Created By: DarkSasami on May 16, 2010 Last Edited By: EmKa on May 16, 2016

Progressive Instrumentation

Music that adds instruments one at a time

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Take one voice or instrument at a time, play a bar or two with each, and then just layer them until you've got a whole big awesome music thing going. Can be combined with Calling Your Attacks as each part is added.

Compare Variable Mix, where the music in a game gradually evolves based on what's happening in the game. Compare also Lyrical Cold Open, where the vocals start immediately, often before any instruments.

Up for Grabs, Rolling Updates.


Examples

In Music

A Cappella
  • Da Vincis Notebook opens their cover of "Stuck in the Middle with You" with a vocal version.

Alternative Rock
  • Live's "Lightning Crashes".

Classical Music

Folk Music

Japanese Pop Music
  • Chatmonchy - "Shangurira", starting with drums, adding cymbals, then bass, then guitars, then vocals.

R&B
  • The majority of the lyrics of "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells are composed of this.

Music/Comedy

Goth Rock
  • Bauhaus' classic song, "Bela Lugosi's Dead".

Music/Indie

Pop

Power Metal
  • On the latest Nightwish album, Dark Passion Play, the last song is this, starting with just a single instrument and a voice, and building up into a grand finale with the whole orchestra and choir and band. It's almost into badass territory.

Progressive Rock
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Abaddon's Bolero" is an instrumental example.

Soul
  • "Memphis Soul Stew," by King Curtis, which is also performed on The Simpsons Sing the Blues as "Springfield Soul Stew," introduces each part separately.

Rock
  • The Who's "Baba O'Riley" (Teenage Wasteland) qualifies.
  • The Doors "Wild Child" starts with guitar, then drums, then bass, then keyboard, then finally Jim keys in.
  • "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin.
  • This happens at the beginning of "Nightclubbing" by Iggy Pop.

Other Media

Anime
  • At the climax of Manga/Beck, everyone but Koyuki has given up, so he is left on his own on stage, and begins to play without the rest of the band. Inspired, one by one the rest of the band joins in, building on the song this way. The song in the original Japanese audio was The Beatles' "I Got A Feeling," but it was changed for the dub.

Film
  • Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" does this... slowly.
  • There are several entire songs like this on the Amélie soundtrack— for example, "Soir de fete."
  • The Little Mermaid's "Kiss the Girl", where the various animals jump in one at a time.
  • "Trashin the Camp / Doo Bad Shi Doo" from Disney's Tarzan, in which some playful gorillas and an elephant find a human camp and use the random objects they find there to play a (very destructive) impromptu song.

Literature
  • A rare literary example, the Song of Iluvatar in Tolkein's The Silmarillion is described as this. Each of the Valar adds their voice to the rest, one by one, and Iluvatar adapts the song to fit each new voice, including Melkor when he attempts to turn it into a dirge...

Live-Action TV
  • The one-episode Fake Band in Even Stevens planned to play their debut concert on the school roof, but each member dropped out for various reasons an only Lewis (drummer) showed up. Refusing to let the band die, he proceeds to play the beat and sing his vocals until the other members join in one-by-one.

Musical
  • The intro to the title song of the musical On Your Toes:
    Junior: First, we'll hear the two pianos. Then, we'll sneak in a solo trumpet... and add the traps, softly. Now the fiddles will have a counter melody. Graudally, the woodwinds... And then the whole band. And now, the song.

Video Games
  • Done in a cutscene of Loco Roco 2. See it here.
  • A dynamic example in Spirit Tracks: As more sections of the tower become accessible, the music that plays in higher sections contains more instruments.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The Powerpuff Girls do it twice in the very short song "Love Makes the World Go Round," first with drums > bass > guitar, then with vocals.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob and Gary manage to get rid of a swarm of music-loving jellyfish this way.
  • The rendition of "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel" from the South Park episode "Mr Hankey's Christmas Classics", which layers in more and more vocal parts from various characters as it goes.
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • November 15, 2009
    Sceptre
    Death Cab For Cutie do this in "I Will Possess Your Heart". I call it "progressive instrumentation".
  • November 15, 2009
    random surfer
    Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's "The Intro and the Outro" is three minutes of this.
  • November 15, 2009
    TB Tabby
    Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob and Gary manage to get rid of a swarm of music-loving jellyfish this way.
  • November 15, 2009
    Lee M
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Abbadon's Bolero" is an instrumental example.
  • November 15, 2009
    fzzr_miller
    the Strongbad techno song.
  • November 15, 2009
    Twin Bird
  • November 18, 2009
    FalconPain
    Some songs base the majority of the lyrics on this. Aside from the aforementioned "Dance To The Music, Archie Bell and the Drells' "Tighten Up" comes to mind.
  • November 18, 2009
    Warlock
    David Ford - "Go to Hell" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVky7hwuebU
  • November 18, 2009
    greylag2
    Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells is pretty egregious, too.
  • November 18, 2009
    Erock
    Baba O'Riley (or Teenage Wasteland)
  • November 18, 2009
    SNES
    • The one-episode fake band in Even Stevens planned to play their debut concert on the school roof, but each member dropped out for various reasons an only Lewis (drummer) showed up. Refusing to let the band die, he proceeds to play the beat and sing his vocals until the other members join in one-by-one.
  • December 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    • Bauhaus' classic song, Bela Lugosi's Dead
  • December 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    "the Strongbad technosong"

