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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Does your violin have a name?

August 4, 2012 at 4:43 AM

Our instruments can be like good friends or relatives to us, and certainly we tend to personify them.

"My violin is feeling temperamental today," for example, or, "I think my fiddle is unhappy with me today." Hilary Hahn even has a violin case that Tweets, but that might be an extreme example.

In fact, many of us name our violins, as was revealed in a recent discussion.

Personally, maybe I'm strange, but I've never had a name that stuck to my fiddle. Other people have tried to name my violin for me, and occasionally I've thought about giving it a name, but it never quite feels right. Sometimes we call my fiddle "José" because we don't know which Gagliano brother made it, though someone said it looks like a "Joseph Gagliano." Hmmm. It still doesn't feel like a real name!

I have a feeling that if my violin wants a name, it will let me know. ;)

So have you named your violin? I'm not talking about the name pasted on the inside, I'm talking about a personal name you have for it (though those two things might be the same!) And please do share the name in the comments below, and tell the story behind the name!

From Daniel Estrellado
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:51 AM
i named her Lynne.
(vio)Lynne. :D
From Tim Moody
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:50 AM
I've actually sort of actively avoided naming my violin.

Even though I'm very attached to it (yes it's a student violin, but it's my student violin), I can't help but think naming would affect how I approached it. For example, if I gave it a goofy name, maybe I would be priming myself to not play particularly seriously.

Or a feminine name might lead me to play *her* more delicately or something. A manly name might prime me to play *him* in a bolder way.

It's probably irrational, but I like *feeling* that I'm not limiting my expression by ascribing a name to it.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I voted no, which puts me in the majority at this writing -- 55% versus 45%.

Mine have names -- the ones the original luthiers put inside -- and these are the names I know them by; but according to the voting rules, these don't count.

Has anyone else noticed, in the above-referenced thread, that it's mostly the ladies who give their instruments names? I just did a tally. The ladies win decidedly -- 16 to 5 at this writing -- a ratio of slightly over 3:1.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 1:35 PM
Like Jim, I refer to my violins by the maker's name. And, like Tim, I too would rather my violin take on different "characters" for the different styles played on it.

In our kids' studios however there are violins and cellos that are passed (resold) from one child to another as they are outgrown, and I prefer to use "ex" to designate these: The Ex-Liz or the Ex-Daniel, especially if Liz or Daniel (names I made up just to make a point) enjoyed significant musical growth with them. My daughter played the "Ex-Liz" for a year and then I sold it to another family in the studio, and I was rather disappointed when they moved overseas suddenly afterward, but that's the way it goes. The violin is closer now to its country of origin anyway. :)

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM
I call my 21st century violin "Jay", and the other one, which is a couple of centuries old, and most probably German, "The Kaiser's Trousers".
[Edit added] I forgot to explain the origin of "The Kaiser's Trousers". So - the violin is old, probably late 18th century, and has been in my family since 1850. There is an authentic-looking label inside which asserts that it was made by one Stradivari in 1738 (sic!). Other, more reliable, sources I know are of the opinion that it is most probably of German origin. Since Strads apparently have each acquired an individual name over the centuries I decided that under the circumstances "The Kaiser's Trousers" would be an appropriate choice.
My other violin, the modern one, is called "Jay" because the way it behaves reminds me of that lively bird. The fact that the label inside says "Jay Haide" is purely coincidental and has nothing to do with the case, m'lud.

From Lawrence Price
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 3:23 PM
My old italian with a famous name is simply called my "old friend" We have been together since 1980.
From Marsha Weaver
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM
Mine are "Angelina" and "Sebastian".
From April Childers
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:14 PM
Ichabod :)
From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM
My first violin "told" me his name was Samson. My new violin is silent on that issue, but I call it "Geraldine", in honor of the violinist aunt whose husband inspired me to take up violin and the only picture I have in my case, Geraldine Walter (ironically, a violist!)

later addition: my daughter wants me to say that her trumpet is Gulliver and my son's favorite guitar is The Lady.

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I usually refer to my violin as the (company's name). But every once in a while I think of it in terms of a name usually given to "one who opposes".
From Millie Bartlett
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 8:32 AM
I'm not big into naming any of my possessions. My best friend is though, and disappointed I couldn't even come up with one for my car, she named it for me. So 'Pete' it was from that day forth. Maybe I should ask her what my violin should be called!
From Don Sullivan
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM
I haven't named my fiddle. I suppose like you, Laurie, nothing seems to fit. I can certainly say that it has a personality. Since I'm not a professional violinist, and at this point more a student than an actual player, I'd have to say that my violin is love starved. As an adult beginner, life itself seems to tug at you from every direction. I envy you professionals who bring such beauty into our lives. You get to play for a living, the instruments that many of us only get to touch once in awhile.
From Miguel Menchu
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 2:32 AM
I had never named any of my student violins until I got my hands on "the nice one"; I've named it "El Mastro" to honor the memory of my late teacher. Name didn't come out from the instruments character but rather, a decision from my part of what role this particular instrument will play in my life. Cars and projects I've always identified with a female name; this is a first "relationship" with a male instrument.
From Louise Pallet
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 2:35 PM
I called my violin my dream as I made it myself and it is the best one of all my violins (8) It had always been my dream to make one.I hardly ever play another one these days, Its sound is amazing

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