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The Stringed Instruments

May 30, 2008

I am currently listening to the new Coldplay single, Viva la Vida, and I am really enjoying it (in fact, if you could wear out an mp3 file, I’d be well on my way to doing so, and I’ve had the song for a day).  One of the interesting parts of the song is that it relies heavily on the stringed instruments to carry the song.  This thrilled me, because I have always loved strings in an orchestra or a band.  Another use of strings was at the recent New Attitude conference I attended.  During two of the worship sessions, they had an entire string section playing along with the music.  It was amazing.  The strings added great richness and depth to the worship songs they played.

So what is so great about stringed instruments, anyway?  I think that, among the instruments developed for Western classical music, strings have the most emotional versatility.  Think about this: the brass instruments really have no range.  They are loud, and that’s what they do.  Even quieter brass suggest authority and little else.  Woodwinds are a bit different, but they really don’t evoke sadness very often, and are not the most effective at doing so anyway.  A piano is the most versatile instrument to play – you get more octaves and noise range out of a piano than anything else.  However, again, you can get more emotion out of the strings.  

Out of the major instrument groups, strings form the emotional core of an orchestra.  They bring the orchestra together and lead the other instruments in almost every instance.  Not only can individual strings evoke both joy and sadness by themselves, but the way they build upon each other is simply amazing.  Next time you hear a work where more than one type of stringed instrument is present (cellos, violas and violins at least), notice how they play off of each other.  There is typically a main melody that all types of strings are working on, but they also play harmonious notes that make the experience of listening to them all the more interesting.  I think this is why they are so full emotionally – they can weave many notes together into one voice, and if that voice is composed correctly, it hits us in a way that affects our feelings, making us happy or sad depending on the mood the strings wish to portray.  Only the human voice (both solo and in larger groups) has the capability to affect us in a greater way than strings do.

This was one of the reasons I loved hearing strings during worship at New Attitude.  I think that this has been something we have lost for hundreds of years – a group of strings playing for a worship experience.  It was an amazing experience that drew your heart to the Creator, who created these sounds so that we could glorify him.  I hope they do this again next year, because I would love to participate in something like that again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 30, 2008 2:53 pm

    Chris is going to have a field day with this post 🙂

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