Monday, November 26, 2012

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block #14 - the violin, the top of the orchestra

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 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.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

(Thanks to my oboe-playing buddy, Margaret D, for the reminder!) 


  1. This block is wonderful! The detail on the violin is great! And the compote is beautiful! And the block brings to mind a movie I saw years ago, "The Red Violin".....have you seen it? I recall it was a beautifully made movie.....not typical hollywood garbage, but a lovely story and well done. Now I think I need to rent it again! :o)

  2. Beautiful. I've said it before, but, I enjoy reading about the background of each of the instruments. Will you be adding that information in your patterns?
    The fabrics you use are great - the polka dot pear caught my attention right away - love it!


  3. Yes, I enjoy the history lesson along with the blocks, too. Just marvelous.

  4. ooo - NICE fabric find for the violin. I just love everything about this project. :D

  5. another great block and another wonderful lesson , I love reading about each instrument and of course seeing how you designed a block for it

  6. another really neat block. love the detail on the violin.

  7. I have enjoyed this "journey" so much! Not only do we get to see your lovely and detailed applique, but you have provided us with awesome history of each instrument. I have to say, I've learned more from this series than any of the music lessons I ever took. Thank you! I look forward to the next one. :)

  8. Your blocks continue to amaze me - the detail is fabulous!

  9. Your quilt will be gorgeous. Thanks a lot for sharing all this work with us, and a big thanks for the explanations re the different instruments. I am always so happy to read your posts.
    Violin is my favorite instrument, ever since I was young, which sometimes surprised my music teacher, but unfortunately I do not play any instrument, but my kids do and rather well

  10. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often...
    Yüz Germe

  11. Your Baltimore Rhapsody blocks are so beautiful, each and every one. I am not sure I could pick my favorite anymore since I like every new one better than the last one!


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