How the violin & other bowed string instruments came to be?

Edited: September 25, 2017, 7:02 PM · Given how much work is involved in getting a good sound and develop agility as well as what's involved in making a good instrument it seems like something of a miracle that violins & other orchestral string instruments exist. Beyond the painstaking precision of fabricating the pieces and putting them together, they had to know what raw materials to use and how to treat them before turning them into an instrument.

Anyone have insight as to how it came about? Who came up with the configuration? It seems someone had to have skill on predecessor instruments to seek out something better.

Replies (15)

September 25, 2017, 5:40 PM · I feel personally, that the evolution of violins haven't really changed significantly ever since the invention of synthetic strings and workshops in China. I'm probably very incorrect when professionals come and look at what I've just written, but I'm going to say this:

As for the engineering and design of the violin, evolution of it hasn't budged as much as a inch, even though luthiers are constantly coming up with better ways to create better tone, it isn't evolving much.

Besides, when instruments evolve, like the 5 string violin or electric violin, they tend to change into something different.

But that's all my opinion.

September 25, 2017, 5:56 PM · I think there are variations on the generally accepted 17th century design poping up here and there with varying degree of success, but at which point do these variations make the instrument no longer a violin?
Edited: September 25, 2017, 6:00 PM · @Roger well, I never meant that they aren't a violin anymore, but rather sort of their own individual kind of string instrument. Perhaps, like it's comparable to your typical violin to a Stroh violin. The Stroh is kind of it's own thing, but it's original basis is still the violin.
September 25, 2017, 7:32 PM · I think the violin developed from other similar bowed string instruments, and the general design of the modern violin was developed during the 19th and 20th centuries with smallish changes made like the invention of the shoulder rest, chin rest, steel and synthetic strings, etc.
Edited: September 26, 2017, 3:48 AM · The design came from outer space.
September 25, 2017, 8:25 PM · Well, the short answer is the violin as we know it was invented in Italy in the 16th century, apparently by Amati. However, there have been many types of bowed string instruments in different cultures. I guess I could go on and on but all you have to do is google "violin."

"I feel personally, that the evolution of violins haven't really changed significantly ever since the invention of synthetic strings and workshops in China..."

I have no idea what this statement means. The evolution of the violin reached its peak in the 18th century. It has little to do with China. It's a fairly simple object that does what it needs to, much like a diamond-shape bicycle frame.

I'm not sure it it needs to evolve. The biggest difference between violins is not really their design but the care taken in their construction and the quality of wood. These vary tremendously.

September 25, 2017, 8:59 PM · Invented in Italy by Andrea Amati.

Cheers Carlo

September 25, 2017, 10:35 PM · And before the violin family there was the viol family, before that the rebec from medieval/moslem Spain. The bow is literally prehistoric, from multiple cultures, and may have been used as a music instrument before it was used as a weapon. jq
Edited: September 25, 2017, 11:13 PM · Originally???

Crickets and other insects.

Art imitates life.

Genius,,, Perfected by Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri.

Edited: October 3, 2017, 2:10 AM · The violin has not changed (very) much for 4 centuries, probably because its proportions and dimensions make it effective. Playable violas are another matter, and no two violists agree on what they want.
October 2, 2017, 1:49 PM · Caught between violin and cello envy and vacillating between the two;)
Edited: October 2, 2017, 2:50 PM · Nomadic horse people in Mongolia - way back. Records go back as far as 600 - 800 of a bowed instrument.

Look at the history of the Morin Khuur:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morin_khuur

Bear in mind Genghis Khan had a huge empire and would certainly have helped in the spread of bowed instruments.

October 2, 2017, 7:05 PM · Bowed instruments were introduced around the same time that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Many of the unidentified pottery shards found at Olduvai were actually parts of primitive shoulder rests. Those mysterious drawings in Leonardo's sketchbook are blueprints for gear pegs.
October 3, 2017, 10:12 AM · The Divine Proportion.
October 8, 2017, 3:11 AM · @Paul. Da Vinci was not responsible for gear pegs, they were the work of Lucifer himself!

Cheers Carlo

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music

Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition

Pirastro Strings

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Yamaha V3 Series Violin

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop

Gliga Violins

Corilon Violins

Meadowmount School of Music

Find The Song You Want To Play Next: StringClub

Anderson Musical Instrument Insurance

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Subscribe