chapter  1
20 Pages

Introduction

Musical instruments and human bodies Despite the reverberations of the 2008 financial crisis, and despite the fact that it had a disproportionate effect on the under 30s, who make up the industry’s largest number of customers, the musical instrument business in the USA had its fourth straight year of sales gains in 2013, with 6.81 billion dollars. The ‘Music Industry Census’, the annual summary of the musical instrument business in the USA, tells us that 2,472,700 new acoustic and electric guitars, 966,340 ukuleles, 136,576 acoustic and digital pianos, 912,500 portable keyboards, 140,600 drum kits and 911,400 brass, woodwind and orchestral stringed instruments were sold in the USA that year. In addition, there is a huge market for used musical equipment in online marketplaces such as eBay with daily offerings of millions of musical instruments.1 These seemingly trivial details from the largest musical instrument market in the world exemplify the general popularity of playing musical instruments. It seems noteworthy that so many of us want not merely to listen to and think about music, but to produce music with our bodies, through the movement of our limbs, lungs and fingers, in contact with these objects which are capable of producing sounds. In the light of sales figures such as those above, and from what we can gather from the amount of time and effort people of all ages invest in mastering the tools of music, it is obvious that playing musical instruments is an important phenomenon in human life.