Introduction To The Classical Violin
The classical violin has been played for hundred of years today, and is probably the most famous instrument in the violin family. It has the smallest size compared to its ‘brothers’, the violin, the cello and the double bass, and thus has the highest pitch too.
The first ever classical violin was made by Andrea Amati in 1555. The violin model has since been refined and improved by Amati’s disciples, Stradivari and Guarneri, and has gone on to become the definite model for today’s classical violins. Some of their violins worth millions of dollars today.
Who Invented The Classical Violin?
The classical violin has a long history if we dated back how it is invented. However, we don’t want to bore you down with the full story how it comes about.
But let’s look at the important development of the whole classical violin.
- Before the violin, there were a few stringed instruments that are played with a bow, like the rebec (a 2 or 3-stringed instrument)
- In the 15th century, a 6-stringed instrument called viol became popular. they have 3 tones : treble, tenor and bass, but it sounded too weak for liking.
- Hence, the emergence of the violin in 16th century by Amati.
- The first violin was made without the chin rest, which only comes in during the 1800s.
- The classical violin bow was made by Francoise Xavier Tourte (1747-1835), hence the name of the bow – the tourte bow.
Understand The Classical Violin
Click on the parts of the violin to understand its functions.
The Pegbox contains 4 pegs, which are used to control the tightness of the four strings of the classical violin, namely, G, D, A, E. The pegs are turned upwards (tighten) or downwards (loosen) while tuning the violin. Learn how to tune the violin by turning your pegs.
The scroll of the violin is mainly for decorative purpose. Completes the model of the whole classical violin.
The fingerboard is glued to the neck of the violin. The four violin strings lies above the fingerboard. Hence, while playing the violin, violinists press the strings to the fingerboard for certain musical notes.
Together with the fingerboard, the violin neck supports the tension of the violin strings tied above them. The neck is usually made of maple, with flamed design compatible to the back design of the violin.
The bridge is one of the most important part of the violin, in the sense that the violin can’t be played without it. The bridge lifts the four violin strings up at an appropriate height from the fingerboard. The bridge also separates the four strings evenly out so that every string can be played individually.
While playing, the bridge transmit vibrations from the strings to the top, through the sound post, and back. Hence, the quality and thickness of the bridge also determines the impact of the sound produced by the classical violin.
F holes are usually referred to as the sound holes. They project the sound produced by the violin, and the overall design and opening of the F holes determine the internal acoustics of the violin.
The sound pole (hidden) is located around the region underneath the bridge. Like the bridge, it acts as a transmitter of vibrations around the violin when it is played. Slight adjustment of the sound pole will affect the tone and quality of sound produced.
The fine tuner is used for tuning, however, only for small increments of tone. Fine tuners are usually seen attached to the E string at the tailpiece, as E is the most sensitive string of all. Normal tuning pegs will do for other three strings, G, D, A.
The tailpiece secures all four strings which is tied from the top of the violin. Arrangement and position of the tailpiece affects quality of sound to a small extent.
The chin rest is attached to the lowest part of the violin body. It assist the violinist in securing the violin with its chin while playing. However, some professional violinist, like Niccolo Paganini, do not use a chin rest, with thoughts that it might affect the sound of the whole classical violin.
Prices Of Classical Violins
Today, classical violin comes in various sizes, from a small size of 1/8 to a full size of 1. Smaller violins generally cost less than the bigger ones, but there’s various factors which determine the price of the violin, which includes the history of the violin, its maker, its design, the quality of wood and the quality of sound produced.
There are classical violins who have fetched millions of dollars in auctions.
The Lady Blunt Stradivarius– US$ 16,000,000 (2011 World-Record Price)
The Hammer Stradivarius– US$ 3,544,000
The Carrodus Guarneri – US$ 10,000,000
The Lord Wilton Guarneri – US$ 6,000,000
Most of us won’t be playing on a million dollar violin, but we also don’t need a million dollar violin to produce a good violin performance. There are really good violins that produce similar quality tones that are priced around a few thousand dollars, and they can last us a life time.