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An instrumental or instrumental song is music normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocals, such as shouted backup vocals in a big band setting. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word song may refer to instrumentals. [1] [2] [3] The music is primarily or exclusively produced using musical instruments. An instrumental can exist in music notation, after it is written by a composer; in the mind of the composer (especially in cases where the composer themselves will perform the piece, as in the case of a blues solo guitarist or a folk music fiddle player); as a piece that is performed live by a single instrumentalist or a musical ensemble, which could range in components from a duo or trio to a large big band, concert band or orchestra.


In a song that is otherwise sung, a section that is not sung but which is played by instruments can be called an instrumental interlude, or, if it occurs at the beginning of the song, before the singer starts to sing, an instrumental introduction. If the instrumental section highlights the skill, musicality, and often the virtuosity of a particular performer (or group of performers), the section may be called a "solo" (e.g., the guitar solo that is a key section of heavy metal music and hard rock songs). If the instruments are percussion instruments, the interlude can be called a percussion interlude or "percussion break". These interludes are a form of break in the song.

Example from Free Music Archive, Steve Combs & Delta Is - "Theme Q",
bass, drum, guitar, keyboard,
4 min 53 s

In commercial popular music, instrumental tracks are sometimes renderings, remixes of a corresponding release that features vocals, but they may also be compositions originally conceived without vocals. One example of a genre in which both vocal/instrumental and solely instrumental songs are produced is blues. A blues band often uses mostly songs that have lyrics that are sung, but during the band's show, they may also perform instrumental songs which only include electric guitar, harmonica, upright bass/electric bass and drum kit.

Number-one instrumentals

TitleArtistCountryReached number-one
"Frenesi" Artie Shaw US1940
"Song of the Volga Boatmen" [4] Glenn Miller US1941
Piano Concerto in B Flat Freddy Martin US1941
"A String of Pearls" Glenn Miller US1942
"Moonlight Cocktail" Glenn Miller US1942
"Heartaches" Ted Weems US1947
"Twelfth Street Rag" Pee Wee Hunt US1948
"Blue Tango" Leroy Anderson US1952
"The Song from Moulin Rouge" [5] [6] Mantovani UK1953
" Oh Mein Papa " [note 1] [6] [7] Eddie Calvert UK1954
"Let's Have Another Party" [6] [8] Winifred Atwell UK1954
"Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" [6] [7] Pérez Prado UK1955
"Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" [9] Pérez Prado US1955
"Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" [7] Eddie Calvert UK1955
"Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)" Pérez Prado Germany1955
"Autumn Leaves" Roger Williams US1955
" Lisbon Antigua " Nelson Riddle US1956
"The Poor People of Paris" Les Baxter US1956
"The Poor People of Paris" [6] [8] Winifred Atwell UK1956
"Moonglow and Theme from Picnic" Morris Stoloff US1956
"Tequila" [note 2] The Champs US1958
"Patricia" [9] Pérez Prado US1958
"Patricia" Pérez Prado Germany1958
"Hoots Mon" [note 3] [6] [10] Lord Rockingham's XI UK1958
"Side Saddle" [6] [11] Russ Conway UK1959
"The Happy Organ" [12] Dave "Baby" Cortez US1959
"Roulette" [6] [11] Russ Conway UK1959
"Sleep Walk" Santo & Johnny US1959
"Theme from A Summer Place" [13] Percy Faith US1960
"Apache" [6] [12] [14] The Shadows UK1960
"Wonderland by Night" [13] Bert Kaempfert US1961
"Calcutta" [13] Lawrence Welk US1961
"On the Rebound" [6] [15] Floyd Cramer UK1961
"Kon-Tiki" [6] [16] The Shadows UK1961
"Mexico" Bob Moore Germany1962
"Wonderful Land" [6] [12] The Shadows UK1962
"Nut Rocker" [6] [17] B. Bumble and the Stingers UK1962
"Stranger on the Shore" Acker Bilk US/UK
[note 4]
"The Stripper" [13] David Rose US1962
"Telstar" [6] [12] The Tornados UK1962
"Telstar" [18] The Tornados US1962
"Dance On!" [6] [19] The Shadows UK1963
"Diamonds" [6] [14] [20] Jet Harris and Tony Meehan UK1963
"Telstar" The Tornados France1963
"Foot Tapper" [6] [19] The Shadows UK1963
" Il Silenzio " Nini Rosso Germany1965
"A Taste of Honey" [18] Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass US1965
"Love is Blue" [21] Paul Mauriat US1968
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" [21] Hugo Montenegro US1968
"Grazing in the Grass" [21] Hugh Masekela US1968
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" [6] [22] Hugo Montenegro, his Orchestra and ChorusUK1968
"Albatross" [6] [12] Fleetwood Mac UK1969
"Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet" [21] Henry Mancini US1969
"Amazing Grace" [6] [12] Royal Scots Dragoon Guards UK1972
"Popcorn" Hot Butter France1972
"Mouldy Old Dough" [note 5] [12] Lieutenant Pigeon UK1972
"Frankenstein" [21] The Edgar Winter Group US1973
"Eye Level" [6] [12] Simon Park Orchestra UK1973
"Love's Theme" [23] The Love Unlimited Orchestra US1974
"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" [note 6] MFSB featuring The Three Degrees US1974
"Pick Up the Pieces" [note 7] [23] Average White Band US1975
"The Hustle" [note 8] [23] Van McCoy and the Soul City SymphonyUS1975
"Fly, Robin, Fly" [note 9] Silver Convention US1975
"Theme from S.W.A.T." [23] Rhythm Heritage US1976
"A Fifth of Beethoven" [23] Walter Murphy US1976
"Gonna Fly Now" [note 10] Bill Conti US1977
"Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" [note 4] Meco US1977
"Rise" [23] Herb Alpert US1979
"One Step Beyond" [note 11] Madness France1980
"Chariots of Fire" [23] Vangelis US1982
"Miami Vice Theme" [23] Jan Hammer US1985
"Song of Ocarina"Jean-Philippe Audin and Diego Modena France1992
"Doop" [note 12] [6] [24] Doop UK1994
"The X-Files" Mark Snow France1996
"Flat Beat" [note 13] [6] [25] Mr. Oizo UK1999
"Bromance" [note 14] Tim Berg (Avicii)Belgium (Flanders)2010
"Harlem Shake" [note 15] Baauer Australia/New Zealand2013
"Harlem Shake" Baauer US2013
"Animals" [note 16] Martin Garrix Belgium (Flanders)2013
"Animals" Martin Garrix Belgium (Wallonia)2013
"Animals" Martin Garrix Scotland/UK2013

