1902 Encyclopedia > Violin

Violin




VIOLIN, a stringed instrument employed in orchestral and chamber music. The body is a resonant box, composed of a belly, back, and six ribs, all shaped out of thin wood to various curves, the belly and back being scooped out of solid slabs, and the ribs planed and bent. The whole is glued together upon six internal blocks. Pine is used for the belly, maple for the other parts. The external surface is covered with a fine hard varnish of a brown, red, orange, or yellow colour, which renders the box more resonant. To this box is glued a solid neck or handle, slightly inclined to the plane of the box, and along the whole instrument four gut strings are stretched by means of as many pegs and a tail-piece. They are tuned in fifths, thus—
_ n „— and set in vibration with a bow, strung with
_ horsehair well
^> ^ o 4.1.
in the
by stopping the strings with the fingers of the left hand, in which the instrument is held, on an ebony finger-board glued to the handle, and projecting over the body of the fiddle. The movable bridge, across which the strings are strained, forms the spring or mechanical centre of the violin, and answers to the reed in wood wind-instruments. It has two feet, of which the treble or right-hand one rests firmly on that part of the belly which is supported by a sound-post resting on the back, thus forming a rigid centre of vibration, while the bass or left-hand foot, resting on the freely-vibrating part of the belly, communicates to it, and through it to the air in the box, the vibrations which the bow excites in the strings. The belly is strengthened, and its vibration regulated and increased, by a longitudinal bar glued inside it exactly under the bass foot of the bridge. Two incisions in the belly, called sound-holes, from their letting out the sound, also facilitate and modify the vibration. The middle pair of ribs on each side have an inward curvature, to afford the bow better access to the strings. The superficial area of the belly is divided by the bridge into two approximately equal parts, for an obvious acoustical reason; but the upper half is longer and narrower than the lower, which is relatively short and broad. This device gives greater length to the vibrating portion of the strings, and hence greater compass to the instrument. It also brings the bowing place on the strings nearer to the player. Descent The violin, as the name imports, is a modified form of of violin, the viol, an instrument constructed on exactly similar principles, though different in every detail. It dates from the middle of the 16th century; the viol was perfected somewhat earlier. During two centuries the two instru-ments were in use contemporaneously; but the violin class gradually drove the viols from the field, on the principle, which governs the general history of musical instruments, of the " survival of the loudest." The primitive viol is a modified form of the lute; and the lute is an.adaptation of the small lyre of classical antiquity, the name of which (fidicula) survives in both groups of the common names for bowed instruments (fidicula, fidula, fideille, vielle, fidel, vedel, fiedel, fiddle; in the Romance group, vidula, viula, Lyre. viola, violino, violone, violoncello). The fidicula or lyre consisted of a resonant box, having a yoke (jugum or transtillum) instead of a neck, and one string for each note. Obviously, by substituting for the jugum a handle or neck, and thus enabling the fingers of the left hand to stop the strings at will, the number of strings and the tension on the box could be diminished, the scale of notes increased, and the task of the right hand facilitated. By this improvement the class of instruments denominated lyre developed into the lute class; and by other improve-ments upon the original basis it developed into the harp.

The origin of the peculiar mechanism which, when added to the lute, produced the viol, viz., the movable bridge, sound-post, and bow, is obvious. The bow is a develop-ment of the plectrum employed for sounding the lyre. The bridge was borrowed from the Greek Kavdv, or monochord. Movable bridges (u7rayco-yeig, subductaria, ponticuli) were employed to divide the monochord so as to produce the intervals of the various scales. The sole use of this in-strument being to train the ear of singers, it may well be supposed that musicians would endeavour to render the tone continuous, the better to support the voice; and this could be readily done by substituting for the plectrum a common military bow, with the string well rubbed with rosin, —a substance largely used by the Greeks and Italians. This supposition is confirmed by the fact that the marine trumpet, the most primitive of bowed instru-ments, is simply a bowed monochord. Although we can point to no pictorial representation of the bow as applied to musical instruments earlier than the 10th or 11th cen-tury, it is reasonable to conclude that the bridge and bow were adapted to the monochord and fidicula during the later empire. A substitute for the bow was afterwards found in the rosined wheel and handle, doubtless first applied to the monochord, afterwards perfected in the large mediaeval organistrum, and still employed in the smaller vielle or hurdy-gurdy. The bow, however, held and still holds its ground as the most convenient means of pro-ducing continuous tone from stringed instruments. The substitution of a hank of horse-hair for the single bow-string dates from very early times.

Except the marine trumpet or bowed monochord, we find in Europe no trace of any large bowed instruments before the appearance of the viol in the 15th century. The geige, crowd, rebec, and fidel, as the small bowed in-struments of the Middle Ages were variously called, were small enough to be rested on the shoulder during perform-ance, and were usually rather smaller than the modern violin. It is not easy to assign each of these names to any particular form of instrument. They all had in com-mon a resonant box, either circular, oval, or semi-pear-shaped, a handle with a finger-board, a tail-piece, a bridge, and from two to four strings tuned to fourths or fifths. The pegs were set vertically to the handle above the finger-board, as in the modern guitar. The bow, which was short and clumsy, had a considerable curvature, and the string a high tension. None of these instruments can have had a deeper compass than a boy's voice. The use of the fidel in the hands of the troubadours, to accompany the adult male voice,- explains the attempts which we trace in the 13th century to lengthen the oval form of the instru-ment. A contrary curvature, as in the guitar, was then given to the sides of the resonant box, to enable the bow to reach the strings of the enlarged instrument. This may be denominated the troubadour's fiddle.

The invention next to be described formed the turning-point in the history of bowed instruments. In order to keep in place the ribs of the troubadour's fiddle, with their troublesome contrary flexures, side-blocks inside the instrument were probably used. By cutting these blocks with an angle towards the outside, dividing each side rib into three smaller ones, and giving the middle one on each side a contrary curve so as to meet the upper and

lower ribs at an angle on the block, the resonant box was greatly strengthened, its construction became easier, and it became possible to make instruments of indefinitely larger size. Corner-blocks thus converted the fidel into the viol. Single corner-blocks (contrary flexures being still given to the upper ribs) were sometimes used, and often occur later on; but double corner-blocks came at once into general use, and resulted in the construction of the viol in several sizes. The mediaeval fiddle appears originally to have had a perfectly flat belly like the lute. It must early have been discovered that a belly scooped out to a slight curve offered greater resistance to the pres-sure of the strings transmitted by the bridge. Bellies thus scooped out probably came into general use with the in-vention of corner-blocks. The back continued to be, and in the viol family has always been, a piece of flat joinery. Theoretically, no doubt, this is right; for a scooped-out back is false in construction, as there is nothing for the arch of the back to carry. But, as a back thus modelled and forming a duplicate of the belly, as in the violin, produces a much more powerful tone, this consideration has come to be disregarded.

The Violin has— A scooped-out back, modelled
like the belly. Square shoulders, and a top like the bottom.
The viol is an instrument, or rather family of instruments, of merit and interest, though now superseded by the violin, with the exception of the double bass, which still survives as a practical instrument. The following are the points in which the viol differs from the violin:—
The Viol has— 1. A flat back of joiner's work.
2.
3. A low bridge with feet only.
4. /-shaped sound-holes.
5. A thick narrow handle.
6. Four strings tuned by fifths.
7. Acute corners.
8. Shallow ribs.
9. A ringing brilliant tone.
Shoulders with a contrary flexure in the pattern, and an oblique slope in the back. A high bridge mounted on legs. C-shaped, sometimes " flaming
sword," sound-holes. A thin broad handle. Six or seven strings, tuned by
fourths and a third. Square or obtuse corners.
8. Deep ribs.
9. A soft penetrating tone.
In the matter of 4 and 7 a few viols, made after the violin had been perfected, and chiefly Italian, follow the violin. The modern double bass also follows the violin in these points and in 5. The viol was made in three main kinds,—discant, tenor, and bass,—answering to the cantus, medius, and bassus of vocal music. Each of these three kinds admitted of some variation in dimensions, especially the bass, of which three distinct sizes ultimately came to
be made—(1) the largest, called the concert bass viol; (2) the division or solo bass viol, usually known by its Italian name of viola da gamba; and (3) the lyra or tablature bass viol. The normal tuning of the viols, as laid down in the earliest books, was adapted from the lute to the bass viol, and repeated in higher intervals in the rest.

