The Bridgerton Buzz: pop music on the violin

Reading time: 4-5 minutes

If you’d like a longer soundtrack to accompany this read, click on the video below (~8 minutes long). For a short, “Whistledown” medley, hold on until the end!

The Bridgerton buzz

Let’s face it, there’s not much to talk about at the moment, except what we’re watching on tv or Netflix. When small talk starts drying up, weekly catch ups with friends inevitably stray to our current series-binge!

The buzz of the moment is all about Bridgerton on Netflix. It’s a saucy period drama with a modern twist, based upon the Julia Quinn’s novels and set in Regency era, London. Juicy dating news of the season is reported by Mrs Whistledown in her widely circulated gossip column, with all debutantes jostling to be in the “what’s hot” rather than “what’s not” list. If you like period drama and want Emma in the style of Gossip Girl – it’s for you!

A pop twist

One element of the show that is regularly commented on, is the clever twist of classical stringed instruments playing a mixture of the usual background film music alternated with pop song covers. It’s actually not the first show to do this, joining Reign (amongst others, I’m sure) in making a period drama music relevant for the younger viewer.

Why do people like it?

Well, I have a few ideas!

  • In the context of Bridgerton, pop music played by a string quartet spices up what some younger viewers may consider an outdated genre.
  • It also helps the viewer understand what it was like dancing to contemporary music of over 200 years ago – experiencing classical music as “popular”, rather than a thing of the past.
  • In a broader context, pop music played on a string instrument keeps the musical vibe classy.
  • It draws different musical tastes together.
  • It makes people smile (and feel clever!) when they work out where they know the tune from.
  • It draws the listener in with the combination of familiarity in a different setting.

What doesn’t work?

To be honest, the purists would say all of it. I disagree.

Some covers can sound cheesy. Some can sound surprisingly lovely. However, some just don’t work!

A lot of pop songs of the last few years base their verses around as little as 3-5 notes, with strong beats, rhythm, riffs and lyrics taking a more prominent role. Take Bad guy by Billie Eilish for example. (Love that song!) This just wouldn’t work on solo violin. It’d be dull played by a string quartet.

Here are some of my big NOs of when a pop cover on violin doesn’t work:

  • The violin is a melodic instrument. It’s job is to play the tune. If the tune isn’t that tuneful it doesn’t sound good!
  • If the pop cover relies heavily on strong beats, rhythm, riffs and lyrics to make it sound intersting, move on.
  • If the song is very repetitive, it’ll sound like a woodpecker at a primary school choir audition.
  • If the voice of the original singer is key to the overall delivery of the song e.g. thrash metal vocals or a particularly unique voice such as Björk, it will likely disappoint.

What works well?

  • Tune is key. Choose a song that people can easily sing or hum. What’s your favourite carpool or shower song?
  • A song that has been used in a film or tv series: The visual and emotional connection will help the audience enjoy it better.
  • You can rarely go wrong with a bit of Disney!
  • Songs which have stood the test of time: Will it be played on the radio in 10 years time?
  • Tried and tested string covers: There are some fantastic pop cover artists out there including the The Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling. Check them out!
  • Will the audience be singing along in their head? If the answer is yes, you’ve found a good one!

My experience

I’ve played violin at weddings and events for over 12 years now and have had some truly lovely pop cover requests in that time. They’ve broadened my repertoire and made me smile, especially when they work really well! I’m always honest if I think it won’t work, but am very happy to discuss musical preferences and special songs with my client.

What is most important to me, is that my audience enjoys the music that is most meaningful to them. When I first started out, I didn’t realise how rewarding it was to play other people’s preferences, not just my own. To me, playing music for others is what it’s all about.

And now a short pop medley reward of some of my favourites! (1 minute long)

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Jennifer is an extremely versatile Singer and Violinist and is available to book for your event

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Jennifer Maslin
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Luisa Santos-Stephens
Luisa Santos-Stephens
14:56 20 Nov 19
Jennifer is an incredible singer. We had her with Cafe Society to play at my 40th and it was everything I could dream off- they played beautiful music, and brought a very good vibe to the party. All the guests talked about how great they were, with a repertoire of very nice songs which we loved to listen to, but at the same time allowing us to keep the conversation going. I can’t recommend her enough.
Lisa Purcell
Lisa Purcell
19:34 03 Sep 19
Jenny sang beautifully at our wedding in August 2019! She moved many members of the congregation to tears with her amazing singing. We absolutely loved it and would highly recommend her. Each time we meet up with friends and family that were there, they all comment on how amazing her singing was and how much they enjoyed it! She sang a Maori love song perfectly - commented the relatives from New Zealand! X
Rachel McGuckin
Rachel McGuckin
16:06 27 Jun 19
Jenny was the absolute highlight of our wedding ceremony. We picked some tricky songs and she had the whole audience joining in at the chorus. Luckily they didn't join at all points because it gave everyone a chance to hear her beautiful voice as well! I can't recommend highly enough.
Kate McNamara
Kate McNamara
14:36 12 Jun 19
Jenny was amazing from the moment I enquired about her playing the violin at our wedding ceremony. So quick to respond, helpful, friendly, flexible & professional, and was able to recommend songs and even learnt a new song for the exit music. I was so confident that she had everything under control which was invaluable and it was something on the day that I knew I just didn’t have to worry about. Jenny is so talented and it really added to the ceremony, I am so pleased that I found her! Thank you so so much!
Aimee Curry
Aimee Curry
13:56 15 Feb 19
We highly recommend Jenny! She played amazing violin music beautifully at our wedding. Jenny was so lovely and was so approachable and helpful to plan our ceremony music which was a highlight of the day and also the drinks reception music.
T Whyte
T Whyte
19:17 30 Jan 19
Jenny sang at our wedding - her music set the tone and made for a truly special experience. She has a beautiful voice, is very easy to work with, and worked seamlessly with our (very exacting) venue to get everything just right. Thank you Jenny!
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