About a year ago I wrote a blog entry called ‘Bring on the Viola‘ which discussed the merits of this sometimes overlooked and under-appreciated instrument of the string family. I thought it worth adding another blog entry as in the intervening year, we have worked with a number of clients who seem unaware of the existence of the viola!
If a songwriter has written some string parts and found that three of them are in the register of the violin and the fourth down in the cello register, then it may be worth transferring one of the violin lines to the viola to create a more natural and full sounding string section.
So why do people forget this important instrument? I don’t know… but we get plenty of enquiries from people requesting violin and cello parts to be added to a track, yet omitting the viola. As an analogy, this would be like a rock band having a lead guitar and a bass player, but no rhythm guitar to fill out the middle register.
Although only five notes lower than the violin, the viola has a completely different sound. It is more rounded and mellower, making it the perfect instrument to blend with both cello and violin and it can be brought forward in a song as a solo instrument in it’s own right. A violin is more frequently chosen to perform solos in an instrumental break, but there are certain tracks where the viola would be much more at home and give the song a softer edge.