    Also, the toon "One two, one two"
  • December 6, 2009
    CodeMan38
    This live performance of KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and Cherry Tree". It's quite awesome.
  • December 6, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Isn't the Bolero by Ravel like this?
  • December 7, 2009
    Shrikesnest
  • December 7, 2009
    Lee M
    • ^^ Tubular Bells egregious? Pish.
    • ^ Yeah, this is pretty much what a bolero is.
  • March 2, 2010
    Edgukator
    A rare literary example, the Song of Iluvatar in Tolkein's The Silmarillion is described as this. Each of the Valar adds their voice to the rest, one by one, and Iluvatar adapts the song to fit each new voice, including Melkor when he attempts to turn it into a dirge...
  • March 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Done in a cutscene of Loco Roco 2. See it here.
  • March 2, 2010
    Chabal2
  • March 2, 2010
    IronLion
    The rendition of "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel" from the South Park episode "Mr Hankey's Christmas Classics".

    @Chabal2: I think the Holst and Bach examples are straying from the point somewhat; Pachelbel's Canon definitely qualifies though.
  • March 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    On the latest Nightwish album, Dark Passion Play, the last song is this, starting with just a single instrument and a voice, and building up into a grand finale with the whole orchestra and choir and band. It's almost into badass territory.
  • March 2, 2010
    TJ
  • March 2, 2010
    CodeMan38
    [...Wow, I'm repeating myself. I already added the KT Tunstall example to this very thread!]
  • March 3, 2010
    JackButler
    Live's "Lightning Crashes".
  • March 3, 2010
    macroscopic
    I think there's a technical term for this.

    At the climax of Beck, everyone but Koyuki has given up, so he is left on his own on stage, and begins to play without the rest of the band. Inspired, one by one the rest of the band joins in, building on the song this way. The song in the original Japanese audio was The Beatles' "I Got A Feeling," but it was changed for the dub.
  • March 3, 2010
    IronLion
    @Unknown Troper 92: Meadows of Heaven is fairly typical of the Power Ballad form, which could probably be considered a subtrope of this.

    I'd second the title Progressive Instrumentation.
  • March 3, 2010
    Chabal2
    Hmmm... In that case, perhaps the trope should be some form of pun on Canon? Of course, it's liable to get confused with Canon, so...

    • Also, the end song (about the 2:57 mark) of this video.
  • March 3, 2010
    IronLion
    Of the classical examples, Ravel's Bolero is more representative of the trope than the canon or fugue forms. In fact, I thought there was a similar YKTTW with Bolero in the title, unless it was this prior to renaming.
  • March 3, 2010
    GoatBoy
    The Doors "Wild Child" starts with guitar, then drums, then bass, then keyboard, then finally Jim keys in.
  • March 9, 2011
    Ronka87
    Title suggestion: "Joining The Song Already In Progress".

    There are several entire songs like this on the Amelie soundtrack-- for example, "Soir de fete."
  • March 26, 2011
    Prfnoff
    • The intro to the title song of the musical On Your Toes:
      Junior: First, we'll hear the two pianos. Then, we'll sneak in a solo trumpet... and add the traps, softly. Now the fiddles will have a counter melody. Graudally, the woodwinds... And then the whole band. And now, the song.
  • March 26, 2011
    TwinBird
    Okay, since my jokey one seems to have been missed:

    "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin.
  • March 28, 2011
    orimarc
    Title Suggestion: "Incoming Band"
  • February 19, 2012
    Catbert
    Bumping this to see if anyone knows what this is and wants to take it over.
  • February 19, 2012
    Dcoetzee
    Thirding Progressive Instrumentation. An example that comes to mind for me:
    • Chatmonchy - "Shangurira", starting with drums, adding cymbals, then bass, then guitars, then vocals.
  • December 20, 2015
    DAN004
    Compare Variable Mix
  • December 20, 2015
    acrobox
    i could grab it if no one else wants to.
  • December 20, 2015
    LondonKdS
    This happens at the beginning of "Nightclubbing" by Iggy Pop.
  • December 20, 2015
    Dcoetzee
    Please feel free to grab, I just cleaned it up and added the examples offered so far. :)
  • December 21, 2015
    DAN004
    Is the term "Instrumentation" right? Cuz I also see it in Explosive Instrumentation.
  • December 24, 2015
    Dcoetzee
    @DAN 004 It has two different definitions: "1. the particular instruments used in a piece of music; the manner in which a piece is arranged for instruments. 2. measuring instruments regarded collectively." Explosive Instrumentation uses def 2, this uses def 1.
  • December 26, 2015
    Chabal2
    Spirit Tracks: As more sections of the tower become accessible, the music that plays in higher sections contains more instruments.
  • May 16, 2016
    rmctagg09
    In Pokemon Black And White, as you pass the Badge Gates for Victory Road more instruments get added to the song until the full Victory Road theme starts playing.
  • May 16, 2016
    Gamermaster
    The Level Select theme of Yoshis Island adds an instrument for every world completed.
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