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date: 30 October 2020

Violin (Fr. violon; Ger. Violine, Geige; It. violino; Sp. violín)locked

  • David D. Boyden,
  • Peter Walls,
  • Peter Holman,
  • Karel Moens,
  • Robin Stowell,
  • Anthony Barnett,
  • Matt Glaser,
  • Alyn Shipton,
  • Peter Cooke,
  • Alastair Dick
  •  and Chris Goertzen


(Fr. violon; Ger. Violine, Geige; It. violino; Sp. violín)

Soprano member of the family of string instruments that includes the viola and cello (the Double bass is also usually considered to be a member of the violin family though in some of its features – all explicable in terms of the practicalities of playing such a large instrument – the influence of the Viol family is apparent: it is tuned in 4ths rather than 5ths, historically had a variable number of strings and normally has sloping shoulders and a flat back that is ‘broken’ so that the upper section slopes inward towards the neck). In the Hornbostel-Sachs system the violin is classified as a Chordophone: bowed lute (or fiddle).

David D. Boyden, revised by Peter Walls

The violin is one of the most perfect instruments acoustically and has extraordinary musical versatility. In beauty and emotional appeal its tone rivals that of its model, the human voice, but at the same time the violin is capable of particular agility and brilliant figuration, making possible in one instrument the expression of moods and effects that may range, depending on the will and skill of the player, from the lyric and tender to the brilliant and dramatic. Its capacity for sustained tone is remarkable, and scarcely another instrument can produce so many nuances of expression and intensity. The violin can play all the chromatic semitones or even microtones over a four-octave range, and, to a limited extent, the playing of chords is within its powers. In short, the violin represents one of the greatest triumphs of instrument making. From its earliest development in Italy the violin was adopted in all kinds of music and by all strata of society, and has since been disseminated to many cultures across the globe (see §II below). Composers, inspired by its potential, have written extensively for it as a solo instrument, accompanied and unaccompanied, and also in connection with the genres of orchestral and chamber music. Possibly no other instrument can boast a larger and musically more distinguished repertory, if one takes into account all forms of solo and ensemble music in which the violin has been assigned a part....

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