The violin is a small wooden instrument within the Strings family. It is the smallest instrument within the family and its sound has the highest-pitch. It has an hour-glass shaped body and 4 strings across it. It is played by moving a bow backwards and forwards or by plucking the strings using fingers. The Violin is a very delicate instrument and is used with care and precision.
Its strings are made of steel or a mixture of synthetic materials (sometimes coated with silver) and have a limited lifetime, depending on the string quality and the intensity of which it is played. The Violin’s bow is made of wooden stick and horsehair.
Assumptions are made that the instrument was names ‘violin’ around the same time as the words “violino” and “vyollon” were seen in French and Italian documents.
The violin as we know it was first formed and seen in 16th century Northern-Italy. The first description of the instruments was written in the middle of the 1500s, by which time the instrument was already circulating around Europe.
While the Violin spread around Europe, its popularity increased and it became very fashionable within societies noble circles (including Kings/Queens), as well as being favoured by street musicians. Its popularity continued and its sound enjoyed throughout the centuries.
The violin is one of the most important instruments in Classical Music. Its tone (sound) is very distinct and therefore makes it very useful to play a melody. This instrument is very prominent in many classical works.
This instrument can also be found in other genres of music such as folk, bluegrass and rock (electric violin).
In the orchestra, violins are often found on the righthand side of the stage, near the conductor. They make up a large part of the orchestra and are generally split into two sections. These sections are known as ‘the first section’ and the ‘the second section’.
The ‘first’ violins typically play the melody, whereas the ‘second’ violins play the harmony.
A musician who plays the violin is known as a violinist. The principal violinist (main player) in the ‘first’ section of the violins is known as a ‘the leader’ and is the leader of the entire violins section. This player is also thought to be the second in-command of the entire orchestra after the conductor.