The violin is one of the most prominent instruments in classical music. Though there are a few exceptions, most pieces in classical music require at least some violin play.
Many pieces also require more than one violinist to play. Because of this, the role of the violinist in an orchestra is very important.
In the traditional symphony orchestra, the violins usually play as one undivided group. Depending on which piece is being played, they may have specific parts they need to play. Or, they may just have to play what is known as the harmony – basically all the notes that fit together with other notes to create a nice sound.
Sometimes, however, a piece may require separate violin parts. These pieces are known as arranges, and they require the musicians to learn separate parts before playing with each other.
Number of violins in the orchestra
The number of violins in the orchestra depends on the piece being performed. For example, if the piece requires more melody, then more violins are needed. If there is a need for less melody, then fewer violins are needed.
Typically, in the traditional symphony orchestra, there are two groups of violinists: first and second violins. The first violinists usually play the higher notes, and the second violinists play the lower notes.
Meanwhile, there are also double basses and sometimes a cello or bass guitar that plays low notes. When this happens, the first violins must work with their higher notes alone.
The rest of the strings, like banjos and mandolines, usually play as one group due to having similar pitches. However, if there is a need for more individualized sounds, then some special pieces require individualization between string instruments.
Characteristics of a violin
The violin is a fiddle-like instrument that has a history as long as music itself. It is believed that the first violin was created around 600 BC.
There are several characteristics of the violin that make it unique. The most noticeable is the shape of the body. The body of the violin is in the shape of an hourglass. This gives it a distinctive look when placed on a stand.
The shape of the neck, or rod that connects the headstock to the body, also sets it apart. The neck of a violin curves down slightly before straightening out to connect to the body. This gives it more room for placement of strings.
In addition, all violins have a sound post that sits inside near the bottom of the instrument. This helps dampen, or soften, the sound produced by the string vibration.
Lyrical and delicate sounds
Besides classical music, violins can also be found in many other genres. When the violin is used in more pop or R&B songs, it usually provides softer, lyrical sounds or accompaniments.
Sometimes, the violin may take a backseat to other instruments like the guitar or piano. In these cases, the violin provides delicate and soft sounds that harmonize with the other instruments.
The beauty of the violin is that it can be used to provide a wide range of sounds. It can accompany other instruments, take a backseat to others, or be the leading instrument. The musician must have a good sense of when to play louder or softer to match the rest of the music.
The violin is a beautiful instrument with a rich history.
Group playing is prevalent in the classical era
When it comes to string instruments, the violin is the most dominant. In the traditional symphony orchestra, the violins usually play as one undivided group.
Because strings are a class of instrument, grouping is a common practice. String instruments play similar notes and use similar bowing techniques to produce their sound.
By having all the violins play together, the strings can create a richer sound and more depth to the piece. Group playing is prevalent in the classical era because it produces a better fit with other groups of instruments.
The different strings can match up with other strings in pitch and tone, making it easier to combine them into music. The different strings can also match up with different bass instruments to create more depth of sound.
However, in modern music, string groups tend to split up and take on a more individual role.
Violinists play together to produce a unified sound
In a large group of violinists, such as in an orchestra or concert setting, the strings usually play as one undivided group. Each violinist has his or her own style and personality when playing, but they all work together to create a beautiful sound.
Many times, each violinist will play their own separate notes. But sometimes, they will all synchronize their notes to produce a harmonized melody.
This is done by listening to the other strings and coordinating your own notes with theirs. It takes lots of practice to do this well!
There are some songs that are sung just by the violins, however. These songs are written in such a way that the violins sound good playing alone. Some of these songs are done for special occasions, like weddings or funerals.
Symphony orchestras use between about 12 and 200 violins, depending on the performance location and budget
The number of violins in the orchestra usually correlates with the size of the performance venue. Larger venues, like concert halls or theaters, can fit more musicians and require more instruments to fill out the sound.
Smaller venues, like seminars or university lecture halls, usually have a smaller room capacity and can easily be filled by the sound of the violins.
The use of so many violins in one group is what gives the classical music its distinctive sound. While other instruments may be played individually or in small groups, the violinists all play together as one unit.
They must also work together to produce certain sounds and rhythms that are needed for certain songs. Coordinating these movements is part of becoming a good violinist.
Some songs call for some violinists to play individually, however.