The violin can quite easily be considered one of the noblest stringed instruments whose notes have mesmerized generations of music lovers. Its origin is quite obscure, the general belief being that it originated in Asia and was perfected in Europe. Three other stringed instruments that form the violin family are the viola, the violoncello (or cello) and the double bass (or bass).
The violin itself is a very graceful instrument. Its parts are made of different kinds of wood. The belly, bass bar, and the sound post are made of spruce wood; the back, ribs, neck and bridge are made of maple; the fingerboard, the peg box, the nut and the saddle are made of ebony; while the pegs and the button are made of rosewood.
The violin makers are very particular of the age of wood used to make the instrument. They prefer wood that has been seasoned for 10 to 20 years. According to them, the quality of a violin's sound is determined by the thickness of the wood, its age and seasoning.
A violin is usually around 36 cm (14 inches) long and is made of a hollow wooden box with a neck that has an internal sound post connecting the front (belly) with the back. The belly is reinforced by an internal bass bar, which runs beneath the lowest string. The sides of the violin are known as ribs.
Four strings run from a tailpiece attached to the base of the violin across a wooden bridge and the fingerboard. They end up in a peg box, mounted slightly above the fingerboard, where they are wound around tuning pegs.
The bridge holds the strings in an arched configuration, allowing the violinist to play the strings separately. It also transmits the string vibrations to the belly, from where they are transmitted to the back by the sound post producing notes of great timbre and nobility.
Initially, the violin strings were made of gut. However, these strings have been replaced by metal-cored strings since they last long and produce better notes. A few violin makers also use synthetic-cored strings because they are less prone to humidity and temperature changes.
The violinist generally cradles the violin in the left hand, and uses the right hand to run the bow across the strings. The pitch is controlled with the help of the bow while the sound is regulated by depressing the string with a left hand finger.
Before the nineteenth century, some of the famous violinists were also composers. They included such famous names as Corelli, Vivaldi, Locatelli, and later Paganini, Sarasate, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, Ysaÿe, Kreisler and Enesco. The 20th century saw the separation of the two functions. Among the great violinists of this era are J. Joachim, Brahms and Yehudi Menuhin.
This article was written by Darrell Tyler, a violin music lover for many years. If you would like to see a great resource of information about the violin, we would ask you to visit: FL Violin
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