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Violin musical styles 1

Violin musical styles

This article is part

of the Fiddle & Violin series.
Basic physics of the violin
History of the violin
Musical styles
Making and maintenance
Playing the violin
Violin construction
Violin family of instruments

Classical music
Since the Baroque era the violin (Baroque violin) has
been one of the most important of all instruments in
classical music, for several reasons. The tone of the
violin stands out above other instruments, making it
appropriate for playing a melody line. In the hands of a
good player, the violin is extremely agile, and can
execute rapid and difficult sequences of notes. Indeed,
the violin seems to lend itself to virtuosity more than
any other instrument (its only possible rival is the
piano), and top violinists have amazed their audiences
with their skill since the 17th century.
A girl playing a violin in Dublin
The violin is also considered a very expressive
instrument, which is often felt to approximate the human voice. This may be due to the possibility of vibrato and of
slight expressive adjustments in pitch and timbre. Many leading composers have contributed to the violin concerto
and violin sonata repertories.
Violins make up a large part of an orchestra, and are usually divided into two sections, known as the first and second
violins. Composers often assign the melody to the first violins (who are often given more technically difficult
music), while second violins play harmony, accompaniment patterns or the melody in a lower range than the first
violins. A string quartet similarly has parts for first and second violins, as well as a viola part, and a bass instrument,
such as the cello or, rarely, the double bass.
Violin musical styles 2

Popular music
During the 1920s and early 1930s, violins were an integral part of popular music, especially for dance music. Dances
orchestras typically had at least 2 or 3 violins, although many high class society orchestras would often include as
much as 6 or 7. With the introduction of swing music in 1935, the violin, along with other string instruments,
dropped out of popular music as they were deemed inappropriate for the swing sound. Violins would only re-emerge
in popular music in the late 1960s.
While the violin has had very little usage in rock music compared to its brethren the guitar and bass guitar, it is being
increasingly absorbed into mainstream pop. Independent artists such as Final Fantasy and Andrew Bird have
increased interest as well, creating a subcategory of indie rock that some have termed "violindie".
The violin is also used in mainstream pop acts like Vanessa-Mae, Bond, Miri Ben-Ari, Yellowcard, Nigel Kennedy,
and Dave Matthews Band with Boyd Tinsley and Jean-Luc Ponty; U2 also frequently uses the violin, especially the
electric violin. The violin is also a part of the huge phenomenon called cello rock. The hugely popular Motown
recordings of the 60's and 70's relied heavily on strings as part of the trademark texture. Earlier genres of pop music,
at least those separate from the Rock 'n' Roll movement, tended to make use of fairly traditional Orchestras,
sometimes large ones; examples include the American "Crooners" such as Bing Crosby.
Though bowed strings were heavily popular and relied upon in almost all types of music genre recordings in the 60's
and 70's, disco music, which surged aggressively onto the music scene in the early to mid 1970's, also relied heavily
upon strings within its compositions; in fact, almost all disco/dance music of that era incorporated the use of strings
within its compositions and arrangements. After the sudden decline of disco began in the early 80's, the use of strings
not only dwindled in disco music, but ceased in almost all types of popular music during that time and more so
immediately after disco's death. The 1980s saw an insurgence of electronic music mimicking strings with little or no
use of traditional strings in music compositions. Now strings are making a comeback in pop music.
Indian, Pakistani, Turkish and Arabic pop music is filled with the sound of violins, both soloists and ensembles.

The earliest references to jazz performance using the violin as a solo instrument are documented during the first
decades of the 20th century. The first great jazz violinist was Joe Venuti who is best known for his work with
guitarist Eddie Lang during the 1920s.

Jazz, 1935-1960
In the swing and post-war eras there were many superb improvising violinists including Stéphane Grappelli, Stuff
Smith, Ray Perry, Ray Nance and Claude "Fiddler" Williams.

Modern jazz, 1961-present

Noteworthy modern jazz violinists who joined the scene between 1960 and 1990 and usually played in an
avant-garde vein include Leroy Jenkins, Billy Bang, Malcolm Goldstein, Michael White, John Blake, Jr., and Florin
Niculescu. Younger performers include Mat Maneri, Katt Hernandez and Regina Carter.
Jazz fusion violinists include Jean-Luc Ponty and Michal Urbaniak.

