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english violin , italian violino
German, maple Violin.JPG
classification Chordophone
string instrument
range Range violin.svg
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / sound sample parameters missing Related instruments

Viola , violoncello

List of violinists

The violin or fiddle is a string instrument belonging to the box-neck lute . Its four strings (g - d 1 - a 1 - e 2 ) are bowed with a bow ( coll'arco ), struck lightly with the bow stick ( col legno ) or plucked with the fingers ( pizzicato ). The violin plays an important role in the tradition of classical European music - many great composers have dedicated significant parts of their work to it. Violins are made by violin makers .


The word violin was borrowed from Italian into German in the 17th century and actually means "small viola ", although in Italian the masculine diminutive form violino (attested since the early 16th century) prevailed to denote the instrument, in German, however, that feminine violin (encountered sporadically over the baroque literature Violin ). When early forms of the violin developed about 10 to 15 years after the first recorded violas da gamba (1495), these were still referred to by different terms such as lira , violetta or viola .

The older German word geige is originally a joke ( pejorative ) for the fiddle and later developed into a generic term for string instruments as a whole, including viola , cello and viol , but did not lose its derogatory connotation for a long time. In his attempt at a thorough violin school in 1756 , Leopold Mozart declared that “the word violin is a general word which includes all types of violin instruments; and that consequently it is only due to abuse if the violin is called the violin out of hand ”; nor Johann Christoph ennobling marks the designation violin as improper (or "confidential of speaking"), as a value-neutral synonym for making violin could be established only in the later 19th century. The etymology of the word is unclear. It was first encountered in a late Old High German manuscript in the 12th century as gīga (French gigue is also documented around 1150, but is probably a borrowing from Old High German, as well as Italian, Old Spanish and Provencal giga ). Among other things, a connection with the Old Norse verb geiga “to pan, to fluctuate” was proposed , to which dialectic, but only late and only sparsely attested, possible equivalents can be found in German, such as Swiss gieglen, giegelwalzen, tumble ” and Tyrolean violinists “waver, doubt, hesitate”; A common Germanic * gīgan “move back and forth” would be assumed . It may also be an onomatopoeic word creation, comparable to the cackling [of the chickens] and the peckingmaking high, shrill sounds”.

Unlike the high-level violin , the more popular violin has inspired some proverbial sayings . The sky has been full of violins since around 1500 when someone looks happily and confidently to their existence and the future (only "hanging in the blue sky" over the island of Cuba / today loud violins, as Heinrich Heine wrote in Bimini in 1853 ). In Middle High German there is already the phrase someone who plays the truth [including opinion or the like] violin (which is thus much older than the musical " lecture drum " , which has only been used since the 19th century ). The expression playing the first violin in the sense of “determining what is to be done” refers to the concertmaster of the classical orchestral order , who, as the section leader, specified and set the tone of the other violinists (analogously playing the second violin in the sense of v. “Have to act according to others, play a subordinate role”).

Parts and construction


Body of a violin in cross section (the bridge does not belong to the body)

The body of the violin consists of top, back and rim. Together they form an approximately 35 to 36 cm long hollow body that serves as a resonance body .


The blanket is provided with two F-holes provided, arched, from spruce wood -made upper part. The ceiling is usually made of two mirrored parts, which are glued in the middle. Then the desired shape is worked out with the help of chisels and planes, first the outer, then the inner curve. Ideally, “fine-grained” wood is used (the annual rings are close and evenly) that has grown slowly on nutrient-poor soil in high mountain regions. It is felled in the first half of winter, when there is as little juice as possible in the trunk, and then stored for several years to dry, first as a trunk and again for a few years in the cut state. The finished ceiling is usually 2.4 to 3.5 mm thick under the web. In order to achieve the right flexibility, stiff wood is made thinner than soft wood.


"Arching" the violin back

The bottom is mostly made of maple (very rarely poplar or willow) and is also arched. It can be made in one piece or from two parts glued together, which can be seen from the mirror-symmetrical grain of the wood.


The frames are the side parts of the body and are glued to the floor and ceiling, and in rare cases also embedded in the floor. They are mostly made of the same wood as the floor.

Edge inlays or veins decorate the edge of the ceiling and the floor. These are three narrow strips of wood lying next to each other, the exterior of which is often colored black. They are placed in the vein trench and glued. In addition to the decoration, they serve to stabilize the edges of the top and bottom that protrude beyond the frame rim.


Some components are located inside the body. The bass bar is a spruce wood strip that runs slightly at an angle to the grain and is glued under the inside of the ceiling under slight tension . It increases both the anisotropy and the rigidity of the ceiling. The bass bar runs asymmetrically under the bridge foot on the bass side.

The sound post (the soul or voice) and its precise placement influence and regulate the sound of the violin considerably. It is a cylindrical spruce rod (about 6 mm in diameter) that is fitted between the ceiling and the floor, but not glued. Its position is about three millimeters below the foot of the bridge opposite the bass bar.

Upper , lower and Endklötze and linings inside the body serve to stabilize the sides. The blocks are made of spruce, the hoops are made of spruce or willow.

Neck and fingerboard

The neck is glued into a trapezoidal recess in the body . This has a length of about 13 cm and is glued to the fingerboard (about 27 cm long), which protrudes about 14 cm over the body. The fingerboard is usually made of fine-pored ebony , which is particularly hard and wear-resistant. More rarely, especially for simpler instruments, other woods are used, for example from the pear tree, which are blackened in order to imitate the appearance of the more noble ebony. Before ebony was available as a raw material in Europe, all instruments were fitted with fruit wood fingerboards . These have almost completely disappeared from the instruments through repairs and modifications.

