Created By: jaytee on April 26, 2011 Last Edited By: jaytee on August 31, 2011

Odd Instrument Solo

When an unexpected instument gets its own solo

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Trope
Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples

Some musicians keep a sense of humor about their work. Sure, they might have a Guitar Solo from time to time and they've been known to engage in an Epic Riff from now and again, but they also like to shake things up. You're thinking it's about time for a guitar solo, they're thinking more along the lines of glass armonica. You're thinking synthesizer, they're thinking Xenophone.

Most often played for comedy, although some bands use it for sheer strangeness.

Subtrope of Instrumental Solo. Compare to Xenophone and Everything Is an Instrument.

When adding examples, please include a short description of the type of music for context. A harpsichord solo in a performance of Baroque chamber music is not notable, but a harpsichord solo in a hardcore punk song is an Odd Instrument Solo.


Examples

Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • April 26, 2011
    troacctid
  • April 27, 2011
    jaytee
    Thanks troacctid! Quick question... The Song Remains the Same, is that a film or a song or what? I've never heard of it.
  • April 27, 2011
    jaytee
    I would really like to get a better title for this if anyone has any better ideas.
  • April 27, 2011
    troacctid
    ^^ It's a documentary or concert type sort of film that doesn't currently have a page. Always good to redlink, though, in case someone makes a page for it at some point.

    I'unno, I didn't see it, I just found that video on Youtube. =P
  • April 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • April 28, 2011
    KTera
    I'm not sure if it's weird enough, but DragonForce does keytar solos.
  • April 28, 2011
    Scooter007
    I think the title is fine. "Odd", "Unusual", "Funny" or some variant thereof. The only problem is readers may think it's the solo that's odd/unusual/funny rather than the instrument, but I wouldn't think it would be that big a deal.
  • April 28, 2011
    jaytee
    I'm gonna say no on the Dragon Force example, and a tentative no for Peter Frampton, since the keytar/talkbox would be a signature part of their sound. (I don't know enough about Joe Walsh to make a decision.) It has just as much to do with being unexpected as it does unusual.

    To give an example: An accordian solo in a song performed by Green Day would be this trope. An accordian solo in the same song performed by Weird Al would not be this trope, since accordian is a signature part of Weird Al's sound.

    It's almost like Soundtrack Dissonance within a single song.
  • April 28, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^The title is acceptable, to be sure, but it's not spectacular. And it's a little closer to Instrumental Solo (another YKTTW I'm working on) than I would like.

    If we don't figure something out, I'll be ok with that. But I did want to encourage some ideas for a better name if one exists.

    In other news, surely someone know of a kazoo solo or something?
  • April 28, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    Jethro Tull. A rock band that does flute solos.
  • April 28, 2011
    jaytee
    Like the above example with Peter Frampton, Jethro Tull doesn't quite qualify, since the flute is a signature part of their sound.

    Maybe I need to add something to that effect to the description...
  • April 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I'm not sure I'd agree with the "signature sound" rule. I think an odd musical instrument stands as odd on its own (or leastwise odd in the musical context it's being used in), regardless of whether the band usually uses it or not.
  • April 28, 2011
    Boston
    They Might Be Giants' song "James K. Polk" features a musical saw solo. (I'm sure there are many other oddball-instrument solos on their albums, but that's the first that comes to mind.)
  • April 29, 2011
    Scooter007
    ^That reminds me (but how could I forget??): Rock band Jackyl had a buzzsaw solo in "The Lumberjack".

    Would that count, since a buzzsaw is not actually an "instrument"?
  • May 3, 2011
    jaytee
    alright, adding more examples...

    What are everyone's thoughts as to a "signature sound" rule? Personally, I think it makes the trope a little too subjective. Right now, it's fairly clear-cut, since the instrument has to come out of left-field for the band anyway. If we start including bands with a strange instrument in their personal lineup, we start getting into arguments about what constitutes an "odd" instrument. Would rock bands with cellos count? What about rock bands with saxophones? Punk bands with acoustic guitar? All of these could be "odd" in a certain context, but they also each have certain subgenres where the so-called "odd" instrument is de rigueur.

