The voice was the first instrument….The pinging of the stars was the first band…The message was in the drum…and music was born! Music is found all throughout nature; the blowing of the wind, the waterfall, the clashing of the waves, the whistling through the trees, the flutter of the humming bird all possess rhythm and tone. Instrumental music by definition is music without the accompaniment of the singing voice. The instrument itself is the voice.
The foundation in jazz music consists of the piano, the guitar, the bass and the drums. Together they set the tempo and all variations of styles; like swing, bossa nova, samba, bebop, contemporary and smooth jazz. Playing together, they are the Rhythm Section, that “lock” together when they play “in the pocket.” Each instrument has its individual function. The bass holds down the bottom by playing the roots of a chord, the guitar strums or wails a solo, the piano comps by simply playing the chords, then adding the melody when needed. (*Side note, the piano is considered a percussion instrument, because it “strikes” the keys!) The use of the drums is strictly the rhythm. The drummer usually counts the band in, so all the players can start together on the downbeat. The percussion utilizes an array of hand drums, such as the tambourine, bells, congas, triangle or the shaker. These instruments emphasize the different sections of the music. Add a lead instrument to play the melody, like one of the woodwinds (the sax, clarinet, or flute). Or the lead may be a brass instrument, like the flugel horn, trumpet or trombone. Together they may form a Horn Section- (sax, trumpet, clarinet and trombone). There are recordings that top it all off with a String Section, which sets the tone and atmosphere. It consists of violins, violas, and cellos. They add dimension and emotion. The strings may double the melody or play counter lines based on the chordal structure laid out by the piano or guitar player.
Instrumental Music plays the spirit and the notes with the beat; with instruments that come together to form a band, a trio, a combo (4 pieces), quintet (5 pieces) or a big band. The notes speak…the rhythm moves…while giving you something that you can feel. When was the last time music made you cry?
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