Pegbox and snail

At the upper, narrow end of the fingerboard is a saddle , the upper saddle (or top saddle) of the violin. The strings run over it into the pegbox . Here are the four conical pegs with which the strings of the instrument are tuned. The pegs are always made of hardwood because of the mechanical stress that occurs when tuning. Mostly ebony or rosewood, rarely boxwood. The pegbox ends in a snail (rarely in a woman's or lion's head). This is finely carved wood, which usually has the shape of a snail, hence the name. The snail, along with other structural details, is an important distinguishing feature in provenance research on old instruments.


The bridge made of fine-grained maple is inserted between the top and the strings. It stands on the ceiling without being attached and is held in the correct position by the tension of the strings above it. The vibrations of the strings are transmitted to the body via the bridge.


The strings run from the pegbox over the bridge to the tailpiece . This is just as much a part of the instrument's technically necessary set as the pegs. This is why the same wood is usually chosen for both the pegs and the tailpiece for aesthetic reasons. The tailpiece is attached to an end button by means of a handle string (or hanging string) that runs over the saddle. The end button is inserted into a hole in the frame. Fine tuners can be attached to the tailpiece .


The four strings are made of natural gut, which can be wound with silver or aluminum wire, made of plastic or steel wire. The highest string ( chanterelle ) is the E string and is mostly made of steel wire. Gut strings react more strongly to changes in temperature and humidity; they are mainly used in historical performance practice. The strings are tuned in fifths to the notes g - d 1 - a 1 - e 2 . (A motto reads: G eh d u a lter E sel.) There are moods that deviate from this in oriental music practice, e.g. B. in classical Persian music. Orchestras in Germany and Austria tune with a concert pitch of 443 Hz, in Switzerland mostly with 442 Hz.

string grade Science
Frequency at concert pitch
443 Hz 442 Hz
1 (highest string) e '' E5 664.50 Hz 663.00 Hz
2 a ' A4 443.00 Hz 442.00 Hz
3 d ' D4 295.33 Hz 294.67 Hz
4 (lowest string) G G3 196.89 Hz 196.44 Hz

Glue and varnish

The parts of the body are glued together. The neck with the body, then the fingerboard with the neck. For this purpose, bone glue (hot glue) or hide glue used. It is water-soluble and softens at a temperature of around 50 to 60 degrees Celsius. Therefore, an experienced violin maker can easily disassemble the instrument without damaging the wood or paint.

The lacquer protects the wood of the instrument and preserves its vibration properties. It can significantly affect the sound, but not significantly improve it. An improperly applied varnish can "kill" the sound of an instrument, that is, severely limit the ability of the top to vibrate (see violin varnish ).


At first glance , the violin appears symmetrical , but this is not the case. A right-left asymmetry is most evident in the position of the chin rest and shoulder rest, but also in other features: position of bass bar and sound post inside the body, offset arrangement of the pegs in the pegbox , strings with strings of different thicknesses, different grain of the Wood on both sides. The arrangement of the strings (the often used E-string for high notes is on the right as seen by the violinist when playing) is coordinated so that the violinist's right hand guides the bow. The task of the left hand when playing is to grip the strings. The violin is held with the lower jaw (or chin, depending on habit) and the collarbone or shoulder area.

Left-handed people usually play the violin the same way as right-handed people. There are also violins made for left-handers with the strings reversed, but so far only very few. Left-handed violins are generally not welcome in orchestras. The reason is, on the one hand, that violinists sitting next to each other can get too close with their instruments or with their elbows if they play in mirror image. On the other hand, uniform movements within the vocal groups of the orchestra are an aesthetically convincing sight for the viewer, which a single violinist strumming differently would disturb. In 2007 the left-handed and left-bowing violinist Martial Gauthier gave a lecture on left-handed violin playing in Cremona.


Chin rest and shoulder rest

The chin rest makes it easier to hold the instrument between chin and shoulder and also prevents any moisture on the skin from attacking and dissolving the violin varnish and ultimately wearing down the wood at this point. It is usually made of ebony, is clamped to the instrument with tensioning screws and is located between the instrument and the chin when playing. The shoulder rest serves to balance the individual anatomy of the instrumentalist between body and instrument. The length of the neck as well as the width and of course the given position of the shoulders play a role here, as the shoulder rest should be shaped. It is always reassembled immediately before playing.


The arch is usually made of pernambuco . Good pernambuco has grown straight and the fibers run parallel, the bow stick can be made particularly thin and has a desired elasticity despite the necessary stability. Pernambuk is therefore particularly suitable for high-quality bows. Since the occurrence of the wood species is limited, it becomes more difficult to obtain good quality. For this reason, bows made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic ( "carbon fiber" ) are now also used, among other things to avoid problems with the CITES agreement when crossing borders ; However, the tonal and technical playing qualities are perceived by many professional musicians as not being equivalent.

