Instrument Masterclass - The Violin

Membership plan: Going Deeper | Topics: Music Production

Course overview

Aimed at electronic musicians wanting to begin to work with orchestral instruments and musicians, this workshop teaches the standard articulations for the violin, along with some of the best practices for writing for this instrument, the instrument in context with other string instruments and the rest of the orchestra, and how to programme violin VSTs for realism, using Spitfire's BBC Symphony Orchestra and SWAM's Violin

Includes a $15/£15/€15 discount on SWAM Violin.

Jordan Hunt is a composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.

In March 2018 he released his debut EP Long Lost on 12” vinyl. His debut single ‘Mother’ premiered on BBC Radio 6 Music and the music video was premiered by Another Man, admiring his "mesmerising... spellbinding melodic pop sound”. In summer 2020 he released full-length classical EP To the Ocean Floor, commissioned by Sadler’s Wells. He recently release 'Two, Alone' for solo violin, commissioned to mark the bicentennial of the Royal Academy of Music.

Classically trained at RNCM, RAM and RCM, and drawing on his experiences as violinist in art-pop orchestra The Irrepressibles, Canadian band The Hidden Cameras and as long-standing musical companion to Grammy-nominated Olivia Chaney, he creates vivid, emotive music, weaving melodic ‘sad pop’ and symphonic-inspired textures.

He is a co-founder of Principle Six, and is Musical Director of the Theo Adams Company, an ever-growing and diverse London-based collective of artists, designers, dancers, musicians, and performers.

What you'll learn

  • Understand the range and standard articulations for the violin
  • Begin to write playable and idiomatic music for the violin, whether for an IRL musician or a VST
  • Create realistic violin lines using VSTS, with understanding of range, articulations, dynamics, expression, and modulation
  • Communicate as a composer with a violin player (by understanding what can be asked of the instrument and what experimental techniques might be possible)
  • Begin to understand violin writing (and programming for midi violin) in context of string writing and writing for the orchestra generally

Who is this course for?

  • Composers, arrangers, TV and film music producers
  • DAW and music notation software users looking to learn to write for the violin
  • Anyone looking to produce music with realistic-sounding software instruments

Course content

  • Violin Articulations Handbook with Examples
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Jordan's New Piece 'Two, Alone'
  • 3. Writing difficult music
  • 4. Why modern orchestration involves using VSTs
  • 5. Anatomy & Range of the Violin
  • 6. Make-up of orchestral string section & desks
  • 7. Double stops_open strings_fingering
  • 8. Bowing and phrasing
  • 9. Tied notes
  • 10. Vibrato
  • 11. Expression, modulation and vibrato for VSTs
  • 12. Glissando and portamento
  • 13. Programming glissandos in midi
  • 14. More on portamento
  • 15. Using x_y midi controllers for expression; bow pressure & bow position
  • 16. Dynamics & timbre
  • 17. Using mutes
  • 18. Sympathetic resonance_open strings
  • 19. Resonance and key choice in composing
  • 20. Programming tied_extended notes
  • 21. Layering string libraries
  • 22. Slurring & phrasing
  • 23. How good notation inspires confidence in your musicians
  • 24. Discussion of Jordan's piece 'Two, alone' - notation & playing
  • 25. Tenuto
  • 26. Slurring
  • 27. Marcato
  • 28. Layering articulations with VSTs
  • 29. Aftertouch
  • 30. More on layering articulations & libraries
  • 31. Staccato & layering
  • 32. Having articulations on different tracks vs keyswitching_expression mapping
  • 33. More on stacking
  • 34. Programming grace notes
  • 35. Working with runs
  • 36. Extended techniques
  • 37. Score reading is fundmental!
  • 38. Using non-string sounds for realism
  • 39. Harmonics
  • 40. Double_triple_quadruple stops
  • 41. Harmonics in physically modelled instruments
  • 42. Divisi vs. double stops
  • 43. Col legno
  • 44. Pizzicato
  • 45. Short notes & staccato
  • 46. Sautillé and other bowing techniques
  • 47. More about extended techniques
  • 48. Mixing strings and synths
  • 49. Using mutes
  • 50. Sul pont_sul tasto
  • 51. Tremolo_trills
  • 52. Orchestration - balancing (& paralles with mixing)
  • 53. Wrap-up


  • A DAW (ProTools, Cubase, Logic, Live or other)
  • Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra (free version suffice) and/or SWAM Violin
  • Latest version of Chrome is recommended to join the live workshop

Course schedule

Meet your instructor

Helen Noir (she/her) is a London-based soprano, composer, orchestrator & producer. She writes soundtracks for film, fashion and theatre, most recently for Joseph Wilson's Isn't it a Beautiful World, which premiered at BFI London Film Festival in October 2021. She works specifically with directors and designers to take music from initial composition through recording, orchestration, production and mixing. She also performs regularly with cult performance art group Theo Adams Company, and is an operatic session vocalist.

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