Viola da Gamba. The fundamental idea, (Bass Viol.)
Discant Viol. Tenor Viol.
as in the lute, was that
: the outermost strings
: should be two octaves
apart—hence the in-
/,y — 7gy—g— tervals of fourths with
_EE==E ^EEgEE a third in the middle.
Discant viol.
Double

The highest, or discant viol, is obviously not a treble but an alto instrument, the three viols answering to the three male voices. As a treble instrument, not only for street and dance music, but in orchestras, the rebec or geige did duty until the invention of the violin, and long afterwards. The discant viol first became a real treble instrument in the hands of the French makers, who converted it into the quinton. The double bass, the largest of the viols, is bass viol, not a legitimate member of the family, having no corresponding voice, and being from the purely musical point of view superfluous. It appeared, however, concurrently with the bass, as soon as the invention of corner-blocks made it possible to construct bowed instruments of a size only limited by the possibility of playing them. As the discant viol is determined in size by the proportions of the bent arm, the tenor viol by the height above the knee of a sitting player, the bass by a relative height when the instrument is held between the knees, instead of supported on them, so the double bass is determined in size by the height of the standing figure, the bottom of the resonant box resting on the ground. In this respect it corresponds with the marine trumpet, which afforded an obvious hint for its construction. Originally it was made for six strings, the tuning being as follows :—

Double Bass In imitation probably of the largest register
VloL of pipes on the improved organs which were then being built, the double bass viol was used as a sub-bass. For this purpose the three <s'" highest strings were probably soon found to be useless, and they must have been very liable to break; and, as the pressure of useless strings impairs the resonance of the instrument, they seem to have been gradually dropped. The three lowest strings are the same as those used for the modern double bass.





Quinte or Tenor Quinton.

The earliest use of the viols was to double the parts of Develop-vocal concerted music; they were next employed in ment of special compositions for the viol trio written in the same the vioIs' compass. Many such works in the form of "fantasies" or "fancies," and preludes with suites in dance form, by the masters of the end of the 16th and 17th centuries, exist in manuscript; a set by Orlando Gibbons, which are good specimens, has been published by the English Musical Antiquarian Society. Later, the viols, especially the bass, were employed as solo instruments, the methods of composition and execution being based on those of the lute. Most lute music is in fact equally adapted for the bass viol, and vice verm. In the 17th century, when the violin was coming into general use, constructive innovations be-gan which resulted in the abandonment of the trio of pure six-stringed viols. Instruments which show these innova-tions are the quinton, the lyre, and the viola d'amore. The first-mentioned is of a type intermediate between the viol and the violin. In the case of the discant and tenor viol the lowest string, which was probably found to be of little use, was abandoned, and the pressure on the bass side of the belly thus considerably lightened. The five strings were then spread out, as it were, to the compass of the six, so as to retain the fundamental principle of the outer strings being two octaves apart. This was effected by tuning the lower half of the instrument in fifths like the violin and the upper half in fourths. This innovation altered the tuning of the treble and tenor viols, thus—_ One half of the instrument was therefore a viol, the other half TreWe Quinton-a violin, the middle string form-ing the division. The tenor viol thus improved was called in France the quinte, and the ^—n—
treble corresponding to it the ?rp~—
quinton. From the numerous specimens which survive it must have been a popular instrument, as it is undoubtedly a substantially excellent one. The relief in the bass, and the additional pressure caused by the higher tuning in the treble, gave it greater brilliancy, without destroying the pure, ready, and sympathetic tone which characterizes the viol. While the tendency in the case of the discant and tenor was to lighten and brighten them, the reverse process took place in that of the bass. The richer and more sonor-ous tones of the viola da gamba were extended downwards by the addition of a string tuned to double bass A, thus— Seven-stringed Marais, a French virtuoso, is usually credited Gamta.a with this improvement; and this extended compass is recognized in the classical viola da gamba
£z==3=z writings of



The violin.

: writings d'Hervelois.
Sebastian The result,



Bach and De Caix however, was not universally satisfactory, for Abel used the six-stringed instrument ; and the seven strings never came into general use in England, where the viola da gamba was more generally employed and survived longer than elsewhere.

The want of positive power, which is the weakness of the viol and ultimately drove it from the field, must have been early noticed on a comparison of its delicate tones with the harsher notes of the rebec. Hardly had the viol appeared, when makers cast about for means of augmenting its tone. One way of doing this was by additional strings in unisons, fifths, and octaves, a device which had been already employed in the small fiddles of the Middle Ages, and is identical in principle with the augmentation of diapason tone on the organ by means of other registers. The double or treble strung viol, in various sizes, was known as the lyre (Italian, accordo) ; but this multiplica-tion of strings proceeds on a false principle, for each additional string diminishes the resonance of the box, and at the same time hardens the tone and increases the task of the player. More ingenious and successful was the invention of sympathetic metal strings, usually steel, laid under the finger-board, as close as possible to the belly, and speaking by consonance with the notes produced on the bowed strings. From this resonance by sympathy the viol thus strung acquired the general name of viola d'amore. The original viola da gamba when so strung came to be called the viola bastarda; the seven-stringed bass, with an elaborately perfected sympathetic apparatus, was well known in the 18th century by the name of the bordone or baritone, and was a favourite instrument with musical epicures. Instruments made on this principle are found in all sizes; even kits are met with having sympathetic strings (sordino d'amore). Violins with sympathetic strings (usually five) are more rare; the viola d'amore chiefly used was of tenor size and compass. Originally tuned as to its bowed strings like the pure tenor viol, an additional string was given it, and the so-called "harp-way" tuning

Viola d'Amore, flat tuning.
Viola d'Amore, sharp tuning.
The sympathetic tached to ivory to the bottom through the bridge, or over their own, as to the surface of

adopted, thus— strings were at-pegs driven in-block, passed lower part of the a low bridge of near as possible the belly, under the fingerboard, and were strained to pitch either by means of additional pegs, or, better, by wrest-pins driven into the sides of the peg box and tuned by a key. Originally six, seven, or eight sympathetic strings were used, which were tuned to the diatonic scale of the piece in performance. Later, a chromatic set of twelve strings was employed ; and instruments are met with having a double set (24) of chromatic strings, two for each semitone in the scale. With thirty-one strings to be kept in perfect tune, the task of the player must have been arduous indeed; and it is not strange that instruments so elaborate and troublesome were abandoned. In a moist climate like that of Great Britain it is prfcctically impossible to keep a viola d'amore in playing order, the steel strings being in most of their length covered by the fingerboard and out of reach, while the slightest rust impairs the resonance, and much rust renders the instrument completely useless.
The improvements which were to develop an ultimate bowed instrument for permanent musical use proceeded in the opposite direction to the lyre and viola d'amore : they consisted in increasing yet more the resonance of the box, by making it lighter and more symmetrical and by stringing it more lightly, instead of more heavily. This was really falling back on primitive principles, for the hints were certainly derived from old extant specimens of the crowd and the geige. Existing pictures prove that the oval and the circular geige were made with nearly flat backs and bellies of correlative pattern; and it was natural to seek to reproduce their more powerful tone in the viol by giving it shallower ribs and a back modelled like the belly, and by assimilating the top of the instrument, where the handle is added, to the bottom. This change at once transformed the box of the viol into that of the violin, and the transformation was completed by rejecting the lute tuning with its many strings and tuning the instrument by fifths, as the geige and rebec had always been tuned. The tenor viol was apparently the first instrument in which the change was made, about the middle of the 16th century, and it was so successful that it was quickly applied to the treble and bass instruments.





The question so often mooted, Who invented the violin 1 may therefore be dismissed. The instrument was produced by applying to the viol certain principles borrowed from its smaller predecessors. It would be equally correct to say that it was produced by applying to the geige other principles borrowed from the viol. Tradition indicates one of the Tieffenbriickers, a German family whose members for more than a century were famous lute-makers in Venetia and Lombardy, as the inventor. The earliest instrument of the violin type known to the present writer is a tenor made by Fr. Linaroli of Bergamo, at Venice, in 1563 ; and the earliest makers whose authentic works have descended to us in considerable numbers are Gaspar da Salo and Maggini, both of Brescia.

