I saw Andrew Bird last week here in Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor's degree in violin performance from Northwestern but did not want to pursue a career in classical music. Quite an impressive show, catchy, quirky songs, interesting musically and thoroughly fun. And a good size crowd of maybe 1000-1500 mostly young fans. Watch him here and you can get a good idea of how he uses his violin:
He loops pizzicato segments on top of each other, then will bow live over the pizzicato rhythyms. At times all this gets quite complicated and but stays very engaging.
I started thinking about how many acts now have violins as lead instruments. Just in the past few years I have seen many such acts. Alejandro Escovedo regularly tours with a quintet of two acoustic guitars, two cellos and Susan Voelz playing a rocking violin:
David Byrne has toured with a string section in recent years that does not just play behind the music but is what is happening:
Of course, the Dave Matthews Band has an electric violin as lead instrument and a newer band like Cloud Cult is another example:
I cannot think of any good examples of this from the sixties/seventies/eighties other than a brief incarnation of King Crimson and some of the jazz/rock fusion bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra. There were bands/artists that occasionally performed with string sections (like Rod Stewart for one example) but that always seemed rather lame to me.
I am happy with these recent developments as I like the violin in many contexts in addition to traditional classical performance. Anyone have other good examples of this today or better recollections from the past?
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