To understand what instruments are essential to the formation of a rock band, it helps to have an appreciation of what rock music really is and the sound it delivers. Rock music is now a fairly diverse term that covers a broad spectrum of musical sounds but initially the movement emerged back in the 50s, spawned from combinations of blues, gospel, jazz and African-American rhythm and blues. The melding of these initial genres created a unique blend that further evolved with the advent of technology, leading to the electric guitar amongst other things. Further social and economic changes encouraged the formation of smaller groups that became accessible to the young masses of the age.
The Rock Sound
Amplification and thus the use of the electric guitar is probably the most significant development in the history of the rock band. The sound that people associate with the basics of the genre today is most certainly guitar driven with the addition of strong rhythms supplied by bass and drums. Most rock groups also produce song-based music, typically following the common form of verse and repeating chorus, although it is not uncommon to see purely instrumental groups acquire a measure of success.
So, what becomes the essential elements of any good rock group today?
It is unlikely that a band would form without the use of a lead electric guitar and thus we should consider this the norm, although once again other more unusual combinations are not unheard of. The lead guitar does what the name suggests and drives the song and as with many of the iconic mega groups, provides the awesome solos that have become a feature and style of their music. In addition to electric guitar the electric bass guitar is a key element supporting the lead and providing the essential beat. Often it is assumed that the bass is less important because its role is more subdued but be sure that if you eliminate it from a particular song, then the structure is altered and the song ceases to function well. The body of the rock sound much as a human body relies upon all the components coming together and doing their respective jobs! Thus, the drums have a significant role to play, adding the essential backdrop to the rock sound and keeping the beat that will help to drive the song. In terms of the rhythm that makes a good rock piece appealing, especially to those who love to dance, the drums become key.
Often bands add keyboards to this basic line up or a second rhythm guitar, but the simple combination as described above works really well for any aspiring rock musicians. Perhaps we should mention here too that the vocalists of any group possess one of the most versatile and dynamic instruments, their voices! Undoubtedly the musical skills learned by those playing is key to a band’s sound but let’s not forget the natural skill of the industry’s great vocalists too.