Acoustic Music – History & Types Of Instruments Used

Acoustic Music

Acoustic music primarily uses instruments that produce sound by acoustic means compared to electronic or electric means. Even though all music once used to be acoustic, the word “acoustic music” later came to define such music due to the advent of electric instruments, such as the electric violin, electric guitar, electric organ and the synthesizer. Acoustic string instruments have long been a subset of popular music, especially in folk music. It stood in stark contrast to several other types of music in various eras, including electric music in the rock era as well as the big band music in the pre-rock era. However, this is not to say that acoustic music is superior to other types of music; it just means that it is an integral part of all the music made today.

Types Of Acoustic Instruments

Acoustic musical instruments can be divided into six groups
• String instruments
• Wind instruments
• Percussion
• Ensemble instruments
• Unclassified instruments
• Other instruments

String instruments have a taut string which, when set in motion, creates energy at harmonic frequencies. Wind instruments are shaped like a pipe with energy being supplied as an airstream blown into it. Percussion instruments produce sound when they are struck with a stick or a hand.

Acoustic Instruments

History Of Acoustic Music

The first acoustic instrument was the human voice, producing sounds by funnelling air through the vocal cords. The first human-made acoustic instrument is believed to be the flute. The oldest surviving flute is said to be as old as 43,000 years. In 1800, the most popular plucked-string acoustic instruments resembled the modern-day guitar but with a much smaller body. As time went by, luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado from Spain expanded the bodies of these small instruments and created the guitar. The popularity and use of the guitar grew exponentially in Europe throughout the late eighteenth century, with more acoustic instruments being developed, like the double bass. Its popularity later spread to towns and cities in the United States. In the nineteenth century, the guitar turned out to be a recognized instrument played in concerts and grand galas.

As electric instruments became more popular during the twentieth century, several stringed instruments were redefined as acoustic. Instruments involving vibrating or striking the strings, like the viola, cello and violin, fell under this category as well. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the violin became famous because of technological advancements in their build, brought about by luthiers such as Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari. The modern version of the instrument was developed slowly from older European acoustic stringed instruments like the lira.

Acoustic Instruments

When rock music became wildly popular in the 1960s, some rock bands started experimenting with acoustic songs. This came to be known as acoustic rock, with many well-known artists like Eric Clapton and Nirvana performing acoustic versions of their famous songs in the early 1990s. These were collected and curated on the MTV Unplugged series.

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