It’s nice to have options! When deciding upon the instrumentation for a new song or piece, songwriters and composers consider the style of the music they’re writing in, the inherent sound of each instrument, the roles each instrument typically plays within an ensemble, and the playability of a part on a given instrument. Along with considerations like venue and guest list size, budget, event length, and whether or not the group will be acoustic or amplified, it’s helpful to think like a composer when booking a musical act. A violinist can perform solo or be accompanied by a range of instruments; however, for music that sounds rich and convincing, it's important to consider the music first, then book the ensemble.
While it's standard within the event music industry for clients to book the desired ensemble and choose music later on, the result is sometimes a last minute scramble to try and make magic with a configuration of musicians that isn't actually very well suited to perform the requested songs. To avoid this, Laurel asks clients to identify at least a few key songs or the genre they wish to feature at the start of the booking process. From there we’ll be able to confidently book the instrumentation that will make your favorite songs come to life.
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Solo violin is an elegant and intimate choice best suited for small to medium sized venues and events (50 people or less, though if amplified we can stretch these numbers). Solo violin shines with playlists emphasizing Classical, Celtic/Folk, and sometimes Jazz, Latin, and contemporary music as long as the songs contain strong melodies that are memorable even when heard independently of the original lyrics and without any accompaniment. Solo violin creates a dynamic focal point and is poised to gracefully flow with the mood and needs of an event. However, being a singular sound, it’s also usually best suited for shorter events (2 hours or less). Beyond this, finding songs that work without accompaniment can start to become tricky.
Either Laurel's violin-guitar duo or violin-guitar-doublebass trio are superb for clients looking for a fuller sound, who have a larger venue or guest list size, or most importantly, who desire a diverse playlist! Both of these ensembles are truly the best of both worlds and perform convincingly, from Classical favorites to contemporary pop and just about everything in between, including Jazz, Rock, Latin, Country and Bluegrass, Celtic and Irish, Folk, Blues, and even Reggae.
With the violin typically taking the lead role, the guitar in duet orchestrates the harmony, rhythm, and even bass lines for the most economical symphony or band available. When adding doublebass, we realize a paramount blend of mini orchestra and band, with the violin soaring above the complex chordal structure and rhythm of the guitar, and the double bass conjuring either the arco (played with the bow) counterpoint of a cello in a string quartet or orchestra, or the grooving pizzicato (plucked) bass lines of a band (that sound we love to “feel” the most).
The most frequent comments heard from guests about both the violin-guitar duo or violin-guitar-doublebass trio are:
“How do you make it sound like a whole orchestra/band with only two/three people?”
“I heard the music (style) change so I came over to see who’s playing now and I can’t believe it’s still you guys!”
With either of these groups comes the additional perk of being able to add:
The sound of violin family instruments played in harmony is a classic choice for weddings and other events. While contemporary music and alternative genres are sometimes possible, string ensembles and players excel at the Classical music that was written for them and it can be very difficult to find string quartet arrangements for contemporary music that doesn't leave something to be desired. For clients wanting to focus on Classical music (Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc.), choosing between a duo, trio, or quartet is largely a matter of budget, venue and event size, but because each player’s part fills a specific role within the music, it’s important to determine any key song requests ahead of time to ensure that suitable arrangements are available for the desired instrumentation.
In a quartet, the first violin is usually responsible for the melody, the cello fills out the bass lines, and the “inner voices” create the chordal structure and rhythm - second violin often playing harmony and viola acting as go-between with the cello, offering chord voicing but frequently also rhythm. When booking a smaller string ensemble we need to ensure that we choose music that won’t be sparse with only two or three of the roles filled. We can only imagine the Beatles if one or two of the members were home sick… In general, my arrangements are either for violin-cello duo or string quartet, so a string trio often must leave out a part and while more budget friendly than a quartet, is my least recommended ensemble.
If you’re considering solo violin for your cocktail hour, reception, event, or party, the option of “strolling” violin adds an engaging and often practical touch. Strolling violin means just that - we stroll around the area of the event, moving around guests, sometimes taking requests, and keeping the music, quite literally, flowing!
If your event will be outside, spread out around a large courtyard, garden, or meadow, or if you just want something different and fun, strolling violin could be a great option.
Because all music during a strolling session must be memorized and the performer must keep moving while playing, not all music is well suited to strolling, but a wide variety works just fine! Also, as violinists need ample room for violin and bow (whose tip is sharp!), venues or reception areas at risk of crowding are not good candidates for the strolling option.
If you’re planning a wedding, a traditional seated or standing arrangement for the ceremony and the strolling option for the cocktail hour can ofter a perfect blend of elegance and entertainment. Contact Laurel for more details and repertoire options.
Laurel has performed with a variety of other instrumentalists over the years, and while she prefers the familiar and polished sound of her established ensembles, with significant advance notice, it may be possible to book her along with one of the following: