History of Violin

HISTORY OF THE VIOLIN The earliest stringed instruments were mostly plucked (e. g. the Greek lyre). Bowed instruments may have originated in the equestrian cultures of Central Asia, an example being the Mongolian instrument Morin huur: Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest fiddlers. Their two-stringed upright fiddles were strung with horsehair strings, played with horsehair bows, and often feature a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. …

The violins, violas, and cellos we play today, and whose bows are still strung with horsehair, are a legacy of the nomads. [3] It is believed that these instruments eventually spread to China, India, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East, where they developed into instruments such as the erhu in China, the rebab in the Middle East, the bowed Byzantine lyra and the esraj in India. The violin in its present form emerged in early 16th century in Northern Italy, where the port towns of Venice and Genoa maintained extensive ties to central Asia through the trade routes of the silk road.

The modern European violin evolved from various bowed stringed instruments which were brought from the Middle East [4] and the Byzantine Empire[5] [6] . Most likely the first makers of violins borrowed from three types of current instruments: the rebec, in use since the 10th century (itself derived from the Arabic rebab), the Renaissance fiddle, and the lira da braccio[7] (derived from the Byzantine lira [5]). One of the earliest explicit descriptions of the instrument, including its tuning, was in the Epitome musical by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556. 8] By this time, the violin had already begun to spread throughout Europe. The oldest documented violin to have four strings, like the modern violin, is supposed to have been constructed in 1555 by Andrea Amati, but the date is doubtuful. (Other violins, documented significantly earlier, only had three strings. ) The violin immediately became very popular, both among street musicians and the nobility, illustrated by the fact that the French king Charles IX ordered Amati to construct 24 violins for him in 1560. [9] The oldest surviving violin, dated inside, is from this set, and is known as the “Charles IX,” made in Cremona c. 560. “The Messiah” or “Le Messie” (also known as the “Salabue”) made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 remains pristine, never having been used. It is now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford. [10] San Zaccaria Altarpiece (detail), Venice, Giovanni Bellini, 1505 The most famous violin makers (luthiers) between the 16th century and the 18th century include: * The school of Brescia, beginning in the 16th century * The Amati family of Italian violin makers, active 1500-1740 in Cremona, Italy * The Guarneri family, active 1626-1744 in Cremona * The Stradivari family, active 1644-1737 in Cremona

Significant changes occurred in the construction of the violin in the 18th century, particularly in the length and angle of the neck, as well as a heavier bass bar. The majority of old instruments have undergone these modifications, and hence are in a significantly different state than when they left the hands of their makers, doubtless with differences in sound and response. [11] But these instruments in their present condition set the standard for perfection in violin craftsmanship and sound, and violin makers all over the world try to come as close to this ideal as possible.

To this day, instruments from the “Golden Age” of violin making, especially those made by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, are the most sought-after instruments by both collectors and performers. STRINGS Strings were first made of sheep gut (commonly known as catgut), stretched, dried and twisted. Modern strings may be gut, solid steel, stranded steel, or various synthetic materials, wound with various metals. Most E strings are unwound, either plain or gold-plated steel. Violinists often carry replacement strings with their instruments to have one available in case a string breaks.

Strings have a limited lifetime; apart from obvious things, such as the winding of a string coming undone from wear, a player will generally change a string when it no longer plays “true,” with a negative effect on intonation, or when it loses the desired tone. The longevity of a string depends on how much and how intensely one plays. HARMONICS Lightly touching the string with a fingertip at a harmonic node creates harmonics. Instead of the normal tone, a higher pitched note sounds. Each node is at an integer division of the string, for example half-way or one-third along the length of the string.

A responsive instrument will sound numerous possible harmonic nodes along the length of the string. Harmonics are marked in music either with a little circle above the note that determines the pitch of the harmonic, or by diamond-shaped note heads. There are two types of harmonics: natural harmonics and artificial harmonics (also known as “false harmonics”). Natural harmonics are played on an open string. The pitch of the open string is called the fundamental frequency. Harmonics are also called overtones. They occur at whole-number multiples of the fundamental, which is called the first harmonic.

The second harmonic is the first overtone, the third harmonic is the second overtone, and so on. The second harmonic is in the middle of the string and sounds an octave higher than the string’s pitch. The third harmonic breaks the string into thirds and sounds an octave and a fifth above the fundamental, and the fourth harmonic breaks the string into quarters sounding two octaves above the first. The sound of the second harmonic is the clearest of them all, because it is a common node with all the succeeding even-numbered harmonics (4th, 6th, etc. ).

