The Best Instrumental Music of 2008

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A list of the best instrumental albums of 2008.


Instrumental music is often seen as calm and relaxing, the perfect way to unwind after a long day. But it can also be exciting and uplifting, full of energy and vitality. The best instrumental music of 2008 had something for everyone, from mellow melodies to heart-pounding rhythms.

Some of the year’s best instrumental tracks were classical pieces that had been newly recorded, while others were cutting-edge electronic tracks that pushed the boundaries of what music could be. There were also plenty of traditional instrumental tracks that kept listeners coming back for more. No matter what your taste in music, there was something for you in the best instrumental tracks of 2008.

Best Pop Instrumental

2008 was a great year for instrumental music, with a wide range of artists releasing some truly outstanding tracks. From gentle piano pieces to upbeat jazzy numbers, there was something for everyone. Here are some of the best pop instrumentals of 2008.

-“Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve
-“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
-“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
-“Every Breath You Take” by The Police
-“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Best Jazz Instrumental

Jazz instrumentalists are always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to approach their craft. In 2008, there were plenty of musicians who rose to the challenge, producing some of the most innovative and exciting music the genre has ever seen. Here are some of the best jazz instrumentalists of 2008.

Chris Potter
Chris Potter is one of the most respected saxophonists in the world, and he continued to add to his reputation in 2008 with a series of exceptional performances. One of his most notable appearances was at the Newport Jazz Festival, where he delivered a breathtaking solo set that showcased his virtuosity and artistry.

Brad Mehldau
Pianist Brad Mehldau is one of the most popular musicians in jazz, and he continued to win over fans in 2008 with his sensitive and restrained playing. He gave a number of standout performances throughout the year, but perhaps his most memorable moment came at the Montreux Jazz Festival, where he delivered a stirring rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

Hiromi Uehara
Hiromi Uehara is a relatively new name on the jazz scene, but she made a big splash in 2008 with her creative and energetic piano playing. She caught the attention of many fans with her appearance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, where she brought down the house with her high-octane performance style.

Best Classical Instrumental

2008 was a great year for classical music, with plenty of excellent new releases to choose from. Here are our picks for the best classical instrumental albums of the year.

Beethoven: The Late Quartets – The Perseus Quartet
This album features the Perseus Quartet performing all of Beethoven’s late quartets. It’s an excellent introduction to these works, and the performance is top-notch.

Mozart: The Complete viola da gamba Sonatas – Dmitry Sinkovsky, violin; Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord
This album features Sinkovsky and Mortensen performing all of Mozart’s viola da gamba sonatas. The performances are simply superb, and the album is essential listening for any fan of Mozart’s music.

Bach: The Goldberg Variations – Kimiko Ishizaka, piano
This album features pianist Kimiko Ishizaka performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Her performance is sensitive and nuanced, and she brings out the beauty in these pieces.

Haydn: The London Symphonies – Frans Brüggen conducting The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century
This album features Frans Brüggen conducting Haydn’s London symphonies. These are some of Haydn’s most beloved works, and Brüggen’s performances are simply superb.

Best World Instrumental

2008 was a great year for instrumental music, with many talented artists releasing incredible albums. Here are our picks for the best world instrumental albums of the year.

1. Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté – In the Heart of the Moon

This masterpiece from two of the greatest African musicians of our time is a must-listen for any fan of world music. The interplay between Touré’s guitar and Diabaté’s kora is simply stunning, and the entire album is permeated with a profound sense of joy and elegance.

2. Ravi Shankar – The Spirit of India

Ravi Shankar is one of the most important figures in Indian classical music, and this collection of his greatest works is an absolute essential for any world music fan. From playful ragas to meditative drones, Shankar’s music is always mesmerizing and deeply moving.

3. Susana Baca – Afrodiaspora

Peruvian singer Susana Baca is one of the most compelling and original voices in world music today, and on Afrodiaspora she explores the African roots of her country’s music with gorgeous results. Both pastoral and urban, traditional and modern, Baca’s music is always searching and beautiful.

4. Omar Sosa & Alfredo Rodriguez – Melaza

Omar Sosa is one of the most inventive pianists in jazz today, and on Melaza he teams up with Cuban prodigy Alfredo Rodriguez for a set of absolutely gorgeous piano duets. Alternately playful and profound, this album is a true delight from start to finish.

Best New Artist Instrumental

2008 was a great year for new artists in the instrumental music genre. We saw a wide variety of new artists making their mark on the music scene, and it was really exciting to see what they had to offer.

In no particular order, here are some of the best new artist Instrumentalists of 2008:

1. Nando Michelini – A classically trained pianist from Italy, Nando Michelini exploded onto the scene with his debut album “Instrumental Dreams”. The album was a beautiful mix of classical and contemporary influences, and it quickly established Nando as a force to be reckoned with in the world of instrumental music.

2. Jill Haley – Another classically trained musician, Jill Haley made a big splash with her debut album “The Edge of Night”. The album featured Jill’s beautiful ethereal voice set against a backdrop of flying synth lines and dreamy soundscapes. It was an instant favorite among fans of ambient and new-age music.

3. Yanni – One of the most well-known and loved instrumentalists in the world, Yanni returned in 2008 with his first studio album in six years, “Voices”. The album was a return to form for Yanni, with his signature blend of ethereal melodies and lush orchestrations. It was also notable for featuring guest vocalists such as Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban on several tracks.

4. Kila – An Irish band with a unique sound that blends traditional Celtic instruments with modern beats and electronics, Kila made waves with their third album “Somewhere between dreaming and awake”. The album features some of the most beautiful and catchy melodies you’ll ever hear, and it’s impossible to listen to it without being transported to another place entirely.

5. Vangelis – A Greek composer who is best known for his work on the soundtrack to “Chariots of Fire”, Vangelis returned in 2008 with his first new studio album in over ten years, “Direct”. The album saw Vangelis experimenting with a more downtempo, atmospheric sound, and it was greeted with critical acclaim from both fans and critics alike.

Best Overall Instrumental

From the safe and reliable hands of longtime virtuoso producer Manfred Eicher, this year’s best instrumental release spans two discs of solo and chamber music by some of the most formidable names in jazz and classical music. Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin contributes a beautifully turned Haydn sonata, as well as performances of works by Moszkowski, Prokofiev, and Chopin that exhibit his trademark combination of technical mastery and sensitive interpretation. The latter is also on display inHamelin’s stunning reading of Liszt’s “Mephisto” Waltz No. 1.

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