Unit 10 – Exploration of specialist study in music performance and production

Find out what primary research is?

“Primary research is new research, carried out to answer specific issues or questions. It can involve questionnaires, surveys or interviews with individuals or small groups.” (Business Case Studies, 1995-2018). Primary research means to research yourself and find out from a source directly, like conducting your own survey and interview.

Find out what secondary research is?

“Secondary research makes use of information previously researched for other purposes and publicly available. Secondary research includes published research reports in a library, surveys or the Internet. ” (Business Case Studies, 1995-2018) Secondary research is to research and take information from another source either online, in a book, from a magazine or from an interview someone else has already gathered and put the information together for you.

Find out how to Harvard reference?

“Reference lists are created to allow readers to locate original sources themselves. Each citation in a reference list includes various pieces of information including the:

  1. Name of the author(s)
  2. Year published
  3. Title
  4. City published
  5. Publisher
  6. Pages used

Generally, Harvard Reference List citations follow this format:

  • Last name, First Initial. (Year published). Title. City: Publisher, Page(s).” (CTFM, 2018)

Harvard reference the two websites were you got you info from for part 1 and 2.

Business Case Studies. (1995-2018). Market research and consumer protection
A Food Standards Agency case study. Available from:  https://businesscasestudies.co.uk/food-standards-agency/market-research-and-consumer-protection/primary-and-secondary-research.html. [Accessed: 18 September 2018].

My Question; Are Mulit-instrumentalists a thing of the past?

Famous multi-instrumentalists;

(past) Prince  Prince was a multi instrumentalist. He plays a wide range of  instruments and recorded a lot of his music all by himself without a band or session musicians and on his debut album he recorded all 27 instruments himself.  He also self-produced some of his own music.

(past) John EntwistleJohn Entwistle was the incredible bass player for The Who. However, he was a mulit-instumentlist and played 10 instruments, maybe more. Although he was mainly known for his amazing bass playing skills, on record from the who, you can hear his vocals and also his french horn being featured. He also wrote a few songs himself for The Who, one of them being ‘Boris the Spider’.

(past/now) Dave Grohlhttps://youtu.be/e05H80-k0mY

In the video above, Dave Grohl plays a Live 23 minute multi-track original instrumental in which he plays and records every instrument himself. Even though he doesn’t in this video, he also sings, originally doing backing vocals and playing drums in Nirvana and now singing and being the front man for the Foo Fighters. He also recorded the entirety on the Foo Fighters debut album in just one week, all himself. The track ‘This is a Call’ was recorded fully by Dave in just 45 minutes and it is now one of their most popular tracks.


recorded all albums himself. icelandic multi-instumentalist. produced the soundtrack/theme for broadchurch.

Are these artists outdated? Are their skills outdated? Does the music industry need multi-instrumentalists? Are there even any modern artists in pop or hip-hop etc… that showcase playing more than one instrument in their music?


 ‘Are multi-instrumentalists a thing of the past?’

For my unit 10 I have chosen to research and answer the question above. I have chosen this question because I am a multi-instrumentalist myself and I am interested in seeing if being a multi-instrumentalist in the industry is important any more or if there are many current musicians who showcase their own skills as a multi-instrumentalist in the studio, on their albums or even live on stage. To research into all of this, I will be using both primary and secondary research methods. These will include online research from articles and websites based around my topic, interviews conducted on musicians who are multi-instrumentalists and reviewing music and live videos/recordings of these artists. Also, I will be making my own surveys and questionnaires on the subject to gain some primary results to help answer my question. I think that, to fully complete my unit, it will take an overall time of 3 months. This is to make sure that I can research and conduct my own research to gain accurate results to help my answer my question. I can then compare my own results with what I found online and then I can start constructing my essay. I don’t believe that I will come across any ethical issues when answering my question because it is based around musicians and their instruments and the music they create live and in studio. I can’t see this raising any issues to write about.

My expected results; I think the outcome of my question will be yes, multi-instrumentalists are a thing of the past. This is because in the research I have already been doing, it has shown that being a multi-instrumentalist was way more popular in the past, more so in the 20th century than it is now. However, my research and final answer will tell, but right now I think the answer to my question is yes.



Pros and Cons of being a multi-instrumentalist;

  • makes it easier to understand the different instruments that you play and also different genres of music that certain instruments are used for.
  • More versatility and more opportunities especially in multiple genres
  • less likely, however, to be exceptional in all instruments, more likely to be very good at one or two instruments and then acceptable in the rest.

I have found that a lot of popular multi-instrumentalist were only popular in their prime, when their music was in the charts. This was back in the 70s-80s. Now, there aren’t many artists (mainly in pop/chart music) who are recognised for playing multiple instruments, but just for the music, not for their own musical skills.


Why are there not many/any popular multi-instrumentalists in pop music/chart music today?

I think that there arent any popular multi-instrumentalists today because I don’t think that anyone cares about multi-instrumentalists anymore. Everything revolves around being a social media personality and dropping an album that is on trend. Everyone is looking for the next scandal in music and not focusing on the music. No one wants to go to a gig and see their favourite artist playing a bunch of different instruments, they just want to see them perform the songs they know a love they way they know and love them. People don’t pay to watch a one man band.

Justin Bieber, multi-instrumentalist…. However, you never hear anything about him recording multiple instruments himself on his albums. I honestly think that this is because artists nowadays a getting lazy. For an artist like Justin Bieber, its easy for him to pay other session musicians to play and record his music for him. So where does this leave multi-instrumentalists?…


Does this mean that being a multi-instrumentalist will make it harder to get a job as a popular artist because its not what people are looking for?


