Unexpectedly Awesome Music for Violin + Piano

Photo by  Josh Bellingham

It’s hard to believe, but since the first summer wedding season of The Fox Duo, we’ve added over 230 new songs to our repertoire. When thinking of a violin and piano duo, slow pop piano ballads and classical music come to mind for most people (and it did initially for us – perfect for weddings!), but after a whole lot of requests over the last few years and a real desire to try new things and keep our set lists fresh and fun, we’ve discovered or created some really awesome arrangements that we love to play.

These are a big hit at the cocktail hour and non-wedding ceremony performances we do – still the same classical-type sound of violin/piano, but a lot of fun, recognizable songs.

Aaron Albano Piano The Fox Duo Niagara Wedding

Rock:

One of the oldest requests we have had was ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ for a wedding recessional. The opening riff is really fun to play and sounds great on violin, so this prompted some digging around for classic rock music. However, most of the sheet music doesn’t include the famous guitar solos! This left it up to us to write out the notes by ear or with the occasional guitar tab, with of course, some practicing of notes. Hotel California is one of these, and we always enjoy performing it:

Hip Hop:

In February 2018, we were booked for a cocktail hour + first dance performance at The Pillar and Post. The couple, Billy and Sarah, were originally from Detroit, big fans of hip-hop and asked us to perform some of their favourite tracks from the 90s and 2000s. February isn’t exactly peak wedding season, so luckily we had a bit of extra time to put together new arrangements. And it worked! We managed to pull off Regulate, Jesus Walks, Empire State of Mind, Nuthin But A G Thang, Lollipop, and Gangsta’s Paradise. We even performed Lose Yourself for their grand entrance at dinner.

Hip-hop can be challenging, because the rap vocals are usually just a rhythm, with no real melody. It takes a bit of improvisation to pull rap verses off on the violin, but we like this one!

Mash ups:

Maybe one of our most requested wedding ceremony songs ever has been our mashup of Pachelbel’s Canon with the melody of Bruno Mars’ Marry You. Most recently, I spent a ton of time searching for cool mashups on YouTube made by DJs, and found some really cool ones to transcribe.  The two songs work so well together that it sounds totally natural, but it’s always great when someone listening to us clues in to what is actually going on. So far we’ve put together:

 Black or White + Sweet Child o Mine

Somebody to Love + Praise You

Get Lucky + Billie Jean

Take Me to Church + Crazy In Love

Californication + Hotel California.

Can’t wait to put these in our sets during this upcoming season of gigs!  


4 Reasons Why Your Wedding Ceremony Needs Live Music

Although there are many costs that can quickly add up while planning a wedding ceremony, here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t skip out on live music in order to save on your bottom line:

Atmosphere

Are you tired of booking live music for your house party? Do you need a break from the string quartet playing Grieg each morning when you wake up? Realistically, these complaints certainly don't apply to the average person! We save live music for our most special occasions, and the atmosphere created by professional musicians just for you and your guests comes second to none. There is also certainly a special feeling created by musicians playing their instruments live. Would a concert be the same if there were no musicians on stage and simply pre-recorded sound being played? In our case, a duo performing on instruments mainly associated with classical music, a real sense of elegance and classiness is created when we perform live.

Requests

We play a lot of requests – more than we initially expected! We love when people pick music that is special to them, and this often involves some pretty unique songs. However, the instrumentation in the original recording might not always be the most appropriate for a wedding ceremony – this is where we come in! We can make an arrangement of the song, preserving all the melody/harmony, but giving it a classy twist of being played on classical instruments. There definitely aren’t recorded versions of these special requests. A memorable arrangement we did lately was of The Vaccines' I Always Knew. It turned out great, worked perfect as a processional song, and added that special touch to an already exciting moment!

This is the couple we played The Vaccines song for! Aren't they sweet?  http://www.jessicalittlephotography.com/

This is the couple we played The Vaccines song for! Aren't they sweet? http://www.jessicalittlephotography.com/

Sound

I’ll be honest – amplified sound systems are very difficult to get right. Playing recorded music through a PA system can often sound muddy, muffled, or harsh. A proper setup really does take someone knowledgeable, often involving an expensive rental, and setup/sound check time.  With acoustic instruments, there are never any technical difficulties, very little setup time, and a lovely natural sound that is adjusted on the fly to accommodate how many guests are present in order to not be too quiet or too loud. Classical instruments also especially excel in big reverberant spaces, such as churches. A lot of classical music was written for this setting, therefore the music projects and fills the space in such a beautiful way. And because we arrange our popular music to suit the needs of our Classical instruments, it works out perfectly.

No Technical Difficulties

As I mentioned previously, there are never technical issues when working with acoustic instruments, and power isn’t even required! For parts of wedding ceremonies that require careful timing, such as the bridal processional, it definitely helps to be able to make up appropriate endings on the fly, rather than a fadeout or a full stop on a recording! Occasionally, tempos must also be slowed down to accommodate not ending too early. Not a good look if the bride hasn’t finished walking down the aisle and the song has ended! A recording will never wait, but we keep a close eye on every aspect of the wedding to ensure smooth transitions (TIP: If you have a big wedding party or know your venue of choice has a long [rocky staircase] aisle to walk down - and you've decided to wear heels - mention it to your musicians). Lastly, no sound check is ever needed as well, as musicians are quite good at using their ears to adjust the volume of playing as they go along.

To most people, music doesn’t seem that important to something like a wedding ceremony until it goes wrong or is missing. Hiring experienced musicians with many, many wedding ceremonies and other events under their belt ensures a memorable and smooth event with a beautiful atmosphere.

5 Popular Recessional Songs

When choosing to have live musicians at their wedding, couples are usually mostly thinking about what processional song they’d like to have. However, the one that everyone seems to get stuck on is what recessional song to use. It should be upbeat and fun, but classy and beautiful – here are some popular numbers that work great and we love to play. 

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5th Annual Evening of Recognition for Niagara Sustainability Initiative

We were thrilled to be invited to play for Niagara Sustainability Initivative (NSI) for their 5th annual Evening of Recognition. To both of us, it is of utmost importance to put forth our community and environment's state in our everyday decisions. Being newer to the city, we were excited to see such a great and passionate group coming together for the ultimate goal of preserving and bettering our environment. Check out their initiatives and become more aware of what's going on in your community at http://niagarasustainability.org/.

For the entertainment portion, we selected an array of popular tunes that a variety of people would be familiar with. Because of the age range that we saw, we spanned our music selection from the Beatles all the way to Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes. 

Photography was done by Erin Bernardo

Riverbend Inn and Vineyards

We spent our New Years Eve in the company of the guests of the Riverbend Inn and the wonderful, attentive staff dedicated to making the evening special for every customer. The unique elegance of the venue lent itself to creating an experience that was unforgettable. Guests listened to a variety of music, ranging from Jazz, Tango, Classical, and popular hits throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Something that we would like to start is having an interactive post on a social media platform (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) about song requests. We always love playing customers’ requested music, but it does take a little planning in advance! Who wouldn’t want to personalize the music they are tuning into while eating a delicious meal?