From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
An instrumental is, in contrast to a song, a musical composition or recording without lyrics or any other sort of vocal music; all of the music is produced by musical instruments. Specifically, this term is used when referring to popular music; some musical genres make little use of the human voice, such as jazz, electronic music, and large amounts of European classical music (although in electronic music the voice can be sampled just like anything else). In commercial music, some tracks or songs on a compact disc include instrumental tracks. These tracks are exact copies of the corresponding song, but do not have vocals.
Instrumentals that have reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 include
- "Apache (instrumental)" - The Shadows (1960)
- "Theme from A Summer Place" - Percy Faith (1960)
- "Grazing in the Grass" - Hugh Masekela (1968)
- "Classical Gas" - Mason Williams (1968)
- "Frankenstein" - Edgar Winter Group (1973)
- "Love's Theme" - Love Unlimited Orchestra (1974)
- "The Hustle" - Van McCoy (1975)
- "Theme from 'S.W.A.T.'" - Rhythm Heritage (1976)
- "Rise" - Herb Alpert (1979)
- "Chariots of Fire" - Vangelis (1982)
- "Miami Vice Theme" - Jan Hammer (1985)
Recordings which include brief verbal interjections (e.g. "Tequila"), repetitive nonsense words (e.g. "Woo Hoo"), or wordless vocal effects (such as drones, vocal percussion, Vonlenska, yodeling, or whistling), or in which sung vocals appear in only a short part of an extended piece (e.g. "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", "La Grange"), are sometimes classed as instrumentals rather than songs.