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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Acoustic music comprises music that solely or primarily uses instruments which produce sound through entirely acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means. The retronym "acoustic music" appeared after the advent of electric instruments, such as the electric guitar, bass guitar, electric organ and synthesizer.[1]

Performers of acoustic music often increase the volume of their output using electronic amplifiers. However, these amplification devices remain separate from the amplified instrument and reproduce its natural sound accurately.

Following the increasing popularity of the television show MTV Unplugged during the 1990s, acoustic (though in most cases still electrically-amplified) performances by musical artists who usually rely on electronic instruments became colloquially referred to as "unplugged" performances.

Writing for Splended, music reviewer Craig Conley suggests, "When music is labeled acoustic, unplugged, or unwired, the assumption seems to be that other types of music are 'cluttered' by technology and overproduction and therefore aren't as 'pure.'"[2]


  1. ^ Safire, William, "On Language: Retronym", New York Times Magazine, January 7, 2007
  2. ^ Conley, Craig (1999-08-16). "Reviews: Unwired: Acoustic Music from around the World". Splendid. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 

Simple English

Acoustic music is music which is played by using acoustic musical instruments, i.e. instruments in which the sound is not made louder by electronic amplification. Before electronic musical instruments were created in the 20th century all instruments were acoustic.

Classical music is usually played using only acoustic musical instruments, although some 20th century composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen used electronic instruments, sometimes together with acoustic instruments. Some modern forms of music like heavy metal music are usually played using electronic musical instruments like electric guitars and synthesizers.


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