The Instruments: the Violin


The violin is an instrument played by being held between the chin and the shoulder. It is the smallest member of the string family. It has a bright, lyrical, clear and powerful sound, which gets warmer as we move up the fingerboard towards the bridge.

Like all bowed string instruments it has four strings tuned in G2-D3-A3-E4 from bottom to top. Traditionally the range of the violin goes from G2 to approximately E6 in an orchestral context. In a chamber or solo context the range could be extended higher depending on the ability of the player. Normally it is not recommended to go past the sixth or seventh position (G5-A5) and it is advisable to keep within the first octave of each string. As we approach the bridge it gets harder to tune and there is a progressive loss of power.

There are two sections of violins in the string section. The first section usually assumes the role of the soprano. However, it does not always take over the melodic function in an entire orchestral setting. It is also used to play accompaniment patterns, counterpoints, or even a line in chordal textures. The second violin section, usually harmonises or doubles the first violins' melody or assumes any of the other roles the firsts also have.


Example of a violin solo passage in N. Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade op. 35: I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship

Other languages: FR


Example of one violin section passage in E. Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36: Theme

Other languages: FR



Example of two violin sections playing together in N. Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade op. 35: I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship

Other languages: FR