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Music: Lindsey Stirling

Have you ever seen a violinist really rock out??
—YouTube tagline

Lindsey Stirling (September 21, 1986-) is a quirky American violinist, musician, dancer, performance artist, and composer. Her music is mostly Instrumental Hip Hop combined with classical violin. She has also arranged film and videogame themes and incorporated dubstep in some pieces, e.g. her most popular track "Crystallize".

Shortly after her performance on the fifth season of America's Got Talent in 2010, cinematographer Devin Grahamnote  contacted her via Facebook in hopes of making a YouTube video together. A few months later, Stirling replied to him and they scheduled to shoot a music video for her new song, "Spontaneous Me". It was filmed the week of May 9, 2011 while Graham was on a nearby business trip. The video gave a major boost to Stirling's popularity and she began making music videos for her YouTube channel regularly.

Her main YouTube channel can be found here, and her vlog/behind the scenes channel, Lindsey Time, can be found here. She also has her own website.

Tropes found in her music and videos:

  • Abandoned Warehouse:
    • "Spontaneous Me", along with a couple other pieces, includes her dancing in empty parking lots or on abandoned and run-down buildings.
    • Her video "Celtic Carol" uses a warehouse as Santa's workshop, which Lindsey spends the video decorating for Christmas.
    • The "Song of the Caged Bird" video is set in a warehouse filled with candles, lightbulbs, and a violin.
  • Action Girl: Her character in the Skyrim video that she made is this, fighting a bandit chief and winning handily despite an initial disadvantage. Makes sense, given that Skyrim is a World of Badass.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: To an extent. In "Star Wars Medley" Lindsey is dressed as Leia, with the traditional long white dress and hair coils. However, her dress is fitted and she wears heels, unlike the original.
  • Adorkable: She acts this way in a lot of her videos, notably her goofy dancing and smiling in Electric Daisy Violin.
    • Her alter-ego, Phelba, easily qualifies.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • After the End: The setting for her and Pentatonix's cover of "Radioactive". The video is filmed around some old graffitied buildings and junk in the middle of a desert, and the desolate feeling is enhanced by the heightened contrast in the video.
  • Agony of the Feet: Although it can't be seen in the finished video, the behind-the-scenes for "Elements" shows it was rather painful to make — she wore thin sandals in a forest full of prickly plants, and had to dance and spin barefoot on a salt flat.
  • All Just a Dream: The zombies in "Moon Trance". Lindsey's friends are surprised to see her fall over when they vanish, and don't appear to have noticed anything odd.
  • Behind a Stick: In her Pokémon cover, she and Kurt Schneider (also in costume) search for a giant yellow Pikachu. Pikachu hides behind a tiny, thin plant, but is apparently completely invisible.
  • Be Yourself: The main theme of "Transcendence" is about being who you are and the happiness and freedom that comes with that, rather than trying to fit ideas other people project onto you or how culture says you should be.
    • "Shatter Me" is an even more overt metaphor for this. Stirling has made it clear that the song and music video are based on her own experiences of trying to accept who she was inside and "break free" from the face she put on for the world.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Song of the Caged Bird". Lindsey's still trapped in the building with no signs of rescue on the way, but at least she has a violin.
  • Book Ends: The Phantom of the Opera video begins and ends with aged footage of Lindsey entering and leaving the theatre place.
  • Buffy Speak: When explaining the process of making her music, she describes how she will just do away with dictionary words altogether when trying to express what she wants to do. This is followed with a rather amusing demonstration.
  • Cheerful Child: "We Found Love" was made in Kenya and includes a number of local people. Some are children who she holds briefly or plays with. She also performs in their classroom, and they clap along happily. Later, she describes what an honor it was to be with them.
  • Clock Punk: The "Shatter Me" music video.
  • Color-Coded Elements: The music video for "Elements" uses this a lot, with water, earth, fire, and air having different dominant colors. For fire and water, she also uses face paint/makeup in blue or red. See the page image.
  • Comical Angry Face: The behind-the-scenes for her "Radioactive" cover features a "super frown count" of Sher and several members of Pentatonix doing their comical angry faces for various reasons. Final tally? Four.
  • Cosplay:
  • Cover Version: As well as working with other musicians, she has covered arrangements of themes from several films and videogames. Stirling has also stated that she enjoys adding a violin part to popular radio songs.
  • Creepy Cemetery: "Moon Trance" features a misty and dark cemetery, and she's creeped out even before the zombies come.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The aforementioned "Moon Trance" features a circle of dancing zombies. They then set up a band, and she joins on her violin.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • This is used at the beginning and end of the Phantom of the Opera piece along with artificial aging to make it look like the film is old. Color is introduced when the texture and tempo pick up as the band appears.
