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Band (rock and pop) facts for kids

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Beatles ad 1965 just the beatles crop
The Beatles were a four-piece rock band. They are pictured here in 1965, celebrating their Grammy win.

A rock band or pop band is a small musical ensemble which performs rock music, pop music or a related genre. The four-piece band is the most common configuration in rock and pop music. Before the development of the electronic keyboard, the configuration was typically two guitarists (a lead guitarist and a rhythm guitarist, with one of them singing lead vocals), a bassist, and a drummer (e.g. the Who, the Monkees, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and U2). Instrumentally, these bands can be considered as trios.

The smallest ensemble that is commonly used in rock music is the trio format. Two-member rock and pop bands (such as Steely Dan, The White Stripes and The Black Keys) are relatively rare, because of the difficulty in providing all of the musical elements which are part of the rock or pop sound (vocals, chords, bass lines, and percussion or drumming).

Green Day at 2009 MTV VMA's
Green Day, a power trio, at 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. From left to right: Bassist Mike Dirnt, singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and drummer Tré Cool.

In a hard rock or blues-rock band, or heavy metal rock group, a "power trio" format is often used, which consists of an electric guitar player, an electric bass guitar player and a drummer, and typically one or more of these musicians also sing (sometimes all three members will sing, e.g. Bee Gees or Alkaline Trio). Some well-known power trios with the guitarist on lead vocals are the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Nirvana, the Jam, ZZ Top, and Green Day, while power trios with the bass guitarist on lead vocals include Cream, Rush, The Police and Motörhead.

Larger bands have long been a part of rock and pop music, in part due to the influence of the "singer accompanied with orchestra" model inherited from popular big-band jazz and swing and popularized by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

To create larger ensembles, rock bands often add an additional guitarist, an additional keyboardist, additional percussionists or second drummer, an entire horn section, and even a flautist. An example of a six-member rock band is Toto with a lead vocalist, guitarist, bassist, two keyboard players, and drummer. Other examples include Australian band INXS and American Blondie; both consist in a lead vocalist, two guitarists, a keyboard player, a bassist and a drummer.

In larger groups (such as the Band), instrumentalists could play multiple instruments, which enabled the ensemble to create a wider variety of instrument combinations.

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