Do you know the violin? Well, the violin is but one instrument in the family of violins which includes the viola, cello, and double bass. It is interesting to know how these instruments in the violin family differ considerably from each other yet work together to form the traditional orchestra.
Let’s understand this family of violins some more. The violin family was developed in the 16th century in Italy. Initially, most of the instruments within the viola family had their names derived from the root word, “viola.” The violin for instance is a smaller viola. The cello is commonly called a violoncello or a Stradavarius. Similar to the cello is the double bass which is a string instrument from the violin family. You might be wondering how come the double bass didn’t gain its name from the root word viola. Well, to be totally honest, the double bass is referred to as violone as well. Whether you call it double bass, violone, or bass violin, the instrument is one that gained its spot in the orchestra limelight since the 18th century.
Are you ready to get acquainted with the violin family?
Instruments Within the Violin Family
Meet the Violin
One of the smallest instruments within the violin family is the violin. It is a string instrument that is uniquely crafted from a hollow wooden body. For such a small instrument, it actually produces the highest pitch. It is one of the most popular instruments in the music industry. Almost all the top musicians at some stage are drawn to the violin and hence you hardly find a musician who is not literate when it comes to performing with a violin in hand.
So how can you learn to play the violin? The violin is made up of four strings and can be played by striking a bow across the strings. Guitar players find playing the violin much like playing the guitar and playing the violin as they would the guitar.
If we trace this instrument's history, we will find that the Arabian rabab or rebec are ancestors of the violin. If we look at how the violin has advanced today, we can say that the violin is far more complete than it ever was before. Initially, violin makers came from Italy. The two earliest known violin makers were Andre Amati and Gasparo di Bertolotti and there is still a violin that was made by Andre Amati in existence today.
The Different Types of Violin
If you are keen on taking up violin classes, remember that there are many different types of violins on the market. Most violins have subtle differences but if you are seriously contemplating investing in a violin, consider these choices:
- The more traditional Baroque violin: A noticeable difference in this violin is the shorter fingerboard and the shallow neck.
- Classical violins: You can choose a violin that is more commonly found today. The classical violins have higher string tension and a deeper neck.
- Electrical violins: As of 1930, you could select an electrical violin. The built-in pickup notes any vibrations that are passing through the amplifier.
Now that you have picked out your violin, are you ready to play? Perhaps you are equally as enticed by the cello as you are with the violin.
Chill Out with the Cello
You call it the cello but we also know it as the violoncello. Violoncello means a small-large violin and from the meaning of the word, we can understand that it is but another bowed stringed instrument. The difference between the violin and the cello is that the cello seems to be tuned an octave lower than the viola. The cello is constantly utilised in solo performances but you would also see the cello being used in the orchestra as well.
The cello is an instrument more likely to be associated with the classical genre of music. While the cello has always been associated with the classical genre, the way the cello has been played has changed. Previously in the 18th century, the cello had been played with the cellist holding the cello with his legs. The endpin was created when a tutor’s size hindered him from supporting the cello entirely with his legs so he created an endpin as support. Sounds much easier to use an endpin than having to support the cello entirely using your legs, right?
Well, you must remember that the cello is a lot heavier than some of the other instruments in the violin family. Having to support such a large instrument with solely your foot will be quite difficult. The main thing to remember when playing the cello is that you will need to find a position in which you feel most comfortable. The position that you choose will be dependent on your frame, size, and personal preference. When choosing the aptest position for you, remember that the main thing is to ensure that the cello is kept steady at all times. Modern-day cellists tend to depend entirely on the endpin rest to stop their endpin from sliding.
So if you were to take cello lessons, what could this mean for you? You could be playing in the orchestra. In the orchestra setting, you would find the cellist sitting on the right of the conductor. How does that sound?
If you are interested to learn how to play the cello, read on.
Did you know that older cellos had their strings made from sheep gut?
If the history of the cello seems to tug at your strings, take cello classes to get to know more about the cello.
Why not learn to play the viola as well?
Voicing Your Views about the Viola
The viola is yet another bowed instrument that is slightly larger than the violin and played in a similar way to the violin. You hold the viola steady and play it under your chin. While most people play the viola from a seated position, you are allowed to stand and play the viola.
Viola classes will help you understand how to play the viola better. From viola classes, you will learn that learning to play any string instrument is no walk in the park. In essence, if you would like to perfect the way that you play the viola, you need to remember to keep practicing. A viola instructor will help you to learn which positions work well for playing the viola perfectly. Once you are confident about the way that you can grip the viola, you will naturally become better at playing the viola.
Remember the more fun that you have from learning to play the viola, the better. If you feel overwhelmed by either your online or in-person viola lessons, take a break. Putting your bow down is better than throwing in the towel and quitting on learning how to play the viola. It is advisable to ensure that you stay motivated about playing the viola and not lose interest in the task at hand.
Being the Best at Double Bass
Doublebass is one of the least mentioned instruments in the violin family. It is often referred to by its different names such as contrabass, string bass, bass, or bass fiddle and hence you may think that no one mentions the instrument. The instrument produces the lowest pitch being an octave lower than the cello.
If you are considering playing double bass, pay attention to the design of the instrument. Some double bass instruments are shaped much like the viola. Other double bass instruments look like the violin. If you purchase the largest double bass, it would be approximately 1.8 meters in length.
The double bass is often a four-string instrument. You are allowed to add the fifth string to your double bass so that you can successfully play high notes.
Make use of double bass classes that will help you to perfect your playing technique. Through double bass classes, you can learn to learn how to play by striking. Get your index finger ready to produce the sounds as more often than not the musician strikes the strings using his or her index finger. Alternatively, the musician can pluck and pull the strings causing a sound when he or she plays.
Interestingly enough, more people sit and play the double bass than stand despite the instrument being very tall.
Tips for Playing Instruments from the Violin Family of Instruments
Once you have come to grips with all the instruments from the violin family of instruments, you need to get some tips on how to play the instruments within this range. The start of your battle when it comes to playing an instrument is finding the right instrument that suits your form, shape, and personal preferences. You need to make the necessary effort to sound as beautiful as a swan when you play; however, you need to make sure you buy extra equipment for your learning journey. Let’s look at some of the equipment that may come into handy for your classes:
- You need to ensure that you come with a pencil in hand so that you are ready to take notes.
- Look after your instrument by investing in a carry case
- Just like you need the right instrument, you also need the perfect bow for you in order to play your best
- A metronome is required so that you can always stay in tune
When it comes to playing an instrument from the violin family, remember:
“The magic may have ceased but the magician and his strings will remain forever.”Anoop Pillai
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