Borderline cases

Some recordings which include brief or non-musical use of the human voice are typically considered instrumentals. Examples include songs with the following:

Songs including actual musical—rhythmic, melodic, and lyrical—vocals might still be categorized as instrumentals if the vocals appear only as a short part of an extended piece (e.g., "Unchained Melody" (Les Baxter), "Batman Theme", "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", "Pick Up the Pieces", "The Hustle", "Fly, Robin, Fly", "Get Up and Boogie", "Do It Any Way You Wanna", and "Gonna Fly Now"), though this definition is loose and subjective.

Falling just outside of that definition is "Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes.

"Better Off Alone", which began as an instrumental by DJ Jurgen, had vocals by Judith Pronk, who would become a seminal part of Alice Deejay, added in later releases of the track.

See also


  1. Contains several vocal interjections of the title.
  2. Features vocal interjections of the title at the end of each chorus.
  3. Contains several Scottish-sounding grunts at the end of each chorus and immediately beforehand.
  4. 1 2 Stranger on the Shore hit #1 on the end of year UK charts, but NOT the weekly UK charts. Despite this, it is the highest selling instrumental single worldwide and in the UK; in the US, this honor falls to Meco's Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band.
  5. Contains vocal interjections before, during, and immediately after the choruses.
  6. Contains vocals at the beginning and during the fade-out.
  7. Contains vocal interjections at the end of the second and third verses.
  8. Contains vocal interjections of "do the hustle!" at the end of each chorus.
  9. Contains vocal interjections of the title at the end of each chorus and "up, up to the sky" as an ending.
  10. Contains vocals, which total thirty words and thus contains the most lyrics of any song classified as an instrumental which has hit number 1.
  11. Includes spoken introduction, and background chant of, "Here we go" at several points during the song.
  12. Contains, during its choruses, several nonsensical vocal interjections of the title.
  13. At the beginning, before the main piece begins, it features the lyrics "Oh yeah, I used to know Quentin, he's a real, he's a real jerk".
  14. Bromance was an instrumental before being re-released as "Seek Bromance" with vocals by Amanda Wilson from the song "Love U Seek" by Italian DJ Samuele Sartini.
  15. Contains samples of the lines "Con los terroristas" from a remix of the 2006 reggaeton single "Maldades" by Héctor Delgado and "Do the Harlem shake" from "Miller Time" by Plastic Little.
  16. "We're the fucking animals" is said twice.

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