Multi-instrumentalist is a newer term for a musician who has mastered several instruments.

In the older German musicological literature, the term hardly occurs. The MGG ( The music in past and present ) in its first edition as well as the Riemann music lexicon not introduce the term. 1977, the term in the dtv - Atlas to the music and in 1982 Brockhaus lovely music.

  • 2.1 Classical
  • 2.2 Popular music
  • 2.3 See also


16th to 18th century

The European Stadtpfeifer learned in their training a variety of instruments including trumpet, trombone, zinc, shawm, oboe, bassoon, recorder and the common string instruments. Musician with an education as Stadtpfeifer were Gottfried Reiche, Johann Joachim Quantz, Johann Christoph Pezel and Sigmund Theophil Staden. Also among the cantors, Kapellmeister and composer mastery of several instruments was common. Georg Philipp Telemann played violin, viola da gamba, recorder, flute, oboe, shawm, trumpet, double bass, as well as the then usual keyboard instruments. The simultaneous execution of a polyphonic work by a person was quite common in the Renaissance and Baroque. Baldassare Castiglione del Libro in 1528 describes Cortegiano singing to the lira. Silvestro Ganassi 's 1543 Notes on Intavolierungspraxis and musical performance of madrigals. Johann Mattheson reported Nikolaus Bruhns, he played simultaneously on organ and violin.

"Because he was very strong on the violin, and knew such to play with double handles, as if their third or fourth would be, so he had a habit of now and then to make the change on the organ that he violin at the same time, with a good choices the submitting pedal voice alone, was heard on the annehmlichste. "

19th century

With the extensive end of the town piper guilds and the reorientation of the Latin schools, the education of musicians shifted after 1800 to the newly founded numerous conservatories. To meet the increased demand by the orchestral music was a stronger specialization of musicians on a main instrument.

20th century and the present

Classical music

The trend of the 19th century to specialize in the education of musicians continued. The teaching of basic skills on a keyboard instrument and singing ( high school chorus) but are standard in the German music studies. Violinists also maintain as a side instrument sometimes the viola, oboe, the oboe d'amore or English horn. According to the needs of smaller theaters, studying double bass sometimes the tray tuba. The study of church music provides as compulsory subjects organ, piano and vocals. Frequently a brass instrument is evidenced as a side instrument. Distinctive multi-instrumentalist is encountered mainly in the field of historical performance practice ( Arnold Dolmetsch, Peter Harlan, David Munrow, Helmut Kickton ).

Popular music

In contrast to the classical music, in which a singer is usually accompanied by a separate musician or instrumental ensemble, accompaniment of your own song is very common in popular music by a chordal instrument such as guitar or piano. For some bands, it takes quite a simultaneous execution of vocal and instrument of all members of the band ( The Beatles, The Doctors ). The modern studio technology, a single musician who has mastered a wide range of instruments, all alone make a sound recording production. The simultaneous interaction of multiple instruments is also known as one-man orchestra.