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The Violin family (also historically called the viola da braccio, or lira da braccio family) of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century.[1] The violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass[2].

Instrument names in the violin family are all derived from the root viola, which is a derivative of the Medieval Latin word vitula (meaning "stringed instrument").[3] A violino (Italian for "violin") is a "little viola", a violone is a "big viola" or a bass violin, and a violoncello (often abbreviated cello) is a "small violone" (or, literally, a "small big viola"). (The violone is not part of the modern violin family; its place is taken by the modern double bass, an instrument with a mix of violin and violone characteristics.)

The instruments of the violin family may be descended in part from the lira da braccio and the medieval Byzantine lira [4].

Violin VL100.jpg Bratsche.jpg Cello front side.jpg AGK bass1 full.jpg
Violin Viola Cello (violoncello) Double bass (Contrabass)

Contents

Characteristics

Violin, viola, and cello bow frogs (top to bottom)

The playing ranges of the instruments in the violin family overlap each other, but the tone quality and physical size of each distinguishes them from one another. Both the violin and the viola are played under the jaw, the viola being the larger of the two instruments, with a playing range reaching a perfect fifth below the violin's. The cello is played sitting down with the instrument between the knees, and its playing range reaches an octave below the viola's. The double bass is played standing or sitting on a stool, with a range that typically reaches a minor sixth, an octave, or a ninth below the cello's.

While the violin, viola and cello (which developed from the bass violin) are indisputable members of the ancestral violin, or viola da braccio family, the double bass's origins are sometimes called into question. The double bass is occasionally taken to be part of the viol family, due to its sloping shoulders, its tuning, and its sometimes flat back. Others say that these features are arbitrary, and point to the internal construction of the double bass, which is proportionately identical to the violin's, as a more weighty piece of evidence than the external features. Its origins aside, it has historically been used as the lowest member of the violin family.

All string instruments share similar form, parts, construction, and function, and the viols bear a particularly close resemblance to the violin family. However, instruments in the violin family are set apart from viols by similarities in shape, in tuning practice, and in history. Violin family instruments have four strings each, are tuned in fifths (except the double bass, which is tuned in fourths), are not fretted, and have four rounded bouts. In contrast, the viol family instruments usually have five to six strings with a fretted fingerboard, and are tuned in fourths and thirds.

French (top) and German (bottom) double bass bows

Uses

The instruments of the violin family are the most used bowed string instruments in the world today. Although all share a place in classical music, they are also used to a lesser degree in jazz, electronic music, rock, and other types of popular music, where they are often amplified, or simply created to be used as electric instruments. The violin is also used extensively in fiddle music, country music, and folk music. The double bass plays an indispensable part in both classical and jazz music forms.

The Juilliard String Quartet performing in 1963.

One of the most popular and standardized groupings in classical chamber music, the string quartet, is composed of two violins, one viola and one cello. This similarity in the manner of sound production allows string quartets to blend their tone colour and timbre more easily than less homogeneous groups. This is particularly notable in comparison to the standard wind quintet, which, although composed entirely of wind instruments, comprises four fundamentally different ways of producing musical pitch.

Octobass

The octobass, a larger version of the double bass, is a rarely used member of this family constructed in the 19th century. It is extremely unwieldy to play and thus has not found much acceptance; nevertheless, it can be found in some Romantic-era scores and is called for occasionally in modern works. The octobass is played standing and its range typically reaches an octave below the double bass.

Octobass

Notes

  1. ^ Witten 1982
  2. ^ Hoffman 1997
  3. ^ Harper 2001.
  4. ^ Grillet 1901, p. 29

References

  • Hoffman, Miles (1997). The NPR Classical Music Companion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-70742-0.  
  • Witten, Laurence C., II (Oct., 1982). "The Surviving Instruments of Andrea Amati". Early Music Vol. 10, No. 4 (Oct., 1982): 487–494.  
  • The Complete Luthier's Library. A Useful International Critical Bibliography for the Maker and the Connoisseur of Stringed and Plucked Instruments. Bologna: Florenus Company. 1990. ISBN 88-85250-01-7.  

