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Violin
Violin VL100.jpg
A standard modern violin shown from the front and the side
String instrument
Other names Fiddle, de: Violine or Geige, fr: Violon, it: Violino
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 321.322-71
(Composite chordophone sounded by a bow)
Developed Early 16th century
Playing range
Range violin.png
Related instruments
Musicians
Builders
More articles
Scroll and ear.jpg

This article is part of the Fiddle and Violin series.

The violin is a string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello. (The double bass's inclusion in the violin family is disputed.)

The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument;[1] this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle".[2] The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th century. Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria.

A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier, or simply a violin maker. The parts of a violin are usually made from different types of wood (although electric violins may not be made of wood at all, since their sound may not be dependent on specific acoustic characteristics of the instrument's construction), and it is generally strung with gut, nylon/steel composite, or steel strings.

Someone who plays the violin is called a violinist or a fiddler. The violinist produces sound by drawing a bow across one or more strings (which may be stopped by the fingers of the other hand to produce a full range of pitches), by plucking the strings (with either hand), or by a variety of other techniques. The violin is played by musicians in a wide variety of musical genres, including Baroque music, classical, jazz, folk music, pop-punk and rock and roll. The violin has come to be played in many non-western music cultures all over the world.

Contents

History

The earliest stringed instruments were mostly plucked (e.g. the Greek lyre). Bowed instruments may have originated in the equestrian cultures of Central Asia, an example being the Kobyz (Kazakh: қобыз) or kyl-kobyz is an ancient Kazakh string instrument or Mongolian instrument Morin huur:

Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest fiddlers. Their two-stringed upright fiddles were strung with horsehair strings, played with horsehair bows, and often feature a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. ... The violins, violas, and cellos we play today, and whose bows are still strung with horsehair, are a legacy of the nomads.[3]

It is believed that these instruments eventually spread to China, India, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East, where they developed into instruments such as the erhu in China, the rebab in the Middle East, the lyra in the Byzantine Empire and the esraj in India. The violin in its present form emerged in early 16th-Century Northern Italy, where the port towns of Venice and Genoa maintained extensive ties to central Asia through the trade routes of the silk road.

The modern European violin evolved from various bowed stringed instruments which were brought from the Middle East[4] and the Byzantine Empire.[5][6] Most likely the first makers of violins borrowed from three types of current instruments: the rebec, in use since the 10th century (itself derived from the Byzantine lyra[7] and the Arabic rebab), the Renaissance fiddle, and the lira da braccio[8] (derived[5] from the Byzantine lira). One of the earliest explicit descriptions of the instrument, including its tuning, was in the Epitome musical by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556.[9] By this time, the violin had already begun to spread throughout Europe.

The oldest documented violin to have four strings, like the modern violin, is supposed to have been constructed in 1555 by Andrea Amati, but the date is very doubtful. (Other violins, documented significantly earlier, only had three strings and were called violetta.) The violin immediately became very popular, both among street musicians and the nobility, illustrated by the fact that the French king Charles IX ordered Amati to construct 24 violins for him in 1560.[10] The oldest surviving violin, dated inside, is from this set, and is known as the Charles IX, made in Cremona c. 1560. The finest Renaissance carved and decorated violin in the world is the Gasparo da Salò (1574 c.) owned by Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria and later, from 1841, by the Norwegian virtuoso Ole Bull, who used it for forty years and thousands of concerts, for his very powerful and beautiful tone, similar to those of a Guarneri. It is now in the Vestlandske Kustindustrimuseum in Bergen (Norway). "The Messiah" or "Le Messie" (also known as the "Salabue") made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 remains pristine. It is now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.[11]

San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail), Venice, Giovanni Bellini, 1505

The most famous violin makers (luthiers) between the 16th century and the 18th century include:

  • The school of Brescia, beginning in the late 14 with liras, violettas, violas and active in the field of the violin in the first half of 16th century
  • The Dalla Corna family, active 1510–1560 in Brescia and Venezia, Italy
  • The Micheli family, active 1530–1615 in Brescia
  • The Inverardi family active 1550–1580 in Brescia
  • The Bertolotti Gasparo da Salò family, active 1530–1615 in Salò and Brescia
  • Gio Paolo Maggini, active 1600–1630 in Brescia
  • The school of Cremona, beginning in the half of 16 century vith violas and violone and in the field of violin in the second half of 16 century
  • The Amati family, active 1500–1740 in Cremona, Italy
  • The Guarneri family, active 1626–1744 in Cremona
  • The Stradivari family, active 1644–1737 in Cremona

Significant changes occurred in the construction of the violin in the 18th century, particularly in the length and angle of the neck, as well as a heavier bass bar. The majority of old instruments have undergone these modifications, and hence are in a significantly different state than when they left the hands of their makers, doubtless with differences in sound and response.[12] But these instruments in their present condition set the standard for perfection in violin craftsmanship and sound, and violin makers all over the world try to come as close to this ideal as possible.

To this day, instruments from the so-called Golden Age of violin making, especially those made by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are the most sought-after instruments by both collectors and performers. The current record amount paid for a Stradivari violin was $3,544,000.00 at an auction on May 16, 2006. All Stradivarius violins have unique names; the record setting one is known as the Hammer, referring to its first owner, Christian Hammer. It was made in 1707.[13]

Construction and mechanics

The construction of a violin

A violin typically consists of a spruce top (the soundboard, also known as the top plate, table, or belly), maple ribs and back, two endblocks, a neck, a bridge, a soundpost, four strings, and various fittings, optionally including a chinrest, which may attach directly over, or to the left of, the tailpiece. A distinctive feature of a violin body is its hourglass-like shape and the arching of its top and back. The hourglass shape comprises two upper bouts, two lower bouts, and two concave C-bouts at the waist, providing clearance for the bow.

The voice of a violin depends on its shape, the wood it is made from, the graduation (the thickness profile) of both the top and back, and the varnish which coats its outside surface. The varnish and especially the wood continue to improve with age, making the fixed supply of old violins much sought-after.

The very great majority of glued joints in the instrument use animal hide glue for a number of reasons: it is capable of making a thinner joint than most other glues, it is reversible (brittle enough to crack with carefully applied force, and removable with warm water) when disassembly is needed, and since fresh hide glue will stick to old hide glue, more original wood can be preserved when repairing a joint. (More modern glues must be cleaned off entirely in order for the new joint to be sound, which generally involves scraping off some wood along with the old glue.) Weaker, diluted glue is usually used to fasten the top to the ribs, and the nut to the fingerboard, since common repairs involve removing these parts.

The purfling running around the edge of the spruce top provides some protection against cracks originating at the edge. It also allows the top to flex more independently of the rib structure. Painted-on faux purfling on the top is a sign of an inferior instrument. The back and ribs are typically made of maple, most often with a matching striped figure, referred to as flame, fiddleback, or tiger stripe.

The neck is usually maple with a flamed figure compatible with that of the ribs and back. It carries the fingerboard, typically made of ebony, but often some other wood stained or painted black. Ebony is the preferred material because of its hardness, beauty, and superior resistance to wear. Fingerboards are dressed to a particular transverse curve, and have a small lengthwise "scoop," or concavity, slightly more pronounced on the lower strings, especially when meant for gut or synthetic strings.

Some old violins (and some made to appear old) have a grafted scroll, evidenced by a glue joint between the pegbox and neck. Many authentic old instruments have had their necks reset to a slightly increased angle, and lengthened by about a centimeter. The neck graft allows the original scroll to be kept with a Baroque violin when bringing its neck into conformance with modern standards.

Closeup of a violin tailpiece, with a fleur-de-lis
Front and back views of violin bridge
Sound post seen through f-hole

The bridge is a precisely cut piece of maple that forms the lower anchor point of the vibrating length of the strings and transmits the vibration of the strings to the body of the instrument. Its top curve holds the strings at the proper height from the fingerboard in an arc, allowing each to be sounded separately by the bow. The sound post, or soul post, fits precisely inside the instrument between the back and top, below the treble foot of the bridge, which it helps support. It also transmits vibrations between the top and the back of the instrument.

The tailpiece anchors the strings to the lower bout of the violin by means of the tailgut, which loops around an ebony button called the tailpin (sometimes confusingly called the endpin, like the cello's spike), which fits into a tapered hole in the bottom block. Very often the E string will have a fine tuning lever worked by a small screw turned by the fingers. Fine tuners may also be applied to the other strings, especially on a student instrument, and are sometimes built into the tailpiece.

At the scroll end, the strings wind around the tuning pegs in the pegbox. Strings usually have a colored silk wrapping at both ends, for identification and to provide friction against the pegs. The tapered pegs allow friction to be increased or decreased by the player applying appropriate pressure along the axis of the peg while turning it.

Violin and bow.

Strings

Strings were first made of sheep gut (commonly known as catgut), stretched, dried and twisted. Modern strings may be gut, solid steel, stranded steel, or various synthetic materials, wound with various metals, and sometimes plated with silver. Most E strings are unwound, either plain or gold-plated steel.

Strings have a limited lifetime; apart from obvious things, such as the winding of a string coming undone from wear, a player will generally change a string when it no longer plays true, losing the desired tone. The longevity of a string depends on how much and how intensely one plays.

Pitch range

The compass of the violin is from G3 (G below middle C) to C8 (the highest note of the modern piano.) The top notes, however, are often produced by natural or artificial harmonics. Thus the E two octaves above the open E-string may be considered a practical limit for orchestral violin parts[14].

Acoustics

3D spectrum diagram of the overtones of a violin G string (foreground). Note that the pitch we hear is the peak around 200 Hz.

The arched shape, the thickness of the wood, and its physical qualities govern the sound of a violin. Patterns of the node made by sand or glitter sprinkled on the plates with the plate vibrated at certain frequencies, called Chladni patterns, are occasionally used by luthiers to verify their work before assembling the instrument.[15]

Sizes

Fractional (1/16) and full size (4/4) violins

Children typically use smaller string instruments than adults. Violins are made in so-called fractional sizes for young students: Apart from full-size (4/4) violins, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and even 1/32-sized instruments exist. Extremely small sizes were developed, along with the Suzuki program, for violin students as young as 3. Finely-made fractional sized violins, especially smaller than 1/2 size, are extremely rare or non-existent. Such small instruments are typically intended for beginners needing a rugged violin, and whose rudimentary technique does not justify the expense of a more carefully made one.

These fractional sizes have nothing to do with the actual dimensions of an instrument; in other words, a 3/4-sized instrument is not three-quarters the length of a full size instrument. The body length (not including the neck) of a full-size, or 4/4, violin is about 14 inches (35 cm), smaller in some 17th century models. A 3/4 violin is about 13 inches (33 cm), and a 1/2 size is approximately 12 inches (30 cm). With the violin's closest family member, the viola, size is specified as body length in inches or centimeters rather than fractional sizes. A full-size viola averages 16 inches (40 cm).

Occasionally, an adult with a small frame may use a so-called 7/8 size violin instead of a full-size instrument. Sometimes called a lady's violin, these instruments are slightly shorter than a full size violin, but tend to be high-quality instruments capable of producing a sound that is comparable to that of fine full size violins.

Tuning

Scroll and pegbox, correctly strung
The pitches of open strings on a violin

Violins are tuned by turning the pegs in the pegbox under the scroll, or by adjusting the fine tuner screws at the tailpiece. All violins have pegs; fine tuners (also called fine adjusters) are optional. Most fine tuners consist of a metal screw that moves a lever to which the string is attached. They permit very small pitch adjustments with much more ease than the pegs.

Fine tuners are usually used with solid metal or composite strings that may be difficult to tune with pegs alone; they are not used with gut strings, which are more elastic and do not respond adequately to the very small movements of fine tuners. Some violinists have fine tuners on all 4 strings; most classical players have only a single fine tuner on the E string.

To tune a violin, the A string is first tuned to a standard pitch (usually 440 Hz), using either a tuning device or another instrument. (When accompanying a fixed-pitch instrument such as a piano or accordion, the violin tunes to it.) The other strings are then tuned against each other in intervals of perfect fifths by bowing them in pairs. A minutely higher tuning is sometimes employed for solo playing to give the instrument a brighter sound; conversely, Baroque music is sometimes played using lower tunings to make the violin's sound more gentle. After tuning, the instrument's bridge may be examined to ensure that it is standing straight and centered between the inner nicks of the f-holes; a crooked bridge may significantly affect the sound of an otherwise well-made violin.

