The Violin

The violin, viola, and cello were first made in the early 16th century, in Italy. The earliest evidence for their existence is in paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari from the 1530s, though Ferrari's instruments had only three strings. The Academie musicale, a treatise written in 1556 by Philibert Jambe de Fer, gives a clear description of the violin family much as we know it today. Violins are likely to have been developed from a number of other string instruments of the 15th and 16th centuries, including the vielle, rebec, and lira da braccio. The history of bowed string instruments in Europe goes back to the 9th century with the Byzantine lira (or lūrā, Greek: λύρα). Since their invention, instruments in the violin family have seen a number of changes. The overall pattern for the instrument was set in the 17th century by luthiers like the prolific Amati family, Jakob Stainer of the Tyrol, and Antonio Stradivari, with many makers at the time and since following their templates. Source: Wikipedia.

The Violin Bow

To truly understand the violin, one must understand the history of the violin bow. While the bow appears utilitarian in nature, it is anything but plain. The evolution of this simple piece of wood and horsehair is quite fascinating, spanning centuries. From the simple piece used in the middle ages, to the artistic renderings of the Baroque-period, and the ergonomically-adept Classical bow, the history of the violin bow is anything but dull. The instrument’s rudimentary beginnings date back to the Byzantine Empire, around the mid-fifth century. Much like the archery bow, early violin bows were quite convex. Horsehair was fastened directly to the stick, without consideration for tension. This basic bow remained unchanged throughout the middle ages. Shorter in length, usually 8”-12”, the history of the violin shows early versions of the instrument were predominantly used to keep time on the dance floors of weddings and festivals, and the shorter bow required a closed fist, or underhanded, method of playing.
Source: History of the Violin Bow


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