Trop rock takes on several different styles such as rock, country, reggae, Caribbean, calypso, and zydeco. All of these genres have an influence on the type of instruments used by bands and artists. A listener would usually describe the instruments being used as reflecting the feel of the tropics. Instruments which can be considered too serious, are not typically something that trop rockers would go for.
What Instruments are Used in Trop Rock?
Here are some of the instruments which may be used by the different styles that can be heard in trop rock:
- Reggae; a higher snare drum and percussion sound, such as cowbells and congas as well. Horns, including saxophones, trombones and trumpets, are all used sporadically in trop rock.
- Calypso; instruments such as steel drums and brass are used in calypso music, and can also be heard in trop rock.
- Zydeco; washboards, rub boards, wind instruments and accordions are used occasionally in trop rock, just as in zydeco.
- Rock; the traditional instruments used in rock music, such as drums, guitars and bass, make an appearance with the significant difference being a heavy usage of acoustic guitar.
- Country; the fiddle, steel guitar, mandolin, and occasionally harmonica and keyboards, are also used in trop rock.
The main instruments used in trop rock are the rock and country instruments, as well as others from the styles mentioned. In the tradition of Jimmy Buffet, who was a talented creator and innovator of trop rock, the acoustic guitar is used heavily by artists. This mainly depends on the preference of the musician. So far, the instruments used in the styles mentioned, make up trop rock, but the genre will evolve, and there may be other styles used in the future.
Trop rock has managed to maintain its relaxed and laid back feel with the aid of rock instruments but used in a slightly softer way. Mainstream artists such as Jack Johnson have maintained the acoustic roots laid down by Jimmy Buffet while keeping huge commercial audiences. This is remarkable considering how much presence that rock and country have on audiences throughout the world. However, it also shows the potential of the style to evolve and take on other ideas such as surf influences.
Trop rock started with Jimmy Buffet’s acoustic country-focused music and took other styles on over the years, such as reggae, rock, zydeco and calypso. The instruments used by artists have reflected these changes, and the style will continue to take on more sounds, as the style becomes broader and more inclusive.