The third and succeeding odd-numbered harmonics are harder to play because they break the string into an odd number of vibrating parts and do not share as many nodes with other harmonics. Artificial harmonics are more difficult to produce than natural harmonics, as they involve both stopping the string and playing a harmonic on the stopped note. Using the “octave frame”—the normal distance between the first and fourth fingers in any given position—with the fourth finger just touching the string a fourth higher than the stopped note produces the fourth harmonic, two octaves above the stopped note.

Finger placement and pressure, as well as bow speed, pressure, and sounding point are all essential in getting the desired harmonic to sound. And to add to the challenge, in passages with different notes played as false harmonics, the distance between stopping finger and harmonic finger must constantly change, since the spacing between notes changes along the length of the string. The “harmonic finger” can also touch at a major third above the pressed note (the fifth harmonic), or a fifth higher (a third harmonic).

These harmonics are less commonly used; in the case of the major third, both the stopped note and touched note must be played slightly sharp otherwise the harmonic does not speak as readily. In the case of the fifth, the stretch is greater than is comfortable for many violinists. In the general repertoire fractions smaller than a sixth are not used. However, divisions up to an eighth are sometimes used and, given a good instrument and a skilled player, divisions as small as a twelfth are possible. There are a few books dedicated solely to the study of violin harmonics.

Two comprehensive works are Henryk Heller’s seven-volume Theory of Harmonics, published by Simrock in 1928, and Michelangelo Abbado’s five-volume Tecnica dei suoni armonici published by Ricordi in 1934. Elaborate passages in artificial harmonics can be found in virtuoso violin literature, especially of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Two notable examples of this are an entire section of Vittorio Monti’s Csardas and a passage towards the middle of the third movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Bowing techniques The most essential part of bowing technique is the bow grip. It is usually with the thumb bent in the small area between the frog and the winding of the bow. The other fingers are spread somewhat evenly across the top part of the bow. The violin produces louder notes with greater bow speed or more weight on the string. The two methods are not equivalent, because they produce different timbres; pressing down on the string tends to produce a harsher, more intense sound.

The sounding point where the bow intersects the string also influences timbre. Playing close to the bridge (sul ponticello) gives a more intense sound than usual, emphasizing the higher harmonics; and playing with the bow over the end of the fingerboard (sul tasto) makes for a delicate, ethereal sound, emphasizing the fundamental frequency. Dr. Suzuki referred to the sounding point as the “Kreisler highway”; one may think of different sounding points as “lanes” in the highway. Various methods of ‘attack’ with the bow produce different articulations.

There are many bowing techniques that allow for every range of playing style and many teachers, players, and orchestras spend a lot of time developing techniques and creating a unified technique within the group. These techniques include legato-style bowing, colle, ricochet, sautille, martele, spiccato, and staccato. PIZZICATO A note marked pizz. (abbreviation for pizzicato) in the written music is to be played by plucking the string with a finger of the right hand rather than by bowing. (The index finger is most commonly used here. Sometimes in virtuoso solo music where the bow hand is occupied (or for show-off effect), left-hand pizzicato will be indicated by a “+” (plus sign) below or above the note. In left-hand pizzicato, two fingers are put on the string; one (usually the index or middle finger) is put on the correct note, and the other (usually the ring finger or little finger) is put above the note. The higher finger then plucks the string while the lower one stays on, thus producing the correct pitch. By increasing the force of the pluck, one can increase the volume of the note that the string produces. COL LEGNO

A marking of col legno (Italian for “with the wood”) in the written music calls for striking the string(s) with the stick of the bow, rather than by drawing the hair of the bow across the strings. This bowing technique is somewhat rarely used, and results in a muted percussive sound. The eerie quality of a violin section playing col legno is exploited in some symphonic pieces, notably the “Witches’ Dance” of the last movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Saint-Saens’ symphonic poem “Danse Macabre” includes the string section using the col legno technique to imitate the sound of dancing skeletons. Mars” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” uses col legno to play a repeated rhythm in 5/4 time signature. Some violinists, however, object to this style of playing as it can damage the finish and impair the value of a fine bow. MARTELE Literally “hammered”, a strongly accented effect produced by releasing each bowstroke forcefully and suddenly. Martele can be played in any part of the bow. It is sometimes indicated in written music by an arrowhead. TREMOLO Very rapid repetition (typically of a single note, but occasionally of multiple notes), usually played at the tip of the bow. MUTE

Attaching a small metal, rubber, or wooden device called a “mute” to the bridge of the violin gives a softer, more mellow tone, with fewer audible overtones; the sound of an entire orchestral string section playing with mutes has a hushed quality. The conventional Italian markings for mute usage are con sord. , or con sordina, “with mute”, and senza sord. , “without mute” or via sord. , “mute out. ” Larger metal, rubber, or wooden mutes are available, known as “practice mutes” or “hotel mutes”. Such mutes are generally not used in performance, but are used to deaden the sound of the violin in practice areas such as hotel rooms.

