Untraditional Instruments in Popular Music

When people think of rock stars and the instruments they play, they usually think of instruments like guitars, drums, and keyboards.  The world of music, however covers a wide range of talents.  Some musicians may find it easier to use an instrument that people don’t usually think of.  They have used things like accordions, cello’s, and ukulele’s, plus many more in their performances and recordings.

Nirvana with Accordion and Cello

In 1993 in New York Nirvana went on stage for MTV Unplugged show.  The concert was a little different, with a stage being set up with lilies, black candles, and a chandelier.  It wasn’t only the stage that was different, some of the instruments played were also untraditional for a poplar band. Lori Goldston played the cello and Krist Noveoselic played the accordion for the concert, which is quite different from the normal guitars and drums people expect to see (Wikepedia, “MTV Unplugged in New York”).  In honor of this unconventional method, at my high-school’s talent show, I played “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on my flute.  There was mixed feeling about this, some people loving it and some people hating it.  However, I think that nowadays people enjoy unconventional instruments in the music

Yo-Yo Ma on the Cello

Speaking of the Cello, Yo-Yo Ma was an unconventional musician that became popular in the 90’s.  He was featured on the sound track of “Seven Years in Tibet” in 1997.  He went on the be featured in many other movie sound tracks throughout the years.  As far as poplar music and rock and roll he appeared in a solo album by Carlos Santana accompanying the Beatles song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. (Wikepedia, “Yo-Yo Ma”).  This just goes to show that people can appreciate an unconventional instrument in the music that they like to listen to, even if it is in a genre other than classical.

Grace VanderWall with the Ukulele

Nirvana and Yo-Yo Ma may have not been the ones to start the tradition of using some weird instruments with their popular music, but in recent years it has become a trend.  Just a few years back Grace VanderWaal, who went on America’s Got talent in 2016, won the show singing songs accompanied by her ukulele.  A YouTube search will show results of great songs by her such as “Escape My Mind” and “City Song”.  She did a cover of the famous pop song “Riptide,” originally by Vance Joy.  The success of this young teen in more modern times proves that people today like listening to untraditional instruments in their music.

Some odd instruments have made it onto the stage and in recordings through out the years.  Nirvana used the accordion and cello at one of their concert’s.  Yo-Yo Ma is a famous celloist and Grace VanderWaal got famous with the aid of her ukulele.  Perhaps you play an unusual instrument and want to play in band.  Go for it! Other people have, and they’ve been successful.

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