You will have heard loads and loads of music played on the violin. You may play the violin yourself or have children in your house learning to play the violin, but how much do you actually know about this beautiful instrument? Well, here are 17 facts about the violin you need to know. OK, so need to know may be a bit of an exaggeration, let’s go for facts you want to know….
- The main body of the violin is typically made out of wood. Generally spruce for the front of the instrument, and maple for the back, neck and scroll of the violin.
- A violin maker is called a luthier. A luthier is a highly skilled craftsman, who spends many hours making each violin. In fact, a luthier may make only 5 or 6 violins in a year.
- You play a violin by either plucking the strings, or using a bow that is run over the strings. To change the note played, you put your fingers down on the neck of the violin trapping the string in a specific place.
- When plucking or bowing the strings this makes the strings vibrate, and that vibration is transmitted onto the plates (the front and back wooden pieces) of the violin by a wooden bridge that the strings sit on towards the bottom of the instrument, and a small peg inside the instrument.
- Why do you use rosin on the bow? Rosin, when rubbed onto the violin bow before playing, helps the hair on the bow to “grip” the string.
- Violin bows contain between 160 and 180 hairs. There are some bows that are made from synthetic fibres, most commonly (and traditionally) they are made from horsehair.
- Violin strings used to be made out of sheep intestines, known as catgut. These days they are usually made out of the less stomach churning materials such as nylon or steel, sometimes even silver plated.
- The largest violin in the world is 4.27 metres (14ft) long and 1.4 metres (4.5ft) wide, with a 5.2 metre (17ft) bow!
- The smallest violin in the world is a mere 3 inches long!
- Violins come in various sizes to match the size of the people playing them. The smallest size for very young players is a 1/64 violin, although this is far less common than a 1/32 or 1/16 size. Violins go up in size through 1/4 or 1/2 size to full size for older children and adults.
- The world’s most expensive violin was made by renowned luthier Antonio Stradivari in 1716. It is known as the Messiah Stradivarius and is valued at $20million! The Messiah Stradivarius is housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England.
- The modern violin was invented in the 16th century in Italy by Andrea Amati.
- The word violin comes from the Latin word ‘vitula’ or ‘vitulare’ meaning to sing or rejoice.
- Playing the violin is great exercise! It is estimated that playing the violin for 1 hour burns around 170 calories.
- The first violinist in an orchestra used to act as the orchestra’s conductor until the 1900s when the conductor became a separate role in itself.
- Violin strings are tuned to the notes (from low to high) G, D, A and E.
- The composer Mozart was a child prodigy violinist.
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