Instrument names in the ancestral violin family are all derived from the root viola, which is a derivative of the Medieval Latin word vitula (meaning "stringed instrument). A violin is a "little viola", a violone is a "big viola" or a bass violin, and a violoncello (often abbreviated cello) is a "small violone" (or, literally, a "small big viola"). (The violone is not part of the modern violin family; its place is taken by the modern double bass.)
The instruments of the ancestral violin family may be descended in part from the lira da braccio.
|Violin||Viola||Cello (violoncello)||Double bass (Contrabass)|
While the violin, viola and cello (originally the bass violin) are indisputable members of the ancestral violin, or viola da braccio family, the double bass's origins are sometimes called into question. The double bass is occasionally taken to be part of the viol family, due to its sloping shoulders, its tuning, and its sometimes flat back. Others say that these features are arbitrary, and point to the internal construction of the double bass, which is proportionately identical to the violin's, as a more weighty piece of evidence than the external features. Its origins aside, it has historically been used as the lowest member of the violin family since its "invention."
All string instruments share similar form, parts, construction, and function, and the viols bear a particularly close resemblance to the violin family. However, instruments in the ancestral violin family are set apart from viols by similarities in shape, in tuning practice, and in history. They have four strings each, are tuned in fifths (the bass is tuned in fourths), are not fretted, and have four rounded bouts.
One of the most popular and standardized groupings in classical chamber music, the string quartet, is composed entirely of instruments from the ancestral violin family. This similarity in the manner of sound production allows string quartets to blend their tone colour and timbre more easily than less homogeneous groups. This is particularly notable in comparison to the standard wind quintet, which, although composed entirely of wind instruments, comprises four fundamentally different ways of producing musical pitch.
WIPO ASSIGNS PATENT TO J-WONMUSIC FOR "STRING INSTRUMENT IN VIOLIN FAMILY, CAPABLE OF VERSATILE USE AS ACOUSTIC OR ELECTRIC INSTRUMENT" (SOUTH KOREAN INVENTOR)
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Patent Application Titled "Positioning of an Electronic Transducer on the Bass Bar of the Violin Family of Acoustical Instruments" Published Online
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