Every musical instrument is special in its way. It depends more on the musician how he/she plays it such that it sounds cool and attractive to the audience. Be it classical music shows to operas to live pop concerts, the same instrument can be used to produce a variety of tones as per the requirement that fits the occasion best. While it is very difficult to choose the top 10 coolest instruments of them all, here is a list based on how some of these instruments are played in a funky way to give a song that additional boost it requires.
You will always see a harmonica or a melodica accompanying jazz and blues musicians. The harmonica takes the winds out of the sails. The harmonica is a reed instrument and is commonly known as a mouth organ in several parts of the world. The various air holes are sized in such a fashion that when you blow air, the seven notes of the natural scale are played. Scale changing harmonicas are also available that let you play more than one scale at a time. The Melodica is a similar instrument but has keys in it. It is like a keyboard that has a pipe where you blow air into. The classic Piano Man by Billy Joel uses Harmonica extensively.
The Cello is much cooler than you think it to be. Predominantly used as an accompanying instrument, the Cello is the backbone of any orchestra. It can be considered to be the equivalent of an acoustic bass guitar in an orchestra. With the advent of the electric Cello, there are no boundaries to what can be done on a cello. Apocalyptica has infused the Cello in heavy metal songs. 2Cellos is a band of two cellists that has blown the roof of some of the biggest stages of the world by belting out solos on Cellos taking center stage.
The Violin is one of the oldest stringed instruments known to mankind. While the general notion of the sound of Violin is sweet and mellow, some of the greatest violin players of the world have proven it to be otherwise. One of the best violin performances of today’s time is by Lindsey Stirling when she performed Phantom of the Opera. Electric versions of the Violin are more in trend now, but the acoustic ones are still to be matched for sound. Not to mention, Albert Einstein loved playing the violin. If it could intrigue one of the best minds of the human race, it ought to be special!
Bass Guitar is the spinal cord of every rock and pop band. Although the sound of a bass guitar fades amongst the other instruments, without it, any song would crumble. Traditional bass guitars have 4 thick strings. These are available in both acoustic and electric variants. Paul McCartney of the Beatles was one of the first musicians to show to the world the variations and playing styles that one can use on a Bass. The ‘slap’ playing style has led to bassists now playing solos in rock gigs. Mohini Dey, the bassist in AR Rahman’s ensemble is currently one of the best bass players in the world. Charango which is a stringed instrument from Peruvian musical instruments family looks pretty similar to bass guitar.
The saxophone is a thing of sheer beauty. It belongs to the wood-wind instrument family and is usually made of brass. It is played with a single-reed mouthpiece. The saxophone became cool right when Louis Armstrong walked on to the stage with a saxophone and sang ‘What a Wonderful World’ which is known to be one of the best performances of all times. Louis Armstrong’s rendition of La Vie En Rose also has some serious saxophone in it. This instrument is mostly used in orchestras.
As the saying goes ‘Old is Gold’, the piano never dies. It is baffling to see how a set of keys on a huge structure has transformed music over centuries. To this date, every renowned musician still composes a new song on a piano or a keyboard. Starting from Beethoven, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff to Yurima, Stevie Wonder, and Freddie Mercury, the piano has been constant and ever mellifluous. Some of the contemporary piano players and composers are Chris Martin of Coldplay and John Legend. Piano is probably one of the few instruments that you can sit and listen to without blinking for hours together. Garageband happens to have the best library for piano now, after the recent update.
Drums is a rhythmic instrument that controls the flow and tempo of the song. It is the envelope and crutch of any song. Being a drummer is not an easy task. It requires a lifetime of dedication as it can get emotionally and physically draining at times. What people see in live performances is only the hands of a drummer moving so fast. It is just the tip of the iceberg as the footwork requires even more practice to master. Not to mention double bass players. If you are curious, look up a double bass player’s footwork on YouTube. You will be nothing but amazed!
Electric Guitar is one of the most crowd-catching instruments. If one plays a good solo, no matter how well the singer sang or the drummer improvised, the guitarist is bound to leave a mark on the audience. Such is the power of a set of 6 strings. The list of great guitarists is never-ending. There is a hidden guitarist in every household now. With the help of cool accessories like processors and pedalboards, there is no tone you cannot sample on an electric guitar.
Mandolin is considered to be one of the sweetest instruments. It is a part of the lute family and has 4 strings. 5 and 6 stringed mandolins are also available. The normal way of playing this instrument is picking strings in quick successions such that every note you play has a lingering echo to it. This kind of instrument is commonly used in folk and country music frequently.
If you are moved by deep emotional sounds, the Sarod is going to tinker your emotions. It is a stringed instrument that is used in Hindustani Music. The sarod is increasingly being used in fusion music to create a perfect blend between eastern and western music. Unlike the guitar, the Sarod does not have frets so continuous transitions can be made between notes. This is known as meend. One of the greatest Sarod players to have lived is Pandit Amjad Ali Khan. He played with Pandit Ravi Shankar on one too many shows and projects.