An important distinction should be mentioned which High divides violins into two classes, known respectively as the and n^ " high " and the " flat" model. On this subject much has been said and written ; but it has not been discussed scientifically, nor has the prevalence of one model over the other at different times and in different places been accounted for. It is understood that, while the flat model, which has now practically driven the high model from the field, yields a tone that is more powerful and travels further, the high model yields a tone which comes out more readily, and is softer and more flute-like, although less capable of light and shade. The high model is less convenient for the player, because when the instrument is rested on the clavicle the strings are at a greater altitude in relation to the right arm, which accordingly requires to be raised. Hence the high model has become less popular as the art of violin-playing has developed, and is undoubtedly less suitable to the elaborate system now in use. These remarks apply to instruments of pronounced high model; for the distinction is in fact a matter of degree, and is purely mechanical in origin. The flattest models rise about twelve millimetres above the ribs, while the highest do not exceed twenty, and many of the best violins have an elevation between these limits. The object of the rise being to give just such a degree of resistance to the pressure of the bridge as will set the enclosed air in due vibration, and this de-gree being approximately the same in all violins, the amount of elevation must obviously be relative to the strength and elasticity of the fibres of the belly. The more regular the shape of the box,—that is, the flatter the model, —the more perfect and the more completely blended will be the undulations of the mass of air within, and the more uniformly sonorous and musical the tone; but owing to the pressure of the strings only strong and elastic wood can be used for this model. Wood of stiff and brittle fibre must be worked to a higher arch, or if used for the flat model must be left too thick for perfect vibration. Hence we might expect to find the flat and the high model employed respectively where different qualities of wood are available, with a corresponding result in the tone. Fine elastic pine is chiefly found on the southern slopes of the Alps; and thereabouts the best viols and violins have always been made. The famous violin-makers carried on their trade at Brescia, Cremona, Mantua, Milan, and Venice, while the Piedmontese Alps and the Apennines furnished material for some makers in Piedmont and at Bologna. High-modelled violin's, and flatter instruments of thicker wood and inferior sonority, were chiefly made in Tyrol, Germany, France, and England, where the available.mate-rial was less tenacious and elastic. Early The early Italian school is chiefly represented by the Brescian Italian makers, Gaspar da Saló, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Giovita Rodiani, makers, and the two Zanettos (1580-1630). It is, however, misleading to denominate it the Brescian school, for its characteristics are shared by the earliest makers of Cremona and Venice. To eyes familiar with the geometrical curves of the later Cremona school most of the violins of these makers, like the early violins of England and Ger-many, have a rude and uncouth appearance. The height of the model varies ; the pattern is attenuated ; the /-holes share the general rudeness of design, and are set high in the pattern. Andreas Amati of Cremona, the eldest maker of that name, effected some improvements on this primitive model; but the violin owes most to his sons, Antonio and Gerónimo, who were partners. Nicholas, son of Gerónimo, and Antonio Stradivari, the pupil of Nicholas, each did something to perfect the model; but the substantial im-provements which converted the Brescian violin into the modern instrument were the work of Antonio and Gerónimo. These im-provements, which were, in fact, of an artistic rather than a scien-tific nature, consisted in modelling the instrument in all its outlines and surfaces to regular curves. Painting and inlaying had long been employed in the decoration of stringed instruments; but the brothers Amati were the first who applied to the violin the funda-mental law of decorative art, that the decorative and constructive elements should be blended in their inception : in other words, the construction should be itself decorative and the decoration itself constructive. The nature of the instrument suggested the applica-tion of this law, for all extraneous additions to the varnished wood of which it consists tend to damp the tone. Nicholas Amati (1596-1684) made some slight improvements in the Cremona model, and Antonio Stradivari (1649-1737) finally settled the typical Cremona pattern, which has been generally followed ; for the majority of violins since made, whether by good or bad makers, are copies of Stradivari. Besides the last-named, the following makers worked generally on the Amati model, — Cappa, Gobetti, the Grancino family, Andreas Guarnieri, and his son Giuseppe, the Ruggieri family, and Serafín of Venice. Balestrieri, the Bergonzi family, Alessandro Gagliano, the earlier members of the Guadagnini family, Montagnana, and Panormo were pupils or followers of Stradivari. Landolfi, Storioni, and Carlo Giuseppe Testore, a pupil of Giovanni Grancino, leaned to the model of Giuseppe Guarnieri del Gesii. Some resemblances, especially in the matter of the varnish, are traceable between the works of makers who lived contemporaneously in the same town, e. g., in Naples, Milan, and Venice. German, The Amati method was adapted to the higher model by Jacob English, Stainer of Absam, near Hall in Tyrol, whose well-known pattern and was chiefly followed by the makers of England, Tyrol, and Germany, French down to the middle of the 18th century. It thenceforward fell into makers, disuse, owing to the superior musical qualities of the Cremona violin and to improved means of communication, which enabled the violin-makers of other countries to procure wood sufficiently soft and tenacious to be worked to the flat model. The school of Stainer is represented amongst many others by Albani, Hornsteiner, the Klotz family (who made large numbers of instruments excellent in their kind), Schorn of Salzburg, and Withalm of Nuremberg. The English makers may be divided into three successive groups :—1. an antique English school, having a character of its own (Rayman, Urquhart, Pamphilon, Barak Norman, Duke of Oxford, &c); 2. imitators of Stainer, at the head of whom stands Peter Wamsley (Smith, Barrett, Cross, Hill, Aireton, Norris, &c.); 3. a later school who leaned to the Cremona model (Banks, Duke of Holborn, Betts, the Forsters, GKlkes, Carter, Fendt, Parker, Harris, Matthew Hardie of Edinburgh, &c). The early French makers have little merit or interest (Bocquay, Gavinies, Pierray, Guersan, &c.); but the later copyists of the Cremona models (Lupot, Aldric, Chanot the elder, Nicholas, Pique, Silvestre, Vuillaume, &c.) produced admir-able instruments, some of which rank next in merit to the first-rate makers of Cremona.

