4. How Great Thou Art


1. What are the different types of classical piano music?

The classical Piano genre was strictly reserved for the royals and the elites until the renaissance. After that Classical piano music god divided into many genres including nocturne, prelude, polonaise, mazurka, waltz, ballads, and the etude. 

Some of the greatest composers of all time including Chopin, Schubert, and Handel were masters of these genres. 

2. How many types of piano music are there? 

According to popularity, there are five prominent types of piano music in the world. These are classical piano music, jazz piano music, R&B piano music, gospel music, and the recent addition to the list is Pop-Rock piano.

However, there are also other less popular types, Such as: Blues, Progressive, and electronic piano music. 

3. What piano is used for Jazz? 

Jazz piano music is largely based on random improvisation all around the keyboard.

So, a jazz pianist will require a piano or a keyboard with all the 88 keys. According to experts, acoustic pianos are much better than digital pianos. Jazz will sound good on a Steinbach or Yamaha piano. 

4. What is the easiest type of piano music? 

This is hard to tell. If you want to play professionally, you will require good knowledge and practice in all the types.

However, jazz and blues piano is relatively easier than classical piano. Jazz is purely based on chords and note improvisations. It seems easy but you need a good sense of music to grasp jazz piano.

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Now that you have learnt about all the 5 types of piano music, take time to think and choose the one that interests you. Always remember that whichever you choose, you will need dedication and hard work to master the instrument.   

Cheers to the upcoming musical ride!

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