Musicians And Bands

Rock Bands with Horn Section Instrumentation

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Mainstream bands with horn sections (rock, pop, swing, funk, etc.) are becoming more popular, thanks to the public's increasingly eclectic musical tastes. This expansion of wind instruments into rock and related sub-genres has been developing for many decades, ever since David Mason played piccolo trumpet for The Beatles' hit "Penny Lane" in 1967.

No longer do we hear only lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and maybe a keyboard. Many instruments that were once traditionally confined to the school marching band are on the loose and more in the public eye (and ear) than ever.

== Bands ==

Many bands from the 60s, 70s, and later experimented with the horn sound to various degrees, looking for (and sometimes finding) their niche in rock and roll, non-rock genres like R&B (rhythm & blues) and funk, or combination genres like jazz-rock. Some of these groups were Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Chicago, The Commodores, Genesis, Kool & The Gang, and the Ohio Players.

Some horn sections have become so popular that they make themselves available to other groups, and have thus become quite well traveled. Tower of Power is not only a great band in its own right, but the ToP horn section (five musicians) has backed up groups and artists such as Aerosmith, Carlos Santana, Elton John, The Eurythmics, Heart, Huey Lewis and the News, Jefferson Starship, John Lee Hooker, Josh Groban, Little Feat, The Monkees, Phish, Rod Stewart, Spyro Gyra, and Toto.

== Instrumentation ==

Rock bands that employ a single wind musician can certainly earn much recognition and money, but the group's fans usually see these players as more a member of the whole band, instead of a separate section. Even though they are considered "one of the guys," they are to be commended.

For instance, Clarence Clemens plays a mean tenor saxophone in the E Street Band, which helped bring both him and Bruce Springsteen incredible success in the 1970s and 80s. Another example is Ian Anderson, lead singer and amazing flautist for the long-standing British band Jethro Tull. He turned a raised leg and flutter tonguing into a high art form!

While an individual wind musician can obviously make a name for him/herself, sometimes a soloist just isn't enough. If a songwriter wants a more noticeable, brassy sound, s/he should utilize at least two or three horns. These will most likely be trumpet and tenor saxophone (high- and low-pitched instruments, respectively, for a wide note range), with the option to add another trumpet, a trombone, or an alto sax for more harmony possibilities. Look up "Memphis Horns" for a great example of a two-person horn section.

The use of four or more wind musicians allows for a wider variety of instrumental sounds. Some bands stick with the sax/trumpet/bone configuration, again adding either an extra trumpet or sax for a fuller sound. Any combination of the above instruments can be used, allowing the songwriter enough diversity for an "in-your-face" blast, or a more subtle background resonance.

Other wind instruments occasionally found in a rock/pop horn section are baritone saxophone, flugelhorn, flute, clarinet, or tuba.

== Summary ==

The next time you go to a rock concert and the headliner has a backup horn section, get ready for some awesome sounds. These are not rejects from a local high school symphonic band; they are trained musicians who add depth, soul, and excitement to a tune, and still "rock da house!"

More about this author: Len Morse

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