Musicians are experimenting more and more, given this melting-pot, postmodernist time period we’re currently in. And orchestral strings, like the violin, viola, or cello, are no longer only used classical music. Today they are being used in just about every genre you can imagine. Regardless of genre, these instruments can add a rich, warm tone to the music. Stringed instruments are versatile. Depending on where they are found in the different genres, you may find them being used as a rhythm section, playing the main melody, or even to provide harmony or instrumental fills.
The string family instruments are truly being used in many, if not all, genres. Everything from bluegrass, folk, pop, rock, and dubstep, to name a few. You see them used a lot in bluegrass and folk music due to the use of other acoustic instruments in those genres. The use of violin in bluegrass or folk is often considered a fiddle style and can be used either as a supporting role behind other acoustic instruments or as a lead role carrying the melody and playing during the instrumental breaks. Artists across many different genres today are also collaborating with symphonies and orchestras to accompany their bands during live performances. You’ll see in in contemporary worship concerts and even live rock concerts. Here are a few examples: “Victor’s Crown” by Darlene Zschech, “Liars” by Gregory Alan Isakov, and “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay. All three of these have beautiful string parts, and in order, the genres span Contemporary worship, Indie folk, and rock. Even if the string family instruments are not being used directly in the composition of music they are most certainly shining when it comes to groups rearranging mainstream music.
So, let’s not forget what a lot of groups, like pop duo 2Cellos, and others, are doing these days. The rearranging of popular songs into instrumental songs. Groups doing this have certainly gained popularity for their unique use of stringed instruments like the violin and the cello, but let’s not forget the nostalgia that comes with the holiday’s when we hear those Christmas classics done the same way. Many popular Christmas songs have been reworked into instrumentals as well. There’s something about all those jazzy chords when rearranged for a string quartet, that can put the spirit in a jolly mood. Rearranging popular Christmas songs or your own favorite songs is not only a great way to expand your repertoire, but also to get gigs if you're a performer. Audiences love to hear songs they know. And doing them instrumentally is a great platform for a string player. Think about weddings, there is an endless list of beautiful songs people have played at their wedding. Which means, an endless list of music to rearrange for any combination of stringed instruments. One example, and maybe the most popular is, “A thousand years” by Christina Perri. It’s been arranged for stringed performances from solo cello to string quartets.
Needless to say, the instruments in the string family are extremely flexible in music. They are found across all the genres, both working within music and standing alone in instrumentals. Just like learning classical repertoire, if you're a string player and want to branch out, find music in other genres to work on. If you're a performer, think about how you can use these arrangements to get different gigs. Most importantly, music is expressive and creative. So find that enjoyment in all the ways there are to express it.