Some composers have used practice mutes for special effect, for example at the end of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza VIII for solo violin. TWENTIETH CENTURY CLASSICAL MUSIC At the turn of the 20th century classical music was characteristically late Romantic in style, while at the same time the Impressionist movement, spearheaded by Claude Debussy was taking form. America began forming its own vernacular style of classical music, notably in the works of Charles Ives, John Alden Carpenter, and (later) George Gershwin, while in Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg conceived atonality, and later developed the twelve-tone technique.

Classical music in the 20th century varied greatly, from the expressionism of early Schoenberg, Neoclassical music of Igor Stravinsky, the futurism (bruitisme and “machine music”) of Luigi Russolo, Alexander Mossolov, early Prokofiev and Antheil, to the microtonal music of Julian Carrillo, Alois Haba, Harry Partch, and Ben Johnston, to the socialist realism of late Prokofiev and Gliere, Kabalevsky, and other Russian composers, as well as the simple harmonies and rhythms of minimalist composers such as Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, to the musique concrete of Pierre Schaeffer and the intuitive music of Karlheinz Stockhausen; from the total serialism of Pierre Boulez and the political commitment of Luigi Nono to the aleatoric music of John Cage. Perhaps the most salient feature during this time period of classical music was the increased use of dissonance. Because of this, the twentieth century is sometimes called the “Dissonant Period” of classical music, following the common practice period, which emphasized consonance (Schwartz and Godfrey 1993, 9–43). The watershed transitional moment was the international Paris Exposition celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, in 1889 (Fauser 2005).

While some writers hold that Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi- d’un faune and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht are dramatic departures from Romanticism and have strong modernist traits (Ibid. ), others hold that the Schoenberg work is squarely within the late-Romantic tradition of Wagner and Brahms (Neighbour 2001, 582) and, more generally, that “the composer who most directly and completely connects late Wagner and the twentieth century is Arnold Schoenberg” An important feature of twentieth-century concert music is the splitting of the audience into traditional and avant-garde, with many figures prominent in one world considered minor or unacceptable in the other. citation needed] Composers such as Anton Webern, Elliott Carter, Edgard Varese, Milton Babbitt, Luigi Nono and Luciano Berio have devoted followings within the avant-garde, but are often attacked outside of it. As time has passed, however, it is increasingly accepted, though by no means universally so, that the boundaries are more porous than the many polemics would lead one to believe: many of the techniques pioneered by the above composers show up in popular music by The Beatles, Deep Purple, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Enigma, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, in film scores and video game music that draw mass audiences.

It should be kept in mind that this article presents an overview of twentieth-century classical music and many of the composers listed under the following trends and movements may not identify exclusively as such and may be considered as participating in different movements. For instance, at different times during his career, Igor Stravinsky may be considered a romantic, modernist, neoclassicist, and a serialist. ROMANTIC STYLE Particularly in the early part of the century, many composers wrote music which was an extension of nineteenth-century Romantic music, and traditional instrumental groupings such as the orchestra and string quartet remained the most usual. Traditional forms such as the symphony and concerto remained in use. (See Romantic Music) Many prominent composers — among them Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich,

Maurice Ravel, and Benjamin Britten — made significant advances in style and technique while still employing a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, structural, and textural language which was related to that of the nineteenth century. Music along these lines was written throughout the twentieth century, and continues to be written today. [edit] Second Viennese School, atonality, twelve-tone technique, and serialism See also: atonality Arnold Schoenberg is one of the most significant figures in 20th century music. In 1921, he developed the twelve-tone technique of composition, which he first described privately to his associates in 1923 (Schoenberg 1975, 213).