Will it make it easier to become a session musician because you can play more than one instrument so it opens up a wider earning potential?

I do wonder whether my question will have a definitive answer…There isn’t a lot of documents and previous research on my chosen subject so I’m trying to research from every possible angle to try and gain enough knowledge on my subject to compose a full and in depth essay. I’m just worried that I’m going to run out of things to talk about so I might try and approach the question in decades.



David Bowie, multi-instrumentalist

steve lacy, unrecognized multi-instrumentalist, produces tracks via phone, makes them hit songs.

Why was being a multi-instrumentalist more popular in the 20th century between the 60’s-90’s?

The introduction of technology. You don’t need to be a good musician to be able to create and produce a good track and get it out there to the world.   If you are a very mediocre musician but you have a top class, high quality producer, it is not difficult to create a track that sounds good and chart worthy.


Are multi-instrumentalists a thing of the past? This is a question I have wondered about for a very long time. Being a multi-instrumentalist myself, I wanted to research into whether my own skills are still valuable in the industry, and if not, why.

I delved into different forums and websites online to try and get some answers to my question, and the first thing I came across was a list of different famous multi-instrumentalists. I was greeted with artists such as Prince, John Entwistle and Dave Grohl but not many artists from the past decade that have made a splash in modern music. The only artists I found that are remotely popular and relevant, are artists that produce alternative and atmospheric music, such as Olafur Arnalds. Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist who creates an ambient and electronic pop sound by looping and mixing different instruments together. He has won BAFTA awards for best original music when he made music for the hit TV show, Broadchurch. However, I had never heard of him until I did some more in depth research on modern multi-instrumentalists, which makes me think that being able to play more than one instrument is outdated in the industry now, and the artists that do, are also outdated.

Because a lot of the musicians I have read about were popular in their prime, mainly in the 70’s-80’s, I had to ask why that was. I found that, after the 80’s, more technology was introduced and computers became more accessible, more software’s were made and were easier to download, and then apple created the iPhone where you can make and produce a track all on your own, just via an app. Artist like Steve Lacy and Tyler the creator are great examples of how, in the music industry today, you can make tracks just via your phone and 1 software on your computer.

The video above shows Steve Lacy talking about how he can make and produce a track from start to finish just through his phone. However, in this video you can see that not only can he sing, but he can play guitar, bass and other instruments, which means I would class him as a multi-instrumentalist, but he isn’t recognized for that, he’s recognized for making hit tracks which leaves me believing that people aren’t interested in your talents as a musician, but rather how you make the hits, and what makes those songs hits. Although, this video is what divides Steve Lacy from the rest, as artists like Sheck Wes are mediocre at best, but have been able to produce a track that has gained over 188 million views on youtube alone.

This just shows that you don’t have to be a good, talented musician to produce a hit song if you have a top class, high quality producer to over produce your songs for you. This means that basically anyone, if they really wanted to, can make a song that is chart worthy with no instrumental skill required. Although, there are benefits to being a multi-instrumentalist. I spoke with and interviewed my friend, and multi-instrumentalist, Harry Frederick-Mires and asked him what he thinks the benefits are and his main point was that you don’t have to rely on other people to make your music authentic and meaningful to you. He also said ‘When I’m on stage, I find that I can engage more with my audience by showing them that I can adapt my instrument and create an entire song, just on my own. That’s what I think is the most important benefit to being about to play more than one instrument.’ As Harry is a one man band, he loops a lot of his music and is able to put on a great show live, just like Olafur Arnalds. However, Olafur has a very  targeted demographic, much like Harry, but he was lucky enough to be recognized and get the opportunity to create music for some hit TV shows, but I don’t think that your average listener would realise or even care that he is a talented multi-instrumentalist.

I did some research online into what other people think the benefits are and there was one very popular response, and that was being a session player. Being a good, strong multi-instrumentalist makes you a perfect candidate to become a session musician and not only will you get paid good money, you will also get recognized in the community. Because music is so accessible now on so many different platforms, it makes it easier for the listener to just throw a playlist on in the background when they are working or just want something to listen to. the majority of people don’t really listen to the actual music anymore because it is everywhere, all the time. This means that there is less demand for musicians that can create a good album in the studio when all anyone wants to hear is something that is easy to listen to, day to day.

An artist like Justin Bieber, a multi-instrumentalist, who has played drums live on stage, piano live on stage, guitar live on stage and even has played the trumpet live on the radio, is only recognized for his on trend chart music and his vocals. But, he has never recorded any instruments in the studio for his music, other than his vocals. I believe that it is because big main stream artists like Justin Bieber, are just lazy with their music. It is so much easier for, especially pop artists, to pay other musicians to play their tracks for them, so where does this leave multi-instrumentalists? Because it looks like there isn’t much demand or use for these types of talented artists in the industry. You can be a multi-instrumentalist and become famous, create good tracks and chart worthy hits, but you’ll only really be needed for your voice and your online personality because,  evidently, nobody cares whether you can play 10 different instruments like prince anymore, or whether you can set up and record a sick track like Dave Grohl. Social media and technology has taken over, and multi-instrumentalists aren’t in high demand anymore.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll find a definitive answer to my question because it is a very tricky question to answer. If you want to make it in the music industry, with enough dedication and hard work, you can. But if you want to make it as a famous multi-instrumentalist, and be like John Entwistle, i think you’ll have a really limited audience because I do believe that it may be a thing of the past now. It’s outdated. There are benefits and other routes you can take that will allow someone to express their skills as a multi-instrumentalist, but they are also very limited, even if it is a very valuable skill to have in the industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s