Perhaps you are a pianist looking to collaborate with another musician who plays a different instrument. Or maybe you’re a music producer and want to know which other musical instruments sound well with the piano.
Whatever your reason, this article will highlight some of the best musical instruments that go well with the piano.
But before we talk about the individual instruments, let’s first talk about piano trios.
The Concept of Piano Trios
There is a broad range of instruments that can be played alongside the piano. However, the concept of piano trios is borne out of the fact that a perfect balance can be achieved between a group of musical instruments made up of a piano and two other musical instruments.
The most common and popular piano trio combinations used in chamber ensembles are pianos alongside the violin and cello.
What this means is that the violin and the cello are two instruments that go well the most with the piano. It is not surprising then that this combination has produced some of the greatest music in the world.
Before I talk about the relationship each of these instruments has with the piano individually, watch this beautiful rendition of the song “You raise me up” performed by this piano trio to fully appreciate what I am talking about.
Another piano trio is the jazz trio. And the most popular jazz trio consists of the piano, drums, and double bass.
The jazz trio has existed for many years, and many classic jazz albums have been recorded using only the piano, drums, and bass.
Some of the more notable jazz trio albums are Night Train by Oscar Peterson, Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans, and Covered (The Robert Glasper Trio) by Robert Glasper.
That notwithstanding, there are other rare piano trio combinations. However, they do not fully complement the piano as the violin and cello do.
Violins are used to play both classical and popular music styles due to their incredible versatility. This is because it is able to stand out whether it is used in an orchestra, in rock music, or at the studio. The range of sounds produced by the violin is melodic and distinct. In addition, it has powerful and unique tonal qualities.
What you should also know is that the violin is widely known as the musical instrument that goes well with the piano. It’s no secret: The piano and violin are among the best musical instrument duos you can find.
This can be attributed to the fact that; a violin’s brightness can match that of a piano in its upper registers without the sound getting lost or muffled up. In addition, the smooth tones of the sound produced from a violin’s strings are able to enhance the piano’s percussive sound.
Furthermore, when it comes to the lower octaves, a piano’s timbre and pitches are able to supplement and interact with the violin’s higher range.
What this means is that the sound frequencies produced by a violin can soar above a wide range of the piano’s frequencies. Thus, there is little possibility of the piano overshadowing the violin.
Finally, both musical instruments are versatile due to their wide range of frequencies, thus complementing each other brilliantly. Therefore, the piano and the violin are able to produce a delightful performance together. This video is a classic example of how great the violin goes with the piano.
The cello is a bulky and large musical instrument that produces deep and rich tones that compliment the piano so well.
However, unlike the violin, the cello can easily be overpowered by the piano. This is because the range of a cello’s register overlaps with that of the piano and its sustain.
Therefore, whenever these two instruments are played together, the pianist needs to go easy on keys, especially at the lower notes. This is the best way of accommodating these two instruments when playing them simultaneously.
When the piano and cello are played in such a way that they accommodate each other perfectly, they produce music that is truly heavenly. In fact, there is a tall list of compositions for the cello and piano. Listen to this classical piece played by a piano and cello duo.
Other Instruments That Go Well with a Piano
Just as mentioned earlier in this article, there are other musical instruments that also combine awesomely with the piano to produce melodious tunes. Let’s take a look at these musical instruments.
The bassoon is another musical instrument that goes awesomely with the piano. This instrument is the largest woodwind instrument that has the lowest pitch. If you’d like to learn about musical instruments with the lowest pitch, feel free to check out this article I wrote.
The bassoon has distinct tonal qualities, characterized by an expressive and gentle timbre that can perfectly complement the piano’s dominant presence. That is why apart from the violin/cello piano trio I talked about earlier in this article, the bassoon is also used to create variations of piano trios.
Some exquisite works by composers like Saint Saens, Debussy, Ravel, etc., had the bassoon featuring prominently. To have a feel of how great the bassoon complements the piano, listen to this tune.
The flute is a versatile instrument used in many musical genres, and I’m sure you’re probably familiar with its sound. It is used in the orchestra, used a lot in African traditional music, and quite recently, it has gained popularity in hip-hop and trap music.
As a musical instrument, a flute is known to produce a lovely and tender tone. It is relatively quieter than most musical instruments. However, its high pitch is able to cut through a mix quite well.
This is because the sound produced by the flute has a distinct refinement and warmth around it that enables it to combine well with tunes produced by the piano. Watch this amazing instrumental duet produced by the flute and the piano.
Another musical instrument that makes a wonderful combination with the piano is the clarinet. The clarinet is a relatively newer woodwind instrument with the largest register among all wind instruments.
This musical instrument has an all-action playing style and a warm timbre. The clarinet usually plays solo or leading roles when playing in a group.
That notwithstanding, the clarinet produces gentle undertones that enhance and perfectly support the piano’s dominant presence. To understand exactly what I mean, watch this video below.
The oboe is a type of woodwind instrument that has a double reed. This musical instrument is played in a similar way to the bassoon. The commonest oboe available produces tunes in the soprano or treble range.
Because the oboe has many high-range notes, it is excellent for solo performances. However, it complements the piano nicely as well.
The sound it produces has the ability to enhance and highlight all the best qualities of the piano. What this means is that the oboe fits perfectly with the piano. Thus, the oboe and the piano sound great when played together.
An infinite number of musical instrument combinations can be done with the piano. However, the musical instruments in this list are the ones that beautifully complement the piano the most.
That notwithstanding, none of them can rival the piano and the violin pairing. One thing you should note is that all the musical instruments that go well with the piano have their strengths and weaknesses.
Therefore, instrumentalists need to understand the sound characteristics of the instruments in their group and learn to work together when playing in order to achieve a great musical output.