Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Play Violin in a Metal Band - Headbanging

When I first joined a metal band as a violin player, I had grand illusions of headbanging in the windmill fashion a la Amon Amarth, until I realized that a violin, unlike a guitar, is held up by your chin and hence makes the art of headbanging considerably more difficult. So how does a violinist in a metal band headbang, or move in general, when they are on stage? I think this would be better explained by showing you examples than having you read my writing about it, but here's just a few quick tips before I get on with the videos:

1. Move your body as a whole to give the illusion that you are headbanging instead of actually moving your head separately.
2. As a violinist, you probably won't be playing during every part of every song, so headbang when you're not playing.
3. Beware of long hair getting on your violin strings after you headbang, or else you may try to bow over your own hair and your instrument will not make any noise.
4. Folk metal violinists have the option of "dancey" footwork during upbeat and festive songs, which usually works quite well.
5. Power stance is always a good thing.
6. And then there are the electric violins with shoulder straps, like the Stingray or Flying V types, which will allow for freer head movements.

And without further ado...


Meri from Eluveitie is a good example of points 2 and 4:

Rose Noire, a gothic darkwave duet from Japan has good stage movements and headbanging that would also work in a gothic metal band as well:

And then there's Michael Schulmann, who showcases pretty much all the movement possibilities the shoulder strap violin has to offer:

Comments or suggestions? Please comment below!


  1. Wow, what an interesting and useful post! If the day ever comes when I play in a band, I shall indeed follow your counsel! :)

    By the way, last week a top classical violinist (Rachel Barton) came to my country to play with the national orchestra: she declared herself a metal fan. She talks a bit about classical music and metal, if you want to read, the interview (in spanish) is here:http://www.nacion.com/2012-06-01/Entretenimiento/NotaPrincipal/TL01-BARTON.aspx

    PS: Meri rules! :D

  2. Thanks Ligandil, I hope you get the chance to play in a band someday, it's definitely a fun experience!
    Thanks for the interview! My spanish isn't very good, but luckily my husband can translate for me, haha. Did you get to see Rachel's performance? I heard she even played in a doom metal band at one point: http://ampspedalsandcstrings.blogspot.com/2009/06/rachel-barton-pine-joined-doom-metal.html
    And yes, Meri is awesome! :)

  3. :( Unfortunately, I heard about the concert too late, I live a bit far away, and was very busy because of university that weekend!

    I had no idea she played in a metal band! Wow! I think she can do better in a folk band, though! But I think it's amazing a violinist of her level plays or played in a metal band. Would she headbang while using her million-dolar violin? :)


  4. if you're interested, here's Rose Noire's music video for that song "Dual Evil" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PksL8gYlKFE

  5. You're kidding :s Headbanging is not a conscient thing, it just happen when you perceive the rythm in a good music, it's the same when you play. Just play with your whole body instead of only the arms. If you use headphones it even easier to be entirely inside the music. Just try to obtain very precise rythms you will find yourself "headbanging" and moving. :)