    • The entirety of "Shadows" is done this way, since it is about the shadow and color isn't needed. It adds to the surrealism of that video.
  • Double Vision: Several videos, e.g. "On the Floor Take Three", feature multiple versions of herself dancing or playing the violin, usually using split screens over several takes so it appears she has clones even if they're dressed differently.
  • Dubstep: Some of her pieces are self-described dubstep violin, with synthesizers used for some rhythm/base instruments and sounds.
  • Dutch Angle: A variety of angles and dynamic shots are used in her videos, including this one. It's especially noticeable in "Spontaneous Me", where the camera ends up rotating nearly upside down while going into this shot.
  • Electronic Music: She has at least two electric violins — one is bright purple and shows up in the Phantom of the Opera piece — and many more electric instruments feature in her songs. A video about making her music shows the layering process using computer programs and a keyboard set with weird sounds.
  • Exposed to the Elements: When cosplaying Misty in her Pokémon video, she and Kurt end up in a city covered with snow and the river frozen over, yet they are still only wearing T-shirts and shorts. The cold does not appear to affect them at all.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: One shows up in her remix of The Phantom of the Opera, when she stands on the stage of an empty theater.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The "Song of the Caged Bird" video features many lightbulbs and candles packed into old crates. After Lindsey finds a violin and begins playing, they slowly come on until the tiny room is full of light. At the end, her violin glows too.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: In the form of odd socks.
  • Genki Girl: She has a very energetic performance style, involving lots of quick motion and dance on her part and exaggerated body movements, often with a big happy grin on her face while doing so.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: This happens in the music video for the orchestral version of "Transcendence": when Lindsey picks up an old and dusty violin to start playing, her dull raggedy clothes transform into a blue and gold outfit during her first twirl.
  • Grave Robbing: In "Moon Trance", Lindsey scrabbles at a grave and steals a violin from it to defend herself.
  • Group Hug: When Pikachu comes back at the end of the Pokémon video, sending Team Rocket up in lightning, they all have a celebratory hug.
  • Happy Dance: Lindsey sings about how "We're in Europe! We're here in Europe right now, gonna be awesome, so excited!" whilst doing some kind of dance across the screen and back again.
  • Happy Rain: The water part of "Elements". To make the rain show up on camera, the rain is actually two people with hoses and sprinkler nozzels, backlit to highlight the drops. It's also more reliable than real weather.
  • I Call Her "Vera": The main violin she uses is a feminine Excalibur, and her stunt violin is named Ingrid.
  • Ice Palace: The setting of "Crystallize". She prances through the (man-made) corridors and in the courtyard, and at night the palace glows.
  • Idea Bulb: Inverted in "Song of the Caged Bird" — the initial lightbulb she finds by accident gives her the idea of opening the rest of the crates.
  • Instrument of Murder: The Skyrim video has an acted battle. Lindsey used her violin bow as a sword against the bandit.
  • In The Style Of: "Elements" got a remix ahead of the premiere of Dracula. The new version features a much darker video involving vampires, and the music is orchestral rather than dubstep.
    • "Transcendence" got one too, this time with a music video featuring Lindsey inspiring people on the street to perform with her.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Just like The Piano Guys did, Peter Hollens (in Obi-Wan costume) pretends to pull one off behind the scenes of the Star Wars video, gesturing and saying that, "You will like this video a lot. You will share this video."
  • Jump Cut: She tends to use these if talking to the camera in a personal video, since they make it more lively and remove unnecessary pauses.
  • Laser Hallway: One of these features in her collaboration with The Piano Guys, with the red lasers contrasting with a predominantly black-and-white video. Lindsey carefully plays her way through, around, and under the beams, but the cellist simply turns off the alarm system to walk through.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: In the Star Wars medley, she as Leia, Peter Hollens as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Josh as Darth Vader costume all draw lightsabers but then politely gesture that the others go first, obeying rules of etiquette even when hoping to attack one another.
  • Living Shadow: The aptly-named "Shadows" doesn't have as many quick cuts and varied angles as some other videos, since it's just her and her shadow projected on a piece of plywood. They start out in synch, but soon the shadow does movements in canon and then puts down its violin to just dance. Lindsey's expression is one of bemusement as she watches, but she keeps playing.