Grillet, Laurent (1901). Les ancetres du violon v.1. Paris.  

See also

External links

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The Violin family (also historically called the viola da braccio family) of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century.[1] The violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, double bass[2] and Octobass.

Instrument names in the violin family are all derived from the root viola, which is a derivative of the Medieval Latin word vitula (meaning "stringed instrument").[3] A violino (Italian for "violin") is a "little viola", a violone is a "big viola" or a bass violin, and a violoncello (often abbreviated cello) is a "small violone" (or, literally, a "small big viola"). (The violone is not part of the modern violin family; its place is taken by the modern double bass, an instrument with a mix of violin and violone characteristics.)

The instruments of the violin family may be descended in part from the lira da braccio and the medieval Byzantine lira [4].

Violin Viola Cello (violoncello) Double bass (Contrabass)

Contents

Characteristics

The playing ranges of the instruments in the violin family overlap each other, but the tone quality and physical size of each distinguishes them from one another. Both the violin and the viola are played under the jaw, the viola being the larger of the two instruments, with a playing range reaching a perfect fifth below the violin's. The cello is played sitting down with the instrument between the knees, and its playing range reaches an octave below the viola's. The double bass is played standing or sitting on a stool, with a range that typically reaches a minor sixth, an octave, or a ninth below the cello's.

While the violin, viola and cello (which developed from the bass violin) are indisputable members of the ancestral violin, or viola da braccio family, the double bass's origins are sometimes called into question. The double bass is occasionally taken to be part of the viol family, due to its sloping shoulders, its tuning, and its sometimes flat back. Others say that these features are arbitrary, and point to the internal construction of the double bass, which is proportionately identical to the violin's, as a more weighty piece of evidence than the external features. Its origins aside, it has historically been used as the lowest member of the violin family.

All string instruments share similar form, parts, construction, and function, and the viols bear a particularly close resemblance to the violin family. However, instruments in the violin family are set apart from viols by similarities in shape, in tuning practice, and in history. Violin family instruments have four strings each, are tuned in fifths (except the double bass, which is tuned in fourths), are not fretted, and have four rounded bouts. In contrast, the viol family instruments usually have five to six strings with a fretted fingerboard, and are tuned in fourths and thirds.

bows]]

Uses

The instruments of the violin family are the most used bowed string instruments in the world today. Although all share a place in classical music, they are also used to a lesser degree in jazz, electronic music, rock, and other types of popular music, where they are often amplified, or simply created to be used as electric instruments. The violin is also used extensively in fiddle music, country music, and folk music. The double bass plays an indispensable part in both classical and jazz music forms.

One of the most popular and standardized groupings in classical chamber music, the string quartet, is composed of two violins, one viola and one cello. This similarity in the manner of sound production allows string quartets to blend their tone colour and timbre more easily than less homogeneous groups. This is particularly notable in comparison to the standard wind quintet, which, although composed entirely of wind instruments, comprises four fundamentally different ways of producing musical pitch.

Octobass

The octobass, a larger version of the double bass, is a rarely used member of this family constructed in the 19th century. It is extremely unwieldy to play and thus has not found much acceptance; nevertheless, it can be found in some Romantic-era scores and is called for occasionally in modern works. The octobass is played standing and its range typically reaches an octave below the double bass.

Notes

  1. ^ Witten 1982
  2. ^ Hoffman 1997
  3. ^ Harper 2001.
  4. ^ Grillet 1901, p. 29

See also

References

  • Hoffman, Miles (1997). The NPR Classical Music Companion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-70742-0. 
  • Witten, Laurence C., II (Oct., 1982). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "The Surviving Instruments of Andrea Amati"]. Early Music 10, No. 4 (Oct., 1982): 487–494. 
  • The Complete Luthier's Library. A Useful International Critical Bibliography for the Maker and the Connoisseur of Stringed and Plucked Instruments. Bologna: Florenus Company. 1990. ISBN 88-85250-01-7. 

Grillet, Laurent (1901). Les ancetres du violon v.1. Paris. 

External links


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