The tuning G-D-A-E is used for most violin music. Other tunings are occasionally employed; the G string, for example, can be tuned up to A. The use of nonstandard tunings in classical music is known as scordatura; in some folk styles, it is called cross-tuning. One famous example of scordatura in classical music is Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre, where the solo violin's E string is tuned down to E flat to impart an eerie dissonance to the composition. Another example would be in the third movement of Contrasts, by Béla Bartók, where the E string is tuned down to E flat and the G tuned to a G sharp, or the set of pieces called the Mystery Sonatas by Biber.

In Indian classical music and Indian light music, the violin is likely to be tuned to D-A-D-A in the South Indian style. As there is no concept of absolute pitch in Indian classical music, any convenient tuning maintaining these relative pitch intervals between the strings can be used. Another prevalent tuning with these intervals is F-B-F-B, which corresponds to Sa-Pa-Sa-Pa in the Indian carnatic classical music style. In the North Indian Hindustani style, the tuning is usually Pa-Sa-Pa-Sa instead of Sa-Pa-Sa-Pa. This could correspond to B-F-B-F, for instance.

While most violins have four strings, there are violins with as many as seven strings. The extra strings on such violins typically are lower in pitch than the G-string; these strings are usually tuned to C, F, and B flat. If the instrument's playing length, or string length from nut to bridge, is equal to that of an ordinary full-scale violin; i.e., a bit less than 13 inches (330 mm), then it may be properly termed a violin. Some such instruments are somewhat longer and should be regarded as violas. Violins with five strings or more are often used in jazz or folk music.

Bows

Bow frogs, top to bottom: violin, viola, cello

A violin is usually played using a bow consisting of a stick with a ribbon of horsehair strung between the tip and frog (or nut, or heel) at opposite ends. A typical violin bow may be 75 cm (29 inches) overall, and weigh about 60 g (2.1 oz). Viola bows may be about 5 mm (0.20 in) shorter and 10 g (0.35 oz) heavier.

At the frog end, a screw adjuster tightens or loosens the hair. Just forward of the frog, a leather thumb cushion and winding protect the stick and provide a strong grip for the player's hand. The winding may be wire (often silver or plated silver), silk, or whalebone (now imitated by alternating strips of tan and black plastic.) Some student bows (particularly the ones made of solid fiberglass) substitute a plastic sleeve for grip and winding.

The hair of the bow traditionally comes from the tail of a grey male horse (which has predominantly white hair), although some cheaper bows use synthetic fiber. Occasional rubbing with rosin makes the hair grip the strings intermittently, causing them to vibrate. The stick is traditionally made of brazilwood, although a stick made from this type of wood which is of a more select quality (and higher price) is referred to as pernambuco (both types are taken from the same tree species). Some student bows are made of fiberglass or various cheap woods. Recent innovations have allowed carbon fiber to be used as a material for the stick at all levels of craftsmanship.

Playing

The standard way of holding the violin is with the left side of the jaw resting on the chinrest of the violin, and supported by the left shoulder, often assisted by a shoulder rest or a sponge and an elastic band for younger players who struggle with shoulder rests. This practice varies in some cultures; for instance, Indian (Carnatic and Hindustani) violinists play seated on the floor and rest the scroll of the instrument on the side of their foot. The strings may be sounded by drawing the hair of the bow across them (arco) or by plucking them (pizzicato). The left hand regulates the sounding length of the string by stopping it against the fingerboard with the fingertips, producing different pitches.

First Position Fingerings

Left hand and pitch production

As the violin has no frets to stop the strings, the player must know exactly where to place the fingers on the strings to play with good intonation. Through practice and ear training, the violinist's left hand finds the notes intuitively by muscle memory. Beginners sometimes rely on tapes placed on the fingerboard for proper left hand finger placement, but usually abandon the tapes quickly as they advance. Another commonly-used marking technique uses dots of white-out on the fingerboard, which wear off in a few weeks of regular practice. This practice, unfortunately, is used sometimes in lieu of adequate ear-training, guiding the placement of fingers by eye and not by ear. Especially in the early stages of learning to play, the so-called ringing tones are useful. There are nine such notes in first position, where a stopped note sounds a unison or octave with another (open) string, causing it to resonate sympathetically. Thus, "when unaccompanied, [a violinist] does not play consistently in either the tempered or the natural [just] scale, but tends on the whole to conform with the Pythagorean scale."[16]

The fingers are conventionally numbered 1 (index) through 4 (little finger). Especially in instructional editions of violin music, numbers over the notes may indicate which finger to use, with 0 indicating an open string. The chart to the right shows the arrangement of notes reachable in first position. Not shown on this chart is the way the spacing between note positions becomes closer as the fingers move up (in pitch) from the nut. The bars at the sides of the chart represent the usual possibilities for beginners' tape placements, at 1st, high 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers.

Positions

The placement of the left hand on the fingerboard is characterized by "positions". First position, where most beginners start (although some methods start in third position), is the most commonly used position in string music. The lowest note available in this position in standard tuning is an open G; the highest note in first position is played with the fourth finger on the E-string, sounding a B, or reaching up a half step (also known as the "extended fourth finger") to the C two octaves above middle C.

Moving the hand up the neck, so the first finger takes the place of the second finger, brings the player into second position. Letting the first finger take the first-position place of the third finger brings the player to third position, and so on. The upper limit of the violin's range is largely determined by the skill of the player, who may easily play more than two octaves on a single string, and four octaves on the instrument as a whole, although when a violinist has progressed to the point of being able to use the entire range of the instrument, references to particular positions become less common. Position names are mostly used for the lower positions and in method books; for this reason, it is uncommon to hear references to anything higher than seventh position. The lowest position on a violin is half-position, where the first finger is a half-step away from the nut. This position is less frequently used. The highest position, practically speaking, is 15th position.

Moving between positions is called shifting. The player moves from position to position by typically using a guide finger. For example, when a player shifts from first to fourth position, they will use the last finger they used in first position as the guide finger. Then, the player moves their entire hand to fourth position, but with the last finger used in first position guiding the hand. The guide finger should not press on the string during the shift; it should only glide down the string. This guide finger moves to its respective spot in fourth position, but does not press down on the string. Then, the finger that plays the note after the shift should be pressed onto the string and the bow is moved to sound the note.

The same note will sound substantially different, depending on what string is used to play it. Sometimes the composer or arranger will specify the string to be used in order to achieve the desired tone quality; this is indicated in the music by the marking, for example, sul G, meaning to play on the G string. For example, playing very high up on the lower strings gives a distinctive quality to the sound. Otherwise, moving into different positions is usually done for ease of playing.

Open strings

Bowing or plucking an open string (that is, a string played without any finger stopping it) gives a different sound from a stopped string, since the string vibrates more freely at the nut than under a finger. Other than the low G (which can be played in no other way), open strings are generally avoided in some styles of classical playing. This is because they have a somewhat harsher sound (especially open E) and it is not possible to directly use vibrato on an open string. However, this can be partially compensated by applying vibrato on a note that is an octave higher than the open string.

In some cases playing an open string is called for by the composer (and explicitly marked in the music) for special effect, decided upon by the musician for artistic reasons (common in earlier works such as Bach), or played in a fast passage, where they usually cannot be distinguished.

Playing an open string simultaneously with a stopped note on an adjacent string produces a bagpipe-like drone, often used by composers in imitation of folk music. Sometimes the two notes are identical (for instance, playing a fingered A on the D string against the open A string), giving a ringing sort of "fiddling" sound. Playing an open string simultaneously with an identical stopped note can also be called for when more volume is required, especially in orchestral playing.

Double stops and drones

Double stopping is when two separate strings are stopped by the fingers, and bowed simultaneously, producing a sixth, third, fifth, etc. harmony. Sometimes moving to a higher position is necessary for the left hand to be able to reach both notes at once. Sounding an open string alongside a fingered note is another way to get a partial chord. While sometimes also called a double stop, it is more properly called a drone, as the drone note may be sustained for a passage of different notes played on the adjacent string. Three or four notes can also be played at one time (triple and quadruple stops, respectively), and, according to the style of music, the notes might all be played simultaneously or might be played as two successive double stops, favoring the higher notes. Playing the notes simultaneously is done by applying more pressure to the bow. But, be careful not to cause tension in the left hand and bow arm. A double stop can also be achieved by using a fast bow speed and/or bowing closer to the fingerboard.

Vibrato

Vibrato is a technique of the left hand and arm in which the pitch of a note varies in a pulsating rhythm. While various parts of the hand or arm may be involved in the motion, the end result is a movement of the fingertip bringing about a slight change in vibrating string length. Violinists oscillate backwards, or lower in pitch from the actual note when using vibrato, since perception favors the highest pitch in a varying sound.[17] Vibrato does little, if anything, to disguise an out-of-tune note; in other words, misapplied vibrato is a poor substitute for good intonation. Scales and other exercises meant to work on intonation are typically played without vibrato to make the work easier and more effective. Music students are often taught that unless otherwise marked in music, vibrato is assumed or even mandatory. This can be an obstacle to a classically trained violinist wishing to play in a style that uses little or no vibrato at all, such as baroque music played in period style and many traditional fiddling styles.

Vibrato can be produced by a proper combination of finger, wrist and arm motions. One method, called hand vibrato, involves rocking the hand back at the wrist to achieve oscillation, while another method, arm vibrato, modulates the pitch by rocking at the elbow. A combination of these techniques allows a player to produce a large variety of tonal effects.

The "when" and "what for" of violin vibrato are artistic matters of style and taste. For example if you overdo the variation of the note's tone it may become very distracting and overwhelm the piece. In acoustic terms, the interest that vibrato adds to the sound has to do with the way that the overtone mix[18] (or tone color, or timbre) and the directional pattern of sound projection change with changes in pitch. By "pointing" the sound at different parts of the room[19] in a rhythmic way, vibrato adds a "shimmer" or "liveliness" to the sound of a well-made violin. Vibrato is, in a large part, left to the discretion of the violinist. Different types of vibrato will bring different moods to the piece, and the varying degrees and styles of vibrato are often characteristics that stand out in well-known violinists.

Vibrato trill

Vibrato can also be used for a fast trill. A trill initiated from just hammering the finger up and down on the fingerboard will create a harsher quality than with a vibrato trill. For example, if trilling on the first finger, the second finger is placed very slightly off the string and vibrato is implemented. The second finger will lightly touch the string above the first finger causing the pitch to change. This has a softer quality and many think it is nicer-sounding than a hammered trill. Note - this trill technique only works well for semi-tonal trills, it is far more difficult to vibrato trill for an interval of a tone or more.

Harmonics

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Lightly touching the string with a fingertip at a harmonic node creates harmonics. Instead of the normal tone, a higher pitched note sounds. Each node is at an integer division of the string, for example half-way or one-third along the length of the string. A responsive instrument will sound numerous possible harmonic nodes along the length of the string. Harmonics are marked in music either with a little circle above the note that determines the pitch of the harmonic, or by diamond-shaped note heads. There are two types of harmonics: natural harmonics and artificial harmonics (also known as false harmonics).

Natural harmonics are played on an open string. The pitch of the open string is called the fundamental frequency. Harmonics are also called overtones. They occur at whole-number multiples of the fundamental, which is called the first harmonic. The second harmonic is the first overtone, the third harmonic is the second overtone, and so on. The second harmonic is in the middle of the string and sounds an octave higher than the string's pitch. The third harmonic breaks the string into thirds and sounds an octave and a fifth above the fundamental, and the fourth harmonic breaks the string into quarters sounding two octaves above the first. The sound of the second harmonic is the clearest of them all, because it is a common node with all the succeeding even-numbered harmonics (4th, 6th, etc.). The third and succeeding odd-numbered harmonics are harder to play because they break the string into an odd number of vibrating parts and do not share as many nodes with other harmonics.

Artificial harmonics are more difficult to produce than natural harmonics, as they involve both stopping the string and playing a harmonic on the stopped note. Using the octave frame (the normal distance between the first and fourth fingers in any given position) with the fourth finger just touching the string a fourth higher than the stopped note produces the fourth harmonic, two octaves above the stopped note. Finger placement and pressure, as well as bow speed, pressure, and sounding point are all essential in getting the desired harmonic to sound. And to add to the challenge, in passages with different notes played as false harmonics, the distance between stopping finger and harmonic finger must constantly change, since the spacing between notes changes along the length of the string.

