Unless you want to start an orchestra, a string instrument is all you need to compose simple bits of music. We notice around us a lot of solo guitarists who do performances on their own. If you are blessed with a good voice, you can become the next Elvis Presley or Eric Clapton, who both rose to fame performing as solo artists.
String instruments are one of the best inventions in music. The mechanics is simple enough. When you vibrate a string, you create sound. You modify the pitch, volume and frequency by the thickness and tension of the string. The guitar is perhaps the most common string instrument. If you are a symphony or concerto fan, you know many more string instruments. Let us look at a few that are easy to pick up.
The ukulele is smaller than a guitar and easier to learn. It has only four strings as opposed to the guitar’s six. The sound produced by the ukulele is simple and applicable only to a specific genre of songs such as folk or country, unlike a guitar that is extremely diverse in terms of its application. And the best part is that once you know the ukulele, you can pick up guitar with relative ease.
Often confused with the violin, the viola can be thought of as a much larger violin with a deeper, bassier sound. Normally you sit on a chair and position the viola in between your legs. While violas were traditionally used only in orchestras, they are increasingly being used by solo musicians and composers.
The banjo has its roots from African folk music and has extensively been used in American country music. It has a distinctive sound as compared to the guitar. You can start off with a five-stringed banjo to compose simple 4-chord songs. A banjo’s strings are much more tightly wound and so requires a pick or plectrum to play.
For the more ambitious ones, we recommend the Sitar. It remains our favorite instrument out of all the modern string instruments. The Sitar is extremely large and much more complex in terms of finger movement, as it requires both hands on the strings. It is an Indian classical instrument and is used in the context of Indian classical music compositions with significant note variations.
String instruments are fun to learn. Try out one of these and you will soon find out that diversifying to other instruments, even percussions for that matter, gets easier.