We all know that the violin is an incredibly historic instrument. For literally hundreds of years the violin has been used across the globe and across genres! It’s an instrument that many of us may associate with the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras of western classical music, but we think it’s important to highlight the role of the violin in modern music too.
It’s no surprise that the violin became a composition essential when it burst onto the scene all those years ago. It was versatile, had a beautiful full sound and so many different capabilities compared to instruments that came before it. The violin was given a big role as a result.
But let’s fast forward to the 20th century. How on earth were popular musicians going to further the use of the violin? They actually did so very successfully.
So many genres incorporated this historic instrument into their pieces, and we’re going to acknowledge some of those here to celebrate the upcoming launch of RSL Classical Violin.
Let’s begin with disco! You might think that the violin and disco are an unlikely pairing but the reality is that they are a match made in heaven. Almost every single one of your disco favourites will feature some string action. The Bee Gees were a big fan. Just have a listen to “Stayin’ Alive” or “More Than a Woman”, which include some sensational string parts. In disco music, the strings were rarely taking centre stage, but no disco composer would dream of writing a song without a cohesive string section part. The depth of a string section gave these songs movement, and a little pizzazz. We certainly can’t imagine these disco hits without the violin parts to elevate and intensify them!
Folk and country music has long relied on the violin to give it its distinctive flavour and vibe. In an English cultural setting, the violin is often referred to as a fiddle too! Throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, the violin has featured in folk tunes which were often memorised or improvised. We can find a nod towards these sounds in modern music, and T-Swift has got us covered on that. In the beginning, we all knew Taylor as a country singer, and her hit tune “Our Song” has this beautiful, fiddler-esque introduction to it. Have a listen below!
Moving into the soul genre, Soul II Soul’s mega track “Back to Life” is another fantastic example of how the violin is used in modern music. From little rhythmic stabs to catchy fills, the violinists in this piece look to be having a great time in the music video! We love when an artist gets the strings into full view.
And speaking of strings in full view, we couldn’t possibly complete this article without the involvement of Clean Bandit! Classically-trained musicians themselves, they are not afraid to put their violin and cello parts at centre stage. Forget background sound, or a textural addition, these parts are lead melodies, and prominent, catchy tunes. And they go down a storm! There’s certainly an appetite for modern strings in popular culture and Clean Bandit have proven that to us all. After all, they do produce hit single after hit single!
There are, of course, so many more string moments that we could mention here, but alas, we’d be here all day! From dramatic film scores to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor”, to ELO’s electric violin master, Mik Kaminski, to Black Violin’s exciting violin club music, there really is a whole world of possibility for string players in the 21st century. We can’t wait to see what comes next! Could the RSL Classical Violin syllabus help you achieve your musical dreams?!