The violin is one of the best loved of all musical instruments. The beauty of its shape is matched by a beauty of tone. The violin is a member of the family of stringed instruments. It is capable of a wide range of musical expressions; the sound of the violin can be almost as varied and as moving as the human voice.
Anyone who is asked to make a list of musical instruments will no doubt place the violin close to the top. Its clear tones are familiar to everyone and its versatility has given the violin its place as leader of the orchestra.
It is a symbol of romance in countries of the Mediterranean, where violin players serenade young lovers at café tables. The violin is also an instrument to dance to. Almost all traditional country dances rely on the accompaniment of the fiddle. In Medieval times, minstrels with stringed instruments were a familiar sight.
Violin is one of the most expressive instruments and is used by composers to evoke moods. A wide range of effects can be achieved from a variety of playing techniques.
- The familiar mellow sound is made by simply drawing the bow across the strings creating an atmosphere of serenity and stillness.
- Sometimes the sound can be so pure that it resembles the soprano voice of a choirboy. By contrast scraping the bow across the strings in abrupt jerky movements gives a harsh, angry sound and is often used to portray storms or violent events.
- The trembling effect used for sad music is obtained by sliding the fingers along the strings, whereas the short,snappy sounds used to conjure up lighter moods come from plucking the strings. This technique can create an impression of dancing or raindrops.
In recent years, the violin has become a feature of modern popular and jazz music; many rock and pop artists have abandoned synthesizers in favour of orchestral arrangements for massed violins to create a softer effect.
How the Violin Works
Sound is produced from strings by bowing or plucking. This makes the air inside the body of the instrument vibrateand amplify the sound. This is called "resonance".
Four strings are stretched from the bottom of the instrument, over a raised'bridge' and held in position by pegs at the end of the finger board. The violin is tuned by twisting thsese pegs to slacken or tighten the strings.
High and low notes depend on the size thickness and tension of the string. The shorter, thinner and more taut it is, the higher the note it produces.
How strings are made?
All violin strings used to be made from sheep or even cat gut. Then it was discovered that winding aluminum or silver thread round the gut meant that strings could be made stronger and thinner.
Now nylon or plastic is often used instead of gut for the central core and the strings are wound with aluminum or copper wire. the material from which the string is made affects the quality of the sound it produce.
- The highest price ever paid for a violin was £820,000 in November 1990 for a Stradivarius made in 1720.
- Until the late18th century the violin was held against the chest not under the chin.
- Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was one of the most important and prolific composers for the violin. He lived in Venice and entered the priesthood at age 15. Vivaldi wrote nearly 400 concertos for the violin. A concerto is a composition for a solo instrument and orchestra. Vivaldi's most famous work is "The Four Seasons" a set of four concertos one for each season of the year.
The variety of musical effects possible on the violin makes it one of the most popular of all musical instruments.
All over the world you will find people playing violins or similar kinds of musical instruments. The versatility of the violin makes it suitable for playing many different styles of music.