The violin is a wonderful musical instrument that, in the hands of an experienced player, can make wonderful sounds that are extremely pleasing to the listener’s ear.
What is the violin, more exactly?
This is a wooden musical instrument with strings and a bow. The strings are tuned in and are stretched over one of the faces of a resonance box, vibrating when the bow is pulled over them or when they are pinched.
Compared to the other string and bow instruments such as the viola, cello, or double bass, the violin is the smallest instrument and generates the highest sounds. There are even smaller violin-type instruments like the piccolo or the kit violin but are not used anymore.
A violin is also called a fiddle. The person who plays the violin is called a violinist. The person who builds or repairs a violin is called a luthier.
A short history
The violin appeared in northern Italy in the early part of the sixteenth century. Most likely it was inspired by three types of instruments: the rebec (which existed since the tenth century), the viola da gamba, and the viola da braccio. One of the first explicit descriptions of the instrument, including its use, was in the Musical Epitomes of Iron Legs in a work published in 1556, in Lyon.
At that time, the violin was beginning to spread in Europe. From documents, it appears that the oldest known violin that had four strings, such as the modern violins have, was built in 1555 by Andrea Amati. The violins that preceded it had only three strings.
The violin immediately became a widespread instrument both among street musicians and nobles. For example, in 1560, King Carol IX of France ordered Amati to make 24 violins. The oldest violin, which still exists today, was part of this lot, being built by Amati in 1564, in Cremona.
There are also five-string violins, by adding a C string, which brings the violin closer to the viola’s sound. Because the five strings are closer to each other, the playing style also differs from that on the classical violin, with only four strings. The five-string violin is still used but mainly for pop, rock, and jazz music.
The violin is the most widespread musical instrument that is part of the stringed instruments family. Due to the crystalline sound, which is also expressive and full of beauty, the violin is the main carrier of the song.
The brilliance and warmth of its sound put this musical instrument at the front of the orchestral instruments. Violin sounds can express the most varied feelings, such as sweetness, grandeur, dreaming, strength, and many more.
This instrument is very important for a wide range of different music styles. Violins are most noticeable in the Western classical tradition, both as solo instruments and ensembles, starting from chamber music to orchestras. Also, it is present in numerous varieties of folk music, such as jazz, country music, or bluegrass music.
Electric violins with piezoelectric pickups and solid bodies are used in various forms of jazz fusion and rock music, where pickups are plugged into instrument amplifiers, as well as speakers, in order to produce sound. You can find out more about these instruments in this article.
Furthermore, the violin has also become popular with many non-Western music cultures, including Iranian music and Indian Music.
Interesting facts you might have missed
Ben Lee has the world record for being the fastest violinist. He is a composer, electric violinist, producer, and also a part of the rock violin duo called FUSE, with Linzi Stoppard. He beat the world record in 2010, which was held by David Garret at the time, and hasn’t been challenged yet. He can play 15 notes per second.
Did you know that the smallest violin available is 1/64? It was made for kids ages 2-3. Therefore, they can start learning how to play the violin about the same time they learn to talk. Akim Camara was one of those children who learned how to play the violin at such a young age.
Did you know that, in case of emergency, you can also use human hair for strings? As strange as it may sound, somewhere, at some point in time, there was a person curious enough to try, and it turned out to be a success.