The tenor violin, in compass a fifth lower than the treble > violin, appears to have preceded the latter; and from
245
existing specimens we Tenor
know that the bass vio- violin
lin, now termed the
o i o i violon-
violoncello, with a tun- ceU0-
SEEE^EE: ing an octave below the tenor, appeared very
shortly afterwards. A double bass violin, tuned a fourth below the violoncello and usually known as the basso da camera, completed the set of instruments in violin shape ; but from the difficulty attending its manipulation it never came into general use. The celebrated double bass player, Dragonetti, occasionally used the basso da camera, and an English player named Hancock, who dis-pensed with the highest or E string, is still remembered for his performances on this unusual instrument.

The tenor and violoncello are made on the same general model and principles as the violin, but with certain modi-fications. Both are relatively to their pitch made smaller than the violin, because, if they were so constructed as to have the same relation to the pitch and tension of the strings as the violin, they would not only have an over-powering tone but would be unmanageable from their size. This relatively diminished size, both in the dimen-sions of the instrument and in the thickness of the wood and strings, gives to the tenor and violoncello a graver and more sympathetic tone. To some extent this reduced size is compensated by giving them a greater proportional height in the ribs and bridge; the increase is hardly perceptible in the tenor, but is very noticeable in the violon-cello. Correlative to this general diminution in the size of the instrument and the tension of the strings as the bass register is entered, there is a progressive diminu-tion in the size and tension of the strings of each instrument, the treble string having in all cases the greatest tension and being thickest in proportion, though actually the thinnest. This is partly due to the fact that the ear demands greater brilliancy and force in the higher register; but it has also a mechanical reason. The treble foot of the bridge is fixed, while the bass foot vibrates freely ; additional stability is given to the rigid side and additional freedom to the bass side by lightening the tension in each string progressively towards the bass. This can be verified by the simple experiment of stringing up a violin with the strings reversed, but without altering the sound-post and bass-bar. Still further to lighten the tension on the bass side, the lowest string of the violin and the two lowest of the tenor and violoncello are specially made of thin gut and covered with fine metal wire. Such strings yield a grave tone with comparatively little tension.

It is obvious that, if the lowest string, or the two lowest strings, Scorda-are elevated in pitch, the tension will be greater, and the violin tura. will produce a more powerful tone ; if the bass string is lowered, the contrary will take place. By adapting the music to this altered tuning (scordatura) some novel effects are produced. The follow-ing are the principal scordature which have been occasionally employed by various players.

Biber.
Tartini, Castrucci. (Scotch. Reels.)
Ni i_ iNi^ W
Biber. Nardini. Barbella,
ÍE $

NN í
Lolli.
Paganini.
Baillot
Campagnoli.
De Bériot.
De Beriot,
Prume, Mazas, &c.

The violoncello is less amenable to the scordatura than the violin ; the only classical instance is the tuning employed by Bach
_yn m in his fifth sonata, which consists in lowering the first
ig—=Ppnz string by a tone.

It is commonly said that an old violin is better than
Bach. a new one. Other things being equal, and supposing

"Good" the older to be in fair preservation, this is true ; it is also true that violins, of old violins the best, as a rule, have survived. Good violins, however, have been continuously made, and are still being made, though since the middle of the 18th century the cheapness of the "trade " fiddle, made by the hundred by divided labour, has much circumscribed the business of the higher-class workman. The best workmen of different countries differ little in merit; but it is seldom that any maker out of Italy is successful in varnishing his work so as to impart to it the superior resonance wdiich characterizes the best Italian violins. The varnish, originally merely orna-mental and preservative, has become an essential part of the work, from its intimate connexion with the tone. The secret of making varnish is not lost, as is sometimes stated ; the difficulty consists in applying and drying it with reference to the climate where the operation takes place. In moist climates, oil varnish, which is the best, dries too slowly ; hence the use of spirit varnish, which is more manageable, but has not the effect of permeating the superficial tissues of the wood so as to increase and perpetuate its elasticity. Many well-made modern violins, notably those of some French makers, have proved failures, because they have, under a mistaken belief, been made out of old and dry wood. After a few years pine begins to lose its elasticity; the old makers used wood that was only just sufficiently seasoned, and they preserved its elasticity by applying their varnish at once.

