Do you have a talent for playing a musical instrument? Some of us do, and some of us don’t. While it’s possible for anyone to learn to play a musical instrument, some people just seem to have a special ability to coax beautiful music from a piano or a guitar.
As hard as it is for some people to learn to play a musical instrument, would you believe there are some people who can play more than one instrument? It’s true! In fact, there are some people who can play so many instruments — and all at the same time! — that they can create the sound of an entire band all by themselves.
We call such a talented person a one-man band. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a man. A woman can be a one-man band — or one-woman band — too!
A musician playing multiple instruments at the same time as a one-man band might use the hands, feet, mouth and even other mechanical devices to produce music. The simplest type of one-man band might be a contemporary folk singer who uses his voice, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica mounted below the mouth.
Other one-man bands can be much more complex, though. Wind instruments can be strapped around the neck. Drums can be mounted on the back and connected to foot pedals. Cymbals can be worn between the knees. Maracas can be tied to the arms. Stringed instruments can be slung over the shoulders. If you’re a one-man band, you can be as creative as you want to be!
Playing more than one musical instrument at a time has a long history. Simple combinations of an early version of the flute and a snare drum date back to the 13th century. Versions with four or more instruments date back to the 1800s.
Today, it’s still possible to find one-man bands. Sometimes you’ll see them perform at street fairs or parades. If you ever get the chance to see a one-man band perform live, take it. Seeing one person simultaneously play multiple instruments live is impressive!
Modern technology has developed to the point where just about anyone can be a one-man band…at least on a recording. If you can play multiple musical instruments, it’s possible to play them each one at a time while recording. When you’re done, you can mix all the tracks together electronically to produce a recording on which you played all the instruments.
Several popular musicians, including Prince and Paul McCartney, have been known to record music in this way. While it may not be quite as impressive as playing all the instruments live at the same time, it’s still quite a feat to be able to play so many instruments at a level worthy of a musical recording!