Throughout history the violin has been known for making one of the most beautiful sounds in music. With the strings, body and bow all making a difference, the violin can produce a wide variety of sounds from a very high pitched to a very low pitched one. Stringed instruments which include guitars and violins consist of two main parts, the vibrator (or the string) and the resonator. The resonator is the case, box or surrounding board the string is mounted on. “A string by itself does not produce a loud or even present sound.” It must be attached to a resonator through which vibrations are forced improving the loudness and quality of the sound. Violins are instruments that are usually bowed. One side of each bow consists of dozens of fine fibers that have been rubbed with rosin to increase the friction when stroked across a string. Each instrument has four strings and wooden sounding boards at the front and the back of the case. The members of the violin family have no frets and thus the frequency can be changed gradually, not necessarily in steps as in the guitar family.

The vibration (and therefore the sound) of the string is affected by three main variables: the tension of the string, the length of the string and the mass per unit length. The four strings are connected to the pegbox where the strings are wound around a peg and so the tension in the string can be changed by turning the peg. The more tension the string receives the higher the frequency of the vibration and therefore higher the pitch. The length of all the strings are fundamentally the same length but the length of the vibrating part can be changed by putting fingers down. As the strings length becomes shorter the frequency becomes higher thus changing the sound. The mass per unit length is the thickness of the strings. “The violin has four different strings each with a different thickness. The thinner the string is the higher the frequency becomes, thus making the pitch higher.” The second main factor that affects the sound of the violin is the body of the violin.  “Only plucking the strings without the body present does not excite many air particles thus making a smaller noise, a resonator must be put in place to create the typical violin sound.” The strings rest on a bridge which transfers the vibrations down to the body of the instrument. The violins body resonates in two main ways. The top and back plate resonates, which radiates most of the sound. The second way the violin body resonates is through the air circulating within the violin. This resonance is not nearly as important as the first way to body resonates.

The violin uses the changing of the strings as well as the resonation of the body to create its beautiful sound. From the early Stradivarius violins to the most recently created types, the violin is still one of the most recognizable instruments when it comes to its unique, beautiful sound.


[1] Kim, 1999, http://web.mit.edu.2.972/www/reports/violin/ciolin.html

[2] Rhoda, 2000

[3] Rosemblum, 2001

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