The harmonic finger can also touch at a major third above the pressed note (the fifth harmonic), or a fifth higher (a third harmonic). These harmonics are less commonly used; in the case of the major third, both the stopped note and touched note must be played slightly sharp otherwise the harmonic does not speak as readily. In the case of the fifth, the stretch is greater than is comfortable for many violinists. In the general repertoire fractions smaller than a sixth are not used. However, divisions up to an eighth are sometimes used and, given a good instrument and a skilled player, divisions as small as a twelfth are possible.

There are a few books dedicated solely to the study of violin harmonics. Two comprehensive works are Henryk Heller's seven-volume Theory of Harmonics, published by Simrock in 1928, and Michelangelo Abbado's five-volume Tecnica dei suoni armonici published by Ricordi in 1934.

Elaborate passages in artificial harmonics can be found in virtuoso violin literature, especially of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Two notable examples of this are an entire section of Vittorio Monti's Csárdás and a passage towards the middle of the third movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.

Right hand and tone colour

The right arm, hand, and bow are responsible for tone quality, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, and most (but not all) changes in timbre.

Bowing techniques

The most essential part of bowing technique is the bow grip. It is usually with the thumb bent in the small area between the frog and the winding of the bow. The other fingers are spread somewhat evenly across the top part of the bow.

The violin produces louder notes with greater bow speed or more weight on the string. The two methods are not equivalent, because they produce different timbres; pressing down on the string tends to produce a harsher, more intense sound. One can also achieve a louder sound by placing the bow closer to the bridge.

The sounding point where the bow intersects the string also influences timbre. Playing close to the bridge (sul ponticello) gives a more intense sound than usual, emphasizing the higher harmonics; and playing with the bow over the end of the fingerboard (sul tasto) makes for a delicate, ethereal sound, emphasizing the fundamental frequency. Dr. Suzuki referred to the sounding point as the Kreisler highway; one may think of different sounding points as lanes in the highway.

Various methods of attack with the bow produce different articulations. There are many bowing techniques that allow for every range of playing style and many teachers, players, and orchestras spend a lot of time developing techniques and creating a unified technique within the group. These techniques include legato-style bowing, collé, ricochet, sautillé, martelé, spiccato, and staccato.

Pizzicato

A note marked pizz. (abbreviation for pizzicato) in the written music is to be played by plucking the string with a finger of the right hand rather than by bowing. (The index finger is most commonly used here.) Sometimes in virtuoso solo music where the bow hand is occupied (or for show-off effect), left-hand pizzicato will be indicated by a + (plus sign) below or above the note. In left-hand pizzicato, two fingers are put on the string; one (usually the index or middle finger) is put on the correct note, and the other (usually the ring finger or little finger) is put above the note. The higher finger then plucks the string while the lower one stays on, thus producing the correct pitch. By increasing the force of the pluck, one can increase the volume of the note that the string is producing.

Col legno

A marking of col legno (Italian for "with the wood") in the written music calls for striking the string(s) with the stick of the bow, rather than by drawing the hair of the bow across the strings. This bowing technique is somewhat rarely used, and results in a muted percussive sound. The eerie quality of a violin section playing col legno is exploited in some symphonic pieces, notably the "Witches' Dance" of the last movement of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Saint-Saens' symphonic poem "Danse Macabre" includes the string section using the col legno technique to imitate the sound of dancing skeletons. "Mars" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets" uses col legno to play a repeated rhythm in 5/4 time signature. Dmitri Shostakovich uses it in his Fourteenth Symphony in the movement 'At the Sante Jail'. Some violinists, however, object to this style of playing as it can damage the finish and impair the value of a fine bow.

Martelé

Literally hammered, a strongly accented effect produced by releasing each bowstroke forcefully and suddenly. Martelé can be played in any part of the bow. It is sometimes indicated in written music by an arrowhead.

Tremolo

Very rapid repetition (typically of a single note, but occasionally of multiple notes), usually played at the tip of the bow. Tremolo is marked with three short, slanted lines across the stem of the note.

Mute or sordino

Attaching a small metal, rubber, or wooden device called a mute, or sordino, to the bridge of the violin gives a softer, more mellow tone, with fewer audible overtones; the sound of an entire orchestral string section playing with mutes has a hushed quality. The conventional Italian markings for mute usage are con sord., or con sordina, meaning with mute; and senza sord., meaning without mute; or via sord., meaning mute out. Larger metal, rubber, or wooden mutes are available, known as practice mutes or hotel mutes. Such mutes are generally not used in performance, but are used to deaden the sound of the violin in practice areas such as hotel rooms. Some composers have used practice mutes for special effect, for example at the end of Luciano Berio's Sequenza VIII for solo violin.

Musical styles

Classical music

Since the Baroque era, the violin has been one of the most important of all instruments in classical music, for several reasons. The tone of the violin stands out above other instruments, making it appropriate for playing a melody line. In the hands of a good player, the violin is extremely agile, and can execute rapid and difficult sequences of notes.

Violins make up a large part of an orchestra, and are usually divided into two sections, known as the first and second violins. Composers often assign the melody to the first violins, while second violins play harmony, accompaniment patterns or the melody an octave lower than the first violins. A string quartet similarly has parts for first and second violins, as well as a viola part, and a bass instrument, such as the cello or, rarely, the double bass.

Jazz

The earliest references to jazz performance using the violin as a solo instrument are documented during the first decades of the 20th century. Joe Venuti, one of the first jazz violinists, is known for his work with guitarist Eddie Lang during the 1920s. Since that time there have been many improvising violinists including Stéphane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, Regina Carter, Johnny Frigo, John Blake and Jean-Luc Ponty. While not primarily jazz violinists, Darol Anger and Mark O'Connor have spent significant parts of their careers playing jazz.

Violins also appear in ensembles supplying orchestral backgrounds to many jazz recordings.

Popular music

Up to the 1970s, most types of popular music used bowed strings. The hugely popular Motown recordings of the 1960s and 1970s relied heavily on strings as part of their trademark texture. Earlier genres of pop music, at least those separate from the rock and roll movement, tended to make use of fairly traditional orchestras, sometimes large ones; examples include the American "Crooners" such as Bing Crosby. This carried through into 1970s disco music such as "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor and "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra.

The rise of electronically created music in the 1980s saw a decline in their use, as synthesized string sections took their place. However, while the violin has very little usage in rock music, it has some history in progressive rock (e.g., The Electric Light Orchestra, King Crimson, Kansas). The 1973 album Contaminazione by Italy's RDM plays violins off against synthesizers at its finale ("La grande fuga").

The instrument has a stronger place in modern fusion bands, notably The Corrs. The fiddle has also always been a part of British folk-rock music, as exemplified by the likes of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

The popularity of crossover music beginning in the last years of the 20th century has brought the violin back into the popular music arena, with both electric and acoustic violins being used by popular bands. Dave Matthews Band features violinist Boyd Tinsley. The Flock featured violinist Jerry Goodman who later joined the jazz-rock fusion band, The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Yellowcard featured the instrument with a role equal to the guitar in many of their songs. Blue October are well-known for their violin-based Music with Master violinist Ryan Delahoussaye James' Saul Davies, who is also a guitarist, was enlisted by the band as a violinist. For their first three albums and related singles, the British group No-Man made extensive use of electric and acoustic solo violin as played by band member Ben Coleman (who played violin exclusively).

Pop-Punk band Yellowcard has made a mainstay of violin in its music. Violinist Sean Mackin has been a member of the band since 1997.

The violin appears prominently in the music of Spanish folk metal group Mägo de Oz, for example, in their 1998 hit "Molinos de viento". The violinist (Carlos Prieto aka "Mohamed") has been one of the group's most popular members with fans since 1992.

The alternative metal band Hurt is one of the only metal bands to have violin that does not hire a session worker.[citation needed]

Independent artists such as Owen Pallett, The Shondes and Andrew Bird have also spurred increased interest in the instrument. Indie bands have often embraced new and unusual arrangements, allowing them more freedom to feature the violin than their mainstream brethren. It has been used in the post-rock genre by bands such as Sigur Rós, Zox, Broken Social Scene, and A Silver Mt. Zion. The electric violin has even been used by bands like The Crüxshadows within the context of keyboard based music.

Indian, Turkish, and Arabic pop music is filled with the sound of violins, both soloists and ensembles.

Indian classical music

The violin is a very important part of South Indian classical music (Carnatic music). It is believed to have been introduced to the South Indian tradition by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Though primarily used as an accompaniment instrument, the violin has become popular as a solo instrument in the orchestration. Popular film composers such as Ilaiyaraaja have used the violin extensively in film music scoring. This type of music was often played on a harmonic scale.

Indian classical music uses a very different grip from the traditional western classical genre. The violin is held perpendicular to the chest with the scroll pointing down. Also, musicians play the instrument sitting squat on the floor and hence sometimes, the violin actually touches the floor. In its Indian classical form, the violin is also tuned differently.

Folk music and fiddling

Hins-Anders painted by Anders Zorn, 1904

Like many other instruments used in classical music, the violin descends from remote ancestors that were used for folk music. Following a stage of intensive development in the late Renaissance, largely in Italy, the violin had improved (in volume, tone, and agility), to the point that it not only became a very important instrument in art music, but proved highly appealing to folk musicians as well, ultimately spreading very widely, sometimes displacing earlier bowed instruments. Ethnomusicologists have observed its widespread use in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

In many traditions of folk music, the tunes are not written but are memorized by successive generations of musicians and passed on, in what is known as the oral tradition.

Fiddle

When played as a folk instrument, the violin is ordinarily referred to in English as a fiddle (though the term fiddle may be used informally no matter what the genre of music). There is technically no difference between a fiddle and a violin. However, some folk fiddlers alter their instruments for various reasons. One example may be seen in American (e.g., bluegrass and old-time) fiddling: in these styles, the bridge is sometimes shaved down so that it is less curved. This makes it easier to play double stops and triple stops, allowing one to play chords with less effort. In addition, many fiddle players prefer to use a tailpiece with fine tuners on all four strings instead of only using one on the E string as many classical players do.

Electric violins

Acoustic and electric violin

An electric violin is a violin equipped with an electric signal output of its sound, and is generally considered to be a specially constructed instrument which can either be:

  • an electro-acoustic violin capable of producing both acoustic sound and electric signal
  • an electric violin capable of producing only electric signal

To be effective as an acoustic violin, electro-acoustic violins retain much of the resonating body of the violin, often looking very much like, sometimes even identical to, an acoustic violin or fiddle. They are often varnished with bright colours and made from alternative materials to wood. The first specially built electric violins date back to the late 1930s and were made by Victor Pfeil, Oskar Vierling, George Eisenberg, Benjamin Miessner, George Beauchamp, Hugo Benioff and Fredray Kislingbury.

Since electric violins do not rely on string tension and resonance to amplify their sound they can have more strings. For example five stringed electric violins are available from several manufacturers, and a seven string electric violin (with three lower strings encompassing the cello's range) is available[20]. The majority of the first electric violinists were musicians playing jazz and popular music.

Violin authentication

Violin authentication is the process of determining the maker and manufacture date of a violin. This process is similar to that used to determine the provenance of art works. As significant value may be attached to violins made either by specific makers or at specific times and locations, forgery and other methods of fraudulent misrepresentation can be used to inflate the value of an instrument.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Etymology of viola". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=viola&searchmode=none. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  2. ^ "Etymology of fiddle". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fiddle. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  3. ^ "The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust, Silk Road Story 2: Bowed Instruments". Smithsonian Center for Folk life and Cultural Heritage. http://www.silkroadproject.org/smithsonian/nomads/story.html. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  4. ^ Hoffman, Miles. "The NPR Classical Music Companion: Terms and Concepts from A to Z". Chicago Symphony Orchestra. http://www.cso.org/main.taf?p=1,1,4,20. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  5. ^ a b Grillet 1901, p. 29
  6. ^ Margaret J. Kartomi: On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago Press, 1990
  7. ^ Panum, Hortense (1939), The stringed instruments of the Middle Ages, their evolution and development, London : William Reeves, p. 434 
  8. ^ Arkenberg, Rebecca (October 2002). "Renaissance Violins". Metropolitan Museum of Art. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/renv/hd_renv.htm. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  9. ^ Deverich, Robin Kay (2006). "Historical Background of the Violin". ViolinOnline.com. http://www.violinonline.com/historicalbackgroundoftheviolin.htm. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  10. ^ Bartruff, William. "The History of the Violin". http://www.bartruff.com/history.php. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  11. ^ "Violin by Antonio Stradivari, 1716 (Messiah; la Messie, Salabue)". Cozio.com. http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=111. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  12. ^ Richard Perras. "Violin changes by 1800". http://rperras.tripod.com/id42.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  13. ^ , http://www.stradivariusviolins.org/pricesofstradivariusviolins.html 
  14. ^ Piston, Walter (1955). Orchestration, p.45.
  15. ^ Laird, Paul R.. "Carleen Maley Hutchins' Work With Saunders". Violin Society of America. http://www.catgutacoustical.org/people/cmh/laird3.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  16. ^ Seashore, Carl (1938). Psychology of Music, 224. quote in Kolinski, Mieczyslaw (Summer - Autumn, 1959). "A New Equidistant 12-Tone Temperament", p.210, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 12, No. 2/3, pp. 210-214.
  17. ^ Applebaum, Samuel (1957). String Builder, Book 3: Teacher's Manual. New York: Alfred Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 9780757930560. . "Now we will discipline the shaking of the left hand in the following manner: Shake the wrist slowly and evenly in 8th notes. Start from the original position and for the second 8th note the wrist is to move backward (toward the scroll). Do this in triplets, dotted 8ths and 16ths, and 16th notes. A week or two later, the vibrato may be started on the Violin. ... The procedure will be as follows: 1. Roll the finger tip from this upright position on the note, to slightly below the pitch of this note."
  18. ^ Schleske, Martin. "The psychoacoustic secret of vibrato". http://www.schleske.de/en/our-research/handbook-violinacoustics/vibrato-of-the-musician.html. Retrieved 11 February 2010. "Accordingly, the sound level of each harmonic will have a periodically fluctuating value due to the vibrato." 
  19. ^ Curtin, Joseph (2000-04). "Weinreich and Directional Tone Colour". Strad Magazine. http://www.josephcurtinstudios.com/news/strad/apr00/Gabi_strad.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-23. "In the case of string instruments, however, not only are they strongly directional, but the pattern of their directionality changes very rapidly with frequency. If you think of that pattern at a given frequency as beacons of sound, like the quills of a porcupine, then even the slight changes in pitch created by vibrato can cause those quills to be continually undulating." 
  20. ^ "7String Violin Harlequin finish". Jordan Music. http://www.jordanmusic.com/V7harcom.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 

References

  • The Violin Forms of Antonio Stradivari, by Stewart Pollens (1992), London: Peter Biddulph. ISBN 0-9520109-0-9
  • Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching, by Ivan Galamian (1999), Shar Products Co. ISBN 0-9621416-3-1
  • The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques, by Patricia and Allen Strange (2001), University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22409-4
  • The Fiddle Book, by Marion Thede (1970), Oak Publications. ISBN 0-8256-0145-2
  • Latin Violin, by Sam Bardfeld, ISBN 0-9628467-7-5
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Violin, edited by Robin Stowell (1992), Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39033-8
  • The Violin Explained - Components Mechanism and Sound by James Beament (1992/1997), Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-816623-0
  • Antonio Stradivari, his life and work, 1644-1737', by William Henry Hill; Arthur F Hill; Alfred Ebsworth Hill (1902/1963), Dover Publications. 1963. OCLC 172278. ISBN 0486204251
  • An Encyclopedia of the Violin, by Alberto Bachmann (1965/1990), Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80004-7
  • Violin - And Easy Guide, by Chris Coetzee (2003), New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1-84330-332-9
  • The Violin, by Yehudi Menuhin (1996), Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-013623-2
  • The Book of the Violin, edited by Dominic Gill (1984), Phaidon. ISBN 0-7148-2286-8
  • Violin-Making as it was, and is, by Ed. Heron-Allen (1885/1994), Ward Lock Limited. ISBN 0-7063-1045-4
  • Violins & Violinists, by Franz Farga (1950), Rockliff Publishing Corporation Ltd.
  • Viols, Violins and Virginals, by Jennifer A. Charlton (1985), Ashmolean Museum. ISBN 0-907849-44-X
  • The Violin, by Theodore Rowland-Entwistle (1967/1974), Dover Publications. ISBN 0-340-05992-3
  • The Early Violin and Viola, by Robin Stowell (2001), Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62555-6
  • The Complete Luthier's Library. A Useful International Critical Bibliography for the Maker and the Connoisseur of Stringed and Plucked Instruments by Roberto Regazzi, Bologna: Florenus, 1990. ISBN 88-85250-01-7
  • The Violin, by George Dubourg (1854), Robert Cocks & Co.
  • Violin Technique and Performance Practice in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries, by Robin Stowell (1985), Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23279-1
  • History of the Violin, by William Sandys and Simon Andrew (2006), Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-45269-7
  • The Violin: A Research and Information Guide, by Mark Katz (2006), Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-3637-3
  • Per gli occhi e 'l core. Strumenti musicali nell'arte by Flavio Dassenno, (2004) a complete survey of the brescian school defined by the last researches and documents.
  • Grillet, Laurent (1901), Les ancetres du violon v.1, Paris 

Further reading

External links



Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

w:Violin Violinconsruction3.JPG

Contents

Find a Teacher

Playing the violin is challenging. It requires commitment and dexterity. Each teacher has a different technique. I prefer the method which allows students to play and finger right away. Some teachers prefer that you play open strings to perfect your bow strokes. Each time I pick up my instrument I play each open string to steady myself and check the tuning. A good teacher will teach you techniques geared toward improving your skill level. The following recommendations will get you started, but you will progress much more quickly with outside help. Consult your local violin shop. They will help you find a teacher in your area.

Holding The Instrument

Good posture is important for violin playing. Stand tall and do not slump. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart. Some teachers and performers advise turning the feet at right angles to each other while playing. The bow is held in the right hand, the violin in the left. To hold the violin, begin by clamping the chin rest under your chin. The violin should be more or less straight in front of you. However, some teachers and performers may hold the instrument more toward the left. Once the instrument is clamped under your chin in whatever position you choose, relax your left hand, and tuck then neck of the instrument into the space between your thumb and first finger. Congratulations, you are now holding the violin correctly! Your fingers should curve naturally down and rest on the fingerboard. Your wrist should be straight, so that your palm does not touch the neck.

Bowing

Holding the bow is a matter of personal (and teacher) preference, but what follows is a good start. Hold your right wrist straight. Turn your palm upwards. RELAX your right hand. Let gravity flatten the natural curve of your fingers and use the weight of the bow at first to play. Orient the bow so the frog is on the left, and the tip is on the right, with the hair facing upward. Gently slide the bow stick between your thumb and first finger, adjusting it so that thumb and first finger touch in the gap within the frog. Let the other fingers fall where they may on the stick. Turn your hand and the bow over, being sure not to whack anyone with the bow as you rotate it. Move your pinky on top of the stick. This is one good shape for the bow hand. You may want to shift the whole arrangement towards the tip of the bow, so that your thumb rests on the 'grip' of the bow (the metal or leather wrapping near the frog).

The bow should be drawn so that it is approximately parallel to the bridge and between the bouts. Play in front of a mirror to make sure you are doing this. You will need to get the string vibrating, without damping the vibration once it starts (rosen can help beginners). Think of a plane landing and then taking off. The area in which the bow is played is also known as the "runway." Enough pressure and motion at the beginning of the stroke, then a different amount of pressure to keep the tone going, then let off the pressure and take the bow off the string.

For beginners, the hair should be flat on the strings. The right wrist should be neither rigid nor floppy. Early on, try to limit motion to the elbow. Keep the elbow high--most beginners let it hang too low. There are dozens of bow strokes possible, depending on what's called for on the page, and on your artistic judgment. Begin with the slow steady stroke, focusing on making a consistent smooth tone. Don't move to the others until your teacher says you are ready.

Tuning

While holding the violin under your chin, look down the fingerboard. The strings from left to right are G, D, A, and E. To tune the instrument, you will need a reference for the A tone. This may be an electronic device, a tuning fork, another instrument like a violin, piano or oboe, or it may be your own brain if you have perfect pitch. Whatever the source, make the sound of your A string match that of the reference A. To do this, clamp the violin under your chin, and bow the A string. Use your left hand to turn the A peg back and forth, which will increase or decrease the tension of the string and thereby raise or lower its pitch. You may need to wrap your hand around the scroll, so as to gently push the peg into its hole, to keep it from slipping. Once you have the A string matched to the reference, turn the reference off. Now play the A and D together. Adjust the D peg until the two are separated by a 'perfect' fifth. This is the interval in the song sung by the workers at the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Repeat the process, tuning the G string to a fifth below the D string. Now move to the E string. Set it to a fifth above the A using the fine tuner, if possible.

Another method of tuning highly recommended for beginners is an electric tuner. You will find these at many music stores. It is also good to tune by ear. However, the goal here is to start playing without too much frustration.

You should perform this process every time you start practicing, and during your practice time if needed.

If you notice your violin pegs slipping or have difficulty keeping your instrument in tune take it to your local violin shop (luthier) and have them check the set up of the instrument.

Fingering

For the purposes of violin playing, the fingers are numbered starting with pointer finger (first finger) on up to the pinky (fourth finger). Strings played with no finger on them are said to be 'open'.

While holding your instrument under your chin, with the neck in the crotch of your hand, let your fingers fall lightly on the fingerboard. Move your hand so that your first finger is just against the 'nut'. Now lift the fingers up ever so slightly. Play the open E string. Now push your first finger down quite hard, touching only the E string. Congratulations! You are probably playing an F-natural (make sure to compair this or any other new note to a tuner or pich pipe). Nudge that finger up (toward the bridge) a bit, and you will probably be playing F-sharp. Put your second finger down just as hard, right next to the first finger. If all is well, you are playing a G. Move that second finger up a smidge, and you will be playing a G-sharp. Put the third finger right next to the second, and you will play an A. Put your fourth finger down, about a finger's width away from the third finger. You should be playing a B-natural.

Repeat this process on all the strings. Your teacher will give you assignments to strengthen your fingers and to help your hand 'learn' where the various fingers should go.

Scales

Depending on pedagogy, scales are either played on a routine basis as separate exercises, or pieces are chosen so that technical and artistic ability are developed side by side. Normally one scale is taught at first and after mastering it other scales are introduced.

Preparatory exercises

To play the canonical scales, there are 4 basic fingering patterns.

  • G major - 0 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 1 2 3 4 1 2 1 2 3 4 4 4 ...
  • A flat major, A
  • B flat, ... D major
  • E flat to F# major

See also

This page was requested at Wikiversity:Requests


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VIOLIN, a musical instrument consisting essentially of a resonant box of peculiar form, over which four strings of different thicknesses are stretched across a bridge standing on the box, in such a way that the tension of the strings can he adjusted by means of revolving pegs to which they are severally attached at one end. The strings are tuned, by means of the pegs, in fifths, from the second or A string, which is tuned to a fundamental note of about 435 vibrations per second at the modern normal pitch: thus giving as the four open notes. To produce other notes of the scale the length of the strings is varied by stopping them with the fingers on a finger-board, attached to a "neck" at the end of which is the "head" in which the pegs are inserted. The strings are set in vibration by drawing across them a bow strung with horse-hair, which is rosined to increase adhesion.

The characteristic features which, in combination, distinguish the violin (including in that family name its larger brethren the viola and the violoncello) from other stringed instruments are: the restriction of the strings to four, and their tuning in fifths; the peculiar form of the body, or resonating chamber, especially the fully moulded back as well as front, or belly; the shallow sides or "ribs" bent into characteristic curves; the acute angles of the corners where the curves of the ends and middle "bouts" or waist ribs meet; and the position and shape of the sound-holes, cut in the belly. By a gradual process of development in all these particulars the modern violin was evolved from earlier bowed instruments, and attained its highest perfection at the hands of the great Italian makers in the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries, since which time, although many experiments have been made, no material improvement has been effected upon the form and mode of construction then adopted.

