Here we are at the violin, Block #14 of "Baltimore Rhapsody" (see the back story here). I drafted so many versions of this block, a couple of which I will probably also turn into patterns...it is nice to have a choice of blocks! This is a small version of the instrument (because I really wanted to include a fruit compote in the first quilt, since it is such a classic Baltimore album motif).
This smallest, soprano of all bowed instruments is made from about 70 pieces of various kinds of wood - maple, sycamore, ebony, pine, and pear wood. The pieces are glued together and varnished. Believe it or not, the quality of the instrument's tone can vary depending on which woods are chosen and the chemical formulas of the glues and varnishes used.
The violin's length is basically the average distance between the shoulder to the palm of the hand, about 23-24 inches. Smaller scale sizes are made for children - 3/4, 1/2, and even 1/16 lengths. Like the cello and the viola, the 4 strings are tuned in a series of perfect fifths. The strings are strung from the tail piece to a set of pegs, which can be individually turned to tune each string.
The sound is made by pulling a bow across the strings. The bow is basically a wooden stick with horse hair stretched from end to end. Rubbing the tightened horse hair across the strings causes them to vibrate. The unique shape of the body and the size of the
"f holes" serve as a sound amplifier and "sweetener." Bowing technique results in differences in volume, smoothness or shortness of notes in a passage, and whether the tone is forceful and hard or caressed into sweetness. The strings can also be plucked with the fingers rather than bowed to produce short, pizzicato notes. It is a very expressive instrument.
The violin is held between the chin and left shoulder, with the left-hand fingers pressing the strings to produce pitches and the right hand holding the bow.
The first violin player, or concert master/mistress, asks the principle oboe for the tuning notes, first for the strings, then for the winds and brass. The piano and the violin have had the most solo works written for each. The most common small ensemble is the string quartet, consisting of 2 violins, 1 viola and a cello. There are no stringed instruments in a concert band, but the violin is the most popular instrument in an orchestra. It has also been used as a solo instrument in the folk and country music genres.
The next block will be the largest stringed instrument...the double bass.
(Thanks to my oboe-playing buddy, Margaret D, for the reminder!)