At the lower end of the arch is the frog made of ebony, ivory or tortoiseshell, usually decorated with a round mother-of-pearl inlay, the so-called "eye". Inlays as purely metallic jewelry can also be seen from time to time. The bow hairs are clamped between the frog and the tip of the bow (head). This is called the bow reference. Depending on the thickness, around 150 to 220 hairs from the stallion's tail of certain horse breeds are used. The bow hairs are stretched by turning a screw (pin). After each game, the bow hair should be relaxed again. The hair causes the strings to vibrate by stroking them. For this, the hair must be prepared with rosin (natural tree resin) before the first use . This is achieved by stroking the bow several times over a rosin block. Depending on the stress and quality of the hair, the sheet cover should be renewed after two months and at the latest after a year.

Violin bows weigh between 55 and 65 grams. Weight distribution is important: the center of gravity should be 24-25 cm from the start of the pole (measured without legs).

Functionality and playing techniques

The violin lies on the left side of the violinist's shoulder and chest and is held by the left edge of the lower jaw or the chin, depending on the position or rotation of the head. The thumb of the left hand is used to grip the neck, all other fingers are used exclusively to play on the strings in order to fix the desired notes. Depending on the school, the left hand also has a supporting or holding function for the instrument. The right hand guides the bow with which the strings are bowed between the fingerboard and bridge. This is called the contact point. The combination of weight, speed, contact point (close to the bridge, close to the fingerboard or in between) and the curvature of the hairs on the bow is decisive for the changing volume, the colors, the precision of the articulation, the legato playing and more .

Sound generation

Violin: three-sided view and details

Due to the surface structure of the horsehair and reinforced by the application of rosin , the cover of the bow has a high adhesive force from static friction . When the bow is applied to the string, it is therefore initially deflected in the direction of the stroke until the restoring force of the string is greater than the static friction between the bow cover and the string: the string snaps back against the direction of the stroke. With the correct choice of line position, line speed and bow pressure, the string is picked up again by the bow at the end of this movement and taken along again ( stick-slip effect ), the string vibrates constantly. How many times per second this process is repeated depends on the frequency of the note played or the effective length of the string. The deflection of the excited point of the string describes an elliptical path over time, with the longer axis oriented roughly in the direction of the line.

The string itself has a very small effective area, with which it only sets a small amount of air in motion, too little to produce a sound that is clearly perceptible to the human ear. The body acts as an impedance converter . By transferring the vibrations from the string to the body, the amplitude of the vibrations is significantly lower, but the radiating surface is enlarged to such an extent that a good coupling to the air and a sound that the ear can hear. This transformation follows extremely complex patterns.

The bridge on which the string rests is stimulated to follow the string oscillation in the line of the line. The violin top, on which the bridge rests, is only able to oscillate at a right angle to the line of the line. This forces the bridge to rock, in which the two bridge feet alternately load and relieve the two halves of the ceiling. With such a rocking movement, where the axis of rotation is exactly in the middle of the bridge, both halves of the top would work against each other, which would result in volume losses and sound changes. This is countered by inserting a stick - the sound post (usually simply called the voice) - under the right bridge foot. This initially obstructs the right bridge foot, whereby the axis of rotation of this rocking movement is shifted to the right and almost all of the work (that of the low frequencies) is done by the left bridge foot. In order to achieve an improved distribution of the vibrations emitted there on the ceiling, the bass bar is additionally glued on the underside of the ceiling under the left bridge foot under tension, which hinders the left bridge foot, especially at high frequencies - that is, the axis of rotation shifts for this Left. Depending on the frequency of the played tone, the left (low frequencies) or the right (high frequencies) bridge foot is more active, whereby the vibrations in one case more from the top (supported by the bass bar), in the other from the top and (transmitted by the Vote) to be given to the ground. At low frequencies, the floor and ceiling vibrate against each other, and the enclosed volume of air forms a broadband cavity resonator , which causes sound to be emitted via the F-holes.

Handles and sound variation

Fingering chart for all keys ( pdf )

Pitch and polyphonic play

There are no frets on the fingerboard . Therefore, in order to hit the desired note exactly , the violinist must press the string down in exactly the right place.

With the technique of the double grip , two voices can be played. Three- or four-part chords are usually arpeggiated . However, it is possible to play three-part chords of short duration, even several in a row, without an arpeggio, so that actually three voices sound at the same time. For this so-called chord playing, the bow must be swiftly struck across the three strings at some distance from the bridge and with sufficient pressure. Four-part playing without arpeggio can only be achieved with a specially constructed round arch .

Vibrato and timbre

A vibrato of the sound can be generated by gently rolling the fingertip of the grasping finger back and forth (finger vibrato), by tilting the hand (wrist vibrato) or by moving the entire left forearm with the wrist fixed (forearm vibrato ) .

The timbre can be influenced to a large extent by the way in which the bow is guided : by the most varied of stroke speeds with very variable bow pressure, but also by the location of the stroke (closer to the bridge or closer to the fingerboard). If a passage on a bass string and in a higher position is played, although it could be played more comfortably on a higher string, this also serves to produce a particular timbre.


A flageolet can be played by gently placing the fingers of the left hand on the string in places where the nodes of higher vibration modes are located. As a result, the basic oscillation frequency is dampened and only the corresponding harmonics or harmonics oscillate (for example, double or triple the frequency when touching half or a third of the string length). Flute-like tones emerge.


A damper can - depending on the design - be placed on the bridge or pushed towards it. This causes a reduction in the oscillation amplitude of the web and limits its natural frequency. The material used and the mass of the damper determine the degree to which the variety of timbres and the volume of the violin are reduced. The result of this is a deliberately reduced tone of the violin that is designated as "nasal" or "veiled". The instruction con sordino in the notes means that a mute should be used.


