9 Incredible Violin Parts in Non-Classical Music

Jun 17, 2020

Where you get your musical inspiration can come in all manner of shapes and sizes. You might find yourself invigorated by the sounds of nature, or your own personal feelings, but more often than not, that burst of enthusiasm comes from hearing what another artist has done – and trying to replicate it. As a matter of fact, one of the very best ways to stay motivated while learning to play is to watch and learn from other musicians and other styles. While this is true of every instrument in the orchestra, this week we’re going to be focusing on the violin.

Since learning to play the violin often consists of large helpings of classical compositions, taking time to explore other styles and techniques can help drive any student past mere novice, and into the realm of true mastery. So, why not take this opportunity to queue up some of the coolest rock violin solos, riffs, and interludes that have every been recorded?

Take a break from the Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms to discover artists who pioneered popular violin styles.

The following songs include some of the most famous tunes that feature this usually classical instrument. Let’s dive in!


“Dust in the Wind”

“Point of No Return”

Kansas first became popular in the early 1970s and is still actively touring today. Currently, David Ragsdale is the band’s violist and guitarist, but it was violinist and vocalist Robby Steinhardt (who played with the band from 1973-1982 and 1997-2006) whose recordings have stood the test of time.

The iconic violin solo of “Dust in the Wind” begins at the 1:30 mark. As for “Point of No Return,” listen for the excellent riff that remains an integral part of both the chorus and bridge.

Dixie Chicks – “Cowboy, Take Me Away”

Martie Maguire’s violin/fiddle work has a strong presence in almost every Dixie Chicks song – it’s hard to imagine the band without it. So, it can be hard to choose just one song as her “strongest work,” but “Cowboy, Take Me Away” has got to be near the top of that list.

She uses a simple and sad line consisting of four notes, then five, then seven, to open the song as well as between choruses and verses. No doubt that it is this element that has cemented this song as a ballad to remember. Maguire’s playing was at least partially responsible for sending the song to the top of the charts.

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – “Do Ya”

While pretty much every ELO song features great rock solos and riffs, students can get a lot of inspiration as violinist Michael (Mik) Kaminski offers some truly incredible rock violin playing on this track.

Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”

Another iconic rock band that incorporated the violin is, of course, Pink Floyd. In this special recording, Stephane Grappelli, the grandfather of jazz violists, recorded the violin solo, which begins at 3:05. Grappelli’s melodic solo is nothing short of supreme, and makes this one of the best recordings of this classic there is.

The Who – “Baba O’Riley”

With the mega-hit “Baba O’Riley” – more commonly known as “Teenage Wasteland” – The Who delivered one of the most famous rock violin solos ever recorded. The funny thing about that is that the part wasn’t even written for a violin – it was written for the harmonica. Eventually, and for reasons unknown, the harmonica was switched to a violin played by Dave Arbus of the band East of Eden, and a lasting musical legacy was created.

U2 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”


This particular recording of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” from a concert in March of 1983, is something special. It includes an electric violin part played by Steve Wickman, who played on the War album. Wickman’s electric violin accompanies and combines with Bono’s vocals, making it an essential part of setting he song’s tone and mood.

Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir”

Released in 1975, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” includes some of rock’s greatest solo violin parts. As a matter of fact, this is the remastered cut, and sounds absolutely amazing. And thanks to the continued popularity and familiarity of this song, it’s the perfect piece for violin students to learn.

Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”

Although they’re the same instrument, when played in country, the violin is usually called a “fiddle.” And no one fiddles quite like Charlie Daniels. With that in mind, no list of iconic violin parts would be complete without “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The undeniably breakneck speed of the fiddle in this iconic track never gives you a chance to catch your breath; it’s so intense you might just want to take a deep breath before you hit play!

This classic tune is completely built around the power of Daniels’s fiddle. In fact, before he ever added lyrics, this was meant to be an instrumental track called “Lonesome Fiddle Blues.”

By taking the time to listen to other styles of music that the violin can be a part of, students have an incredible opportunity to find new inspiration for their own musical education and journey. These, as well as countless other rock, pop, jazz, and classical songs use the violin to enhance the experience and artistic expression. Learning about these new techniques will build any student’s abilities and performance strengths.

Have you always wanted to learn to play the violin, but never had the chance, or worse yet, the time? As all our lessons go online, there has never been a better time to start learning to play!

It’s never too late to start, sign up for your violin lessons today!