21 Instrumental Songs For Funerals

Sometimes, music can speak louder than any words. Instrumental numbers can be wonderful choices to honor our loved ones, whether you’re having a traditional funeral service or your loved one has opted for a celebration of life service. Below we have listed the best instrumental songs for funerals.

 “Amazing Grace” by John Newton, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1772

This is an absolute classic. Many people choose to have someone sing this song at their funeral, but an instrumental version also works well, especially as an introduction to a funeral service.

When law enforcement officers pass away, it is tradition that “Amazing Grace” is played on bagpipes when they are at the cemetery. If bagpipes are not your flavor, you can always have someone play this comforting hymn on piano, harp, violin, or an ensemble.

“Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp Minor” by Chopin, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1837

This nocturne written by Frederic Chopin was not even published while he was still living, which lends a certain sadness as well as a sense of redemption to the piece. It begins slowly, with careful notes and a call to the listener to pay attention to a plea, and then the notes begin to amble off to a more cheerful tone, resonating throughout the piano (as this is a piano piece).

Nocturne No. 20 is a beautiful piece to bring the room of mourners (or celebrants) to a sense of communal silence, to remember the deceased.

“Moonlight Sonata, 1st Movement” by Beethoven, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1801

Beethoven was a musical genius, despite going deaf early into his compositional career. Perhaps this and other hardships are what made him such a passionate musician and composer—he knew how quickly life can fly away from us, and “Moonlight Sonata,” written for piano, takes only one instrument to convey these emotions and so many more.

This is a classy and moving piece to choose for a loved one’s funeral, especially if they felt a special connection to the song or Beethoven himself.

“Vocalise, Op. 34: No. 14” by Rachmaninoff, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1915

One of the last works released by Sergei Rachmaninoff, this amazing piece is best enjoyed as a duet, with a piano accompanying a violin. The notes move from sharp to baseline again, creating a dancing between minor chords and major chords that give the song both gravity and joy. Although this piece is more serious than anything else, it was composed as a piece of a set of love songs, and deep feelings can be felt throughout.

If the deceased loved classical music, or even if their spouse wishes to honor them with a beloved piece, “Vocalise” is appropriate for any funeral.

“Song Without Words” by Mendelssohn, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1834-1844 (the book of movements)

Although there were several books written over the course of a decade by Felix Mendelssohn, the particular piano piece we are referring to is specific to Book 6. It is Op. 67, Allegro non troppo in E Major.

This song is breathtakingly ethereal, and it is not only emotional, but it is also meditative. This Mendelssohn piece, especially when performed by a master like Steve Anderson, takes on almost a life of its own, encapsulating its audience. It can be the perfect tribute for your deceased loved one, especially because it is a song without words, and sometimes grief escaped explanation with simple words.

“Ave Maria” by Shubert, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1853

The Schubert arrangement of this classic Latin prayer is the most popular and well known, and therefore it makes it onto our list of instrumental funeral songs. The most enduring setup is a piano and violin duet. The listing and enchanting violin weaving its notes in between those of the piano are both wistful and calming.

An ave is a farewell song, and this is the most well-known ave of them all. Especially if the deceased wished for a funeral mass, this could be a great choice of touching and traditional song to play at their wake or burial.

“Adagio” by Albinoni, performed by various artists

Song Year: 1945

Although this adagio is attributed to the famed Baroque composer Albinoni, it was really completed and composed by Remo Giazotto in 1945, who claims that the lower notes and baseline were there in a musical composition he found—he simply filled in the rest.

Whatever this piece’s origins, there is no doubt that it is a powerhouse. Piano and violin, fluttering keystrokes with mesmerizing violin strings singing, this song would be a beautiful addition to any more serious and meditative funeral service.

“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen

Song Year: 1975

We are now stepping into less solemn and more upbeat tributes to the deceased. An instrumental version of Queen’s classic “You’re My Best Friend” could seem an odd choice to some, but for others, it could be the perfect conclusion song to a celebration of life service, not only for the significant other of the deceased but to memorialize how wonderful their impact was on the lives of everyone they met.

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” by James Taylor

Song Year: 1975

This amazing love song by James Taylor is not only upbeat and cheerful, but it is also an easy song to dance to. If the deceased wished for their service to be full of life, more like a party than a memorial, this could be a wonderful chance for the people there to let loose, reminding them how much the deceased loved each of them and of their love for the deceased. It is a great way to remember a person who was full of life and joy.

“Let It Be” by the Beatles

Song Year: 1970

There are so many reasons why “Let It Be,” whether it be just the simple version we’ve attached here, or a different arrangement with piano only, piano and violin, or some other combination, should be part of a funeral service with dignity and vibrancy. Funerals are occasions to mourn, to honor a person we have lost. They are also a time to come together and to let each other know that sadness is healthy, loss is natural, and carrying on takes a village.

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Song Year: 1964

There are endless arrangements to choose from when it comes to this Simon & Garfunkel classic that has been covered over and over. They even released their own original instrumental version. This song is about the idea that we can be around others throughout our whole lives, but in reality, we are simply walking our own path, ultimately alone.

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