Dubbed "The Hookmeister” by one San Francisco Bay Area recording engineer, my knack for framing the tone of a track or album and creating infectious melodies has saved more than one client’s song from the chopping block. Classically trained with the ability to convey complex emotion through my instrument, yet also possessing an exceptional ear and the ability to read chord charts, improvise, arrange, and "fiddle" in a range of genres, I strive to present an attractive package for songwriters and bands looking to add string parts to an album or song. Having recorded lead and backing violin, viola, cello, as well as both lead and harmony vocals, on dozens of albums since the early 2000s, I am frequently sought for my ability to add depth, color, and emotion to all types of music.

Canada’s premier music magazine, Penguin’s Eggs, recognized me as “a terrific violinist and accompanist” with a “judicious” approach and “fascinating undertones and range.” Cashbox Magazine noted my "deft, elegant violin."

Born and raised in Monterey, California, and now based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, I am available for in-studio recording sessions around the California Central Coast (Monterey, Santa Cruz, etc.) and San Francisco Bay Area, and elsewhere via remote session from my home studio or a recording studio of my client's choice.

With a rich and expressive tone and an interpretive style that can both rock a solo or add backup texture or groove, I have performed on Pop, Folk, Rock, Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Celtic, Latin, Gypsy, Jazz, Ragtime, and Cabaret style tracks. Samples from some of the albums I have recorded on can be found here.
Violinist Laurel Thomsen warming up for a recording session in Alameda California
With my focused and perceptive work orientation, I strive to be an asset to any recording project, helping to make the most of precious studio time while offering insightful suggestions as requested. Likewise, my calm, supportive demeanor, and my teamwork attitude often helps put others at ease.

I work quickly in the studio. My record to date is 9 songs in 3 hours. However, projects come with differing levels of complexity. If string parts are already composed, I can easily read the sheet music and might average 1-3 songs an hour for such sessions. In situations where I need to use my interpretive skills to bring a client’s rough sketches to life, or to create string arrangements completely from scratch, I come with the patience and professionalism to accept and translate feedback, and the stamina to realize my clients' vision in the studio - a creative process that often evolves through reflection, feeling, and listening.

Though chord charts or lead sheets may be helpful in these latter situations, they are also not necessary. I am quick to hear and interpret chord changes and memorize melodies and progressions. Clients appreciate my intuitive musical sensibility, and the range of colors, moods, and musical styles I can confidently deliver. Recording engineers appreciate my consistently spot-on intonation and timing, and my tone, making editing and EQ-ing after a session quick and easy.
Laurel Thomsen and Dan Frechette singing
While I am happy to follow a click track, I am also sensitive to changes in tempo and mood, perceiving subtle accelerando or rubato, capturing dynamics and changing tone colors, and complementing vocal lines and other instruments with carefully matched phrasing, vibrato, articulation, and stylistic approaches.

Offering violin, viola, and cello (played Classically or played within a variety of contemporary, Jazz, fiddle, or world music flavors), I provide options for multiple interweaving string lines in various registers, the ability to stack voicing for a string quartet sound, and can contribute both backup and lead arrangements.

Finally, with a “remarkable singing voice” as described by the Monterey Herald, I have also contributed vocal leads and harmonies to a number of albums since 2012. My warm and smooth voice blends easily with a variety of female and male lead voices, and my range suits both soprano and alto harmony lines. I can easily match pitches already determined, or find harmonies by ear, reflecting the mood of the lyrics and the chord progressions of a song. As with my string playing, I am sensitive to phrasing and articulation, and take pride in carefully blending my vocal tones.
Interested in booking Laurel for a recording session?

Please email me at laurel@laurelthomsen.com (best way to get in touch) or call/text me at 831-224-0913 to discuss your project, check availability, and receive a quote reflecting of the scope of the work.

In your initial message, please include:
  • A brief description of the project and what parts you'd like me to contribute (violin, viola, cello, and/or vocals)
  • Whether I will need to create parts from scratch, or if parts are already written out
  • Deadline or timeframe for needing finished tracks
  • Location of the recording studio or if this will be a remote project recorded in my home studio

I look forward to hearing your project!

Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

Site by Laurel Thomsen
Photography by Michelle Magdalena

Skype: laurelthomsen

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