Acoustic music

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Acoustic music is music that solely or primarily uses instruments that produce sound through acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means. While all music was once acoustic, the retronym "acoustic music" appeared after the advent of electric instruments, such as the electric guitar, electric violin, electric organ and synthesizer. [1] Acoustic string instrumentations had long been a subset of popular music, particularly in folk. It stood in contrast to various other types of music in various eras, including big band music in the pre-rock era, and electric music in the rock era.

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Music reviewer Craig Conley suggests, "When music is labeled acoustic, unplugged, or unwired, the assumption seems to be that other types of music are cluttered by technology and overproduction and therefore aren't as pure". [2]

Types of acoustic instruments

Acoustic instruments can be split into six groups: string instruments, wind instruments, percussion, other instruments, ensemble instruments, and unclassified instruments. [3] String instruments have a tightly stretched string that, when set in motion, creates energy at (almost) harmonically related frequencies. Wind instruments are in the shape of a pipe and energy is supplied as an air stream into the pipe. Percussion instruments make sound when they are struck, as with a hand or a stick. [4]

History

The original acoustic instrument was the human voice, which produces sound by funneling air across the vocal cords. The first constructed acoustic instrument is believed to be the flute. The oldest surviving flute is as much as 43,000 years old. The flute is believed to have originated in Central Europe. [5]

By 1800, the most popular acoustic plucked-string instruments closely resembled the modern-day guitar, but with a smaller body. As the century continued, luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado from Spain took these smaller instruments and expanded the bodies to create guitars. Guitar use and popularity grew in Europe throughout the late 18th century [6] and more acoustic instruments were crafted, such as the double bass. Its popularity later spread to cities and towns in the new United States. [6] In the 19th century the guitar became a recognized instrument played in grand galas and concerts. [7]

As electric instruments took hold during the 20th century, many stringed instruments were redefined as acoustic. Instruments that involve striking or vibrating the strings, such as the violin, viola and cello, fall under the acoustic category. The violin became popular during the 16th and 17th centuries, due to technological advancements in building them, brought on by luthiers such as Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Amati. [8] The modern version of the instrument developed gradually from older European acoustic stringed instruments such as the lira.[ citation needed ]

Following the birth of rock in the 1960s, some rock bands began to experiment with acoustic songs. This would be known as acoustic rock, and many well-known artists such as Eric Clapton and Nirvana performed acoustic versions of their well-known songs in the early 1990s, which were collected on the MTV Unplugged series.

By the 2000s, popular indie musicians began to identify their genre as "contemporary acoustic", in opposition to being classified as "folk music". Daniel Trilling wrote "Folk is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many aspiring pop musicians. Not only does it conjure up images of the terminally naff--woolly jumpers, beards, and so on--but it is also the journalist's catch-all term for legions of singer-songwriters too bland to merit a better definition". [9]

Some music interest groups in the United States use the term "acoustic music" alongside the genres of folk and americana music, like the Ogden Friends of Acoustic Music.

The International Acoustic Music Awards hosts an annual competition for original songs. Their rules state that a song can be considered acoustic as long as an acoustic instrument, including voices, can be clearly heard [10]

Acoustic music is often easier for business owners to host because there is less need for amplification and the level of volume is less intrusive. In June 2021, the city of Cambridge, Massachussets allowed small businesses to host acoustic concerts without applying for a live entertainment permit. [11] The city of Cambridge defined an acoustic performance as having no amplification of sound except for one microphone, and having no more than five acoustic performers or musicians at a single venue at one time. [12]

Related Research Articles

Steel-string acoustic guitar

The steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar that descends from the nylon-strung classical guitar, but is strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. Like the classical guitar, it is often referred to simply as an acoustic guitar.

The bass guitar, electric bass or simply bass, is the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses. Since the mid-1950s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music.

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, also known simply as the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The Double bass has a similar structure to the cello.

Electric guitar Electrical string instrument

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound is sometimes shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities from that of an acoustic guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and "overdrive"; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while simultaneously pressing selected strings against frets with the fingers of the opposite hand. A plectrum or individual finger picks may be used to strike the strings. The sound of the guitar is projected either acoustically, by means of a resonant chamber on the instrument, or amplified by an electronic pickup and an amplifier.

Jazz guitar Jazz instrument and associated playing style

The term jazz guitar may refer to either a type of electric guitar or to the variety of guitar playing styles used in the various genres which are commonly termed "jazz". The jazz-type guitar was born as a result of using electric amplification to increase the volume of conventional acoustic guitars.

Violin Wooden bowed string instrument

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden chordophone in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and thus highest-pitched instrument (soprano) in the family in regular use. The violin typically has four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings. It can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and, in specialized cases, by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

String instrument Class of musical instruments with vibrating strings

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Twelve-string guitar

A twelve-string guitar is a steel-string guitar with 12 strings in six courses, which produces a thicker, more ringing tone than a standard six-string guitar. Typically, the strings of the lower four courses are tuned in octaves, with those of the upper two courses tuned in unison. The gap between the strings within each dual-string course is narrow, and the strings of each course are fretted and plucked as a single unit. The neck is wider, to accommodate the extra strings, and is similar to the width of a classical guitar neck. The sound, particularly on acoustic instruments, is fuller and more harmonically resonant than six-string instruments.

Acoustic bass guitar Type of acoustic instrument

The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Like the traditional electric bass guitar and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar, which is the same tuning pitch as an electric bass guitar.

Electric violin

An electric violin is a violin equipped with an electronic output of its sound. The term most properly refers to an instrument intentionally made to be electrified with built-in pickups, usually with a solid body. It can also refer to a violin fitted with an electric pickup of some type, although "amplified violin" or "electro-acoustic violin" are more accurate in that case.

Luthier Craftsman of string musical instruments

A luthier is a craftsperson who builds and repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" is originally French and comes from the French word for lute. The term was originally used for makers of lutes, but it came to be used already in French for makers of most bowed and plucked stringed instruments such as members of the violin family and guitars. Luthiers, however, do not make harps or pianos; these require different skills and construction methods because their strings are secured to a frame.

Rhythm section

A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band that provides the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band. The rhythm section is often contrasted with the roles of other musicians in the band, such as the lead guitarist or lead vocals whose primary job is to carry the melody.

Cello rock

Cello rock and cello metal are subgenres of rock music characterized by the use of cellos as primary instruments, alongside or in place of more traditional rock instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitar, and drum set.

Archtop guitar Type of steel-stringed acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar

An archtop guitar is a hollow steel-stringed acoustic or semiacoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top, whose sound is particularly popular with jazz, blues, and rockabilly players.

Electric mandolin

The electric mandolin is an instrument tuned and played as the mandolin and amplified in similar fashion to an electric guitar. As with electric guitars, electric mandolins take many forms. Most common is a carved-top eight-string instrument fitted with an electric pickup in similar fashion to many archtop semi-acoustic guitars. Solid body mandolins are common in 4-, 5-, and 8-string forms. Acoustic electric mandolins also exist in many forms.

Music store

A music store or musical instrument store is a retail business that sells musical instruments and related equipment and accessories. Some music stores provide additional services for a fee, such as music lessons, instrument or equipment rental, or repair services.

Acoustic guitar

An acoustic guitar is a musical instrument in the guitar family. Its strings vibrate a sound board on a resonant body to project a sound wave through the air. The original, general term for this stringed instrument is guitar, and the retronym 'acoustic guitar' distinguishes it from an electric guitar, which relies on electronic amplification. Typically, a guitar's body is a sound box, of which the top side serves as a sound board that enhances the vibration sounds of the strings. In standard tuning the guitar's six strings are tuned (low to high) E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4.

Experimental musical instrument

An experimental musical instrument is a musical instrument that modifies or extends an existing instrument or class of instruments, or defines or creates a new class of instrument. Some are created through simple modifications, such as cracked drum cymbals or metal objects inserted between piano strings in a prepared piano. Some experimental instruments are created from household items like a homemade mute for brass instruments such as bathtub plugs. Other experimental instruments are created from electronic spare parts, or by mixing acoustic instruments with electric components.

Experimental luthier

Experimental luthiers are luthiers who take part in alternative stringed instrument manufacturing or create original string instruments altogether.

References

  1. Safire 2007.
  2. Conley, Craig (August 16, 1999). "Review: Unwired: Acoustic Music from around the World". Splendid. Archived from the original on December 25, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2008.
  3. "Instrument List".
  4. "Acoustic Instruments".
  5. Iain Morley, "The Evolutionary Origins and Archaeology of Music", PhD diss. (Cambridge: Darwin College, Cambridge University, 2003): 47–48.
  6. 1 2 "Early Southern Guitar Sounds: A Brief History of the Guitar and Its Travel South". Smithsonian Music. June 16, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  7. "The History of the Classical Guitar | Guitarras Alhambra". www.alhambraguitarras.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  8. "Italian musical masters took the violin from fiddle to first chair". History Magazine. January 22, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  9. Trilling, Daniel (January 8, 2007). "That naughty "f" word: these days "contemporary acoustic music" is all the rage--just don't call it folk, writes Daniel Trilling" (4826). New Statesman. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  10. "Rules, Regulations & Prizes".
  11. "Cambridge City Policy Ordge #119". Cambridgema.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  12. "Cambridge City Policy Ordge #119". Cambridgema.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2021.

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