Monday, June 8, 2015

What Parts of the Violin Make the Sound?

The violin utilizes several components in the creation of sound. Almost every part of the violin serves some function in the creation of sound. The few parts that do not serve a direct role in the creation of sound create the support structure. Some of the structure include the neck, the scroll (purely ornamental), the frog and eyelet at the bottom of the bow. The rest of the parts serve a direct function of translating and creating sound.

Body


The body is the largest part of the violin. It consists of a top and bottom casing surrounded by the ribs. The large surface area allows the body to vibrate the air surrounding and inside the instrument. This vibration of sound is what creates the natural amplification of the instrument. It is, in fact, what makes the instrument acoustic since the body allows the instrument to create its own air column, resulting in amplified vibrations.

Strings


The strings create vibrations that reverberate across the bridge. Each string is a slightly different length and thickness that helps to create the characteristic sound of each string. The lowest. the G-string has a dark and gruff texture to it, the D-string is mellow and smooth, the A-string is more vibrant and penetrating, followed by the highest, the E-string, that is strong, penetrating and clear.

Bridge


When the strings vibrate, the instrument will shake. The bridge looks very similar to an actual bridge and serves to hold the strings as well as transfer some of the vibrations to the actual body of the instrument. The majority of the sound does not emanate from the bridge, but it does serve a crucial role in the creation of the violin's sound.

Sound Post


The sound post is inside the instrument and located underneath the bridge. The sound post catches vibrations and amplifies them through the body of the instrument. The F-holes on the instrument create a partial opening in the violin body that allows you to see the sound post. The position of the sound post is important. If moved too far forward, the violin will have a weak sound; placing it too far back creates too much resonance. The bass bar appears on the opposite side of the sound post and is separated from the bottom of the violin. This allows more movement and resonance.

Bow


The bow is the final component in creating sound on the violin. Strictly speaking, it is not required to create sound and a plucking technique will create a technique called pizzicato. However, the bow's strings serve to create friction that pulls and pushes on the violin's strings, depending on how the bow is utilized. Sometimes, the back of the bow is also used in a “col legno” technique that creates a clattering sound.

References


University of New South Wales; Violin acoustics: an introduction; Joe Wolfe [http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/violintro.html]