The String Section – A Brief Context

In this quirky video, courtesy of our popular Mainstage course, Orchestration for Strings, composer and arranger Ian Davis demystifies some of the historical context behind the modern day orchestra’s bowed string section, as well as its attributes and compositional strengths.

Davis composed all of the compelling score music to this course himself, and you’ll hear and see it performed in real time throughout the course by a five-member ensemble. In fact, if you want to follow along with the score to this video, you can download it here.

Deeper into the course, Ian takes us through each instrument and identifies and explores the unique considerations a composer needs to make when writing their parts.

He also goes into the basic techniques and composing directions of the bow. Here’s a handy downloadable graphic introducing the names of each of the bow’s body parts. Check out the course for free and don’t forget to use the below promo code for a  discount at Sign Up!

DownloadAnatomy of a Bow

If you’re inspired to start composing and arranging your own music, check out two of our most popular six-week Mentored courses, Orchestration for Strings and Introduction to the Composer’s Craft, and learn to write for orchestras and ensembles large or small. Preview any course for free, and subscribe for access. 

Elijah Fox at the piano

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


Laura Mvula’s Lyrics Have No Business Being This Good.

Resistance, resilience, realness. Laura Mvula uses her lyrics to weave complex stories told with accented, melodic, and tonal perfection.


Is “If I Fell” The Beatles’ Hippest Pre-Revolver Tune?

What’s going on in this subtly sophisticated pop hit? Turns out… a lot! Let’s break down this romantic ballad off of “A Hard Day’s Night.”


The Modal Mixture at the Heart of Elijah Fox’s “City In the Sky”

Elijah breaks down the parallel modal patterns that make up his track, “City in the Sky,” which imbue a “rocking back and forth” quality.