Imitating Vocalists With Your Instrument

For tens of thousands of years, human cultures across the globe have been making music. From primitive rattles and drums to the more refined flute, harp, and lyre, the origins of many popular instruments date back to prehistoric times. The oldest instrument, however, is the human voice.

The voice is unique in that it is accessible and has no external barriers – musicians are not limited by the physical characteristics of guitar strings, drum pads, or piano keys. In many styles of world music, instrumentalists attempt to mimic or imitate sounds made by vocalists. This is about more than simply supporting a singer, as this type of imitation is evident even in guitar solos and instrumental music. One of the most distinctive western examples of this is in the early blues – listen to an old record and you’ll clearly hear the guitarist mimic the vocals.

In this week’s video, accomplished world music guitarist Fernando Perez goes over some of the various ways that musicians can imitate vocalists with instruments. He shows how listening to vocal music can help instrumentalists in general, and guitarists in particular, and highlights his point with examples from Indian music, Persian music, and more. This is essential viewing for anyone looking to take their playing style to new heights. Check it out below!