At the violinist's left ear, the violin reaches peak values ​​of over 110 dB in ff ( fortissimo )  . The instrument's dynamic range is fairly balanced. At a distance of 6.5 meters the sound level in pp is around 43–45 dB, in ff it is around 73–80 dB at the same distance.

Difficulty and sound of the keys

Not all keys can be performed equally well on the violin. Keys in which open strings are often struck are comparatively easy to play. The key also affects the sound. In the German edition of Hector Berlioz's theory of instrumentation edited by Richard Strauss , it says: "The violins shine and play more comfortably in the keys that allow them to use the open strings."

Berlioz pushed the assignment of keys played on the violin to degrees of difficulty and sound quality to extremes by attempting to provide information for each individual key. In his tables for 19 major keys and 19 minor keys it says, for example, that A flat major is “not very difficult” to play and sounds “soft, veiled, very noble”; E minor is "easy" to play and sounds "screaming, ordinary". Berlioz called some keys "almost impracticable", some even "impracticable". The tables are reproduced here in full.


Early depiction of a violin in Ferrara (around 1508)
Gaudenzio Ferrari : La Madonna degli aranci , altarpiece in the San Cristoforo Church in Vercelli, 1529/30
Gaudenzio Ferrari: Angels making music with a three-string violin (1535)
Reconstruction of a violin after G. Ferrari
Modern reconstruction of an early violin after G. Ferrari

The earliest depictions of violins (from 1508 in Ferrara ) show a new construction concept and differ in form and function from medieval string instruments. If these were made from solid wooden blocks, the new string instruments were now glued together from several, sometimes very thin pieces of wood. The structure of the body in three segments (upper bow, middle bow and lower bow) also distinguishes it fundamentally from the forms of medieval string instruments.

In the absence of preserved instruments, we are dependent on depictions of early violin instruments in the art of northern Italy. In addition to Ferrara, we find early representations up to the 1530s in Finalpia, Parma , Padua , the Milan area and Friuli . The closest to today's violins are depictions of Gaudenzio Ferrari and his workshop from 1529/30. It depicts different sizes ("family") of the newly established design.

The violin was first mentioned in a document in 1523 when "les trompettes et vyollons de Verceil" (trumpets and violins from Vercelli) received a fee in Turin at the court of the Duke of Savoy. Italian violinists are documented at the English court from 1545 at the latest: “Mark Antonye Gayiardell and George Decombe vialline (s)”, from 1555 at the French court and from 1561 in Munich.

Modern replicas of Renaissance violins, before 1594, Freiberg Cathedral

With Andrea Amati , born around 1505, Italian violin making concentrated on the city of Cremona for at least 200 years : from the late days of his workshop (with his son Antonio as an employee), magnificently painted violins, violas and cellos, orders of the French court, were built around 1560, preserved. Instruments of the violin family, which were made in Brescia during those years ( Gasparo da Salò ), achieved only lower prices because they were not so carefully crafted, but are in great demand today due to their beautiful tone and their rarity.

Soon instruments of the violin family were also being built in countries north of the Alps. Musical instruments that were built for decorative purposes have been preserved in the electoral burial chapel in Freiberg Cathedral (completed in 1594) and bear witness to this. If violins from certain regions also show smaller, individual peculiarities in design and decoration, the shape has essentially not been changed since Andrea Amati († 1577).

After Andrea's death, his sons Antonio and Girolamo carried on the tradition of their father and broke new ground. After the plague epidemic of 1630/32, the grandson Nicola was the sole heir to the family's knowledge; he trained apprentices and became the most famous violin maker of the family, which ended with the death of Girolamo II, Nicolas son. One of the violin makers trained by Nicola was Andrea Guarneri , who in turn taught the art to his sons Pietro "da Mantova" and Giuseppe. Of his two sons Pietro "da Venezia" and Giuseppe "del Gesù" the second became the most famous master of the family.

The circumstances under which the Tyrolean violin maker Jakob Stainer learned the trade in Italy is controversial. What is certain is that the Absamer master built the best violins north of the Alps under sometimes adverse conditions in the second half of the 17th century. They soon began trading at higher prices than violins that came from Italy. Stainer's model, which itself has a lot from Nicola Amati, was imitated by his contemporaries as well as by the next generations of European violin makers (e.g. in Germany, England and Italy) and only lost its influence with the general change in taste around 1800.

The instruments made at that time are known as baroque violins and have been increasingly used for performing early music since the 1950s . Using the original musical instruments enables historical performance practice that brings us closer to the sound ideals of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Stradivari in particular later became the great model for the appearance and construction principles of almost all violins, which led to a very strong standardization. Over time, the violin has undergone a number of structural changes that have affected the sound. The designs of the 19th century have a longer and more slanted neck and a stronger bass bar, which allowed the strings to be more tensioned than the violins in the old scale. Many of the famous old violins by Stradivari, Guarneri, Stainer have been rebuilt in this new way. Thanks to the longer strings, the higher string tension and the stretched concave bow, the volume increased and thus corresponded to the ever-growing concert halls and orchestras. However, critics complain that the changed design made the sound harder and less lovely. In France, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in particular gave decisive impulses when he dealt with the Stradivarius and Guarneri violins.

