The Best of Instrumental Music from the 70s and 80s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The best of instrumental music from the 70s and 80s.


The 70s and 80s saw the rise of many great instrumentalists who would go on to change the face of music forever. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best instrumentalists of this era and the songs that they are best remembered for.

The 70s

Instrumental music in the 70s was dope. This is the golden era for jazz, with greats like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock releasing some of their best work. But the 70s was also a great decade for rock, with bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd creating some of the most iconic instrumentals of all time.


Jazz-funk is a subgenre of jazz music characterized by a strong back beat (often as implied by funk), electrified sounds and an early prevalence of analog synthesizers. The fundamentals of jazz-funk tend to be similar to African-American funk music of the late 1960s and 1970s.

While jazz-funk was influenced by disco, it usually eschewed the repetitive “four-on-the-floor” beats associated with the genre. Additionally, while both genres often made use of extended improvisation, jazz-funk tended to be more tightly composed and was less reliant on improvisation than its parent genre.

artists associated with the jazz-funk genre include Miles Davis, George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Funkadelic, Herbie Hancock, Grant Green, Skyjacker and The Headhunters.

Smooth Jazz

Smooth Jazz emerged in the 1970s as a fusion of Jazz, Funk, and R&B. Often featuring electric pianos, bass guitar, and saxophones, Smooth Jazz is known for its mellow sound and easy listening appeal. Smooth Jazz became popular in the 1980s as radio stations began to play more instrumental music and less vocal tracks. The genre has continued to grow in popularity ever since.


Jazz fusion (also known as fusion) is a genre of jazz that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined aspects of jazz harmony and improvisation with styles such as funk, rock, rhythm and blues, and Latin jazz. During the 1970s, jazz fusion emerged as a dominant style in jazz and popular music.

Instrumental rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the mid-1960s. It is largely derived from electric blues, hard rock, and psychedelic rock. The style is characterized by electric guitars and bass guitars played with distortion through powerful amplifiers, often accompanied by drums, keyboards, and sometimes saxophone.

The 80s

The 80s were a great time for music. Some of the best songs of all time were released in this decade. This playlist includes the best instrumental songs from the 80s. From power ballads to movie themes, these songs will take you back to the best decade ever.

Contemporary Jazz

Although it evolved out of the bebop and hard bop styles of the 1940s and 1950s, contemporary jazz is a genre unto itself. Taking cues from rock, funk, and Latin music, contemporary jazz artists expanded the possibilities of what jazz could be while still staying true to its improvisational roots. If you’re looking for the perfect mix of smooth grooves and complex harmonies, these are the tracks for you.

Acid Jazz

Acid Jazz, sometimes called club jazz, is a musical genre that combines elements of jazz, soul, funk, and hip hop. The style is defined by its heavy use of improvisation, groove-based rhythms, and dub basslines. Acid Jazz originated in the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The founder of the genre is widely considered to be Gilles Peterson, who started his legendary record label acid jazz records in 1985.

The acid jazz movement was started by a group of young British musicians who were influenced by American jazz and funk records that they heard in clubs and on pirate radio stations. These artists began to experiment with the sounds of contemporary dance music, fusing them with traditional Jazz instrumentation and aesthetics. This new style of music quickly found an audience among clubgoers in London and other major cities in the UK.

In the early 1990s, acid jazz began to gain popularity in the United States after being championed by influential DJs like Roni Size and James Lavelle. American artists like Us3 and Digable Planets also helped to bring the sound to a wider audience with their successful albums “Hand on the Torch” (1993) and “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)” (1994).

Today, acid jazz is enjoyed by listeners all over the world. The genre has continued to evolve over the years, incorporating new influences from electronic music and hip hop. Many modern acid jazz artists have found success by fusing the sound with other genres like soul, R&B, and pop.


We hope you have enjoyed this compilation of some of the best instrumental music from the 70s and 80s. This era was truly a golden age for music, and we hope that this mix has brought back some great memories for you. Thanks for listening!

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