Arranging for Strings

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Berklee Textbook featured featured-textbooks New Arrivals
  • Format: Book with Online Audio
  • Pages: 128
  • Dimensions: 9x12
  • Audio Tracks: 109
  • ISBN: 9780876391860
  • SKU: 00190207
  • Publication Date: March 01, 2018

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Learn to use strings in your compositions and arrangements! From romantic chord pads to powerful grooves to gut-wrenching passionate melodies, strings do it all. This book presents time-tested techniques and contemporary developments in writing and arranging for strings. You’ll learn strategies for authentic writing in many different styles and find ideas to take your personal sound forward. Discover voicings that work best for each project and explore the intricacies of bowing. Hear articulation approaches from pads to chopping in the online audio examples. See how other composers have used strings to heighten the impact of their music in the written examples. Make your work stand out with the drama and depth that well informed string writing can bring.

You will learn:

  • The tunings, range, and timbres for the violin, viola, cello, and bass, including standard instruments and common variations, including acoustic, electric, and synthesized string instruments and sections
  • Bowing techniques and possibilities
  • Characteristic articulations and sounds, such as vibrato, pizzicato, sul tasto, trills, tremolos, and harmonics
  • Timbral and rhythm effects, such as chop technique, ponticello/feedback, portamento, and falls
  • String-section arranging techniques, such as melody/countermelody, fills, pads, and comping
  • Stylistic nuances of genres such as American roots, Celtic, jazz, rock, klezmer, eastern European, Gypsy jazz, and swing
  • Mic, recording, and live sound techniques for capturing the best string sounds for both acoustic and electric instruments

Mimi Rabson is a violinist, violist, composer, arranger, and educator. As a multi-stylistic performer and recording artist, her credits include the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Itzhak Perlman’s recording In the Fiddler’s House, Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Joel Grey, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Ms. Rabson is an award-winning composer, providing many pieces for Strings Magazine’s sheet music division. Her other books include The Berklee Practice Method editions for violin, viola, and cello (Berklee Press). She is a professor at Berklee College of Music.

“This is a great resource for both the string arranger and player … and anyone who wants to understand WHAT is happening on a stringed instrument!

Mimi really understands the differences in styles—ranging from Celtic to Classical to Jazz and more—and does an incredible job of articulating the unique characteristics in each. She clearly explains bowing techniques, grace notes, and grooves, and provides great audio examples every step of the way.

As one of her former students at Berklee College of Music, I have personally benefitted from Mimi Rabson’s wonderful teaching style. I’m excited she has created Arranging for Strings to share with you all. You will not be disappointed!”

Hanneke Cassel, Internationally Acclaimed Scottish Fiddle Champion

“Having had the privilege to record, and perform worldwide, gorgeous music created by Mimi Rabson, I am also overjoyed and impressed by her book Arranging for String. I could not put it down, fascinated with Rabson’s stunning wealth of expertise, as well as the exquisite level of care with which she guides, instructs, enlightens and inspires the reader. Styles, techniques, effects, cultural traditions, various approaches and recording advice are discussed with crystal clarity, and from the impeccable platform that Mimi Rabson occupies in the string world as a distinguished and versatile artist, educator, composer and arranger. Her book Arranging for Strings is truly indispensable!”

 Elmira Darvarova, Grammy®-nominated, Award-winning Concert Violinist, Former Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera, New York

“Mimi Rabson has done a lot of folks a huge favor by putting together a truly contemporary book about writing for string instruments in this day and age of DIY arranging/production. Common performance techniques as well as techniques unique to genres of music are covered—but most importantly, with clear and concise audio examples that exhibit the musical and emotional impact achieved through these notations and techniques! While it is useful for arrangers and orchestrators at all levels, the truth is that experienced string players looking to expand their technique, other musicians, producers, live/studio engineers, and conductors will also benefit from Mimi’s professional insight and detailed explanations.

Mimi’s book looks at a variety of factors that will aid in getting string parts to be their most effective, and most importantly, keep the string players happy, which will most definitely result in a superior performance/recording of what we care about most: the music!”

Brad Hatfield, Emmy-winning composer, orchestrator, jazz pianist, and Berklee Online author

“Mimi Rabson, a highly skilled and creative composer and violinist, has written an exceptionally useful book on traditional and contemporary string arranging techniques. Her Arranging for Strings is a valuable contribution to the field and is sure to become an essential part of the practitioner’s library.”

Kari Juusela, Dean of Professional Writing and Technology, Berklee College of Music

“What is wonderful about Mimi’s book is that it not only covers traditional string writing, but it also focuses on folk, bluegrass, jazz, non-western, and experimental string techniques, and does so with the same rigor and attention as that applied to classical string arranging. What a joy it is to see a serious arranging textbook include discussion of electric amplification and recording techniques, roots tuning concepts, gypsy and klezmer feel, and even sections on how to notate chopping. Equally wonderful is to see a serious discussion of budget string writing, and how to arrange for smaller groups to get a big, effective sound.

The modern composer/arranger knows that all of these ‘non-classical’ techniques are available, valuable, and form an active part of our contemporary string vocabulary. Finally there is a book that treats them seriously, and gives us the understanding that we need to work effectively in the real world of modern music production.”

Sheldon Mirowitz, Professor of Film Scoring, Berklee College of Music



Mimi Rabson

Mimi Rabson has a B.M. from New England Conservatory of Music, and is a violinist and violist, as well as…