It is also commonly said that a flat violin is preferable to a high-modelled one. This must be accepted with some modification. Instruments which are excessively flat should be avoided, for reasons above stated. A moderate height, rather less than the medium, is most favourable to vibration ; what is really essential is that the sound-holes should be in horizontal planes, not in planes inclined at a considerable angle to the transverse section of the instrument. Such sound-holes, as may be proved at once by the ear, have the property of immediately letting out the vibrations of the small mass of air which lies directly under the bridge, and thus rob the great mass of air in the body of the fiddle of the impulse necessary to set it properly in vibration ; hence the tone, though quickly yielded and not feeble to the ear of the player, is found at a short distance to be deficient in force and flexibility. The violins most in request are the larger specimens of the Amati family, of Stradivari and his best pupils, and of the two cousins Giuseppe Guarnieri,—the instruments of Giuseppe called " del Gesu," from his use of the sacred monogram on his tickets, being by some players preferred to those of Stradivari. For old instruments of the best class purchasers must be prepared to pay from £200 to £600, according to their quality and state of preservation. Second-class old Italian instruments, and first-rate specimens of the best school of French copyists, can usually be bought for smaller sums down to £20. The chief seats of the wholesale violin manufacture are Mireconrt in France and Markneukirchen in Saxony. Violin The violin bow, which is made of Brazil wood, was reduced to bow. its present admirable shape about 1780 by Francois Tourte of Paris (1747-1835), whose bows are still esteemed above all others. A fair Tourte bow is generally worth £10 ; but a fine one has been sold for £30 ; and one of his best violoncello bows, which are rarities, was recently sold in Paris for £44. Bows, however, which leave little to be desired are made in great numbers by English, French, and German makers. A good bow is of more importance to a player than a good violin ; something may be done with an indiffer-ent instrument, but no one can play with a bad bow. Strings. The best strings have always been made in Italy; the climate of northern Europe is unsuitable for the manufacture. Good strings are essential to the player, and they should be frequently changed, as they only retain their shape at the place where the bow touches them, and their elasticity, for a limited period.

For further information on the history of stringed instruments, the reader is referred to Vidal, Les Instruments a Archet, 3 vols. 4to (Paris, 1876-79); Ruhl-mann, Gesch. der Bogen-Instrumente (Brunswick, 1882); and the various articles in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The best handbook of violin-makers is Hart's Violin (London, 187D-S0). The process of violin-making is well described in E. H. Allen's Violin-Making as it was and is (London, 18S5). A smaller work, which can be recommended, is Maugin's Manuel du Luthier (Paris, 1869). The art of playing the violin has been practically treated at length by Campagnoli, Baillot, Spohr, Ferdinand David, Alard, and many other professors of the various schools ; but the only attempt to explain it systematically with reference to sound scientific theory is contained in an unpretending brochure by Karl Courvoisier (Die Vwlin-Technik, Cologne, 1878), which it is impossible to praise too highly. See also Musiml Instruments, Historic, Rare, and Unique, by A. J. Hipkins (Edinburgh, 1S87). (E. J. P*.)



Footnotes

In order that the vibrational impulse may be given as nearly as
possible at the centre of the mass of air in the resonant box.
Rosin, manufactured as now from turpentine, was generally used in Italy and Greece in the preparation of wine (Pliny, N.H., xiv. 20, 25), as an ingredient in medicine, and as a cosmetic (Scribonius Largus, Compos., 137 sq.). Violin rosin is called in French colophane and in German colophonium, from the town of Colophon ; and Colo-phonian rosin is described by Pliny as "prae ceteris fulva, si teratur alba fit, gravior odore." Good violin rosin answers exactly to this description.

2 Meibomius, Auctores Musical Antiques, Amsterdam, 1652, p. 89.

2 Meibomius, Auctores Musical Antiques, Amsterdam, 1652, p. 89.



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