In Europe, the “punctual”, “pointist”, or “pointillist” style of Messiaen’s “Mode de valeurs et d’intensites”—in which individual tones’ characteristics, or “parameters” are each determined independently—was very influential in the years immediately following 1951 among composers such as Pierre Boulez, Karel Goeyvaerts, Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen. [citation needed] FREE DISSONANCE AND EXPERIMENTALISM In the early part of the 20th century Charles Ives integrated American and European traditions as well as vernacular and church styles, while innovating in rhythm, harmony, and form (Burkholder 2001). Edgard Varese wrote highly dissonant pieces that utilized unusual sonorities and futuristic, scientific sounding names. NEOCLASSICISM

Neoclassicism in music was a 20th century development, particularly popular in the period between the two World Wars, in which composers drew inspiration from music of the 18th century, though some of the inspiring canon was drawn as much from the Baroque period as the Classical period – for this reason, music which draws influence specifically from the Baroque is sometimes termed neo-baroque. ARTISTIC DESCRIPTION Neoclassicism was born at the same time as the general return to rational models in the arts in response to World War I. [citation needed] Smaller, more spare, more orderly was conceived of as the response to the overwrought emotionalism which many felt had herded people into the trenches. citation needed] Since economics also favored smaller ensembles, the search for doing “more with less” took on a practical imperative as well. [citation needed] Neoclassicism can be seen as a reaction against the prevailing trend of 19th century Romanticism to sacrifice internal balance and order in favor of more overtly emotional writing. [citation needed] Neoclassicism makes a return to balanced forms and often emotional restraint, as well as 18th century compositional processes and techniques. However, in the use of modern instrumental resources such as the full orchestra, which had greatly expanded since the 18th century, and advanced harmony, neoclassical works are distinctly 20th century.

It is not that interest in 18th century music wasn’t fairly well sustained through the 19th century, with pieces such as Franz Liszt’s A la Chapelle Sixtine (1862), Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite (1884), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s divertissement from The Queen of Spades (1890), and Max Reger’s Concerto in the Old Style (1912), “dressed up their music in old clothes in order to create a smiling or pensive evocation of the past” (Albright 2004, p. 276). It was that the 20th century had a different view of 18th century norms and forms, instead of being an immediately antique style contrasted against the present, 20th century neoclassicism focused on the 18th century as a period which had virtues which were lacking in their own time. POST-MODERNIST MUSIC This article is missing citations or needs footnotes. Please help add inline citations to guard against copyright violations and factual inaccuracies. (August 2007) This section may contain original research or unverified claims.

Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (October 2007) BIRTH OF POST-MODERISM Post-modernism can be said to be a response to modernism, but it can also be viewed as a response to a deep-seated shift in societal attitude. According to this view, postmodernism began when historic (as opposed to personal) optimism turned to pessimism, at the latest by 1930 (Meyer 1994, 331). John Cage is a prominent figure in 20th century music whose influence steadily grew during his lifetime. Michael Nyman argues that minimalism was a reaction to and made possible by both serialism and indeterminism (Nyman 1999, 139). (See also experimental music) MINIMALISM

Many composers[weasel words] in the later twentieth century began to explore what is now called minimalism. Early examples include Terry Riley’s In C and Steve Reich’s Drumming. BRIEF HISTORY The word “minimalism” was first used in relation to music in 1968 by Michael Nyman in a review of Cornelius Cardew’s piece The Great Digest. Nyman later expanded his definition of minimalism in music in his 1974 book Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. Tom Johnson, one of the few composers to self-identify as minimalist, also claims to have been first to use the word as new music critic for The Village Voice. He describes “minimalism”: The idea of minimalism is much larger than most people realize.

It includes, by definition, any music that works with limited or minimal materials: pieces that use only a few notes, pieces that use only a few words of text, or pieces written for very limited instruments, such as antique cymbals, bicycle wheels, or whiskey glasses. It includes pieces that sustain one basic electronic rumble for a long time. It includes pieces made exclusively from recordings of rivers and streams. It includes pieces that move in endless circles. It includes pieces that set up an unmoving wall of saxophone sound. It includes pieces that take a very long time to move gradually from one kind of music to another kind. It includes pieces that permit all possible pitches, as long as they fall between C and D. It includes pieces that slow the tempo down to two or three notes per minute. [3]

The most prominent minimalist composers are John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young. The early compositions of Glass and Reich tended to be very austere, with little embellishment on the principal theme, and written for small instrumental ensembles (of which the composers were members), made up, in Glass’s case, of organs, winds—particularly saxophones—and vocalists, in Reich’s case with more emphasis on mallet and percussion instruments. (These works are scored for any combination of such instruments: one piece by Reich, the aptly named Six Pianos, is scored just so. ) Adams’ works have most often been written for more traditional classical forces: orchestra, string quartet, even solo piano.