The body, or sounding-box, of the violin is built up of two arched plates of thin wood, the belly and the back, united by side pieces or ribs to form a shallow box. The belly is cut from soft elastic wood, pine being universally used for this purpose, while the back is made of a close-grained wood, generally sycamore or maple. Both back and belly are carved to their model from the solid, but for utilitarian reasons are generally, though not always, built up of two longitudinal sections; while the sides or ribs, of very thin sycamore or maple, usually in six sections, are bent on a mould, by the aid of heat, to the required form. Into the corners are glued corner-blocks of soft wood, which help to retain the ribs in their sharply recurved form, and materially strengthen the whole structure. Into the angle of the joints between the sides and the back and belly are glued thin lining strips, bent to the mould, giving a hearing surface for the glued joint along the whole outline of the instrument; while, in addition, end blocks are inserted at the head and bottom of the body, the former to receive the base of the neck, and the latter the "tail pin" to which is attached the tail-piece, carrying the lower (fixed) ends of the strings. The belly is pierced with two sound holes in the form of it near, and approximately parallel to, the "bouts." The size, shape and position of these holes have an important influence on the character of the tone of the instrument, and present distinctive variations in the instruments of the different great makers.

The neck, made of maple, is glued and now always mortised into the block at the upper end of the body,' bearing against a small semicircular projection of the back, and is inclined at such an angle that the finger-board, when glued on to its upper surface, may lie clear of the belly, over which it projects, but in such relation to the height of the bridge as to allow the strings to be stretched nearly parallel to, and at a convenient distance above, its own surface.

The bridge, cut out of maple, in the peculiar form devised by Stradivari in the 17th century, and not since materially departed from, is in the violin about i 4 in. high by 14 in. wide, and tapers in thickness from about a in. at the base to 114 at the crown; but the dimensions of this very important member vary for different instruments according to the arch of the belly, the strength of the wood and other considerations. It is placed on the belly exactly midway between the sound-holes and in such a position as to stand on a transverse line dividing the surface into two approximately equal areas, that is, about 12 in. below the middle, the lower end of the body being wider than the upper part or shoulders; whereby a greater length is rendered available for the vibrating portion of the strings.

A short distance behind the right foot of the bridge, the soundpost, a rod of soft pine about 4 in. thick, is fixed inside the body in contact with the belly and the back, and serves directly, not only to sustain the belly against the pressure of the bridge under the tension of the strings, but to convey vibrations to the back. It also exercises a very important influence on the nodal arrangement of these vibrating plates. The pressure of the other foot of the bridge, where the tension of the fourth string is far less than that of the first string, is partly sustained by the bass-bar - a strip of wood tapering from the middle to both ends, which is glued underneath the belly and extends to within rather less than 2 in. of the ends of the instrument. This fitting not only serves to strengthen the belly mechanically, but exerts a profound effect upon the vibrations of that plate.

The fixed structure is completed by the head, which surmounts the neck and consists primarily of a narrow box into the sides of which are inserted the pegs round which the free ends of the strings are wound. The head is finished by an ornamentation which in the hands of the Italian makers followed the traditional pattern of a scroll, or volute, offering the skilled craftsmen infinite scope for boldness and freedom in its execution; but sometimes, especially in the Tirolean instruments, it was carved in the form of an animal's head, usually a lion's.

The strings, fastened at one end to an ebony tail-piece or tongue, which is itself attached by a gut loop to the pin at the base of the instrument, pass over the bridge, along the finger board and over the nut (a dwarf bridge forming the termination of the finger-board) to the pegs. The effective vibrating portion of the strings is accordingly the length between the nut and the bridge, and measures now 1 Up to about the year 1800 the old Italian makers, including Stradivari (in his earlier instruments), usually strengthened the attachment of the neck by driving nails, frequently three and sometimes four, through the top block into the base of the neck, which was not mortised into the block.

I 16 "Height of sides (bottom)

Ig „ The back is in one piece, supplemented a little in width at the lower part, after a common practice of the great makers, and is cut from very handsome wood; the ribs are of the same wood, while the belly is formed of two pieces of soft pine of rather fine and beautifully even grain. The sound-holes, cut with perfect precision, exhibit much grace and freedom of design. The scroll, which is very characteristic of the maker's style and beautifully modelled, harmonizes admirably with the general modelling of the instrument. The model is flatter than in violins of the earlier period, and the design bold, while displaying all Stradivari's microscopic perfection of workmanship. The whole is coated with a very fine orange-redbrown varnish, untouched since it left the maker's hand in 1690, and the only respects in which the instrument has been altered since that date are in the fitting of the longer neck and stronger bass-bar necessitated by the increased compass and raised pitch of modern violin music.

The measurements given above are the same as those of a wellknown Stradivari of later date (1714).

The acoustics of the violin are extremely complex, and notwithstanding many investigations by men of science, and the enunciation of some 'plausible hypotheses with regard to details of its operation as a musical instrument, remain as a whole obscure. So far as the elementary principles which govern its action are concerned, the violin follows familiar laws (see Sound). The different notes of the scale are produced by vibrating strings differing in weight and tension, and varying in length under the hand of the player. The vibrations of the strings are conveyed through the bridge to the body of the instrument, which fulfils the common function of a resonator in reinforcing the notes initiated by the strings. So far first principles carry us at once. But when we endeavour to elucidate in detail the causes of the peculiar character of tone of the violin family, the great range and variety in that character obtained in different instruments, the extent to which those qualities can be controlled by the bow of the player, and the mode in which they are influenced by minute variations in almost every component part of the instrument, we find ourselves faced by a series of problems which have so far defied any but very partial solution.

The distinctive quality of the musical tones of the violin is generally admitted to be due largely to its richness in the upper harmonic or partial tones superimposed on the fundamental notes produced by the simple vibrations of the strings.

The characteristic tone and its control by the player are undoubtedly conditioned in the first place by the peculiar path of the vibrating string under the action of the rosined bow. This takes the form not of a symmetrical oscillation but of a succession of alternating bound and free movements, as the string adheres to the bow according to the pressure applied and, releasing itself by its elasticity, rebounds.

The lightness of the material of which the strings are made conduces to the production of very high upper partial tones which give brilliancy of sound, while the low elasticity of the gut causes these high constituents to be quickly damped, thus softening the ultimate quality of the note.

In order that the resonating body of the instrument may fulfil its highest purpose in reinforcing the complex vibrations set up by she strings vibrating in the manner above described, not only as a whole, but in the number of related segments whose oscillations determine the upper partial tones, it is essential that the plates, and consequently the body of air contained between them, should respond sensitively to the selective impulses communicated to them. It is the attainment of this perfect selective responsiveness which marks the construction of the best instruments. Many factors contribute to this result. The thickness of the plates in different parts of their areas, the size and form of the interior of the body, the size and shape of the sound-holes through which the vibrations of the contained air are communicated to the external air, and which also influence the nodal points in the belly, according to the number of fibres of the wood cut across, varying with the angle at which the sound-holes cross the grain of the wood. Their position in this respect also affects the width of the central vibrating portion of the belly under the bridge.

All these important factors are influenced by the quality and elasticity of the wood employed.

Much has been written and many speculations have been advanced with regard to the superiority in tone of the old Italian instruments over those of modern construction. This superiority has sometimes been disputed, and, judging from the many examples of second-rate instruments which have survived from the 17th and 18th centuries, it is certain that antiquity alone does not confer upon violins the merits which have frequently been claimed for it. When, however, we compare the comparatively few really fine specimens of the Italian school which have survived in good condition, with the best examples of modern construction in which the proportions of the older masterpieces have been faithfully followed, and in which the most careful workmanship of skilled hands has been embodied, it cannot be denied that the former possess a superiority in the quality of their tone which the musical ear immediately recognizes. After taking into account the practical identity in dimensions and construction between the classical and many of the best modern models, the conclusion suggests itself that the difference must be attributed to the nature of the materials used, or to the method of their employment, as influenced by local conditions and practice. The argument, not infrequently advanced, that the great makers of Italy had special local sources of supply, jealously guarded, for wood with exceptional acoustical properties, can hardly be sustained. Undoubtedly they exercised great care in the selection of sound and handsome wood; but there is evidence that some of the finest wood they used was imported from across the Adriatic in the ordinary course of trade; and the matter was for them, in all probability, largely one of expense. There is good reason to suppose that a far larger choice_of equally good material is accessible to modern makers.

There remains the varnish with which the completed instrument is coated. This was an item in the manufacture which received most careful attention at the hands of the great makers, and much importance has been attached to the superiority of their varnish over that used in more recent times - so much so that its composition has been attributed to secret processes known only to themselves. The probability is that they were al le to exercise more personal selection of the materials used than has been generally practised by makers dependent upon comme cial products under modern conditions, and the general result has been analogous to that seen in the pigments employed by modern painters as compared with those made up for themselves by the old masters who could ensure perfect purity in their ingredients. But that the Italian makers individually or collectively attempted, or were able, to preserve as a secret the composition of the varnish they used is unlikely. Instruments exhibiting similar excellence in this respect were too widespread in their range, both of period and locality, to justify the assumption that the general composition of the finest varnish of the early makers was not a matter of common knowledge in an industry so flourishing as that of violin-making in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The excellence of an instrument in respect of its varnish depended on the quality of the constituent materials, on the proportions in which iaey were combined, and, perhaps mainly, on the method of its application. The most enduring and perfect varnish used for violins is an oil varnish, and the best results therewith can only be obtained under the most advantageous conditions for the drying process. In this respect there can be no doubt that the southern climate placed the makers whose work lies in higher latitudes at a disadvantage. In a letter to Galileo in 1638 concerning a violin he had ordered from Cremona, the writer states that in an ordinary full-sized violin about 13 in. The portion of the strings to which the bow is applied lies over the space, measuring about 24 in., between the bridge and the free end of the fingerboard. The strings are manufactured from so-called catgut, made from the intestines of lambs, and range in thickness from the first to the third or D string from -026 to. 046 in. more or less. The necessary weight is given to the string of lowest pitch, G, without unduly sacrificing its elasticity, by winding a thin gut string with fine silver wire to about the same thickness as the A string.

An ornamental feature characteristic of nearly all violins is the purfling, a very thin slip of wood with margins of ebony or (rarely) whalebone, inlaid in thin strips close to the edge of both plates, and following the entire outline of the instrument. In some instruments, especially of the Brescian school, a double line of purfling was inserted.

The total number of pieces of wood of which the violin is composed amounts to about 70, varying, as the plates are made in one piece or built together, and with the number of sections in which the ribs are put together. Of this number 57 pieces are built into the permanent structure, while 13 may be described as fittings. The whole of the permanent structure is cemented together with glue alone, and it is a striking testimony to the mechanical conditions satisfied by the design, that the instrument built of such slender material withstands without deformation the considerable stresses applied to it. It is worthy of remark that after the lapse of so many years, since it attained perfect musical efficiency, no unessential adjunct has entered into the construction of this instrument. No play of fancy has grafted anything beyond quite minor ornamentation on a work of art distinguished by its simplicity of pure outline and proportion.

The following are the exact principal dimensions of a very fine specimen of Stradivari's work, which has been preserved in perfect condition since the latter end of the 17th century: Length of body = 14 in. full.

Width across top = 6+4 in. bare.

Width across bottom =84 in.

Height of sides (top) .

it cannot be brought to perfection without the strong heat of the sun"; and all recorded experience indicates the great importance of slow drying of the varnish under suitable conditions. Stradivari himself wrote to account for delay in the delivery of an instrument because of the time required for the drying of the varnish.

That a perfect varnish conduces to the preservation of a fine tone in the instrument is generally admitted; and its operation in this respect is due, not merely to the external protection of the wood from deterioration, but especially to its action, when supplied under favourable conditions to wood at a ripe stage of seasoning (when that process has proceeded far enough, but not so far as to allow the fibres to become brittle), in soaking into the pores of the wood and preserving its elasticity. This being so, successful varnishing will be seen to be an operation of great delicacy, and one in which the old masters found full scope for their skill and large experience. The effects, upon the vibrational qualities of the wood, of thickness of coat, texture and gradual absorption into the pores of the wood under favourable conditions of drying, are great and far-reaching, as is proved in the survival through two centuries of the great qualities of the specimens most fittingly treated in this respect.

