Musical Instruments Used in Mardi Gras

by Richard Kyori
Mardi Gras parades often include marching bands.

Mardi Gras parades often include marching bands.

Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Mardi Gras is a wildly popular festival celebrated just before the fasting season of Lent in late February or early March. In the United States, Mardis Gras is synonymous with New Orleans, which proudly celebrates its French Catholic heritage with a massive celebration each year. During Mardis Gras, New Orleans embraces its finest musicians to help set the mood of the party.


Traditional brass instruments, such as the trumpet, horn and tuba, are used in more traditional jazz bands during Mardi Gras, and are used in marching bands during the Mardis Gras parades. These boisterous instruments are sure to make themselves heard during the festival, and provide the sound most commonly associated with Mardis Gras music.

Piano and Organ

Pianos and organs are used to play old ragtime music, jazz standards and even more contemporary music. Often accompanied by drums, bass, and other traditional jazz ensemble players, the piano and organ pour an immense amount of soul into the festivities of Mardi Gras.


One of the most versatile instruments used during the Mardi Gras celebration is the saxophone. With the ability to play louder than most woodwind instruments, and to play a wider range than any other brass instrument, the saxophone is truly at home in the diverse musical world of Mardi Gras.


Drums of all kinds are played during the Mardi Gras celebration. French Africans play complex driving rhythms on traditional drums, while the more traditional American jazz drum is used by many bands. Marching drums are also commonly used during the parades, and almost every band will have a drummer pacing its rhythms as the night winds on.

About the Author

Richard Kyori has been writing professionally since 2006. He has been teaching design and technology courses at colleges and universities since 2005. Kyori holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Boston University and is working toward a Master of Architecture.

Photo Credits

  • Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images News/Getty Images