Most of the songs printed in The Lord of the Rings are performed a capella in their context, but it is clearly shown that they are usually not performed this way, but with some form of accompaniment. Heidi Steimel has researched the clues given in the novel about the kinds of instruments mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. She rightly observes that
Music is more than mere entertainment in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Readers of his books know that a song can tell a story or set the mood for a festive occasion; it can also weave a spell, win a battle and create a world.
The latter of course refers to the First Music, but can also be seen figuratively: Surprisingly often, characters instead of speaking a sentiment, sing a song. This is most notable with Rohirrim characters, which is probably what Steimel is referring to with “win a battle”: When riding into battle, the Rohirrim chant a poem instead of addressing their men by speaking. They also – and this is where we get to instrumental music – use wind instruments even more than other cultures with constant mentions of horns. Use of instruments is attested to most other cultures, as well, including (in a way) the Ents. As with vocal music, we will have a look at the most important occurrences of instrumental music or vocal music accompanied with instruments.