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5 Compositions Perfect For Using Your Violin Pickup

Violin pickups are the most affordable way to amplify the sound your violin makes without investing in an electric violin, or a violin with a built-in pickup. Pickups work wonders if you’re starting to play violin in rock, folk or jazz bands, where acoustic violins can’t be heard without one, and violin pickups also work well to amplify violins and other string instruments that play in the school marching band.

When you first start out, it’s going to sound pretty loud, and you’ll also notice that every little scratch or squeak stands out. That’s okay. You’ll learn to adjust accordingly, and nothing will inspire you to hone your bowing and playing technique more than knowing you are going to be amplified.

If you haven’t purchased a pickup yet, but are planning on adding it to your accessory lineup, read, How to Choose the Right Pickup For You.

Ready to Strut Your Stuff with Your New Pickup?

Your new pickup deserves to be shown off, and you’re going to need to play samples of different music to learn how to optimize its sound. To that end, here are 5 compositions that are perfect for using – and exploring – your new violin pickup.

1. Your current best or favorite song

What’s the song you’re the proudest of right now? Is it a solo you performed at the last concert? Is it one of your audition pieces? Is it something you learned by ear or composed on your own? The best way to start exploring the ins-and-outs of your pickup is to play a song you play well – and love – so you feel confident about how you sound.

With a piece you’ve memorized and feel comfortable playing, you can artfully experiment, listening for how bowing and fingering affects the way the pickup works, which volumes or pressure work best, etc.

2. Rossini’s William Tell Overture

If you’re a beginner, you want to find a piece you can play well while sounding great, and that has a bit of punch to it. Rossini’s William Tell Overture is just the thing. It’s the classic theme from The Lone Ranger, so don’t be surprised if younger siblings come galloping into the room to watch you practice. You can print a free copy Here.

3. Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E Flat Major (RV 253)

Did you know that Vivaldi didn’t stop with The Four Seasons? He wrote La Tempesta Del Mar, or “The Storm at Sea,” as the fifth Concerto in a series of 12. This concerto contains a little bit of everything – sweet sounds, intense drama, and multiple variations in bowing – making it a satisfying piece to play with a pickup. You can download the sheet music for violin Here.

4. Led Zepplin’s Kashmir

One of Led Zepplin’s most famous songs, Kashmir, was released in 1975. If you’re in a band, or in the process of putting one together, you’ll have no problem encouraging fellow musicians to cover Kashmir. The compelling and dramatic rhythm of the drums, driving guitar chords, and – of course – the violin solos that appear throughout the recording are all available to beginning and intermediate musicians. This is a great opportunity to learn and play by ear – and your violin pickup will help you rock it like a pro. You can also purchase a digital copy of Kashmir online if you prefer to learn by sight.

Interested in rocking more violin songs with your pickup? Check out, Best Violin Solos or Interludes in Rock Songs Ever Recorded, for inspiration.

5. Lindsey Stirling’s Crystallize

There’s no doubt that Lindsey Stirling has re-branded violin music in colorful and unique packaging. While other violinists have managed to cross the classical divide and develop their reputation in other music genres, Lindsey’s persona catapulted front-and-center due to her dramatic and artistic self-expression. Click Here to access the score for one of her most famous songs, Crystallize. Its eclectic rock and digital soundscape are ideal for using your pickup and sound mixing equipment.

Once you’ve got your interpretation of the song nailed down, don’t be afraid to move and dance as Lindsey does, which expresses the music and engages with the audience at a deeper level.

Your violin pickup allows you to branch out into whole new territories and venues. Have fun practicing and curating your own collection of compositions that benefit from amplification.

Image courtesy of wikimedia.org - Theresa Andersson at New Orleans JazzFest

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