Sheet Music for Unaccompanied Violin

December 4, 2007 at 10:49 PM · Any recommendations for Christmas sheet music for unaccompanied violin?

Replies (21)

December 5, 2007 at 04:06 AM · silent note....?

December 5, 2007 at 04:07 AM · hehe...the problem with Christmas Carols is that they're just so darn easy. Check with Alfred Publishing or Hal Leonard for a good compilation for solo violin...then take a pencil and double stop as required. I have a Hal Leonard book that I take out every year.

December 5, 2007 at 05:37 AM · Jonathan,

I know this is pretty basic, but how do you go about putting in double-stops?

In other words, given any single note, how do you know what would sound good together with it?

December 5, 2007 at 07:02 AM · Try several notes and use what you like the sound of :) The ear has to lead the way. You might want to use notes lower than the melody note to keep the melody from getting blurred out. Or put the melody in the lower note and keep if from getting blurred by not changing the upper note as frequently. And so on.

December 5, 2007 at 07:05 AM · Here's My Basic Christmas Carol Cheat Sheet.

Key First Note Song

G B "We Three Kings"

D F# "The First Noel"

B-flat F "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

G D "Hark the Herald..."

A A "O Come All Ye Faithful"

G B "O Little Town of ..."

C G "Silent Night"

C G "Angels from the Realms of ..."

G D "Oh Holy Night"

F A "Angels We Have Heard on High"

F C "Away in The Manger"

These are from various Hymnals.

December 5, 2007 at 08:16 AM · Jim,

Thanks! That was pretty interesting... Is there another way to go about it, using music theory? Fifths, sevenths, harmonics, and all that?

I'm curious because I honestly didn't learn much music theory, aside from being able to read sheet music of course.


(and thank *you* Scott for letting me pose my questions within your thread)

December 5, 2007 at 08:39 AM · Yes, you might arbitrate between what you hear in your head and music theory if you wanted to write in the style that that particular music theory is about. But still the ear leads. Otherwise it would be a robot writing, just following a set of rules.

December 5, 2007 at 02:04 PM · Hal Leonard publishes "The Big Book of Christmas Songs" for solo violin. Many of my students have enjoyed this book. It has traditional carols, plus some more contemporary hits, such as: "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "Grandma's Killer Fruitcake". Something for everyone, I guess...

December 5, 2007 at 04:07 PM · I play the harmony interval below the melody note generally. Uh, very generally. It can be a third or a sixth. To visualize what works best, just think about the harmony.

December 6, 2007 at 12:14 AM · Other variations to consider besides double stopping harmonic lines:

-neighboring and passing tones for ornamentation

-trills and grace notes

-jig it! (Greensleeves is a great jig)

-if you're familiar with the underlying chord structure of the tune (Christmas tunes may also have more than one option), you can arpeggiate the melody into fun eighth note runs and the like

-alternate the melody note with a lower harmonic note (for instance, on Hark the Herald- G Major: D B G D G D E F# G D B D B D A D...)

December 6, 2007 at 02:47 AM · Great ideas Emily! I do (not on violin yet), Greensleeves where I form triplets below the melody line that is real nice. I roll into them with broad arpeggios on the left hand so there are like these triplets and arpeggios juicing each other up.

Another idea is to (which I have done), take "Angels We Have Heard on High", and interject the harmony into the chorus sort of. I remember doing this in Elementary School, and it's pretty.

"Oh Holy Night": just straight, powerful at points, and clean...

December 6, 2007 at 03:36 AM · @ Al and Emily,

How do you find the harmonic note? Thanks.

December 6, 2007 at 05:15 AM · Timothy, it's pretty clear you won't have to be worrying about harmonies this year. I'm 'not' trying to be mean either.

So... the most direct approach, would be to find someone who plays piano to show you thirds and sixths at least--there's are infinite things one can do almost, but for basic playing start there.

Also, enrich yourself with some choir music. But below is a simple sequence of piano notes played together forming a harmony, the first note being the lower note.


With that said, I'll look at the cheat sheet and see what kicks, without harmonies for you.

December 6, 2007 at 05:56 AM · Heck, they all kick if played dolce(sweetly).

But "Oh Holy Night" can be powerful. Not on the list but, do as Emily suggested jazzing up: "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". Then turn around and also play it with emotion--or--mix the two if you can.

I think it's called "Carol of the Bells" I had rocking last year pretty well--it will work out your bow arm and articulation a lot too.

Also not on the list, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" can be compelling if played with feeling. Mix short bows with legato for some nice effect.

Finally: "Sleighride" rocks.

December 6, 2007 at 06:08 AM · Oh dear, Timothy, I don't know how. I always have been able to hear chord structures. If you give me just about any old tune, I could prattle off the chords that go along with it. I hear the three (or four) notes that make up the chord, and then I pick one of them.

December 6, 2007 at 07:47 AM · Also, there is something wonderful about a piece played simply and played well. I like to make sure not to overdo it with the creativity; it gets old after a while, especially if all your creativity sounds the same.

December 6, 2007 at 06:50 AM · "Also, there is something wonderful about a piece plated simply and played well."

That's probably the most import thing about this. Because I had to teach myself a lot on piano, I stuck to that idea. On violin, I like to think of "Air on G String" played completely even and resonant.

December 6, 2007 at 07:47 AM · One of my students found a great book of Christmas carols for violin (or human voice or other melody instrument in a similar range) with the unlikely name "The Ultimate Guitar Christmas Fake Book" ( (It has guitar chords.) It has 200 songs with very good, violin friendly melody scores.

The best, easiest to understand explanation of the basics of chord theory that I've found was written by a friend of mine. It is at

Merry Christmas.

December 6, 2007 at 09:38 AM · @ Al and Emily,

Thanks for the tips!

Al, I think you misunderstand... I can play harmonics and multiple stops on the violin quite easily, so technique isn't the issue here. I've also got the basic theory (thirds, sixths, etc.) down pat too. I've been part of an orchestra and a string quartet, after all ;-)

My problem is that my "live" improvisation skills are somewhat limited. Ornamenting sheet music is one thing; playing in a live band and trying to harmonize on-the-fly with the singer and the guitarist on a song you've never heard before is something else entirely.

I guess what I'm looking for are tips on how to improvise live onstage. (Or is that off-topic for this thread?)


December 6, 2007 at 09:53 AM · You've not left that immediate impression--you are correct. Then, practice??? And feel>

December 8, 2007 at 06:27 PM · This might be a bit late, and it is not a Christmas carol. But, Biber's passagalia for solo violin is to die for. I'm learning it on a baroque violin. Play it in a church-you'll make yourself cry. Or listen to a recording. (Reinhard Goebel is my favorite).

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