History of the Violin
The most beautiful sounding violins in existence today were made in Italy in the early 1700s, a period called the golden age of violin making. These instruments, especially those made by Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are the most desired instruments by both collectors and performers, selling for millions of dollars. Modern day violin-makers have not been able to successfully copy the techniques they used to produce the same quality sound of violins that was made during this period. The violin produces sound by drawing a bow across one or more strings which may be held down by the fingers of the other hand to produce a full range of pitches. The violin is the smallest and highest pitched member of the bowed string instruments, which also includes the viola, the cello, and the double bass. The violins and violas are higher in pitch than cellos and basses because the length of their strings is shorter (Rapoport 23). Violins can be handmade by a luthier, or a violin-maker, made in a workshop, or made in a factory. A violin has more than 70 parts that must be put together in just the right way to achieve the best sound. The quality of the violin depends on the quality of the materials and workmanship. Maple or spruce wood is used most often for the body of the violin. The wood must be seasoned, which is best done in fresh air over eight to ten years, before it is carved to make the violin. Precise calculations must be used to determine the correct thickness of the wood for both structural strength and beauty of tone. The patterns used to make violins are based on models built by great makers, such as Antonio Stradivari or Guarneri del Gesù. Instruments made by Stradivari are often referred to as Stradivarius and those made by Guarneri as del Gesùs. From about 1700, the violin started to replace the viol, a much larger bowed string instrument played in the 1500s and 1600s. Today, the violin is...
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