The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument (soprano) in the family in regular use. The violin typically has four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings. It can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and, in specialized cases, by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow (col legno).

Violins are important instruments in a wide variety of musical genres. They are most prominent in the Western classical tradition, both in ensembles (from chamber music to orchestras) and as solo instruments. Violins are also important in many varieties of folk music, including country music, bluegrass music and in jazz. Electric violins with solid bodies and piezoelectric pickups are used in some forms of rock music and jazz fusion, with the pickups plugged into instrument amplifiers and speakers to produce sound. The violin has come to be incorporated in many non-Western music cultures, including Indian music and Iranian music. The name fiddle is often used regardless of the type of music played on it.

The violin was first known in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries to give the instrument a more powerful sound and projection. In Europe, it served as the basis for the development of other stringed instruments used in Western classical music, such as the viola. from Wikpedia

"In organ pipes, of a certain calibre, very sensitive waves occur at intervals; as according to the character of the sound evolved; but on a combination of resonators composed of brass tubes of more than nine in number, a wave of sound, induced by certain chords passing over them, produces high vortex action of the air enclosed in them. The vibration of tuning forks induces alternate condition of the air that surrounds them, if in open atmosphere; but quite a different action presents itself when the forks are exercised in resonating tubes, set to thirds of the ((mass chord) they represent. Then high vortex action is the instant result. Vibrators cannot be set promiscuously in tubes, and get such results, any more than a musician can render a musical composition on the violin before tuning it." [Appendix I]

Guiseppe Tartini, 200 years ago, while practicing on his violin, observed a very interesting phenomenon in music in the matter of notes or sounds, [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 59]

which seems to show that not only has one part of a vibrating string sympathy with another part of it so as to go into harmonic partials, as we have just seen, but as if the very air itself had sympathy with harmoniously vibrating strings; for Tartini observed that two harmonious sounds being produced and sustained as they can be, for example, by a strong bow on the violin, a third sound will be heard. Tartini's name for it was simply "a third sound." This is not an overtone, as Helmholtz has called the harmonic partials of one sounding string, but an undertone, because it is a "grave harmonic," away below the sounds of the two strings which awaken it. The subject of these undertones has been carefully studied since Tartini's day, and more insight has been obtained since we are now able to count and register the vibration of any musical sound. Helmholtz has called these third sounds of Tartini's "difference sounds," because when awakened by two strings, for example, the vibration-number of the third tone is the difference of the vibrations-numbers of the two tones which awaken it. The note C with vibration-number 512, and another C whose vibration-number is 256, the octave, awakened no third sound, because there is no difference between the two numbers - the one is just the doubled or halved; but if we take C256 and G381, its fifth, the difference number is 128; this being a low octave of C256, it has the effect of strengthening the upper one. Helmholtz found this to be the law of the third sound as to its producing, and the effect of it when produced. This third sound, mysteriously arising in the air through the sympathy it has with all concordant things, is another among many more suggestions that the whole Creation is measured and numbered to be in sympathy one part with another. The Creation is a universe. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 60]

A very important thing in the making of a violin, after a good form, a right balancing of part against part, and all of wood in skillful condition, is the violin varnish. Composition:-

Linseed oil boiled,... ... ... 1 part.
Isinglass, ... ... ... ... 1/2 part.
Turpentine, ... ... ... ... Quantum suf.

Give two coats with this, then rub down with fine sandpaper. Then, best copal varnish, one coat. Finish then with boiled linseed oil, thickened with sifted 'rotten stone.' This gives a fine, smooth, and dull surface. Ramsay's violins are of surpassing tone; and he considered the varnish an important element in violin-making. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 85]


At the middle of the string the stopped note and the harmonic notes are the same; but corresponding places above and below the middle give the same harmonic, although these places when stopped give different notes. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 92]

VIOLIN-FINGERING - Whenever the third finger is normally fourth for its own open string, then the passage from the third finger to the next higher open string is always in the ratio of 8:9; and if the key requires that such passage should be a 9:10 interval, it requires to be done by the little finger on the same string, because the next higher open string is a comma too high, as would be the case with the E string in the key of G.
In the key of C on the violin you cannot play on the open A and E strings; you must pitch all the notes in the scale higher if you want to get [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 99]

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Wednesday December 16, 2020 17:58:32 MST by Dale Pond.