What Instrument Does Sherlock Holmes Play?


Quick Answer

Sherlock Holmes plays a violin, although his instrument in the popular television adaptation does not contribute to musical scores heard onscreen. Holmes is an exceptional violinist, although those skills reportedly do not transfer to actors playing his role, including Benedict Cumberbatch. However, television producers replicate the talents of Holmes and the unique look of his old instrument as closely as possible, recording musical scores from accomplished violinists and searching for replica violins matching the color of Holmes' Stradivarius.

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Full Answer

As a character in "The Cardboard Box" by Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes fortifies his image as a mysterious, intelligent and cunning character by playing the violin. Holmes takes violin playing seriously and selects a Stradivarius, one of the most iconic and high-quality violin brands in the world. In keeping with the character, actors playing the part of Holmes appear onscreen with the violin. For the second series of the Sherlock Holmes television show, actor Benedict Cumberbatch appears in several scenes playing the violin. According to the BBC, Cumberbatch learned to play some notes and melodies on the violin for a week before staging a live performance. However, a professional violinist and Cumberbatch's coach, Eos Chater, ultimately rerecorded the songs for a perfect sound.

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