Over the last month, we’ve been booked for two quite similar jobs – recordings which were for tracks only requiring a section of violins – as opposed to the more usual situation of a client hiring a string quartet or string section for a recording.
When arranging for strings (in particular string orchestra), it’s usual to spread the writing throughout the violins, violas, cellos and double basses to cover the full palette of sounds and create a rich, orchestral texture (with complimentary harmonies allowing the full sonority of this combination to have maximum impact).
There are situations however, when this type of ‘full’ string writing isn’t appropriate and would in fact overload the whole sound of a track. I remember once writing what I thought was a very complete string arrangement for a pop track, only to find that when it had been mixed all but the first violin melody disappeared! And this is the point: in certain types of music, all that is needed is a violin section countermelody to give an orchestral feel to a track. This is common in many disco classics, but also where the mid range is already full and doesn’t require any more ‘filling’. After all, texture is the key thing: if the texture is already full, it won’t need any more adding to it!