Violin by J. B. Vuillaume (copy of a Joseph Guarneri del Gesù)

Inexpensive manufactured violins were already available from German and French violin making centers at the beginning of the 19th century. Industrial violin making had its origins in Nagoya (Japan) in 1887 with the establishment of Suzuki Violin Co. Ltd. by Masakichi Suzuki (1859–1944), the father of the violin teacher Shinichi Suzuki . After a short start-up period, the company employed over 1000 people and produced up to 400 violins and 4000 bows within a month.

Although the instrument has not changed significantly from its beginnings, there have been frequent attempts at design and technical reforms. For example, richly decorated violins with other ornaments (e.g. with a human or lion head instead of a snail ) or instruments made of sheet metal for poorer people were built. The Chanot violin from 1819, the trapezoidal violins by Félix Savart or Johann Reiter (1908) and countless attempts by many other well-known violin makers became famous. The Belgian violin maker Gauthier Louppe is currently building string instruments in shapes that are reminiscent of Art Nouveau and are intended to enable a wider range of sounds through special asymmetries.

However, any violins that look different or that strive for sound ideals are strictly avoided by many musicians as "fiddles", which hinders any serious further development of the instrument. This is regrettable because, for example, an affordable factory violin of constant quality could presumably be made of plastic instead of expensive instrument wood, whose natural growth deviations can only be compensated for by the handwork and experience of a violin maker. The plastic violins by Mario Maccaferri (1970s / 1980s) were technically immature or belonged to the “different sounding” violins, but with computer-aided vibration analysis and simulation (as used by bell foundries) completely different tools are available for the systematic design of Sound bodies available, which suggests the mass production of a pleasant sounding and weatherproof "folk violin" made of plastic. At the moment, wood-free violins in series production are only available made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), but their sound can only meet minor demands.

The purchase prices for violins today vary between under 50 euros for "cheap instruments" and amounts for instruments by famous violin makers, which are characterized by outstanding sound quality, but can hardly be financed by the musicians themselves.


Age of the child at the start of violin lessons

Small violin in a violin case

Playing the violin can be learned at a very early age. Educators are convinced that starting as early as possible, around the age of three to six, is fundamentally advantageous and is definitely recommended for a successful career. That is why there are numerous “child-friendly” violin schools. Starting the violin as early as possible is an integral part of the Suzuki method , named after its developer Shinichi Suzuki .

Small violins

For the early start of violin playing with small hands and short arms, there are adapted instruments, 78 -, 34 -, 12 -, 14 - or 18 violins, even 116 - and 132 instruments are produced. During these maneuvers, from the fraction in the label not be closed on the real size, actually is a 3 / 4 -Geige only about 6% less than a "whole", and a 1 / 2 -Geige only about 12%.

History of Violin Education

Leopold Mozart's attempt at a thorough violin school from 1756 is regarded as an important educational work. Mozart 's violin school is one of the most important sources for studying historical performance practice . Even earlier textbooks date from the Baroque period, for example Daniel Merck , Michel Corrette and Francesco Geminiani have made an outstanding contribution to violin pedagogy. Giuseppe Tartini wrote the first textbook on bowing in his 50 études “L'arte dell arco” . Georg Philipp Telemann created the “Methodical Sonatas” for his students, in which the slow movements are also exposed with baroque ornamentation.

More modern and systematic textbooks emerged in France in the early 19th century, after the Paris Conservatory was founded. Some well-known authors of such works are Pierre Rode , Pierre Baillot , Rodolphe Kreutzer , Charles-Auguste de Bériot , Jacques Féréol Mazas and, in Germany, Ludwig Spohr . In the 20th century, the publications by Carl Flesch and Ivan Galamian played a particularly prominent role.

Use in music

The violin is closely connected to the development of modern European music and has accordingly been given a wealth of literature. In the following, only a brief outline of their various tasks can be given.

Stradivarius violin in the Palacio Real in Madrid


Important works for solo violin (without accompaniment ) existed in abundance in the Baroque period, including composers Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Johann Sebastian Bach . The possibility of making several voices sound on one violin was exhausted, especially with double stops . In the Classical and Romantic periods, this genre (as well as solo works for other instruments, apart from the piano or organ ) was less widespread, although it reached a further climax in the 24 Caprices by Niccolò Paganini . In the 20th century it experienced a new distribution with compositions by Bartók , Stravinsky and above all Eugène Ysaÿe .

The first instrumental concerts developed from the temporary emergence of the concert master from the baroque string orchestra ( see also: Concerto grosso ). Soon the first violin concertos , such as those by Torelli , Vivaldi or Bach, were declared as such . All three great Viennese classics wrote violin concertos, as did the important romantic masters ( Paganini , Spohr , Mendelssohn Bartholdy , Schumann , Dvořák , Tschaikowsky , Wieniawski , Vieuxtemps , Brahms , Bruch , Glasunow ) and many later composers such as Sibelius , Elgar , Korngold , Bartók , Britten , Schönberg , Berg , Stravinsky , Shostakovich and Prokofiev . From the end of the 19th century, some works for solo violin with orchestral accompaniment were composed that were formally freer and wanted to stand out from the pure concert genre, such as the symphony espagnole by Lalo , Ravel's "Gypsy" - Rhapsodie Tzigane , the poème by Chausson or The Lark Ascending by Williams .

Chamber music

Hardly a work of strings or mixed chamber music works without the violin (s): The main genres are the Violin Sonata , the Trio Sonata , the string trio , the piano trio , the string quartet , the piano quartet , the String Quintet or String Sextet . In many of these instrumentations, the violin has the most important melody part. Their often concertante tasks let them play the proverbial "first violin".


Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic (1917).

