Friday, June 24, 2016

Violin Parts & Terms

The violin has several parts that every composer or violinist should know.

The violin has several components, and each one has terms associated with them. Knowing the names of these parts is useful for composers that want to learn how to write for the violin. The ability to identify each part of the violin also makes it easier to learn about how the instrument is played.

The F-Hole

The F-Hole looks very similar to an F.

Each violin has two F-Hole openings on the main body of the instrument. The F-Holes allow greater resonance in the instrument; they also control the level of frequency the violin emits.

Wood

Only aged and "seasoned" wood is used to make violins. The most commonly used types of wood are spruce and maple for their sturdiness and resonance. Violin makers intentionally choose a light type of wood and avoid using wood from newly cut trees. Like a fine wine, the wood of a violin gets better with age.

Scroll

The scroll serves only a decorative purpose.

The scroll serves no practical purpose other than to balance the weight of the instrument. Without it, the violin would be bottom heavy. The addition of a scroll at the end of the neck provides some extra stability. The design of the scroll is completely up to the violin maker, but there is little variation in design from violin to violin.

Neck

The neck of the violin allows the violinist to support the instrument.

The neck is between the scroll and the fingerboard of the instrument. The left hand is placed at the neck of the violin with the fingers curved around the strings. The neck helps support the instrument and allows the violinist to activate individual strings with her fingers.

Pegs

The four pegs of the violin each corresponds to an individual string.

The four pegs correspond to the four strings. Each peg allows the violinist to tune an individual string. The individual violin strings wind around the peg to create tension for the desired pitch. The pitch increases as the strings are wound tighter.

Fingerboard

The fingerboard is where the fingers are placed to play individual pitches.

The fingerboard is, as expected, the place where the violinist puts his fingers. Each finger will play a separate string to allow for quick movement up and down the fingerboard as needed. The fingerboard curves slightly so each string can be played individually.

Strings

There are four strings spaced a fifth apart on the violin ranging from G below middle C to E on the top space of the treble clef staff. Each string overlaps with the range of the adjacent string. This means there are multiple ways to play a single passage. Occasionally, composers will indicate to the violinist that they want a passage played entirely on one string. However, the violinist usually makes this decision.