Traditional Instruments Coming Back to Pop?

In terms of the majority of mainstream pop music over the past decade, the rise of EDM (electronic dance music) has been one of the most widely recognised success stories. Having already gone through numerous evolutions over just the past few years, the basic formula of EDM looks set to grip the charts for the foreseeable future in some form or another.

But what is to be said for traditional musical instruments and bands? In a market where the two fields couldn’t look further apart, many artists and producers are showing an interest in going back to these concepts. There are various ways in which modern, mostly electronic pop music can be combined with traditional elements, which has always been found across various genres, but others are making a conscious effort to shun modern techniques entirely, at least on some of their work.


A fusion of different styles is usually the most commonly seen form of this renewed interest in classic musical instruments. There are many examples of recent trends involving this, such as the resurgence of the banjo in pop music that was noted a couple of years ago by Time magazine. The widely ignored string instrument suddenly found its way into EDM and pop, indicating a potential revival on the horizon for warmer, less synthetic sounds, even in dance music made for nightclubs. In the last couple of years, examples of saxophones and other woodwind riffs being used prominently in pop songs (even if they are synthesised) have also multiplied quickly.

Moving more away from electronic music production altogether, some particularly prominent pop artists have shifted their styles in recent years to accommodate significantly more elements of more traditional genres including folk and country. There have been several high-profile examples of both basing major pop releases around strong folk influences, and relying on much more traditional percussion and guitars to carry songs, including Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds” and more recently Beyonce’s tracks “Freedom” and “Daddy Lessons”.

Traditional instruments are associated on some level with a higher degree of artistic integrity, which seems to be the main reason some artists are choosing to express themselves in this different style. All current signs point to this catching on more and more, so perhaps in the coming months and years we might expect to see something of a major comeback for the art of playing live instruments. On the other hand, with new digital technology being developed faster than ever, it will be interesting to see the fusions of different styles that will inevitably continue to evolve as a result.

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