There are lots of instruments in all over the world every instrument have its different sound that could attach differently to the person`s emotion wondering how Music Composer think for selecting instrument. are there any specific theory or research available that for this specific expression of emotion this set of instrument could be selected?

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    Quite a lot of the time, instruments for a piece are selected for reasons other than emotional expression. Composing music for specific ensembles such as jazz trio, orchestra, and NES/Famicom is commonplace.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 4 at 15:24
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    The non-subjective parameters for instrument selection are vast and vary based on purpose of the composition, audience, etc. So much so that the question is a bit too broad for objective answers. There are many subjective parameters for instrument selection, and that part of the question is off topic. Either way I think this question would benefit greatly if you could edit it down to a more specific situation. Jan 4 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


It depends.

Different instruments can create different moods (strings are great for romantic parts, french horn or trumpet can be great for loud and dramatic parts and a piano can create all kinds of different moods)

In Baroque and Classical Music it was relatively fixed which instruments to use. Pieces were written for either a solo (most of the time the instrument the composer was most familiar with), duet (two of the same instruments or a flute, violin or voice accompanied by piano or harpsichord), string quartett (2 violins, a viola and a cello), a string quartett accompanied by piano or harpsichord, or orchestra (a typical baroque orchestra had violins, violas, cellos, double basses, trumpets, timpani, wooden flutes and bassoons, a typical classical adding oboes, clarinets , french horns and new percussion instruments).

The melody in clasical / baroque orchestras was most commonly played by violins, trumpets or horns with the rest of the orchestra accomanying. To the end of the classical period, people started using other instruments for the melody, such as in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.

Following this, a lot of romantic composers started to expand on the classical orchestra, experimenting with a lot of new instruments, for example tuba and trombone. Tchaikovsky even used cannons in his 1812 Overture (skip to 14:00 for the cannons)

Introducing electronic music. Starting in the early 20th century, people began experimenting with electricity to create music. In 1926 Nikolai Obukhov built the Croix Sonore, Charlie Christian built the first electric guitar in 1936 and in 1952 the RCA developed the first modern synthesizer. With this wave of new electronic instruments many new genres formed, for example Rock or EDM, each using different instruments.

So what instruments should I use for my composition?

There is no clear answer to that. A lot of composers first write their composition for only one instrument (the instrument they're most familiar with, so mostly piano and violin, which is why those two instruments have the biggest repertoire), then might decide they want to add vocals or a second instrument (duet), they might think it would sound best if it was performed by a string quartett, or an orchestra. A lot of composers wrote arrangements of other pieces for different instruments.

However, here is a little guideline:

Classical Compositions are most of the time:

Jazz ensembles are mostly made up of a piano, trumpets, saxophones, double basses, guitars and drum kits

Rock bands are mostly a guitar, a bass and a drum, sometimes a synth or rock organ plus a vocalist

Pop music has synths, violins, piano and trumpets.

But at the end of the day. It depends on the composer. Just write your music for one instrument, then add another few if you feel like you need more, remove those you don't like, etc. Be creative. No one can say "you chose the wrong instrument", because it is your music.

  • Charlie Christian was great, but he didn't "build the first electric guitar." Christian got interested in electric guitar when he heard Eddie Durham playing one. Durham is credited with playing the first electrically amplified guitar on a recording.
    – user39614
    Jan 4 at 16:39
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    @Neins got your point so there is no theory its just a inspersion of one hit song over another hit song. that set the trends and tradition and that's being leaded by creative composer and create its own Era of music. so instead of thinking over theory its good to be creative truing tunes on different instrument feel and select best among them and arrange. YOUR ANSWER IS EYE OPENING THANKS. Jan 10 at 13:53

Although individual composers might associate certain instruments with certain emotions, it only take a brief search of YouTube to recognize that any instrument can evoke any emotion in the hands of a good composer and performer.

Although instrument selection can rely on myriad factors, there is one factor that will weigh much more heavily than any other: who is paying the commission?

Although composers certainly write purely from their own inspiration, they also write because they're being paid for a specific purpose: they've been hired to write for a certain ensemble or performer. While a composer can find flexibility even within the context of a commission, the instrumentation can be highly determined before the composing begins.

  • of course the composition could be determined before the composition begins in case composer is a part of any band or orchestra. what i was wondering how trends and traditions have been set for specific music specific set of instruments settled. is there any theories over choice of an instrument for composition? Jan 10 at 13:50
  • @NisargDesai "Trends and traditions" are very different from "theories and research." Updating your question along those lines would allow consideration of reopening it and might get a very different set of answers.
    – Aaron
    Jan 10 at 16:47
  • now you made me more curious in case of "Musical Composition" any new composition will follow the already researched "Theories" and among all theories popular theories will become "Trend" and then it becomes "Tradition" so its different but based on "Research and Theories" how very different or Independent? i guess i will post this question separately. Jan 12 at 11:56

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