This exploratory study measured the generic music style preferences of urban South African adolescents living in Johannesburg. It also aimed to establish the extent to which certain variables affected preference. The authors tested 568 students in grade 9. The stimuli consisted of 15 one minute excerpts of generic styles of music, selected from popular, classical and indigenous music traditions. 3 broad categories of variables pertaining to preference were delineated and discussed within the study. These encompassed listener, music and environmental variables. Learner variables included: music training, gender (sex), ethnic group (race and language), socio-economic status, and age. Music variables pertaining to preference included: physiological properties of the stimulus [music], complexity of the stimulus [music], and referential meaning of the stimulus [music]. Environmental variables pertaining to preference included media, peer influence, family influence, and the influence of teachers and authority figures.