After the early part of the 18th century the use of the fine oil varnish employed by the great makers was gradually abandoned, concurrently with the decline of the instrument maker's art in Italy. Except in the hands of the fast-diminishing band of craftsmen trained in the old traditions, its place was taken by the newer spirit varnishes which, with their quick-drying qualities and ease of application, satisfied the requirements of the more cheaply manufactured instruments of the period following the death of Stradivari; and before the end of the century these inferior varnishes had quite supplanted the old recipes.

Having regard to all these considerations it is not unreasonable to conclude that the varnish of the old instruments contributed probably the most important single element of their superiority in tone to their more modern copies. It must, however, be borne in mind that the instrument makers of the 16th and 17th centuries carried on a great and flourishing and a highly developed craft: and that their best creations owe their distinction largely to causes similar to those which produced the great art works of the same period. The violin makers had a lifelong training in their craft. The productions of the famous among them were eagerly sought after. Throughout western Europe the highest in the land were true amateurs of music, and vied with one another to secure the masterpieces of Brescia and Cremona. In such circumstances the trained judgment and wide experience of the craftsman were naturally concentrated upon securing the preliminary conditions of high excellence in his work: the choice of sound and handsome wood; perfection of design and workmanship; the composition of his varnish, and the utmost care and skill in applying it under the best conditions; and, not least important, time for delib' ate and thoughtful production. The masterpieces of that period were not constructed upon any exact or scientific system, but were the products of development of a traditional craft working on empirical lines. Such theories of their construction as have been propounded are based on analysis of an already perfected organism; and careful historical research has revealed no record or trace of laws or rules by which the great makers worked.

Elaborate attempts have been made, notably by Savart early in the 19th century, to educe from experiments on the elasticities and vibration periods of various specimens of wood used in some of the older instruments an exact system for the adjustment of these factors to the production of the best results; but data obtained by experiments with test specimens of regular shape do not carry us very far when applied to so complex and irregular a structure as the violin. The vibrating plates of the violin are neither symmetrical nor uniform in dimensions. They are not free plates, but are fixed round the whole edgof a very irregular outline; and these conditions, taken together wit'i their unsymmetrically arched form, held under pressure by the ten ion of the strings, establish a state of complex stresses under vibration which have so far escaped analysis. Their vibratory movements are moreover influenced by so many accessory features of the instrument, such as the bass-bar, already described, the reaction of the sound-post, and the different pressures by the two feet of the bridge, that it is impossible to figure closely the vibrations of any given area of the instrument. It is certainly very remarkable that so precise a pattern of irregular form should have been arrived at empirically, and should have survived as the standard, apparently for all time. Not only is the arch of the plates unsymmetrical in its longitudinal section, but, as is less commonly noticed, the upper bouts, especially in violins of the Cremona school, are slightly shallower than the lower; so that the edges of the belly are not strictly p arallel to those of the back, but the two plates converge in the direction of the head. Probably the most successful attempts at analysing the vibrations of the violin have been those made by Sir William Huggins, by means of direct tactile observation with the finger holding a small rod of soft wood upon various spots on the surface of the vibrating plates. By this method he made a number of observations partially confirming, and in part correcting the determinations of previous investigators. He found that the position of maximum vibration of the belly is close to the foot of the bridge, under the fourth string, while that of least vibration is exactly over the top of the sound-post. The back, which is strongly agitated, also has its point of least vibration where the sound-post rests upon it. With the sound-post removed the belly vibrated almost equally on both sides of its area, while the vibration of the back was very feeble, and the tone became very poor; supporting the view that in the complete instrument the vibrations of the back are derived from the belly mainly through the sound-post. Pressure on that point in the belly normally in contact with the top of the sound-post partially restored the proper character though not the power of the tone; indicating the important function of the sound-post in establishing a nodal point which largely determines the normal vibration of the belly. Modifications of the material of which the sound-post was made produced a profound effect upon the quality, but comparatively small effect upon the power of the tone. Of the part played by the sides in transmitting vibrations from belly to back, the most important share is borne by the middle bouts, or incurved sides at the waist of the instrument.

Experiments made lately afford some interesting evidence as to the nature of the vibrations set up in a sounding-box in response to those of a string at various pitches and under various conditions of bowing. These observations were made on a monochord and restricted to one portion of a sounding-board of regular shape. Experiments on similar lines made with an actual violin body might throw further light upon the behaviour of that instrument as a resonator; but such researches entail prolonged investigation.

Two phenomena, familiar to violin players, are suggestive of further lines of research that may help to elucidate the problems of the localization of the principal responses in the body of the violin, and of the action of the wood under vibration. Many violins, especially old and inferior ones, fail to resonate clearly and fully to particular notes, the sounds produced being commonly known as "Wolf" notes; and these notes are, certainly sometimes and possibly always, associated with particular spots in the body of the instrument; for, if pressure be applied at these spots, the resonance of the respective "Wolf" notes is improved. This observation suggests that the region concerned has been cut, or has become disproportionately thin in relation to the normal thickness of the plate; and, when stimulated by the appropriate note, sets up a local system of vibrations, which interfere with, instead of sharing, the proper vibrations of the plate as a whole; this interfering vibration being damped by local pressure. These defects are said to develop with age and constant use, and to be minimized by the use of thin strings but aggravated by thick ones; a circumstance which tends to support the hypothesis of thin regions in the plate, which might be expected to respond more truly to the vibrations of lighter, than to those of heavier strings. Detailed investigation of these phenomena on the lines of the experiments already referred to may have valuable results. Another well-known characteristic of the violin is that a new instrument, or one that has been long in disuse, is found to be "sleepy," that is, it fails to speak readily in response to the bow, a defect which gradually disappears with use. Experiments made to test the effect of prolonged transverse vibrations upon strips of suitable wood have shown that such treatment increases the flexibility of the wood, which returns to its normal degree of rigidity after a period of rest. No conclusive interpretation of these experiments has yet been offered; but they indicate the probability of modifications of the internal viscosity of the wood, by molecular changes under the influence of continued vibratory movement.

The function of the bridge, as above mentioned, is to communicate the vibrations of the strings to the resonating body of the violin. This communication is made mainly, though not entirely, through the left foot of the bridge, which under the comparatively low tension of the G string rests with light pressure upon the belly, which at that point has accordingly greater freedom of movement than under the other foot, in proximity to which the sound-post, extending from back to belly, maintains that region of the plates in a state of relative rigidity, under the high tension of the E string. The view, however, maintained by some writers that the right foot of the bridge communicates no vibrations directly to the belly is inaccurate. The main object of placing the sound-post some distance behind, instead of immediately under, the bridge foot is to allow the belly under that foot to vibrate with some freedom. This has been proved by the destructive effect produced upon the tone by fixing the sound-post immediately under the foot of the bridge.

The form into which the bridge is fretted after the pattern devised by Stradivari has given rise to some speculation; but the justification of this form is probably to be found in the explanation propounded by Sir William Huggins, namely, that the strings, when agitated by the bow, vibrate in a plane oblique to the vertical axis of the bridge; the vibrations may be accordingly resolved into two components, one horizontal along the length of the bridge, the other vertical - that is, in a direction favourable for setting the belly into vibration across its lines of support.

It is advantageous to maintain simplicity in direction of the vibrations communicated to the body, and therefore to eliminate the transverse vibrations before they reach the belly. This is accomplished by a certain lateral elasticity of the bridge itself, attained by under-cutting the sides so as to allow the upper half of the bridge to oscillate or rock from side to side upon its central trunk; the work done in setting up this oscillation absorbing the transverse vibrations above mentioned.

The function of the sound-post is on the one hand mechanical, and on the other acoustical. It serves the purpose of sustaining the greater share of the pressure of the strings, not so much to save the belly from yielding under that pressure, as to enable it to vibrate more freely in its several parts than it could do, if unsupported, under the stresses which would be set up in its substance by that pressure. The chosen position of the post, allowing some freedom of vibration under the bridge, ensures the belly's proper vibrations being directly set up before the impulses are transmitted to the back through the sound-post: this transmission being, as already shown, its principal function. The post also by its contact with both vibrating plates is, as already shown, a governing factor in determining the nodal division of their surfaces, and its position therefore influences fundamentally the related states of vibration of the two plates of the instrument, and the compound oscillations set up in the contained body of air. This is an important element in determining the tone character of the instrument.

The immediate ancestors of the violins were the viols, which were the principal bowed instruments in use from the end of the 15th to the end of the 17th century, during the latter part of which period they were gradually supplanted by the violins; but the bass viol did not go out of use finally until towards the later part of the 18th century, when the general adoption of the larger pattern of violoncello drove the viol from the field it had occupied so long. The sole survivor of the viol type of instrument, although not itself an original member of the family, is the double bass of the modern orchestra, which retains many of the characteristic features of the viol, notably the flat back, with an oblique slope at the shoulders, the high bridge and deep ribs. Excepting the marine trumpet or bowed monochord, we find in Europe no trace of any large bowed instruments before the appearance of the viols; the bowed instruments of the middle ages being all small enough to be rested on or against the shoulder during performance. The viols probably owe their origin directly to the minnesinger fiddles, which possessed several of the typical features of the violin, as distinct from the guitar family, and were sounded by a bow. These in their turn may be traced to the "guitar fiddle" (q.v.), a bowed instrument of the 13th century, with five strings, the lowest of which was longer than the rest, and was attached to a peg outside the head so as to clear the nut and finger-board, thus providing a fixed bass, or bourdon. This instrument had incurved sides, fcrming a waist to facilitate the use of the bow, and was larger than its descendants the fiddles and violins. None of these earlier instruments can have had a deeper compass than a boy's voice. The use of the fidel in the hands of the troubadours, to accompany the adult male voice, may explain the attempts which we trace in the 13th century to lengthen the oval form of the instrument. The parentage of the fiddle family may safely be ascribed to the rebec, a bowed instrument of the early middle ages, with two or three strings stretched over a low bridge, and a pear-shaped body pierced with sound-holes, having no separate neck, but narrowed at the upper end to provide a finger-board, and (judging by pictorial representations, for no actual example is known) surmounted by a carved head holding the pegs, in a manner similar to that of the violin. The bow, which was short and clumsy, had a considerable curvature. So far it is justifiable to trace back the descent of the violin in a direct line; but the earlier ancestry of this family is largely a matter of speculation. The best authorities are agreed that stringed instruments in general are mainly of Asiatic origin, and there is evidence of the mention of bowed instruments in Sanskrit documents of great antiquity. Too much genealogical importance has been attached by some writers to similarities in form and construction between the bowed and plucked instruments of ancient times. They probably developed to a great extent independently; and the bow is of too great and undoubted antiquity to be regarded as a development of the plectrum or other devices for agitating the plucked string. The two classes of instrument no doubt were xxVrrl. 4 a under mutual obligations from time to time in their development. Thus the stringing of the viols was partly adapted from that of the lute; and the form of the modern Spanish guitar was probably derived from that of the fidel.

The Italian and Spanish forms (ribeba, rabe) of the French name rebec suggest etymologically a relationship, which seems to find confirmation in the striking similarity of general appearance between that instrument and the Persian rehab, mentioned in the 12th century, and used by the Arabs in a primitive form to this day. The British crwth, which has been claimed by some writers as a progenitor of the violin, was primarily a plucked instrument, and cannot be accepted as in the direct line of ancestry of the viols.

The viol was made in three main kinds - discant, tenor and bass - answering to the cantus, medius and bassus of vocal music. Each of these three kinds admitted of some variation in dimensions, especially the bass, of which three distinct sizes ultimately came to be made - (i) the largest, called the concert bass viol; (2) the division or solo bass viol, usually known by its Italian name of viola da gamba; and (3) the lyra or tablature bass viol. The normal tuning of the viols, as laid down in the earliest books, was adapted from the lute to the bass viol, and repeated in higher in tervals in the rest. The fundamental idea, as in the lute, was that the outermost strings should be two octaves apart - hence the intervals of fourths with a third in the middle. The highest, or discant viol, is not a treble but an alto instrument, the three viols answering to the three male voices. As a treble instrument, not only for street viol. and dance music, but in orchestras, the rebec or geige did duty until the invention of the violin, and long afterwards. The discant viol first became a real treble instrument in the hands of the French makers, who converted it into the quinton.

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The earliest use of the viols was to double the parts of vocal concerted music; they were next employed in special compositions for the viol trio written in the same compass. - Many such works in the form of "fantasies" or "fancies," and pre' ades with suites in dance form, by the 1r:.sters of the end of the 16th and 17th centuries, exist .n manuscript; a set by Orlando Gibbons, which are good specimens, has been published by the English Musical Antiquarian Society. Later, the viols, especially the bass, were employed as solo instruments, the methods of composition and execution being based on those of the lute. Most lute music is in fact equally adapted for the bass viol, and vice versa. In the 17th century, when the violin was coming into general use, constructive innovations began which resulted in the abandonment of the trio of pure six-stringed viols. Instruments which show these innovations are the quinton and the viola d'amore. The first-mentioned is of a type intermediate between the viol and the violin. In the case of the discant and tenor viol the lowest string, which was probably found to be of little use, was abandoned, and the pressure on the bass side of the belly thus considerably lightened. The five strings were then spread out, as it were, to the compass of the six, so as to retain the fundamental principle of the outer strings being two octaves apart. This was effected by tuning the lower half of the instrument in fifths, as in the violin, and the upper half in uint e or fourths. This innovation altered the Treble Quinton. Tensor Qu i nton. tuning of the treble and tenor viols, thus - One half of the instrument was therefore tuned like a viol, the other half as in a violin, the middle string forming the division. The tenor viol thus improved was called in France the quinte, and the treble corresponding to it the quinton. From the numerous specimens which survive it must have been a popular instrument, as it is undoubtedly a substantially excellent one. The Tenor Viol. Viol da Gamba. (Bass Viol.) G Discant Viol.

relief in the bass, and the additional pressure caused by the higher tuning in the treble, gave it greater brilliancy, without destroying the pure, ready and sympathetic tone which characterizes the viol. While the tendency in the case of the distant and tenor was to lighten and brighten them, the reverse process took place in that of the bass. The richer and more sonorous tones of the viola da gamba were extended downwards by the addition of a string tuned to double bass A. Marais, a French virtuoso, is usually credited with this improvement; and this extended compass is recognized in the classical viola da gamba writings of Sebastian Bach and De Caix d'Hervelois. The result, however, was not universally satisfactory for Abel used the six-stringed instrument; and the seven strings never came into general use in England, where the viola da gamba was more generally employed and survived longer than elsewhere.

The chief defect of the viols was their weakness of tone; this the makers thought to remedy in two ways: first by additional strings in unisons, fifths and octaves; and secondly by sympathetic strings of fine steel wire, laid under the fingerboard as close as possible to the belly, and sounding in sympathy with the notes produced on the bowed strings. The sympathetic strings were attached to ivory pegs driven into the bottom block, and, passing through the lower part of the bridge, or over a very low bridge of their own, were stretched to pitch either by means of additional pegs or by wrest pins driven into the sides of the head, and tuned with a key. Originally six, seven or eight wire strings were used, tuned to the diatonic scale of the piece to be performed. Later on a chromatic set of twelve was employed, and occasionally viols were made with twenty-four wire strings, two for each semitone in the scale. This system of reinforcement was applied to all the various sizes of viols in use during that period.

The improvements which resulted in the production of the violin proceeded on different lines. They consisted in increasing the resonance of the body of the instrument, by making it lighter and more Symmetrical, and by stringing it more lightly. These changes transformed the body of the viol into that of the violin, and the transformation was completed by rejecting the lute tuning with its many strings, and tuning the instrument by fifths, as the fiddle had been tuned. The tenor viol appears to have been the first instrument in which the change was made, and thus the viola or tencr may probably be claimed as the father of the modern violin family. Violas were used in church music before the modern violin period, and violins as we know them were at first called "Piccoli Violini" to distinguish them from the earlier and larger instruments. A tenor viol of date 1 500 is still extant, bearing in general outline the typical features of the violin, as distinct from the viol family. This instrument was exhibited in 1872 in the Loan Exhibition of Musical Instruments at South Kensington with the label "Pietro Zanure, Brescia, 1509." From existing specimens we know that a bass violin, precursor of the violoncello, with a tuning an octave below the tenor, appeared shortly after that instrument. A double bass violin, tuned a fourth below the violoncello and usually known as the "basso da camera," completed the set of instruments in violin shape; but from the difficulty attending its manipulation it never came into general use. The celebrated double bass player, Dragonetti, occasionally used the basso da camera, and an English player named Hancock, who dispensed with the highest or E string, is still remembered for his performances on this unusual instrument.

The tenor and violoncello are made on the same general model and principles as the violin, but with modifications. Both are, relatively to their pitch, made in smaller proportions than the violin, because, if they were con structed to dimensions having the same relation to °' pitch and tension of strings as the violin, they would not only have an overpowering tone but would be unmanageable from their size. These relatively diminished dimensions, both in the size of the instrument and in the thickness of the wood and strings, give to the tenor and violoncello a graver and more sympathetic tone. To some extent the reduced size is compensated by giving them a greater proportional height in the ribs and bridge; an increase hardly perceptible in the tenor, but very noticeable in the violoncello. To lighten the tension and thus allow greater freedom of vibration to the belly on the bass side, as with the lowest string of the violin, the two lowest of the tenor and violoncello are made of thin gut, covered with fine metal wire; thus providing the necessary weight without inconvenient thickness. If the tension of the lowest string, or the two lowest strings, be increased, not only will they be elevated in pitch, but the violin will produce a more powerful tone; if the bass string be lowered, the contrary will take place. By adapting the music to this altered tuning (scordatura) some novel effects are produced. The following are the principal scordature which have been occasionally employed by various players: - The violoncello is less amenable to the scordatura than the violin; the only classical instance is the tuning employed by Bach in his fifth sonata, t_. - which consists in lowering the first string by a tone. Bach.

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The early Italian school is chiefly represented by the Brescian makers, Gaspar da Salo, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Giovita Rodiani and Zanetto Peregrino. It is, however, somewhat misleading to denominate it the Brescian school, for its characteristics are shared by the earliest makers. makers of Cremona and Venice. To eyes familiar with the geometrical curves of the later Cremona school, most of the violins of these makers have a rude and uncouth appearance. The height of the model varies; the pattern is attenuated; the f-holes share the general rudeness of design, and are set high in the pattern. Andreas Amati of Cremona, the eldest maker of that name, effected some improvements on this primitive model; but the violin owes most to his sons, Antonio and Geronimo, who were partners. They introduced the substantial improvements which developed the Brescian violin into the modern instrument. These improvements were in their inception probably of an artistic rather than a scientific nature. Painting and inlaying had long been employed in the decoration of stringed instruments; but the brothers Amati were the first who applied to the violin the fundamental law of decorative art, that the decorative and constructive elements should be blended in their conception: in other words, the construction should be itself decorative and the decoration itself constructive. Nicholas Amati (1596-1684), son of Geronimo, made some slight improvements in the model, and his pupil Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) finally settled the typical Cremona pattern, which has been generally followed; for the majority of violins since made, whether by good or bad makers, are copies of Stradivari. Besides the last-named, the following makers worked generally on the Amati model - Cappa, Gobetti, the Grancino family, Andreas Guarnieri and his son Giuseppe, the Ruggieri family and Serafin of Venice. The Bergonzi family, Alessandro Gagliano, the earlier members of the Guadagnini family, and Panormo were either pupils or followers of Stradivari. But excepting Carlo Bergonzi and Stradivari's two sons, Omobono and Francesco, there is no evidence of I Biber.

120De Beriot.

Nardini.

Biber.

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Tartini, Ca3trucci. (Scotch Reels.) _ - ? 6 5: Paganini.

Lolli. De Beriot, Prume, Mazas, &c.

41/F - -.- Barbella, Campagnoli.

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Tenor Violin. Violoncello.

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Scordatura. any having actually worked with or for him. Landolfi, Storioni, and Carlo Giuseppe Testore, a pupil of Giovanni Grancino, leaned to the model of Giuseppe Guarnieri del Gesu. Some resemblances, especially in the matter of the varnish, are traceable between the works of makers who lived contemporaneously in the same town, e.g. in Naples, Milan and Venice.

A high model was adopted by Jacob Stainer of Absam, near Hall in Tirol, whose well-known pattern was chiefly followed by, the makers of .England, Tirol and Germany, down to the middle of the 18th century. It thenceforward fell into disuse, owing to the superior musical qualities of the French Cremona violin. The school of Stainer is represen ted by Albani, Hornsteiner, the Klotz family (who made large numbers of instruments excellent in their kind), Schorn of Salzburg and Withalm of Nuremberg, and others. The English makers may be divided into three successive groups: (1) an antique English school, having a character of its own (Ray man, Urquhart, Pamphilon, Barak Norman, Duke, of Oxford, &c.); (2) imitators of Stainer, at the head of whom stands Peter Wamsley (Smith, Barrett, Cross, Hill, Aireton, Norris, &c.); (3) a later school who leaned to the Cremona model (Banks, Duke, of Holborn, Betts, the Forsters, Gilkes, Carter, Fendt, Parker, Harris, Matthew Hardie of Edinburgh, &c.). The early French makers have little merit or interest (Bocquay, Gavinies, Pierray, Guersan, &c.), but the later copyists of the Cremona models (Lupot, Aldric, Chanot the elder, Nicholas, Pique, Silvestre, Vuillaume, &c.) produced admirable instruments, some of which rank next in merit to the first-rate makers of Cremona.

The general form of the violin, as finally developed under the hands of the leading makers, resolved itself into two main types, the high and the flat models, of which the latter, on the lines ultimately adopted by Stradivari, has survived as the most efficient pattern for all modern instruments. The distinction is one of degree only, the maximum difference of actual measurement in extreme cases amounting to little more than a quarter of an inch in the convexity of the belly above the top line of the ribs; but the difference in character of tone of the two types is, in the main, well marked. Speaking generally, the tone of the high-built instrument is less powerful and sweeter, and it speaks more readily, but responds less completely to gradations of tone under the action of the bow than the flatter type, which yields a tone of greater carrying power and flexibility, susceptible to more subtle variation by the player, and with a peculiar penetrating quality lacking in the highly arched model. These differences in tone probably depend less upon any direct effect of variations in depth of the soundingbox than on the incidental effects of cutting the wood to the higher or lower arch; for it would seem that the best results in tone have been attained in instruments with a fairly constant volume of contained air, the depth of the sides being roughly in inverse proportion to the height of arch in the best examples of the different models. In the high-cut arch the fibres of the wood on the upper surface are necessarily cut shorter, with the result that the plate as a whole does not vibrate so perfectly as in the flatter model, and this has a weakening effect on the tone. Again, the higher arch, with steeper curves towards the sides, necessitates the inclination of the sound-holes at a considerable angle to the main horizontal plane of the instrument; and it is conceivable that, under such conditions, the vibrations of the upper layer of air within the body are dissipated too readily, before the composite vibrations of the whole mass of air inside the instrument have attained their full harmonic value. Apart from these acoustical considerations, the question is probably one of material, the flatter construction demanding the use of a very strong and elastic wood in relation to the most suitable thickness, in order to withstand the pressure of the bridge, a resistance which the higher arch renders possible with a stiffer and more brittle material; and the effect of these qualities upon tone must be taken into account in estimating the tone characters of the two types of instrument.

Broadly speaking, the higher-arched type found favour with the earlier makers up to the end of the Amati period. Stainer in Tirol inclined particularly in the direction of this model, which he appears to have developed on independent lines, the tradition' ! that he learnt his craft from the Amati being no longer tenable. The flatter model was gradually evolved by Stradivari as he outgrew the immediate influence of the Amati and developed on his own incomparable lines a somewhat larger and more powerful instrument, adapted to the requirements of the increasing class of solo players.

The violins as a distinctive family of instruments cannot be fully discussed without reference to the bow (q.v.) as an essential adjunct, on account of the very important part taken by the bow in determining, as already mentioned, the peculiar form of the vibrations of the string, and in controlling, in the hand of a skilled player, the subtle gradations of tone produced from the instrument. The evolution of the modern bow has taken place almost entirely since the violin attained its final form, and has followed, more completely perhaps than the instrument itself, the development of violin music and the requirements of the player. It reached its highest perfection at the hands of the celebrated Francois Tourte of Paris, about 1780, whose bows have served as a model for all succeeding makers, even more exclusively than the violins of Stradivari controlled the pattern of later instruments; and at the present time Tourte bows are valued beyond any others.