Since the baroque period there have been two different violin parts in the orchestra (as in the string quartet), most of which are chorus , i.e. they are multiple. In a large romantic symphony there are generally 16 first and 14 second violins, occasionally more. Both sets are in this case normally of one or more vocal guide (s) directed to the front music stand. Right at the front of the first violin group sits the first concert master , who sometimes has to play solos and has a special responsibility for the whole orchestra.

Dance music

In connection with the solo career of the violin in court music of the 17th century, it became the leading instrument for accompanying the dances. Choreographer played violin and used the kit violin for rehearsing of social dances . As a result of the emancipation of bourgeois dance in the 18th century, many dance bands were formed, which essentially consisted of two violins (with bass). The first played the melody, the second added rhythms and chords in the style of a violin obbligato . At the height of Viennese dance music in the Biedermeier period with Joseph Lanner or Johann Strauss Vater , they formed the core of the dance bands, and many dance elements were reflected in the concert music. Johann Strauss Sohn was still portrayed as Kapellmeister with his violin, although he increasingly concentrated on conducting and composing.

European folk music

Fiddler from Hungary

The violin is used in many regional forms of traditional music-making ( folk music , folk music ). In this context it is often called a fiddle or fiddle and is differentiated from the historical fiddle , which is a forerunner of the violin. The violin is a typical instrument of traditional music in numerous variations in Ireland, Wales ( ffidil ), Scotland, France, the Alpine countries, Norway ( Hardangerfiedel ), Sweden, Poland ( skrzypce podwiązane instead of the mazanki used in the 19th century ), Hungary , Romania ( vioară ), Slovakia ( husle ), Lithuania ( smuikas ) and Estonia ( viiul ).

Arabic and Persian music

As a vocal accompaniment, as a solo instrument and in an ensemble, the violin was adopted in Arabic and Persian music . In North Africa the violin is known as kamān and in Turkey as kemen (cf. Turkish kemençe ). In Iran, the violin has been able to take over the classical repertoire of the kamānče pike lute since the early 20th century .

Indian classical music

The South Indian violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh

The violin was first played in the classical music of South India by Baluswami Dikshitar (1786-1859), a brother of the great composer Muthuswami Dikshitar . In South Indian classical music , the violin is the most important stringed instrument alongside the vina . It is supported there when playing against the chest and held diagonally downwards. The first depictions of violins in India can be found in the palace of Tipu Sultans (1750–1799), who was allied with France and was otherwise interested in European technology. Well-known South Indian violinists are Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan (1935–2008), Mysore Manjunath, Ganesh and Kumaresh, L. Subramaniam . In northern India, the Bengali composer Nidhu Babu (1741–1839) may have been the first to use the violin to accompany his Akhrai songs in Calcutta . The most famous North Indian violinist was V. G. Jog (1922-2004).

South East Asia

In Myanmar , the European violin called tayaw has replaced a three-stringed violin-like instrument that was played in the 19th century. The violin came to the Malay Islands with the Portuguese in the 17th century. In Malaysia , the European violin is used in several musical styles, including along with the plucked gambus in the ensemble accompanying the Zapin dance performances. In Indonesia , the violin ( biola ) occurs in some regional folk music styles, but it has not replaced the spit-lute rebab played in Javanese gamelan . In the Philippines , biyolin, brought by the Spanish in the 17th century, plays European melodies in folk music in some regions.

Jazz, crossover

The violin plays an important role in modern popular music. In the tango orchestra as well as in " Gypsy " bands or in some jazz formations ( Stéphane Grappelli , Joe Venuti , Didier Lockwood , Adam Taubitz ). The complex music of the American band The Flock, for example, mixed rock, jazz, blues and other styles; her violinist Jerry Goodman played an electrically amplified violin. Many modern violinists go on forays into crossover projects ( Nigel Kennedy , Anne-Sophie Mutter ). A violinist in the direction of crossover is also Lindsey Stirling , who has created her own music genre with classical tones and dubstep / electro elements. In addition, the violin can be found in bands that stylistically move in the directions of medieval rock or folk metal and folk rock . Here would Flogging Molly , Fiddler's Green , last instance , Volkstrott , Subway to Sally , Schandmaul and Skyclad to lead. The use of the violin is derived from the background of its use in traditional music. In the rest of popular music , the violin is rarely used as a solo instrument. Electronically generated string passages are often used to create a romantic mood.

Big Band

A violin is rarely played in a big band . By using an electric violin , the violin can be easily integrated into the big band. There she can even play as a solo instrument over and above the wind voices. By using a distortion , the sound of the violin can be varied very well. The timbre ranges from "classic sound" to complete distortion like an electric guitar .

Rock and metal

The violin is occasionally used in rock and metal music. Examples of this are the bands Yellowcard and Kansas from the rock sector as well as Turisas , Dornenreich , Corvus Corax , Subway to Sally or My Dying Bride from the metal sector. Using a violin gives the music its own character and makes it more melodic. Styles in which the violin appears relatively often, both as a single and as an ensemble instrument, are - in addition to the folk crossover styles already mentioned - above all symphonic rock / metal as well as gothic and dark metal ; When performing live, the solo violin and strings are often replaced by synthesizers for reasons of cost . For the first time at the end of the sixties a violin was used as a solo instrument in rock music by the group East of Eden (composer: David Jack, violin soloist: Dave Arbus).

With Emilie Autumn , the violin dominates on a grand scale. She describes her music as violindustrial herself .

Related instruments

Smaller and more manageable versions of the violin are dance master violins (pochette) , violino piccolo and short-necked violins .

A larger and deeper sounding design of the violin instruments is the viola , also known as the viola. The same family includes the violoncello , which is played with the neck up and facing away from the player, who is sitting on a chair. The double bass has the structural characteristics of the viols , to which it was once counted, and of the violin family. It is usually played standing.

The straw violin is a form of violin developed by Johannes Matthias Augustus Stroh in London in 1899, which does not have a resonance body. Instead, the sound is picked up with a lever under the bridge and passed through a brass membrane to a funnel made of the same metal. This instrument is also known as the phono violin or phono fiddle, as it was originally developed for directional sound radiation for phonograph and gramophone recordings , since conventional violins were too quiet for the recording technology of the time (still without electronic amplifiers ). The straw violin should not be confused with the straw fiddle , which is not a string instrument, but a simple forerunner of the xylophone : tonewoods lay loosely on a straw mat to separate them. In 1925 the Markneukirchen engineer Willy Tiebel further developed the straw violin. He attached a second funnel that points to the musician's ear to make it easier for him to control his playing. Both instruments are so heavy due to the solidity of the components used that they can only be played with a support under the pegbox.

There are now violins without resonance bodies that only have pickups and deliver an audio signal that is transmitted by cable or radio. The advantages are that the musician does not have to stand in front of a microphone and there is no risk of feedback when the amplified sound comes back to the instrument.

Violins in fairy tales

Violins are relatively common in fairy tales, often with the magical effect of making anyone who hears them dance, whether they like it or not: KHM 8 , 51 , 56 , 110 , 114 . The Roma fairy tale The Creation of the Violin tells of how the violin was born.

See also


  • Lothar Cremer : Physics of the violin. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-7776-0372-4 . (Standard work. However, very theoretical. Advanced mathematical knowledge required. Comprehensive presentation of violin physics and literature up to 1981)
  • Neville H. Fletcher, Thomas Rossing: The Physics of Musical Instruments. Springer Verlag, New York 1991, ISBN 0-387-96947-0 . (Very thorough presentation of the acoustics of musical instruments. Good mathematical introduction to the vibrating systems. Individual presentations of the various groups of musical instruments, about 50 pages on the subject of acoustics of the violin)
  • Wernfried Güth: Introduction to the acoustics of string instruments. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart / Leipzig 1995, ISBN 3-7776-0644-8 . (Good introduction to the subject, research results only taken into account until around 1980)
  • Erik Jansson: Acoustics for Violin and Guitar Makers. (Practical introduction to the theoretical fundamentals and numerous suggestions for the acoustic practice of the violin making workshop . The lively cooperation between this researcher and violin makers is noticeable)
  • Heike Prange: The violin - components, construction, history, care, play. 2nd Edition. Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-7618-1900-5 .
  • Paul O. Apian-Bennewitz : The violin. Violin making and bow making . Simon & Wahl, Egweil 1998, ISBN 3-923330-34-0 . (Repr. Of the Weimar edition, 1892)
  • Otto Möckel : Violin making. 8th edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-937872-09-4 .
  • Stefan Drees (Hrsg.): Lexicon of the violin. Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2004, ISBN 3-89007-544-4 .
  • Walter Kolneder : The book of the violin. Construction, story, game, pedagogy, composition. 6th edition. Atlantis Musikbuchverlag, Zurich 2002, ISBN 3-254-00147-8 .
  • Eduard Melkus : The violin. An introduction to the history of the violin and violin playing. 3. Edition. Schott, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-7957-2359-0 .
  • Yehudi Menuhin , William Primrose : violin and viola (= Yehudi Menuhin's music guide ). Edition Bergh im Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-7163-0175-2 .
  • Leopold Mozart : Attempt at a thorough violin school. Facsimile . Bärenreiter, Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-7618-1238-8 .
  • Hugo Pinksterboer: Pocket-Info violin and viola. Practical, clear and up-to-date. Schott, Mainz 2003, ISBN 3-7957-5535-2 .
  • David Schoenbaum : The violin. A cultural history of the most versatile instrument in the world . Bärenreiter Metzler, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-476-02558-6 .
  • Collections of articles on the acoustics of the violin:
    • Benchmark Papers in Acoustics / 5: "Musical Acoustics, Part I Violin Family Components", Ed. Carleen M. Hutchins, (Publisher: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc.) 1975, ISBN 0-471-42540-0 . Description: 27 essays by various researchers in the field of violin acoustics. Topics: Basics about the acoustics of the violin; the bowed string; the footbridge; the sound post; Tonewood; Violin varnish. Period of original publications 1840 to 1973, 478 pages. Mostly in English.
    • Research Papers in Violin Acoustics 1975-1993, Ed. Carleen M. Hutchins, (Publisher: Acoustical Society of America) 1997, ISBN 1-56396-609-3 . Description: 121 essays by various researchers in the field of violin acoustics. Topics: "350 years of violin research", sound radiation, the bowed string, the bow, the bridge, the sound post, the bass bar, the tailpiece. Natural vibrations of the free violin platters, natural vibrations of the finished instrument, air resonances, interaction of strings, wood and air resonances. Tonewood, violin lacquer, psychoacoustic research, the Catgut Acoustical Society, theoretical acoustics and research methodology, outlook. Each topic is preceded by an introduction by the editor. Two volumes, 1299 pages. Exclusively in English.

Web links

Commons : Violin  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: violin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Violin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. violin. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . The etymology given there has the same text as the entry in Wolfgang Pfeifer : Etymological Dictionary of German. 2nd Edition. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1993.
  2. violin. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 26 : Vesche – Vulkanisch - (XII, 2nd section). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1951, Sp. 367-368 ( ).
  3. Ugo Ravasio: Gasparo da Salo e la Liuteria bresciana . Editrice Turris Cremona, Brescia 1990.
  4. ^ Leopold Mozart: Attempt a thorough violin school . Augsburg 1756, pp. 1-2.
  5. The violin . In: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect. Vienna 1811 (first edition: Leipzig 1774–1776), Volume II, Sp. 506–507.
  6. violin. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 5 : Gefoppe – Drifts - (IV, 1st section, part 2). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1897, Sp. 2567-2575 ( ).
  7. Lemma violin. In: Trübner's German dictionary , on behalf of the working group for German word research ed. by Alfred Götze, continued by Walter Mitzka, Volume 3 (G – H), Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1954, pp. 66–67.
  8. violin. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . The etymology given there has the same text as the entry in Wolfgang Pfeifer : Etymological Dictionary of German. 2nd Edition. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1993.
  9. ^ Heinrich Heine: Poems 1845-1856 (= secular edition. Volume 3). de Gruyter, Berlin 1986, p. 269.
  10. ^ Conrad Schwabe: Vogtland - violin - human: nesting - step by step = Vogtland violins = Vogtlandské housle . Markneukirchen 2015, ISBN 978-3-00-048816-0 .
  11. Barbara Gschaider: Counselor violin. Edition Bochinski, Bergkirchen 2008, ISBN 978-3-937841-68-7 , p. 21 ff.
  12. ^ Helge Marsel, violin and gamba maker in Klagenfurt, Austria. February 5, 2019, accessed February 5, 2019 .
  13. Edith Gerson-Kiwi: The Persian Doctrine of Dastga Composition. A phenomenological study in the musical modes. Israel Music Institute, Tel-Aviv 1963, p. 15.
  14. Andrea Hayek-Schwarz: Making music with the left - Making music with left-handers, 2012.
  15. Orchestras don't like left-handers, August 17, 2012, see the last two paragraphs of the article.
  16. Was Paganini left-handed? - Thoughts on a taboo topic in string pedagogy . In: new music newspaper. 7/2007; Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  17. Barbara Gschaider: Counselor violin. Edition Bochinski, Bergkirchen 2008, ISBN 978-3-937841-68-7 , p. 58.
  18. Safe and Sound . Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health . Dortmund 2010, p. 24
  19. a b Hector Berlioz : Grand traité d'instrumentation et d'orchestration modern. Schonenberger, Paris 1844, here p. 33, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
    German edition: Hector Berlioz's theory of instrumentation. Completed and revised by Richard Strauss. Two volumes. Edition Peters, Leipzig 1905; here volume 1, p. 61 f., Textarchiv - Internet Archive
  20. ^ Renato Meucci: The origins of Italian violin making . In: Un corpo alla ricerca dell'anima… Ente Triennale Internazionale degli Strumenti ad Arco, Cremona 2005, ISBN 88-89839-00-7 .
  21. ^ Sandro Boccardi: Un Concerto nel Cielo di Saronno . In: Il Concerto degli Angeli . Amilcare Pizzi Editore, Saronno 1994.
  22. ^ Walter Kolneder : The book of the violin: construction, history, play, pedagogy, composition , p. 266
  23. ^ Peter Holman: Four and Twenty Fiddlers, The Violin at the English Court 1540-1690 . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1993, ISBN 0-19-816592-7 , pp. 87 .
  24. ^ Renato Meucci: The origins of Italian violin making . In: Un corpo alla ricerca dell'anima… Ente Triennale Internazionale degli Strumenti ad Arco, Cremona 2005, ISBN 88-89839-00-7 , p. 81 .
  25. ^ Fausto Cacciatori: Andrea Amati Opera omnia . Ente Triennale Internazionale degli Strumenti ad Arco, Cremona 2007, ISBN 88-89839-13-9 .
  26. Marco Bizzarini and Ugo Orlandi: Ancient violin making and musical context in Brescia . In: Liutai in Brescia 1520-1724 . Eric Blot Edizioni, Cremona 2008, ISBN 978-88-88360-07-2 .
  27. ^ Claudia Kunde: The funeral chapel of the Albertine Wettins in Freiberg Cathedral . In: When angels make music, musical instruments from 1594 in Freiberg Cathedral . Janos Stekovics, Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-89923-067-1 .
  28. ^ Fausto Cacciatori, Carlo Chiesa and Bruce Carlson: Il DNA degli Amati . Ente Triennale Internazionale degli Strumenti ad Arco, Cremona 2006, ISBN 88-89839-11-2 .
  29. ^ William H., Arthur F. and Alfred E. Hill: The Violin-Makers of the Guarneri Family . WE Hill and Sons, Buckinghamshire 1931.
  30. Rudolf Hopfner: Jacob Stainer “… imperial servant and violin maker in Absom” . Skira, Milano 2003, ISBN 3-85497-060-9 .
  31. ↑ Photo report on Louppe violins (French)
  32. ^ VV Ramesh: The Great Violin Maestros Of The Past. Pallavi's Lalgudi G. Jayaraman Sydney Concert Souvenir, November 1995.