How to Lower the Sound on a Viola

Lowering the sound on the viola can refer to the volume, the pitch of individual notes and the overall base pitch of the instrument. Each element serves a different purpose. Lowering the sound of the instrument will create dynamic contrast in the music. Lowering the pitch of individual notes will allow you to play scales and increase variety in the music. Lowering the overall pitch will make it possible to get a deeper sound on the viola and extend the low range of the instrument.


Step 1 Hold the bow with your right hand by balancing the bow between the thumb and index finger. Wrap the remaining fingers lightly around the bow.

Step 2 Play softly and lower the dynamic level of the viola by pulling the bow slowly and lightly across the strings. The faster you bow and the more tension you create, the louder the viola will play.

Step 3 Practice playing both with up-bow and down-bow techniques. Up-bow moves the bow from the tip of the bow to the frog of the bow across the strings. The frog is the base of the bow. Down-bow starts at the frog and moves towards the tip.

Individual Notes 

Step 1 Place your left hand on one of the strings on the viola. The thumb supports the viola neck while the index, middle, ring and pinkie finger line up in a row on the violin string.

Step 2 Hold the bow and viola properly and pull your bow across the string from tip to frog to play an up-bow technique.

Step 3 Depress the pinkie finger so that it divides the string about 2 inches from the start of the neck. Then release the index finger and depress the middle finger while bowing the instrument. The further up the string you move, the lower the pitch will become.

Overall Pitch 

Step 1 Use a tuner to tune the lowest string on the viola, the C-string, down a half step. To do this, find the peg that corresponds to the C-string and turn the peg to loosen it. Check the pitch by plucking the string and holding the tuner nearby to detect the pitch.

Step 2 Tune the next lowest string, the G-string, down a half step. The peg for the G-string will be on the same side as the C-string. Turn the peg very slightly, it won't take much to tune the pitch down.

Step 3 Continue tuning the remaining strings using the same process as you used for the G and C strings.

Don't change the pitch of the viola too much, you can destroy the neck and bridge by creating too much or too little tension.


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