  • Match Cut: Several of her videos jump locations whilst having her choreography match in each shot, but "Minimal Beat" takes the cake. It features 17 countries from her time on tour, and the camera will cut between all of them in just a few seconds. In each, she wears a different outfit, but will be walking across the screen or turning her head in perfect time in order to make a smooth video. The behind-the-scenes video explains that it took many hours of editing and careful positioning to make this work.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: She arranged some music from Assassin's Creed III and her character in the video was Connor, a serious minded assassin. In the behind-the-scenes, she lampshades this:
    So, I'm a pretty, you know, smiley/quirky/dorky little person, and here I was. I was wearing the costume of Connor, the assassin in Assassin's Creed, who is anything but quirky and smiley and dorky.
  • Messy Hair: Averted; it doesn't tangle no matter how much crazy dancing she does, and her hair tutorial shows that she wakes up with it fairly smooth and neat.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: This features, fittingly enough, in the Mission: Impossible video. Lindsey is lowered on a cable to steal music off the pianist's stand, throwing a small object to distract him long enough for it to be snatched. She plays her violin whilst being dropped.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: When infiltrating the building during the Mission: Impossible piece, both Lindsey and Steven carry potted plants with them briefly in an attempt to hide themselves.
  • More Dakka: During her Halo Medley - Firefight with Devin Super Tramp, Lindsey gets to go all out carrying a rotating gun turret and blasting a bunch of enemy-team Spartans with it. This only appears in Devin's version of the video though.
  • Musical Assassin: Lindsey occasionally uses her music as a weapon in her videos.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Puts violins in songs of different genres.
  • Not a Morning Person: Well, she is, but others aren't. For Easter 2013, Stirling arranged an Easter Egg Hunt for everyone else on the tour bus. She was up bright and early setting out eggs, baskets, and a trail of footprints supposedly by the Easter Bunny, but trying to wake up those touring with her didn't quite go so well. They wondered at how she could do it given that they'd done a show the night before.
  • Ominous Owl: A couple videos, e.g. the Zelda medly, use owl hoots to set the scene and make it seem scary.
  • Opening Scroll: Naturally, the cover she and Peter did of some Star Wars music featured an opening scroll on half the screen, beginning, "Not long ago in a suburb...." It sets the scene for the song as part of YouTube's Geek Week.
  • Orbital Shot: There's a particularly large one is in the Lord of the Rings medley. She stands in the wind on a hill by the sea, and the shot goes around and above/below her, showing off her dress and the beautiful scenery.
  • Our Elves Are Better: "Celtic Carol" shows her as one of Santa's elves trapped in a workshop. She entertains herself through decorating the area and non-malevolent mischievousness.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: When she's romping around with Tyler Ward in "Thrift Shop", he briefly carries her in this fashion.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Used for fun when Lindsey dresses up as her own #1 fan Phelba — the only disguise is that Phelba has thick black glasses. A few people realize that Phelba and Lindsey look rather too similar, but since not enough people know them, it generally works.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: In her The Phantom of the Opera medley. Justified as she's emulating the beautiful performer Christine Daaé.
  • Playing with Fire: "Elements" features a lot of fire that she dances around, based in a frame quickly constructed from Home Depot materials.
  • Pointy Ears: She wears these for her elf cosplays.
  • Pygmalion Plot: "Transcendence" resembles this in that the man at the computer projects whatever he wants onto Lindsey and she moulds to fit it, and when she breaks out of this he is angry.
  • Rack Focus:
    • The Game of Thrones cover done by her and Peter Hollens used this when the latter finds a chess piece; it moves the focus from his face near the ground to the small brown chess knight.
    • The Assassin's Creed III cover also uses this; first, it focuses on two British soldiers searching for her in the background, then it focuses on her dressed as Connor holding a pistol and tomahawk as she passes by in the foreground.
  • Retraux: Her Pokémon dubstep remix sometimes used video effects like pixellation and overlapping frames, along with eight-bit sprites, to honor some of the older games.
  • Robbing the Dead: In "Moon Trance", Lindsey is desperate, what with zombies coming at her, and scrabbles at a grave to get a violin from the ground, with which she defends herself.
  • Roundhouse Kick: Her dancing often involves a few of these, though they're done more as delicate pirouettes than vicious attacks. When a video includes her in several places, she sometimes cuts to each place while continuing the spin.
  • Rule 63: She sometimes plays gender-flipped violinist versions of male characters, like Link in the Zelda music video or Connor in the Assassin's Creed III video.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of videos are filmed in wild and beautiful locations (most of them reachable within an hour's drive from Provo, Utah), and the camera makes full use of this; it's part of the reason for the Orbital Shot mentioned above.
