Violin: The Beginning

Many instruments are used in the production of music. These instruments are divided into sub-groups according to their components and parts. Some of these groups are bass, horn and string instruments. String instruments basically have strings as their component and it is through these strings that they create sound. The violin is a member of this group of instruments.

The violin is the soprano member of the string family. It is made up of bow, strings, and the fingerboard and a body. Violin has a colorful history. It is said that the string musical instrument with bows originated from Europe in the ninth century. The first bowed instrument was lira from the Byzantine Empire. Ibn Khurradadhbih cited lira as equivalent to the Islamic Empires rabab. The lira proliferated during the 11th and 12th century and European writers interchangeably used fiddle and lira when they referred to instruments with bow. The Islamic instrument rabab was introduced through the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe and spread to different European areas. The lira and the rabab gave birth to bowed instruments.

The first violin came from Northern Italy in the 16th century. The first violins only have three strings and it is possible that the first luthiers borrowed the violin concept from the rabab. It was precisely described in the book Epitome Musical in 1556 by Jambe de Fer.

Violin was considered as a lowly instrument but in the 18th century, well-known composers used the violin and it gained popularity and respectability. It gained more popularity and prestige in the Baroque period. The violin’s earliest form is different from the violin’s form today. The early forms of violin had a shorter neck, thicker and had fewer angles. The fingerboard was shorter, the strings were from gut and the bridge was flatter.

Throughout the centuries, European countries have two prominent kinds of bowed instruments; lira de braccio, lira de gambe. Lira de braccio is a square shaped instrument that is held in the arms while lira de gamba is held within the knees. The gambas were popular during the Renaissance period but they were replaced by the braccios and the violin as years rolled on.

The famous luthier, Andrea Amati made the first real violin in the 16th century. Amati made the violin because the Medici Family ordered an instrument that can be used by musicians who roamed the streets. The Medici required the instrument to be of equal quality as the lute which is considered to be the noblest instrument at that time. Amati used the method of applying a mould to accurately build the instrument. He also made the body of the instrument slightly arched.

The oldest surviving violin is the “Charles IX” by Andrea Amati. It was made in Cremone in 1564. “Le Messie” is possibly the most popular and perfect violin which was made by Antonio Stradivari and was never used.

The violin has changed throughout the years. It has risen from the lowly status to an instrument which is highly regarded today. It is a very important part of the orchestra instruments. Throughout the years, there have been many changes in the specifications and parts of the violin have been made. These changes have changed the aesthetics of violin.

There have also been advances in the making of violin and modern kinds of violin have proliferated.


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