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Violin Facts You May Not Know

The violin is an instrument that transcends musical genres. It is featured in just about every type of music known to man, from classical and jazz to rock and bluegrass. It even works beautifully as a solo instrument. 

But as timeless as the violin is, it is one of the musical world’s more mystifying instruments. Whether you are a violinist or just a lover of music, here are some fun and interesting violin facts that you might not know.

Most Interesting and Fun Facts About Violins

  • Perhaps one of the most amazing things about the violin is that nobody really knows where or when it came from. Historians know that it was inspired by the Arabian rabab of the Middle Ages and the European rebec of the fifteenth century, but no records exist for when the modern violin, as we know it today, was first introduced. All that is definitively known is that the oldest existing violin was created by Andre Amati around 1565.
  • Modern violins are usually made from spruce or maple wood and are built using over 70 different pieces.
  • Before the invention of metal and synthetic violin strings, violin makers used animal intestines to make strings for their instruments. This is the reason behind the term “catgut” strings, although the strings were typically made from sheep intestines, not cat.
  • The modern violin was pioneered in the city of Cremona, Italy in the 16th century. The city would be the world’s center for violin making for the next 500 years and be the point of origin of some of the finest luthiers the world would ever know.
  • If you have ever played “the world’s tiniest violin” for a complaining friend using your fingers, then you might be surprised to discover that there really is a world’s tiniest violin. It was created by Chen Lianzhi from Guangzhou, China. The instrument measures just one centimeter long (0.4 in) and its strings are so thin that it is impossible to play.
  • The word “violin” comes from the medieval Latin word “vitula.” Originally, the word was a reference to the goddess of joy, but more recently is has become the modern word for a female calf. 
  • In one violin bow, there are between 150 and 200 strands of rosin-covered horsehair. Horsehair is commonly used because it is what allows the strings to vibrate and produce sound, but today nylon is often substituted. The bow’s design also impacts the instrument’s tone color. Everything from bow weight and balance to frog height and taper distribution makes a difference in how a violin sounds.
  • The most expensive violin in the world was appraised with a value of $18 million USD. It was made by Giuseppe Guarneri in 1741. 
  • Playing the violin requires a lot of muscle movement in the shoulders, arms, and hands. As a result, playing the instrument for an hour burns approximately 170 calories.
  • The words “violin” and “fiddle” can be used interchangeably because they are both the same instrument.

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