History of the violin

History of the violin

The violin first emerged in northern Italy in the early 16th century. While no instruments from the first decades of the century survive, there are several representations in paintings; some of the early instruments have only three strings. Most likely the first makers of violins borrowed from three different types of current instruments: the rebec, in use since the 10th century (itself derived from the Arab "rebab"), the "Viola da Braccio" (or Renaissance Fiddle), and the "lira da braccio". The earliest explicit description of the instrument, including its tuning, was in the "Epitome musical" by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556. By this time the violin had already begun to spread throughout Europe.

The first real violin was built by Andrea Amati in the first half of the 16th century by order of the Medici familyFact|date=February 2007, who had asked for an instrument that could be used by street-musicians, but with the quality of a lute, which was a very popular instrument among the noble in that time.The violin has four strings which consist of the A string, The D string, the E string , and The G string. Andrea Amati, one of the famous luthiers, or lute-builders, in that time decided to use the technique of applying a mould to build the instrument very precisely. In addition to that, he made the instrument vaulted, for he knew that that would provide for a much greater tone than was common until then. The violin immediately became very popular, both among street-musicians and the noble, which is illustrated by the fact that Charles IX of France commissioned an extensive range of string instruments in the second half of the 16th century [ [http://www.grovemusic.com/shared/views/article.html?section=music.41161.1.3.5 Violin - History and Repertory to 1600 - (v) Authenticity and Surviving instruments] , "Grove Music Online", Accessed 14 November 2006. (subscription required)] .

The oldest surviving violin, dated inside, is the "Charles IX" by Andrea Amati, made in Cremona in 1564. Perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most pristine is the "Le Messie" (also known as the 'Salabue') made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 and never used. It is now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.

The most famous violin makers, called luthiers, between the late 16th century and the 18th century included:

* Amati family of Italian violin makers, Andrea Amati (1500-1577), Antonio Amati (1540-1607), Hieronymous Amati I (1561-1630), Nicolo Amati (1596-1684), Hieronymous Amati II (1649-1740)
* Guarneri family of Italian violin makers, Andrea Guarneri (1626- 1698), Pietro of Mantua (1655-1720), Giuseppe Guarneri (Joseph filius Andreae) (1666-1739), Pietro Guarneri (of Venice) (1695-1762), and Giuseppe (del Gesu) (1698-1744)
* Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) of Cremona
* Jacob Stainer (1617-1683) of Absam in Tyrol

A couple of minor changes have occurred, including:

* the fingerboard was made a little longer to be able to play even the highest notes,
* the fingerboard was tilted a little more, to produce even more volume as larger and larger orchestras became popular.
* nearly all old instruments were modified, including lengthening of the neck by one centimeter, in response to the raising of pitch that occurred in the 19th century.
* the bass bar of nearly all old instruments was made heavier to allow a greater string tension.
* the classical luthiers "nailed" and glued the instrument necks to the upper block of the body before gluing on the soundboard, while later luthiers mortise the neck to the body after completely assembling the body.

The results of these adjustments are instruments that are significantly different in sound and response from those that left the hands of their makers. Regardless, most violins nowadays are built superficially resembling the old instruments.

Nevertheless, instruments of approximately 300 years of age, especially those made by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are the most sought after instruments (for both collectors and performers). In addition to the skill and reputation of the maker, an instrument's age can also influence both price and quality.

Recent inventions

More recently, the Stroh violin used mechanical amplification similar to that of an unelectrified gramophone to boost sound volume. Some Stroh violins have a small "monitor" horn pointed at the player's ear, for audibility on a loud stage, where the main horn points at the audience.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries before electronic sound amplification became common, Stroh violins were used particularly in the recording studio. These violins with directional horns better suited the demands of the early recording industry's technology than the traditional violin.

Stroh was not the only person who made instruments of this class. Over twenty different inventions appear in the Patent books up to 1949. Often mistaken for Stroh and interchangeably known as being Stroh-viols, phono-fiddles, horn-violins or trumpet-violins, these other instruments have slipped into virtual obscurity.

The electric violin on the right was built by John Jordan in the early 21st century, and is tuned C G D A E. The history of the electric violin spans the entire 20th century. The success of electrical amplification, recording and playback devices brought about a comparatively swift end to the use of the Stroh violin in broadcast and recording.


ee also

*List of violinists

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