The music of Reich and Glass drew early sponsorship from art galleries and museums, presented in conjunction with visual-art minimalists like Robert Morris, in Glass’s case, and Richard Serra, Bruce Naumann, and the filmmaker Richard Snow, in Reich’s. [4] EARLY DEVELOPMENT Musical minimalism had its origins in both conceptualism and twelve-tone music. In 1960, Terry Riley wrote a string quartet in pure, uninflected C major. In 1963 Riley made two electronic works using tape delay, Mescalin Mix and The Gift, which injected the idea of repetition into minimalism. Next, Riley’s 1964 masterpiece In C made persuasively engaging textures from repeated phrases in performance. The work is scored for any group of instruments.

In 1965 and 1966 Steve Reich produced three works—It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out for tape, and Piano Phase for live performers—that introduced the idea of phase-shifting, i. e. , allowing two nearly identical phrases or sound samples at slightly differing lengths or speeds to repeat and slowly go out of phase with each other. Starting in 1968 with 1 + 1, Philip Glass wrote a series of works that incorporated additive process (form based on sequences such as 1, 1 2, 1 2 3, 1 2 3 4) into the repertoire of minimalist techniques; these works included Two Pages, Music in Fifths, Music in Contrary Motion, and others. By this point, the minimalist style was in full swing. MINIMALIST STYLE IN MUSIC

Peter Schickele, in an episode of Schickele Mix dedicated to minimalism, traced its origins to ostinati in the work of Johann Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell. Some of these traits have precedents in the history of European music—Richard Wagner, for instance, opened his opera Das Rheingold with several minutes of static tonality on an E-flat chord, with a linear crescendo of figurations. Consonant harmony is a much noted feature: it means the use of intervals which in a tonal context would be considered to be “stable”, that is the form to which other chords are resolved by voice leading. In minimalism this function of stability is ignored. [citation needed] Another trait of the minimalist movement established at an early point in time is the use of phase in consonant context to provide variety. citation needed] A famous example is Terry Riley’s In C which gives musicians fragments of music which they are to play at their own pace until they stop. The resulting texture varies with the different choices that performers make. This means that the “texture” of much minimalist music is based on canonic imitation, exact repetitions of the same material, offset in time. Famous pieces that use this technique are the number section of Glass’ Einstein on the Beach and Adams’ Shaker Loops. Over time minimalist composers adopted more and more chromatic material for repetition, for example Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 2, and the operas of John Adams.

There was also an increasing movement to incorporate found sounds, tape, electric or electronic sources of music. [citation needed] Minimalism in classical music often cross-fertilizes with popular experimental music, such as the work of Brian Eno and Mike Oldfield, as well as electronica (such as drone music), and house (where DJs layer different recordings on top of each other without regard for their source). [citation needed] The development of minimalist music proceeds as a movement which was consciously aware of its being a post-serialist movement in music, drawing from the use of silence and layering in Cage, but seeking a more melodic basis for its materials. [citation needed]

These traits were also the feature of composers who rejected 20th-century chromatic harmony for other reasons, often liturgical or religious. These composers often went back to Medieval and early Renaissance harmony and practice more deliberately, producing works which had more formally worked-out canonic imitation in a modal rather than tonal context. An early exponent here was the American Alan Hovhaness (in his works of the 1940s and 1950s), and more recently Arvo Part has done similar things in his work. [citation needed] Minimalism is sometimes associated[weasel words] with an ideology that justifies the moving away from the greater complexity of modernism by rguing from the point of view of postmodernism. Specifically, postmodernism states[weasel words] that progress in music is illusory, and therefore there is no need to have ever more advanced and complex systems of composing, that the purpose of minimalist music is repose, rather than “western” style development, and that minimalism embodies more “eastern” values of meditation, trance and concentration. [citation needed] Philip Glass specifically argues that there has been a disintegration of the concept of “high” and “low” music, and that music of this movement is important because it allows incorporation of, and dialog with, popular styles in a way that previous music did not. cite this quote] These arguments are far from universal among listeners, composers and performers of minimalist music, but are commonly cited[weasel words] in the struggles for performance, attention and acceptance of minimalist music. Minimalist music is frequently used in movie scores and other media to provide a backdrop or mood for a particular scene or opening, or as an episode in a score. [citation needed] It has been adopted for sections of work by composers from other styles, including the late work of Lukas Foss. [citation needed] There is a branch of British minimalism called systems music in which the note-to-note procedure is determined numerically The term was used informally as a term for all minimalism in the 1980s (due to Michael Nyman’s popularity).

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *