A great song is a great song, but it takes vocals and instruments to bring the song to life. But which instruments help make a hit? After the predictable guitar, bass, drums and piano, there are 54 often surprising answers.
Mike King and the fine folks at Berklee Online analyzed Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songs of All Time to find which instruments were used to create these popular masterpieces. They then illustrated the instruments used in each songs.
A large percentage of the selection unsurprisingly use guitar, bass, and drums, but the 58 instruments in this graphic offer some real surprises, like the swarmandal The Beatles used in “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the castanets in The Ronettes’, “Be My Baby,” and the mouth harp in The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”
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*The instruments were researched via two means: documented accounts of recording sessions as well as intensive critical listening. Some instruments may have been omitted due to a lack of documentation or clarity in the recording.
*Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time were selected based on a panel of music experts including musicians, critics, and other music-industry figures. Twenty-five new songs were added to the list when it was revised in 2010.