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Fabulin

Classical-sounding violin solos in film scores

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A-SM's renditions of Williams' themes made me wonder just how much use can there be for such a classically sounding effect in film music storytelling.

With an exception of stories set in the wig era, they do not seem to feature too frequently, do they?

 

Edit: Only Schindler's List and Rohan's hardanger come to my mind; all other examples fall into the category of source music.

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James Newton Howard's "The Village" of course.  Plus why no mention of Corigliano's Red Violin?  There was a great Dudley Moore comedy (forget the title) where he was a conductor and the score was full of violin.

 

EDIT: This is the film I forgot about:

 

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1 minute ago, Koray Savas said:

I don’t understand this thread. You’re looking for scores with violin solos?

I think he's asking for scores where a solo violin is prominently featured.  Like how it is in Schindler's List.  It isn't source but very prominent in the score. 

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There's a heart achingly beautiful solo violin overtop of Across the Stars in the first minute of the cue Scenes and Dreams (starting at 0:08) from Revenge of the Sith. Plus, I'm sure there are more Across the Stars iterations that have some sort of prominent violin, but not many quite like this.

 

 

Not exactly the same, but an interesting thread from a violinist forum popped up after a quick Google search.

https://www.violinist.com/discussion/archive/11510/

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1 hour ago, karelm said:

I think he's asking for scores where a solo violin is prominently featured.  Like how it is in Schindler's List.  It isn't source but very prominent in the score. 

You already mentioned The Village, is probably the most popular.

 

I’ll add Zimmer’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. 

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9 hours ago, Fabulin said:

Edit: Only Schindler's List and Rohan's hardanger come to my mind; all other examples fall into the category of source music.

 

You would consider the Hardanger as a “classical” violin solo? It’s basically used as a stand-in for bagpipes.

 

Williams use of solo violin (e.g. Anakin’s dream) fits the bill much more, in terms of evoking the perceived style of the classical period.

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15 minutes ago, Alexcremers said:

The solo violin is most likely avoided in film scores because of its strong connotations with the recital hall and classical music. It's not the Hollywood sound.

 

Golden Age composers used it quite regularly especially in love scenes, almost to the point it became cliché.

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Hmm... now that I think of it with more clarity, they are not significantly less frequent in film scores than classical / jazz trumpet solos for example. The difference is that brass instruments of any given type play in orchestras in duets, trios, quartets etc., and violins usually play in a group anywhere from a dozen to three dozen. So the sound of a "single violin" or a duet is radically different than what we usually hear, and thus seems conspicuously absent, which is not the case for other instruments.

 

Also possible that:

1. since violins are high-pitched, they just do not blend in as easily as a single double bass or tuba playing the rhytm section, for example.

2. they are too similar to a human voice, especially a female voice, and thus not as symbolically neutral and versatile as the trumpets.

 

As for the Hardanger fiddle, Shore rather gave it parts to play than composed for it (I do not mean it too hard). It was featured playing in quite a classical fashion, in a stark contrast to how does typical folk music played on the Hardangers sound. In fact I always thought that it is just chord playing of some sort on an ordinary violin...

 

Anyway I hope that after all the recent concert works Williams will find a way and a good moment to use something like that in TROS.

 

Thank you for the examples.

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2 hours ago, Muad'Dib said:

 

Morricone has lots as well but none come to mind in particular

 

I remember being very taken with the music he wrote for Canone Inverso when I heard it played at a Morricone concert a few years ago.  Like many of the best examples, the film itself features a prominent role for a solo violin player as part of the story (Nigel Hess's score for Ladies In Lavender is another such example where the main theme as played by Joshua Bell has since become a Classic FM favourite).

 

 

While Hilary Hahn's beautiful violin solos on the soundtrack of The Village are rightly praised, did you know that she also played on Andrew Hewitt's score to the little known film The Sea?  While not quite reaching the heights of James Newton Howard's music, it is a rather nice melancholy score in itself.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Fabulin said:

As for the Hardanger fiddle, Shore rather gave it parts to play than composed for it (I do not mean it too hard). It was featured playing in quite a classical fashion, in a stark contrast to how does typical folk music played on the Hardangers sound. In fact I always thought that it is just chord playing of some sort on an ordinary violin...

 

Anyway I hope that after all the recent concert works Williams will find a way and a good moment to use something like that in TROS.

 

To me, the choice and implementation of the hardanger was like “well, we want to evoke a Norse culture and we can’t use bagpipes because that pesky Horner bloke uses them all the time and we’ll get flack for ripping him off.”

 

It’s the same with the choice of Nay flutes instead of the Duduk: avoiding the cliches of that time in movie scoring orchestration.

 

I do hope for solo violin somewhere in the last Star Wars score: that’d be very classy.

 

 

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I think the hardanger suits Rohan better than the bagpipe might, so while not wanting to fulfill any cliches it was a pretty good decision. It's a successful theme, and whether the instrumentation has any relevance in that respect I can't say, but it works nonetheless. 

 

Of course, the hardanger conjures such an un-classical sound for a violin- it could actually be mistaken as more of a fiddle to the uneducated ear. So while it is a very prominent (probably one of the most famous this century too) violin solo, it's not neccesarily rooted in a classical sound.

 

And with the rise of this thread I've been pouring over scores, having a really hard time finding examples of pure solo violin in this classical nature. I thought I would have found more! Of course, that one I pointed out in Anakin's Dream, which I think is gorgeous, could suffice for a great many solos not yet discovered, in my opinion.

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