  • Scatting: Occasionally used in otherwise instrumental songs - For instance, in "Stars Align" the only lyrics are a Title Drop and "da da da da da da".
  • Scooby Stack: Although it only has two people, one of these is featured in the Mission: Impossible cover, with her and Steven peering around the corner of a deserted corridor when trying to infiltrate the building.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: The "Dragonborn" cover involves over a hundred copies of Peter Hollens singing different pieces of the melody and harmony.
  • Self-Titled Album: Her debut album is Lindsey Stirling, released in September 2012.
  • Shattering the Illusion: "Transcendence" is themed around this trope through Lindsey discovering that the projected clothes, backgrounds, places, and so on are not real. When she realises she can step outside the image of a dress to reach for her violin, she is at first hesitant because of the shadows this casts on other projections, but then dances over the scenes like nobody's business, to the anger of the man creating the illusions.
    • "Shatter Me", the title track from her second album, is also very much built around this. The idea is that the ballerina spends her days trapped in the music box, hoping that someone will come along and free her from the glass, but comes to realize that the only way to escape is to break the glass herself.
  • Shout-Out: "Song of the Caged Bird" is named after and inspired by Maya Angelou's poem "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings".
    • The "Moon Trance" video is an obvious homage to Thriller.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Stars Align" is mostly instrumental, but has some vocals in the form of da-ing followed by "when the stars align". This is repeated a couple times without changes.
  • Skip of Innocence: Her dances often include skips and jumps as she plays her violin, grinning.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the Lord of the Rings medly, the only costumes she wears are pretty and innocent dresses in a Hobbiton setting — slightly out of place when the piece moves on to battle themes.
  • The Stoic: Her "orchestra face" is a deadpan, focused expression that she used to use when playing the violin. It's clear that she's gotten rid of that habit, though!
  • Stunt Double: She has a $40 violin used for scenes in rain, rolling in dirt, etc.; as a good violin costs thousands, this saves it from getting ruined.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The Shatter Me album has two songs with full sets of lyrics (written by Lindsey, but sung by other artistsnote ).
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lindsey's bandmates in "Moon Trance" when they decide to take a shortcut through an ominous graveyard in the middle of the night.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Lindsey really loves cereal. Her mother at one time had to ration how much she could eat a day.
  • Trash Can Band: She recorded an orchestral version of her song "Transcendence" alongside the Landfill Harmonic.
    • Her 2014 tour includes a version of "Transcendence" with three components; her on her violin, her pianist (Gavi) on his piano... and her drummer (Drew) banging on a crate he's sitting on. This is inspired by a time when the crew found a piano on the street while out walking and started fooling around.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: She has a different outfit for every video, not even counting dressups, and sometimes appears with a variety of costumes within just one.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: In the original "Transcendence" music video, Lindsey is being used as one through wearing plain white and having various outfits projected onto her. She will even change her pose to fit them better. During the song, she realizes what is going on and escapes.
  • Wanted Poster: The Assassin's Creed III theme arrangement includes her cosplay character (the assassin Connor, though she called herself Connie instead) finding a poster for himself and ripping it off the tree.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Fighting zombies, charging light bulbs, breaking glass. If there's a story in the video, Lindsey's character is likely to realize the solution to her problem is her violin.
  • Wipe: As an homage to George Lucas, her Star Wars video uses the wipes found throughout those six films to change scene, even though such transitions are now rare.
  • Word Salad Title: "Electric Daisy Violin". The title fits rather well, actually.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are / You Are Not Alone: According to Word of God, this is the theme of most of her songs. Her past experiences with eating disorders made her want to inspire other people to find inner beauty in themselves.
  • You Wake Up in a Room:
    • The beginning of the "Song of the Caged Bird" video features this, with Lindsey getting up off the floor and unaware of any way out.
    • Likewise, "Celtic Carol" has her waking up in Santa's workshop to discover she has been locked inside for the holiday.

Max SteinerComposersIgor Stravinsky
MusicImageSource/MusicColor-Coded Elements

alternative title(s): Lindsey Stirling
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