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What Is First Violin?

Updated on June 18, 2013
What is meant by the term 'first violin'?
What is meant by the term 'first violin'?

Ever heard the phrase 'First Violin' and wondered what it meant?

Read this short article for a clear and simple answer to the question "What is first violin?"

What is first violin?

Quite simply, 'first violin' is an orchestral term.

Orchestras are generally split into different categories - usually relevant to the different instruments.

So for example, there is the cello section, viola section etc.

When it comes to the violin section however, there is usually more than one section within the violin section - as the orchestral score will most likely have been written with different violins doing different things at the same time.

As such, 'First Violin' is the term given to the main group of violinists - usually with the job of playing the melody. As well as first violin, you will also find most orchestras have sections for 'second violin' and sometimes even 'third violin' - these sections are not lesser skilled, they just play different music.

A first violin section will usually play the melody whilst the second (and sometimes third) violin sections will play the supporting parts - such as the harmonies.

Naturally, this isn't always the case and throughout an orchestral score the roles of each section are swapped, changed and influenced according to the dictates of the musical score, the composers instruction and the conductor.

Want to know how to tune a violin?

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