Violin

IT: violino – FR: violon – GER: Geige or Violine

PROPERTIES

The belly, or top, of the violin is made of pine or spruce, the back of maple or sycamore, the fingerboard of ebony. The E string is made of metal, and the other strings are nylon wound with a metal such as aluminum or silver. Stretching from the nut to the string holder, the strings rest upon the bridge. The violin is held under the chin with the aid of a chin rest. The bow is held in the right hand near the frog, or heel, and is strung with horsehair.

TUNING AND RANGE

Ranges on each string are determined by the player’s ability and experience:

FIGURE 2.10 Violin tuning and range, determined by the performer’s ability and experience:  (a) elementary, (b) intermediate, (c) professional

TRANSPOSITION

The violin sounds as written. The treble clef is used.

TONE QUALITY

Each string has an identifiable quality compared to adjacent strings. They can be generally described as follows.

G string (IV): Full, rich, dark quality; intense in the upper range

D string (III): Less full, more neutral

A string (II): Bright, singing quality

E string (I): Penetrating, piercing; used to present primary melodic material

TECHNICAL ABILITIES

Hand position is an important factor in fingering passages on the violin or any stringed instrument. The following example shows the notes available in the first three hand positions on each string.

FIGURE 2.11 The notes played by each finger in (a) first, (b) second, and (c) third positions on the violin

Technically, there are few limitations on the violin. Situations involving string crossings and rapid shifts in position determine the difficulty, to a degree. Beginning players will have more success with music written in sharp keys. Intermediate players also experience some difficulty with intonation when dealing with numerous flats in the music.

MUSICAL EXAMPLES

FIGURE 2.12 Low-range violin line: Beethoven, Symphony No.3, second movement, measures 1-8

FIGURE 2.13 Mid-range violin line: Beethoven, Symphony No.9, third movement, measures 3-11