What is Acoustic Music?

July 25th, 2022 chrisdodsonmusic

When it comes to music, there are many different types, one of which is acoustic. These days, there are many ways to alter musical forms to change their overall sound and style. Of all the types of music expression, acoustic music is the purest form and is commonly performed by specific instruments. Acoustic music tends to be a little less orchestrated and allows the individual sounds to shine through.

What Does Acoustic Mean?

The meaning of the word “acoustic” comes from physics and involves the sense of being able to hear. It is technically the science of sounds. Acoustics are concerned with the control, transmission, and production of sound, and how sound waves work and transmit. Therefore, acoustic music is concerned with how instruments create sound waves that lead to music. In simple terms, the music is not modified by anything electronic. Prior to electronics being used in music, acoustics was not a style, because music was always acoustic.

What are the Types of Acoustic Instruments?

The oldest known acoustic instruments are from the percussion and wind families. The oldest surviving instrument is a flute believed to exist as far back as several thousand years ago. The Moors, who occupied Spain in the 8th century, brought an instrument named the oud, which was the stem for stringed instruments such as the cello, violin, and others. Centuries later, the guitar was created and from there, other stringed instruments were developed.

Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments are considered the very first human-made instruments to exist. Percussion instruments are categorized as any that can be scraped, struck, or shook. They tend to be the instruments used to create beat or rhythm and can create pitch. Some examples of percussion instruments are:

  • Tubular bells
  • Xylophone
  • Vibraphone
  • Timpani

Untuned Instruments

Untuned instruments are classified by their inability to produce an identifiable pitch, but they can still produce beat and rhythm. Some examples of untuned instruments are:

  • Cymbals
  • Bass drums
  • Tambourines
  • Maracas

String Instruments

String instruments are just what the name implies: they have strings that are stretched tight. Sound comes when the strings are moved, and they create energy that causes sound waves. There are over 300 different types of string instruments. Oddly, the piano is considered a string instrument, although you use the keys to play it. Behind the sound are tiny strings that vibrate as you tap on the keys. Some examples of string instruments are:

  • Banjo
  • Harp
  • Contrabass
  • Cello

Wind Instruments

Wind instruments are tubular in shape and are hollow. Sound is made by a stream of air passing through them. That wind is converted to energy, thus producing sound waves. Within the wind instrument categories are woodwind and brass. Brass is a metal instrument that can either be blown into directly or can have a reed. The pitch is controlled by altering the airflow to change the sound wave frequency. Wood instruments are made of wood, and they have holes that alter the wave sounds when they are opened and closed.

What Does Amplification Mean?

If you add amplification to an acoustic instrument, it is still acoustic. For example, if you plug a guitar into a microphone it is still acoustic. If you use an electric guitar, it is no longer considered acoustic. When you use an electric guitar, the electrical current flows through the magnets and coils inside the guitar.

What is the Difference Between Acoustic and Unplugged?

One of the most popular types of music on small stages is “unplugged.” Although most people use the terms “unplugged” and “acoustic” interchangeably, they are not the same. Unplugged music is when a song that was originally performed with an electric instrument is played on an acoustic version. Therefore, unplugged just means that you are stripping a song to make it acoustic.

When we hear music, not much thought is put into the science behind it – we just enjoy it! Instruments are a part of physics and science, and once you learn the difference, it’s kind of a cool concept. Whether you are a fan of acoustic, electric, or unplugged music, learning the basics leads to a better appreciation and understanding. At Chris Dodson Music, we are geeks who live, breathe, and couldn’t do without music in our lives – and we believe that no one else should, either. Contact us today to hire us for your wedding, special occasion, or to learn to play an instrument yourself. The sky’s the limit once you learn the fundamentals!

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