Violins & Their Varying Styles

 

You may think of violins as an orchestra instrument, but a symphony stage isn’t the only place you’ll spot a violin. The violin is actually a quite versatile instrument and has been used for ages in many different styles of music. Ever heard of a fiddle? It sounds a lot different from the violin of classical music styles, but they’re actually the same instrument! Take a look at the violin’s varying music styles below.

Classical Music

The first image that pops into your head when someone says “violin” is probably the classical violin. The violin has been used since the Baroque era in classical music. Its tone helps it stand out against other instruments, which makes it perfect for playing the melody line. However, most orchestras split their violin players into first and second parts. The first players typically play the melody while the second players support them with the harmony.

Folk Music

The violin is popular among folk songs from many different areas, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In this style of music, the violin is typically referred to as the “fiddle,” although you may use the term “fiddle” to describe a violin in any genre. The fiddle is the same instrument as the classical violin, although some folk music songs require a different tuning than standard.

It’s also different in the techniques used. For example, fiddle players might cut the bridge’s top edge to alter the curve on their instrument. This makes it easier to use the “double shuffle” technique and makes alternating between double stops on different string pairs simpler.

Jazz

Though you may think of the saxophone when you think jazz music, the violin has been incorporated into jazz music since the 1920s. One of the more popular instances of the violin in jazz was when violinist Joe Venuti worked with guitarist Eddie Lang in the 1920s. Other improvising violinists have emerged throughout the years, using the violin as a solo instrument. However, violinists may also appear in orchestral backgrounds in jazz recordings. Modern-day jazz violinists include Leroy Jenkins and Regina Carter.

Popular Music

Guitars aren’t the only string instrument you’ll find in pop music. The violin was a part of pop music as early as the 1920s. Although it declined in popularity for a couple of years, it began making a comeback in the 1960s and 1970s in disco music. It was widely used in soul music, and the Motown era relied on string instruments like the violin. Both electric and acoustic violins are used by popular bands like Dave Matthews Band and U2. Many different indie musicians and bands, such as Arcade Fire and Andrew Bird, also incorporate the instrument into their music.

Indian Classical Music

The violin in Indian classical music differs from the violin used in Baroque era music. For one, the instrument is tuned differently so that the G and D strings and the A and E strings are sa-pa pairs, meaning they are the same note offset by an octave.

The way the musician holds the violin also differs between Indian and Western music. In Indian classical music, the musician sits cross-legged on the floor with their right foot in front of them. The scroll of the instrument rests on their foot so that the hand can move across the fingerboard without resting in a set position. This cross-legged position helps keep the violin steady as the player’s hand moves across the strings. In Indian music, the violin is often used to support vocalists, although it’s also commonly played as a solo instrument.

With its versatility, the violin is a great instrument to learn because there are so many options for finding a style that suits your personal tastes. Which type of violin music is your favorite?