The Information and History of Classical String Instruments

Posted in: String by Undisclosed Author on May 31st, 2009 | 0 Comments

A webpage telling its viewers of the information, both background and present, on the popular classical string instruments, including the Violin, Viola, Violoncello (Cello), and the Double Bass.

The types of classical stringed instrument

  1. Violin
  2. Viola
  3. Violoncello
  4. Double Bass

The history of the instruments

Stringed instruments originated in Europe during the middle ages. In the 15th century, the prototype for the violin and others in the string was created. Below are each classical stringed instruments biography.


Violin -  The smallest of the string family, has a soprano like tone, strings going from highest to lowest are: E, A, D, G. The instrument is played underneath your chin with the scroll and neck extending out perpendicular to the body. The player can only play in the treble clef because of the high pitch of the instrument. The violin is the instrument whose role is to mostly play the melody of a piece, especially in an orchestra.

Viola – Is played exactly the same way as a violin. The viola has a lower deeper tone caused by being slightly larger and heavier. The player reads music in alto and tenor clef. The violas role is usually to provide a simple second type of harmony. Strings from highest to lowest are: A, D, G, C.

Violoncello- most commonly just called cello. Plays the main harmony and shares or alternates the melody with the violins. Besides the violin, the cello is the most common solo string instrument. Many composers write pieces for solo cello. The cello has a deep rich tone, which is the closest to the human voice out of any instrument created. From top to bottom, strings include: A, D, G, C. The cello can read all musical clefts, primarily bass, but also tenor and treble. It is played at an angle between the knees with the bottom on the floor. An end-pin, (a thin metal rod) is used to adjust how high or low the instrument sits off the ground. The “neck and scroll” protrude from the top of the instrument and sit next to your head by the ear.

Double Bass – Is the largest of all string instruments. Bass players either stand or sit on a very tall stool. The bass plays the simplest of harmonies, or bass lines. Players play in bass clef but on very rare occasions read the others. The strings from top to bottom are: G, D, A, E, which is the violins same strings just backwards. The bass is the only instrument that has a choice of two different bow holds, the French or German. The decision between the two is usually decided by the style of music being played.

There are many different types of instruments, but makers such as Antonio Stradivari, the creator of the legendary Stradivarius, revolutionized the music world. Generally the older instrument the better the quality and sound because of the aging of the wood. The instruments themselves are made out of many different types of wood, obviously, the better the wood the better and more expensive the instrument.  The strings are made out of all different types of metal; the old strings were made of cat guts. The bows are made of wood, horse hair, and different types of pearl and sometimes even diamonds for looks. Instruments can range from several hundred dollars for a starter, and several hundred thousand dollars for the pros like Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell.

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