    Then again, maybe I'm overthinking what will never be a huge trope. Give me your opinions!
  • May 3, 2011
    jaytee
    and @scooter: definitely counts! this trope can have major overlap with Everything Is An Instrument.
  • May 3, 2011
    Catalogue
    What about Dream Theater's infamous iPhone solo?
  • May 3, 2011
    Mishaguji
    Obviously, this must be called "More Cowbell"
  • May 3, 2011
    ladygem
    Hank Green of Vlog Brothers fame has a party blower solo in his song "The man who threw the tetris piece"
  • May 3, 2011
    jaytee
    @Catalogue, do you have any more information? I'm not too familiar with Dream Theater's music. was this a specific concert or song?
  • May 4, 2011
    Catalogue
    @jaytee, I'm not familiar with it either.
  • May 4, 2011
    HumanaUox
    Theremin solos of awesome: "Sexy Boy" & "Kelly Watch the Stars" by Air, "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above" by CSS, I know there are more...
  • May 4, 2011
    celticwhisper
    Therion's "Land of Canaan" has an accordion solo. In a symphonic-metal song.
  • May 4, 2011
    TBeholder
    • Jam the Death Star by Infocalypse. The whole track is solo on two signaling keys. In stereo.
  • May 5, 2011
    MetaFour
    • "Under the Milky Way" by The Church has an e-bowed guitar solo (which sounds a lot like a bagpipes solo, and is frequently mistaken for one by listeners).

    I can't speak for The Church's sound in general, but that was the only use of an e-bow on that particular album.
  • May 15, 2011
    TBeholder
    Do bagpipes count? There are some.
  • May 15, 2011
    peccantis
    ^ depends on context. In rap or African world music, hell yes. In British national romantic heavy metal or a cover of a song called "Highlander"... nope.
  • August 6, 2011
    TBeholder
    • "Blades" by Pig opens with the sound of knife sharpening. Fast.
  • August 7, 2011
    foxley
    One Spike Jones album has "Flight of the Bumblebee'' played as a solo... on the trombone!
  • August 26, 2011
    jaytee
    Lt this one slide for awhile, but I'm back on it. Will roll in updates here soon, thinking we're getting close to launch unless anyone has any objections... Hats?
  • August 27, 2011
    SteamGoth
    The song "Building Steam" by Abney Park contains a mandolin solo.
  • August 27, 2011
    jaytee
    What genre of music is Abney Park? A mandolin is only an odd instrument with the right context.
  • August 29, 2011
    Jhimmibhob
    And then there's the famous xylophone solo in "Gone Baby Gone."
  • August 30, 2011
    Twentington
    Few examples in Country Music:

    • The instrumental break on Keith Urban's "I Told You So" is heavily layered snare drums.
    • The main riff on Billy Currington's "Love Done Gone" is played on trumpet and trombone, with background vocalists singing "ba-ba-da, ba-da-ba" to the same melody.
    • Deana Carter's "There's No Limit" has a harpsichord solo.
    • LeAnn Rimes' "Something's Gotta Give" and Blake Shelton's "I'll Just Hold On" both have sitar solos.
  • August 30, 2011
    CastingCrowns
    Wild Thing by The Troggs is a pretty heavy rock song for the mid 1960s, with an instrumental break that includes an ocarina.
  • August 31, 2011
    benjamminsam
    Ben Folds asks for a variety of unusual improvised solos during Rock This Bitch in his live concert DVD with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth, including double-bass, harp, concert tenor and "marching band" solos.

    Richard Cheese asks for a "whistle solo!" during his cover of [[Radiohead Creep]], but given that he's basically a comedian, I wouldn't call anything he does odd, so YMMV if this counts.
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