Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation



Quick Reference

(Fr. violon; It. violino; Ger. Geige or Violine).

Bowed 4‐str. instr., prin. and treble member of its family (va., vc., and db. being the others). Tuned g d′ a′ e″; compass of over 31/@ octaves. Standard feature of every orch., where vns. are divided into ‘1sts’ and ‘2nds’, corresponding to higher‐ and lower‐pitched parts. Str. qt. has 2 vn. (1st and 2nd). Emerged independently of the viol, to which it is not related. A 3‐str. vn. is represented in paintings at Ferrara 1508–9. At some time in It. before 1550 the 4‐str. instr. was invented and was regarded as the instr. for dancing whereas the viol was the courtly instr. Earliest printed vn. mus. is 2 dances incl. in the Balet comique de la royne of 1581. Undoubtedly the vn. was perfected by one man, Andrea Amati of Cremona, from whom the king of Fr. ordered 38 str. instrs. in 1560. For account of later development of instr., see Stradivari. Vn. is made from wood, with 2 f‐shaped sound holes. Str., made of gut or metal, are stretched along upper surface (belly). Sound from the str. when touched by bow is transmitted by upright bridge which supports the str. and which they cross at fractionally less than a right angle. Str. are held in place by tailpiece, cross bridge, and continue over ebony fingerboard attached to upper surface of neck. At extreme end they cross nut, or saddle, and enter a pegbox where they are attached to, and tuned by, 4 pegs. Among the most expressive of instr., the vn. has inspired a treasury of great mus. and great performers. The violino piccolo (It., little violin) was a small, higher‐pitched instr. used in Baroque period in such works as Bach's Brandenburg Conc. No.1. The vn. bow used to be convex, but since late 18th cent. has been concave, with increased tension.

Subjects: music.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »