The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello.
The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Medieval Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument; this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle". The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries. Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. Great numbers of instruments have come from the hands of "lesser" makers, as well as still greater numbers of mass-produced commercial "trade violins" coming from cottage industries in places such as Saxony, Bohemia, and Mirecourt. Many of these trade instruments were formerly sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. and other mass merchandisers.
A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier, or simply a violin maker. The parts of a violin are usually made from different types of wood (although electric violins may not be made of wood at all, since their sound may not be dependent on specific acoustic characteristics of the instrument's construction), and it is usually strung with gut, nylon or other synthetic, or steel strings.
Someone who plays the violin is called a violinist or a fiddler. The violinist produces sound by drawing a bow across one or more strings (which may be stopped by the fingers of the other hand to produce a full range of pitches), by plucking the strings (with either hand), or by a variety of other techniques. The violin is played by musicians in a wide variety of musical genres, including Baroque music, classical, jazz, folk music, rock and roll, and Soft rock. The violin has come to be played in many non-Western music cultures all over the world.
Famous quotes containing the word violin:
“The mastery of ones phonemes may be compared to the violinists mastery of fingering. The violin string lends itself to a continuous gradation of tones, but the musician learns the discrete intervals at which to stop the string in order to play the conventional notes. We sound our phonemes like poor violinists, approximating each time to a fancied norm, and we receive our neighbors renderings indulgently, mentally rectifying the more glaring inaccuracies.”
—W.V. Quine (b. 1908)
“Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.”
—Samuel Butler (18351902)
“Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930)