Before I begin, allow me to preface this article by stating that what you are about to read is not a piece on musical history, nor is it truly a piece on musical appreciation. Rather, it is an attempt to shed some much needed light upon a particular branch of music that has flown under the radar for far too long. This musical genre is known simply as "instrumental", and it is one of the most important forms of music I have ever been introduced to.
The instrumental genre can be loosely defined as music that has no vocals or lyrics, just instruments. An easy example of this would be any solo piano or orchestral composition, and to refine this example further, we can look at Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" or his "Symphony No. 5". These are classical instrumental songs that are well known and easily recognizable, but they are not by any means the be all end all of the instrumental genre. While great composers such as Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart will always be relevant, instrumental music has branched out and taken several different forms, but for the purpose of this article only one sub-genre will be focused on: instrumental rock, or post-rock.
Instrumental rock is almost exactly what it sounds like: rock and roll minus the vocals. This style of music was fronted by incredible solo guitar players such as Steve Vai, Joe Satrianni, Eric Johnson and even John 5, who was formerly the guitarist for Marilyn Manson. While the songs and performances of these phenomenal musicians does much to exemplify their own considerable skill, it does little to advance instrumental rock as a genre, or truly move those who listen to it, unless they themselves are aspiring solo musicians. For a truly moving, inspirational, and transformative experience, we have to look to different musical groups within the sub-genre of instrumental rock.
One such example, and quite possibly the best example I have to offer of this potentially life changing music genre, would be a band called "Explosions In The Sky". I was introduced to this band when I was 17 by one of my co-workers at the time, and while I didn't immediately fall in love with their music, they eventually grew on me and became an integral part of my life, and they continue to hold their significance today. "Explosions In The Sky" have cultivated their own unique sound, employing drums, a number of electric guitars, bass guitar and even piano/electric keyboard. They have developed an erie, sometimes curious, yet always beautiful way of composing each and every one of their songs, and they are capable of creating narratives that relate to their song titles using only their sound. We normally rely on the lyrics and vocals of songs to provide stories for us, but the best part of the musical styling of "Explosions In The Sky" is that we get to ascribe our own stories and narratives to the music they provide for us. We are given the opportunity to drift away and traverse the previously unexplored depths of our own minds, or we can use their sounds to better understand our own emotions. It's even possible to use their music to enhance our focus, for their sound seres only as an emotional medium rather than a distraction.
While "Explosions In The Sky" have created their own unique sound, and perhaps transformed the very foundation of instrumental rock, they are not the only contributors to this musical revolution. Bands such as "God Is An Astronaut", "This Will Destroy You", "Russian Circles" and "Do Make Say Think" have developed sounds that are remarkably similar to "Explosions", yet they all have their own respectable differences. Each of these bands provides us with a different narrative experience, and that's one of the greatest assets of instrumental music.
I hope that this article has encouraged you to take the time to experience the magic of instrumental rock for your, for I can almost guarantee you will not regret it. There is so much to gain and so very little to lose from being adventurous when it comes to music,and I believe that we should always jump at the chance to hear something new and exciting when it is presented to us. So the next time you have a project or a paper to work on, or if you're down in the dumps and need a way to understand yourself better, or if you're just looking to sit outside and gaze at the stars , I recommend that you take the time to search for one of the aforementioned instrumental music groups on Pandora or Spotify, and simply allow the music to take you on cognitive journey the likes of which you've never experienced before. You won't be disappointed, I can guarantee it.