Can a Viola Player Become a Rock Band Member?

The viola, which is known as the upsized version of a violin, is one of the most beloved instruments in the world. It is often associated with classical music as it frequently plays the inner voices of a symphony and the accompaniments within a quartet. Moreover, those who play this instrument are commonly known as violists. Though they are often portrayed as solely orchestra players, the viola is actually a very versatile instrument. For this reason, violists are also active in other music genres like gypsy, jazz, celtic, and pop! Did you know they could also play rock? Here are some notable violists in rock bands:


  • John Cale of The Velvet Underground


John Cale, an infamous artist during the era of rock, was known for his ability to play a variety of instruments. Besides his impressive influence in the public sphere, John Cale was very skilled at playing string instruments including the viola. Some of their popular songs in which the viola was used are namely Sunday Morning, The Gift, After Hours, and Pale Blue Eyes.


  • Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons


Wayne Sermon is known to play most of the string instruments used in the making of Imagine Dragons’ songs. From guitars to violins and the viola no less, the band has utilized a large variety of instruments. A couple of songs that they have made, with the incorporation of the viola, are Demons, Believer, and Warrior. No wonder their songs are so dynamic and mellow! 


  • Mary Ramsey of 10,000 Maniacs


10,000 Maniacs is a huge band composed of diversified talent. They specialize in incorporating folk into rock, and have captivated a large audience. Amongst this group of talents is Mary Ramsey whose main instrument is the viola. Their famous pieces using the viola include Because The Night, These Are Days, More Than This, and Can’t Ignore The Train.

In lieu of all these, it’s safe to say that the viola is an incredibly well-rounded instrument and violists can definitely thrive in various genres like rock. It is safe to say that violists can not only be members of rock bands and symphonic orchestras, but in emerging pop, indie and folk groups as well! The viola is truly an amazing instrument that leads to many paths for musicians that are willing to dedicate their time and passion to it.

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