Give me all sorts of violin music.
August 15, 2010 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Tracks/artists that help showcase the full range of violin music?

I'd like to make a CD to give my younger brother to showcase the wide range of music styles and sounds that violins can take a part in.

I already have Andrew Bird down, Antoine Dufour (which I noticed on the blue and the CD is pretty great), Samamidon, and Old Crow Medicine Show. And I guess that Devil Went Down to Georgia song.

What else is there? Electric violin? Metal violin? Jazz violin? Classical music? Experimental music?

Specific track recommendations would be great.

A few slower tracks wouldn't hurt things, and I'd enjoy them myself so please recommend them anyway, but the more immediately catchy/interesting/riveting the better for this.

I really, really want to end up with just an incredible range of diverse sounds linked together by the presence of a violin. And by goodness, of course.

Also, I have no exposure to classical music, so please go ahead and put down that famous work that you were hesitating to mention because everyone knows about it already.
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Jean Luc Ponty was a big name in 70's jazz fusion electric violin.
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:29 PM on August 15, 2010

This previous question might give you some ideas.
posted by Rumple at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2010

Mark Feldman is amazing. Lots of downtown NYC-style stuff in his canon, but he's guested all over the place. His site looks a bit out of date, but that discography is a fine jumping-off point.
posted by mintcake! at 1:41 PM on August 15, 2010

The Dirty Three
posted by dobbs at 1:42 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kate Bush's Violin.
posted by applemeat at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2010

Bach solo sonatas and partitas as performed by Henryk Szeryng, e.g. the Fuga from Sonata No.1.
posted by cbrody at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2010

Blue October. "Sweet and Somber Pigeon Wings" from 1998's The Answers has amazing violin. (The other songs on that album also have amazing violin; 2000's Consent to Treatment has a bunch of songs with great violin, from a more rock 'n' roll perspective.)
posted by shamash at 1:59 PM on August 15, 2010

The one and only album by the late Amy Farris, Anyway. You can hear samples here.
posted by chez shoes at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2010

Heifetz plays Paganini; A Hawk and a Hacksaw; Gidon Kremer plays Piazzolla; ROVO; David Oistrakh plays Ravel's Tzigane;
Tatiana Grindenko et al. play Martynov's 'Come In!'; Steve Reich's Violin Phase: Stephane Grappelli (& Django reinhardt) play Minor Swing.
posted by misteraitch at 2:21 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Jean-Luc Ponty. In a past life I sampled and looped a snippet of his electric violin from one of his records for use on a hip hop album that never got made (MeFiMu self-link).
posted by Kirk Grim at 2:24 PM on August 15, 2010

Ultravox's Vienna (and much of the rest of their music from that period, courtesy violinist/violist Billy Currie).
posted by scody at 2:37 PM on August 15, 2010

Tip Cup Prophette - example track Going Numb (She does this kind of indie-rock style, recording and looping tracks on stage, moving on to other layers of the song, playing them all at once, switching between violin, guitar, glockenspiel, and vocals. She also does Irish folk music)
posted by Eumachia L F at 2:44 PM on August 15, 2010

Seconding the Bach sonatas and partitas; they are incredible. Piazzolla, as mentioned above, writes cool tangos and other South American-style music for ensembles with violin. The Paganini caprices are show-off pieces, very flashy.

The Red Violin movie soundtrack, composed by John Corigliano and performed by Joshua Bell, has a variety of different, mostly classical, styles, and a little bit of gypsy fiddling.

Ashley MacIsaac takes Cape Breton fiddling in a very different direction, especially the album Hi How Are You Today. Much more rock and roll grunge than kitchen party.

String quartets (2 violins, viola, cello) almost always have great violin parts. Alban Berg's Lyric Suite has some normal-ish parts and some extended techniques on the violin that sound really cool and eerie. And string quartets are trying to get cooler - Ethel, from NYC, plays new music and improvises and generally tries to break out of the stereotype, starting with the name.

Jesse Zubot is an amazing violinst from Vancouver who has played with so many people in many genres - folk, country, rock and roll. This winter he was touring with Hawksley Workman.
posted by kyla at 2:44 PM on August 15, 2010

Teddy Douglas & Luis Radio - "The Violin". I first heard this tune when Basement Jaxx played in their BBC Essential Mix back in 1999!
posted by Sutekh at 2:49 PM on August 15, 2010

Also Tumi and the Volume are a South African hip hop group with a violinist, and Canadian weirdo badass Ashley MacIsaac has been known to punk it up a little with a violin from time to time.
posted by Kirk Grim at 2:51 PM on August 15, 2010

Make sure you check out Vitamin String Quartet, they do covers of lots of popular music, and they're all excellent. Here's their cover of Yellow by Coldplay, and Hallelujah by Paramore.
posted by kylej at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2010

Walter Steding was one of Andy Warhol's proteges.
posted by kimdog at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2010

