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Top 10 Rock 'n' Roll Songs For The Violin

Rock and roll shook up the world in the 1950s and music has never been the same. Classical performers have had fun covering rock tunes for decades. Practicing some rock tunes can stave off the tedium of constantly playing from the same style of music. It can also help you improve your technique and expand your portfolio. Rock isn't known for its understatement, so you can also use these songs to get comfortable moving on stage as you perform

If you're not a rock fan now, try out a couple of these awesome rock songs with your violin and you will be. 

  1. "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica. This 1991 classic heavy metal has been part of David Garret's repertoire for over a decade. This scoring is a solo instrumental is $2.99 for a digital copy and one print. 
  1. "Thunderstruck" continues our heavy metal theme. (Don't worry, we'll move through the continuum to end with folk rock.) A mainstay to rev up crowds at hockey games due to its intense, unrelenting motif. This hard rock classic as a violin cover can do the same for an audience. You'll want to pull in a percussionist friend to back you. (By AC/DC, released in 1990). 
  1. "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones. What rock list is complete without a Stones tune? Released in 1966, this song is the embodiment of "haunting." It also provides the opportunity to practice several techniques in a different musical context. Here's a string quartet cover of the song. You Westworld fans have already heard it in full orchestral splendor. The sheet music linked here is published in F Minor and available in digital version with one print for $5.50. 
  1. "Kashmir" has one of the most recognizable opening riffs in entire rock genre. Everyone recognizes it, even though most don't know the name of the song. This iconic rock song from Led Zeppelin was released on their sixth album "Physical Graffiti" in 1975. Here's a solo performance from Lucia Micarelli. 
  1. "Penny Lane" is a fun option for those of you not pulled in by the hard rock. A fun, frothy tune from the Beatles, released in 1967. This is a solo arrangement published in D major ($2.99). 
  1. "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen. Hey! Our first American on this list of rock classics. It makes sense it's the Boss. "Born to Run" is considered one of the best rock albums of all time, and Thunder Road is its crowning piece after the title track. It won't be technically challenging, but a worthwhile deviation to hone your skills. It's a pop/rock musical novelty in that it has no chorus. Here's another string quartet cover ($5.99).
  1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" started a revolution. Released in 1991 by Nirvana, it was a repudiation of the glamour rock/ arena rock era of the 1980s and ushered in Grunge Rock. Officially given "rock anthem for Generation X" status, the song was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. The sheet music linked here is for orchestra violin, $5.99. Here's the sheet music for the arrangement performed by David Garrett. 
  1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N'Roses. While GN'R is a hard rock band, this is the quintessential rock ballad. Slow tempos interjected with more aggressive passages, all underlined by over-the-top theatricality. Released in on GN'R's debut album, "Appetite for Destruction" in 1987, it was their only number one hit. This sheet music is for string quartet available for $12.99. 
  1. "Brown Eyed Girl" isn't easily characterized despite being a fairly simple, lovely melodic song. Van Morrison wrote and performed the song and he's never been easily categorized either. R&B, soul, pop, rock –have all been used to describe him. This song is listed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Rock Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll," so we'll go with it. The music delivers the nostalgic playfulness of the lyrics and is great when accompanied by piano. 
  1. "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel and their first hit. It's been covered as a solo performance, violin accompanied by guitar, and as a string quartet. The sheet music is for one violin as part of an orchestral arrangement. So you've got a lot of options here.

Violin on sheet music