Folk music
Like many other instruments of classical music, the violin descends from remote ancestors, cruder in form, that were
used for folk music. Following a stage of intensive development in the late Renaissance, largely in Italy, the violin
had improved (in volume, tone, and agility), to the point that it not only became a very important instrument in art
music, but proved highly appealing to folk musicians as well. As a folk instrument, the violin ultimately spread very
Violin musical styles 3

widely, sometimes displacing earlier bowed instruments, and ethnomusicologists have observed its use in many
locations throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
In many traditions of folk music, the tunes are not written but are memorized by successive generations of musicians
and passed on in what is known as the oral tradition.

When played as a folk instrument, the violin is ordinarily referred to in English as a fiddle.
One very slight difference between "fiddles" and ordinary violins may be seen in American (e.g., bluegrass and
old-time music) fiddling: in these styles, the bridge is often shaved down so that it is less curved. This makes it easier
to play double stops, and often makes triple stops possible, allowing one to play chords.
There is quite often only a single fiddle playing in any given venue, although twin fiddling is represented in some
styles. By contrast, violins often play in sections, since sound reinforcement (before electronic amplification) was
only possible by adding instruments. The Italian ripieno may be translated as "filling" (or "stuffing" in the culinary
sense) since many instruments "fill out" the sound.

Indian classical (Carnatic) music

The Carnatic violin, while essentially the same instrument as that used in Western music, is different in some senses.
The instrument is tuned so that the IV and III strings (G and D on a western-tuned violin) and the II and I (A and E)
strings are sa-pa (do-sol) pairs and sound the same but are offset by an octave, resembling common scordatura or
fiddle cross-tunings such as CGCG or AEAE. The tonic sa (do) is not fixed, but variably tuned to accommodate the
vocalist or lead player.
The way the musician holds the instrument varies from Western to Carnatic music. In Carnatic music the musician
sits on the floor cross-legged with the right foot out in front of them. The scroll of the instrument rests on the foot.
This position is essential to playing well due to the nature of Carnatic music. The hand can move all over the
fingerboard and there is no set position for the left hand, so it is important for the violin to be in a steady, unmoving
The violin is a very important part of South Indian classical music (Carnatic music). It is believed to have been
introduced to the South Indian tradition by Baluswamy Dikshitar. The violin is primarily used as support for a
vocalist, as the sound of a violin complements that of the singer, but is also largely played solo. The masters of
Carnatic violin include Tirukodikaval Krishna Iyer, Govindaswamy Pillai, Mysore T. Chowdiah, Violin Trio
Brothers L. Vaidyanathan, Dr. L. Subramaniam, Dr.L. Shankar, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, Dwaram Venkataswamy
Naidu, T. N. Krishnan, Lalgudi Jayaraman, and M. S. Gopalakrishnan. The children of the last three are also
successful violinists in their own right. The next generation of violinists includes M. Chandrasekaran, V. V.
Subramaniam, M. S. Govindaswamy, Mysore Nagaraj, Mysore Manjunath and Ganesh and Kumaresh, Dr. M.
Lalitha and M. Nandini.
In solo violin concerts, the violinist is accompanied by percussion instruments, usually the mridangam and the
The violin is also a principal instrument for South Indian film music. V. S. Narasimhan is among the leading players
in the South Indian film industry, with many hits in the film world.
Article Sources and Contributors 4

Article Sources and Contributors

Violin musical styles  Source:  Contributors: A. B., AgentFade2Black, Ahoerstemeier, Antandrus, Bearcat, Beja, Bharatveer, Bluemoose,
Bwilkins, Chrishmt0423, Crystallina, Dagorath, Delatorre, Dogru144, Eitch, Ewlyahoocom, Frinck51, ILike2BeAnonymous, Just plain Bill, Kenshin, Loyalist Cannons, Mar4d, Mets501,
Nihonjoe, Nkayesmith, Pachyderm13, Pascal.Tesson, Pisharov, Pjrich, Redheylin, Scarlet Lioness, Snowolf, Tassedethe, That Guy, From That Show!, Valfontis, VasuVR, Verdatum, 57
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