I like these because these are really unique (to me):
• Miri Ben-Ari: We Gonna Win, Symphony of Brotherhood (hip hop violin?)
• Nickel creek-When in Rome (blue grass/folk)
Nuttin but stringz-broken sorrow
posted by Wolfster at 3:04 PM on August 15, 2010

"Folk punk" / "Punky folk" / "Pflonk"


The Levellers


posted by runincircles at 3:06 PM on August 15, 2010

Kansas, especially older albums, is the quintessential use of violin in progressive rock. Dust in the Wind, Point of Know Return, Miracles Out of Nowhere & Icarus, Borne on Wings of Steel should do for starters.
posted by scalefree at 3:58 PM on August 15, 2010

For jazz violin, you can't go past Stephane Grappelli

Warren Ellis (of Dirty Three) also has some great solo compositions

Chris Duncan is an excellent scottish fiddle player.

Strike the Colours
and Arab Strap also both use the violin to great effect
posted by girlgenius at 4:59 PM on August 15, 2010

Owen Pallett (previously under the moniker Final Fantasy) does lots of lovely looping tricks in the same vein as Andrew Bird. This Lamb Sells Condos is particularly amazing live (the studio version is more pianocentric). Also try This Is the Dream of Win and Régine, The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead, and his live cover of Peach, Plum, Pear (originally by Joanna Newsom).
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2010

As you said, you'll need some classical...

Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in E minor, first movement. This is the apex of mind-blowing, heart-on-the-sleeve, bring-the-house-down classical violin.

Vivaldi - The Four Seasons, specifically the "Summer" concerto, either the first or last movement.

If I had to represent classical violin with just one or two tracks, I'd go with those two. But here are some more suggestions:

Mozart - Sinfonia Concertante, first movement. Brilliant interplay of violin and viola, though it might seem a bit stodgy in the context of your CD.

Brahms - Hungarian Dances. (Make sure you're getting a violin-and-piano version, not an orchestral version. Any of them would be good, but No. 5 is the ridiculously famous one.)

All those compositions are very famous, so you'll be able to find many of the top violinists playing them. Examples of some superstar classical violinists, off the top of my head, would be Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, or Jascha Heifetz -- anything by them is a good bet. The standards for classical violin playing on professional records is so high that I wouldn't worry much about getting the best version.

If you want virtuoso violin for the sake of showing off, Paganini would be the composer to look into. This album of his 24 Caprices is supposed to be good. (I haven't heard it, but the trustworthy website Classics Today gives it the highest rating.) Here's a different violinist, Heifetz, playing one of the Caprices.

One more: Andrew Manze is a phenomenal violinist who specializes in older classical music played on period instruments. Something by him could be an interesting, less-obvious counterpart to my other suggestions. For instance, I like his album of the obscure Baroque composer Uccellini. That'd probably be more of a dry acquired taste. Another suggestion along these lines: Biber's Rosary Sonatas.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2010

As a musical illiterate, I found myself delighted with Lucia Micarelli a young, classically trained violinist who is on the tv series Treme playing a role as a busker in New Orleans. I got her Interlude album because it had the most soothing song in the world to me "Clare de Lune" and she also (on the show) tried her had at cajun music. Anything by the Pine Leaf Boys gives the flavor of that unique sound.
posted by Anitanola at 5:48 PM on August 15, 2010

My favorite writing music, the Balanescu Quartet, particularly the album Possessed. It's a string quartet performing Kraftwerk electronica songs, and they're both faithful covers and mind-blowingly awesome in themselves. Check these out, with Kraftwerk originals linked for comparison:

- Robots (orig)
- The Model (orig/English)
- & my favorite, Computer Love (orig/English)
posted by nicebookrack at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2010

AIUI, you are planning to make one audio CD, so that's 75 minutes to work with. So about 25-30 minutes of classical music should be good. I'd say, take the Chaconne from the 2nd partita (Bach), one of Paganini's caprices (probably 24th), the presto of Summer from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and I can't think of a suitable solo or violin-in-front piece from Romantic/Modern period right now (maybe Vaughan William's Lark Ascending).
posted by Gyan at 10:24 PM on August 15, 2010

Stuff Smith, Stephane Grappelli, and Joe Venuti for jazz violin. You have to have something from the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, and also try to get in a Ysaye solo sonata, maybe 2, 3, or 6. If you pick up a showpiece album by someone like Heifetz or Oistrakh or Milstein, you should be able to get a selection of short 3-5 minute pieces. (This being an example.) Hora Staccato is a real hoot. I've also been partial to Bruch's Scottish Fantasty (the last movement some will recognize as the melody of "Scots wha hae"), the Dvorak concerto (particularly 2nd and 3rd movements), the Sibelius concerto (1st and 3rd movements), and the Barber concerto (particularly the 2nd mvt).
posted by Busoni at 1:40 AM on August 16, 2010

Ra Ra Riot features rock and roll violin. I highly recommend seeing them live- it emphasizes the fact that they are a violin band with indie rock backing, rather than the other way around.
posted by theflash at 2:04 PM on August 20, 2010

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