For more than 250 years the violin and its larger brethren have held the leading position among musical instruments. For them have been written some of the most inspired works. of the great musicians. Famous composers, such as Tartini, Corelli, Spohr and Viotti have been great violinists, and by their compositions, as much as by their talents as virtuosi, have largely developed the capacity of the violin as a vehicle of profound musical expression. To the listener the violin speaks with an intensity, a sympathy, and evokes a thrill of the senses such as no other instrument can produce. For the player it seems to respond to every pulse of his emotions.

REFERENCES. - A. Vidal, La Lutherie et les luthiers (Paris, 1889); G. Hart, The Violin (London, 1875); Hill, Antonio Stradivari (London, 1902); Sir W. Huggins, "On the Function of the SoundPost, &c., of the Violin," Proc. Royal Society, vol. xxxv. p. 241; H. Helmholtz, On the Sensations of Tone, &c. (trans. by A. J. Ellis); E. H. Barton and C. A. B. Garrett, "Vibration Curves obtained from a Monochord Sound Box and String," Philosophical Mag. (July 1905); Carl Engel, Musical Instruments (London, 1875); A. J. Hipkins Musical Instruments, Historic, Rare and Unique (Edinburgh, 1887). (R. W. F. H.)


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Simple English

File:Violin
A violin and bow in its case

The violin is a string instrument that is played with a bow. It has four strings. [1] The strings are usually tuned to the notes G, D, A, and E.[2] It is held between the left collar bone (near the shoulder) and the chin. Different notes are made by fingering with the left hand while bowing with the right. It has no frets or other markers. Players have to learn the exact place to put the fingers of the left hand by memory. Students learning to play violin may put dots or stickers on the fingerboard to help them learn how to play.

The violin is the smallest and highest pitched string instrument.[3] A person who plays the violin is called a violinist. A person who makes or fixes a violin is called a luthier.

The violin is important in Europe and Arabian music. No other instrument has played such an important part in Europe. The modern violin is about 400 years old. Similar string instruments have been around for almost 1000 years. By the time the modern orchestra started in the 17th century, the violin was fully developed. It became the most important orchestral instrument. Nearly every composer wrote for the violin. It is used as a solo instrument, in chamber music, in orchestral music and in jazz. It is also used in folk music.

The violin is sometimes called a “fiddle”. Someone who plays it is a “fiddler”. There is even a verb, “to fiddle”. It means, “to play the fiddle”. This word can be used as a nickname for the violin. It is properly used when talking about folk music.

Contents

History

The word “violin” is related to the word “viol”. The violin was not made directly from the instruments called viols. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula. It means stringed instrument.[4] This word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle".[5] The modern European violin changed over time from many different bowed stringed instruments. They were brought from the Middle East[6] and the Byzantine Empire.[7][8] Most likely, the first makers of violins took ideas from three kinds of current instruments. They are the rebec, in use since the 10th century,[9] the Renaissance fiddle, and the lira da braccio.[10] These instruments were held under the chin and bowed.

In the 17th century, there were several families of luthiers who were very good at making instruments. The most famous violin makers were Stradivarius, Amati, and Guarneri. Some of the instruments that these luthiers made are still here today. They are some of the best instruments in existence.[11] They can have prices over one million dollars.[12]

Construction

The biggest part of the violin is the wooden body. This acts as a resonating box. It makes the vibrating strings sound louder. Many of the parts of the violin are named after parts of the body. The front is called the “belly”. The back is called the “back”. The sides are the “ribs”. The strings go from near the top of the “neck” down the “fingerboard” and on to the “tail piece”. The strings go across the bridge halfway between the end of the fingerboard and the tailpiece. The bridge is not fixed onto the violin. It is held in place by the strings. The strings keep it in place because they are so tight. If the strings are completely loosened, the bridge will not stay on. The bridge helps to send the vibrations of the strings down to the body of the instrument. Inside the body there is a “soundpost”. This is a small piece of wood. It looks like a small finger. It goes from the belly to the back. The soundpost is also held in place by the strings. In the middle of the belly there are two long, curved holes. They are called “f holes”. This is because of their shape. The top of the strings are wound around pegs. The violin can be tuned by turning the pegs. The very top of the neck is called the “scroll”. Violins today also have a chinrest. This helps to hold the violin against the player's shoulder. A shoulder rest can also be used. These are now made of foam. They have special legs to hold them on to the violin. Many beginners prefer to use a sponge and an elastic band instead.

To make it easier to tune the violin, many people find it helpful to have “adjusters” for “fine tuning” when the string is only slightly out of tune. These adjusters go through holes in the tailpiece. They stop the strings from slipping when being tuned.

Strings used to be made of gut. They are now mostly made of steel or nylon. Adjusters can only be used with some strings. The front of the violin body is made of spruce. The back and sides of the body are made of maple. The bow can be made of several kinds of wood. An example would be pernambuco. Some players today use bows made of carbon fibre. The bow is strung with horsehair (horsehair is hair that comes from the back of the horse's head also known as the mane or from the horse's tail).

Playing

It takes years of practice to become a good violinist. Beginners start by practicing on the “open strings”. This means that they do not use their left-hand fingers. At first the beginner can pluck the strings. Then he or she can learn how to use the bow. After learning how to use the bow, the player can learn how to stop the strings with the fingers to get all the different notes. At first the learner will play in “first position”. This means that finger 1 (the fingers are numbered from 1 to 4, the thumb being behind the neck of the instrument) is playing a note which is a whole tone above the open string. For example, on the D string finger 1 is playing the note E. When the player becomes more advanced, he or she will also play in other positions by moving the left hand up the fingerboard nearer to the bridge. There is also a half position in which the first finger is stretched back.

The violinist has to learn to put the fingers in exactly the right place so that the music is “in tune”. This is called intonation. He will also learn vibrato. This changes the intonation of each note slightly by making it a little bit sharper (higher), then a little bit flatter (lower), producing a kind of wobble. This is important in many styles of music to create mood.

Besides plucking (pizzicato) there are many special effects. Some of them are glissando, portamento, and harmonics. There are also double stopping, chords or using scordatura tuning.

The violin can be played either standing or sitting down. When playing solo music the violinist normally stands. When playing in chamber music or in orchestras the violinist sits. This was not always the case. When sitting, the violinist may have to turn his right leg in so that it does not get in the way of the bow.

Music

File:Itzhak Perlman
The famous violinist Itzhak Perlman playing in the White House.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, composers wrote a lot of music. They wrote the music for solo violin. Many of these composers were from Italy. They were themselves violinists. Some of these violinists are Corelli, Vitali, Vivaldi, Veracini, Geminiani, Locatelli and Tartini. In Germany, Schmelzer and Biber wrote some very virtuoso violin music. Later, in the early 18th century, Bach and Handel wrote many masterpieces for the violin.

In the Classical music period, the great composers Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven all wrote solo works for the violin. They also wrote a large amount of chamber music, especially string quartets.

In the Romantic period many virtuoso violin works were written. These include concertos by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Bruch, Wieniawski, Tchaikovsky, and Dvořák. In the 20th century, many virtuoso works were written. These include Elgar, Sibelius, Szymanowski, Bartók, Stravinsky, Berg, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Hindemith, and Penderecki. In the 19th century, Niccolò Paganini was the most famous violinist. He composed and played violin music that was harder than anything that had been written before. People compared him to the devil because he could play so brilliantly and because he looked thin and moved his body about in strange ways[13].

In recent years the violin has also been used in jazz playing. Stéphane Grappelli was especially famous for this.

Famous violinists

Some of the most famous violinists of the last century are Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrakh, Yehudi Menuhin, Ida Haendel, and Isaac Stern. Today some of the greatest players include Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Nigel Kennedy, Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, and the fiddler Sara Watkins.

Related pages

References

  1. Adams, John S. (1865). Adams' New Musical Dictionary of Fifteen Thousand Technical Words, Phrases, Abbreviations, Initials, and Signs Employed in Musical and Rhythmical Art p. 252. S. T. Gordon and Son. Retrieved on 27 March 2010
  2. "About the Violin". http://www.theviolinsite.com/history.html. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  3. Hoffer, Charles (2009). Music Listening Today 3rd Edition p. 30. Schirmer Cengage Learning ISBN 0-495-56576-8. Retrieved on 27 March 2010
  4. "Etymology of viola". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=viola&searchmode=none. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  5. "Etymology of fiddle". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fiddle. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  6. Hoffman, Miles. "The NPR Classical Music Companion: Terms and Concepts from A to Z". Chicago Symphony Orchestra. http://www.cso.org/main.taf?p=1,1,4,20. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  7. Grillet 1901, p. 29
  8. Margaret J. Kartomi: On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago Press, 1990
  9. Panum, Hortense (1939), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Stringed Instruments of the Middle Ages, Their Evolution and Development], London: William Reeves, p. 434 
  10. Arkenberg, Rebecca (October 2002). "Renaissance Violins". Metropolitan Museum of Art. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/renv/hd_renv.htm. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  11. The Etude Presser's Musical Magazine, Philadelphia, PA, August 1916, pp. p. 274, http://books.google.com/books?id=h40MAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA274&dq=Violins+are+some+of+the+best+instruments+in+existence&cd=1#v=onepage&q=Violins%20are%20some%20of%20the%20best%20instruments%20in%20existence&f=false, retrieved 27 March 2010 
  12. "Prices of Stradivarius Violins". Stradivarius Violins. http://www.stradivariusviolins.org/pricesofstradivariusviolins.html. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  13. "The Violin and Viola" by Sheila Nelson, ISBN 0-510-36651-1 p.143

Further reading

  • Galamian, Ivan (1999). Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching. Ann Arbor, Minnesota: Shar Products Co. ISBN 0-9621416-3-1. 
  • Strange, Patricia; Strange, Allen (2001). The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22409-4. 
  • Thede, Marion (1970). The Fiddle Book. Oak Publications. ISBN 0-8256-0145-2. 
  • Bardfeld, Sam (2002). Latin Violin. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. ISBN 0-9628467-7-5. 
  • Stowell, Robin (1992). The Cambridge Companion to the Violin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39033-8. 
  • Beament, James (1992/1997). The Violin Explained - Components Mechanism and Sound. Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-816623-0. 
  • Hill, William Henry; Hill, Arthur F., Hill. Alfred Ebsworth (1902/1963). Antonio Stradivari, his life and work, 1644-1737. Chemsford, Massachusetts: Dover Publications. ISBN 0486204251. 
  • Bachmann, Alberto (1965/1990). An Encyclopedia of the Violin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80004-7. 
  • Coetzee, Chris (2003). Violin - An Easy Guide. London: New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1-84330-332-9. 
  • Menuhin, Yehudi (1996). The Violin. France: Groupe Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-013623-2. 
  • Gill, Dominic (1984). The Book of the Violin. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-2286-8. 
  • Heron-Allen, Ed (1885/1994). Violin-Making as it was, and is. London: Ward Lock Limited. ISBN 0-7063-1045-4. 
  • Farga, Franz (1950). Violins & Violinists. Rockliff Publishing Corporation Ltd. ISBN 0214158063. 
  • Charlton, Jennifer A. (1985). Viols, Violins and Virginals. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum. ISBN 0-907849-44-X. 
  • Rowland-Entwistle, Theodore (1967/1974). The Violin. Chemsford, Massachusetts: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-340-05992-3. 
  • Stowell, Robin (2001). The Early Violin and Viola. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62555-6. 
  • Regazzi, Roberto. The Complete Luthier's Library. A Useful International Critical Bibliography for the Maker and the Connoisseur of Stringed and Plucked Instruments. ISBN 88-85250-01-7. 
  • Dubourg, George (1854). The Violin. Robert Cocks & Co. ISBN 0548373175. 
  • Stowell, Robin (1985). Violin Technique and Performance Practice in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23279-1. 
  • Sandys, William; Andrew, Simon (2006). History of the Violin. Chemsford, Massachusetts: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-45269-7. 
  • Katz, Mark (2006). The Violin: A Research and Information Guide. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-3637-3. 

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