Leonardo da Vinci invented the violin? Not so fast . . .

January 29, 2006 at 01:42 AM · While reading responses in the "left-handed violin" discussion, I happened upon a sub-discussion regarding Leonardo da Vinci and his role in the invention of the violin.

I would like to invite some experts into this discussion so we can clear this up. My understanding is that this is simply NOT TRUE. Da Vinci was fascinated by music and musical instruments and DID invent (only in drawn plans) a keyboard instrument with strings, which made sound via a wheel, horsehair strap, and a bow. This instrument was never built by him and is quite distant from the violin.

Please, let's not pass misinformation.

Has anyone else done substantial research into this area?

Here's the best I can offer right now:

"By a kind of organic, triangulative process between craftsmen, players, and composers, early violins came into existence around 1520 in northern Italy. The 4-stringed "true" violin family was complete in its basic structural features - though not standardized - around 1550. (Jambe de Fer described them explicitly in his Epitome Musical. Lyons, 1556.) The controversy over who invented the first violin is probably not answerable; Gasparo da Saló was a candidate, as were several Brescian craftsmen. It is now generally accepted that da Saló was not the inventor since he wasn't born until 1540. Better candidates are Giovan Giacoba dalla Corna and Zanetto de Michelis da Montichiaro, both born in the 1480s. It is, however, clear that Andrea Amati perfected the form. Similar instruments in France and Poland suggest the far-reaching influence of the Italian Renaissance. Native schools of violin-making existed in Cremona and Brescia, and also in Paris and Lyon; but this had to do with the trade routes (and the silk trade) from Venice to Paris. Changes in the violin after 1600 were largely decorative."


Replies (59)

January 29, 2006 at 03:27 AM · I think Leonardo invented the left-handed violin. ;)

Having said that, no I don't believe da Vinci invented the violin at all. I'm not sure it can truly said to have been invented - evolved might be the best description.


January 29, 2006 at 08:02 AM · The idea of rubbing horse hair against guts stretched across a box is very old. There are Erhus in China and kokyu in Japan, Saw Sam Sai and various others in Thailand...And of course Viols and Violins in Europe. And the progress up to bows was eventual too, lutes, harps, guitars, and other plucked instruments of every kind around the world. In any case, Da Vinci definitely didn't make the first violin (or bowed instrument) And no, Gutenberg didn't make the first movable type printing press either (he just made the first one that was actually used to mass produce books ^^) Saying anybody made the first ANYTHING is fishy, and generally it's safest to say it was some guy in China, India, Ancient Greece, Rome, or part of one of the old Arabic empires. I mean, those cultures invented everything. (Geometry, Algebra, Laquer, Rice, Noodles, Natural Gas drilling...)

January 29, 2006 at 09:35 AM · I did say outright that he "invented" it, but did not mean it so literally. That's why I qualified the statement with, "He didn't build one, but his research on sound physics and tonality - and a design he put on paper - were used to construct the first violin a few years after his death."

I did not mean to imply that no other ideas/research/experimentation went into the process. Certainly, it's something that evolved with many contributors chipping in both before and after da Vinci. However, I have seen multiple sources that say his work was so key to the design that it's what enabled someone to finally construct one, after years/decades/centuries of tinkering around with the idea.

The multiple sources possibly just repeating some old idea of questionable truth... didn't mean to start a controversy or anything! ;P

January 29, 2006 at 09:40 AM · If Leonardo had been have as bright as we give him credit for he'd have invented the phonograph and we'd have recordings of Bach playing organ fugues. Nothing is simpler than Edison's phonograph. Sure Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa. But she doesn't have any eyebrows.

January 29, 2006 at 10:37 AM · He didn't finish it.

He didn't finish a lot of things.

January 29, 2006 at 11:56 AM · Short attention span.

January 29, 2006 at 02:32 PM · Yeh, I ... hey look at the pretty clouds.


January 29, 2006 at 05:32 PM · Yeah, that Leonardo was pretty lazy and incompetent [insert roll eyes here]...

January 29, 2006 at 07:07 PM · Julie, what design on paper are you referring to?

January 29, 2006 at 10:16 PM · Okay, okay, let's focus here!

Clearly, the violin evolved from the viol da gamba, etc., and before that in the Oriental cultures. This is NOT what was intended by this discussion.

We are trying to establish who DESIGNED and/or BUILT the first violin that looks like the standard violins we play today. I believe this instrument was also the first to be played on the shoulder.

Julie, I wasn't trying to attack you with this forum. In fact, you raised an interesting notion that I had not come across in the 35 years I've been playing. That said, I still take issue with your facts--you MUST cite your sources because, since your original posting, I have contacted professors and colleagues in the major symphonies and all of them say it is simply a MYTH that Da Vinci had anything to do with the evolution of the violin.

If you have any books/documents/articles/interviews to which you can refer me, I am prepared to continue my openmindedness as a researcher.

Let's solve this!

Best wishes,


January 29, 2006 at 10:32 PM · At the dizziest musicological heights the viol and and violin families are considered only to share a common ancestor, namely the piece of wire Robert Johnson nailed to the side of his house as a small child. That could also be a myth.

January 29, 2006 at 11:12 PM ·

From the retail box on my violin:

"We thank you for purchasing our newest and most exciting innovation, the Microsoft (R) Violin (TM). The Violin (TM) is a newly formulated addition to the Stringed Musical Instrument (TM) range of products, developed by our musical experts here at Microsoft (R) which will give you hours of enjoyable playing time. In addition, the Violin (TM) can be upgraded to the two, three, or even four string models. Also available is the Microsoft Chin Rest (TM) which is compatible with a wide variety of Microsoft (R) musical instrument products, including the Violin (TM)*, Viola (TM)*, Cello (TM) Accordion (TM), Guitar (TM), Banjo (TM), and Piano (TM)."

Then there's the fine print:

"The Microsoft (R) Violin (TM) requires additional accessories for usage, maintenance, tuning, and storage. Before making use of your Violin (TM), it is recommended that you purchase a Microsoft Violin Bridge (TM), a Microsoft Violin Tailpiece (TM), and at least one Microsoft Violin String (TM). Optional Microsoft Tuning Pegs (TM) can be used to hold your Microsoft Strings (TM) in place on the Violin (TM). Please call our technical support or register with our official website at http://www.geocities.com/~microsoft for assistance at a rate of only $75 per minute.

* Usage of the Microsoft (R) Chin Rest (TM) with this or these instrument models is subject to the Microsoft End User License Agreement as stated on your birth certificate or citizenship obtained from your country or region. Users from certain countries or regions may be required to relocate to the U.S.A. or other country under the Microsoft World Government (TM) before legally making use of these instruments under the Microsoft End User License Agreement."

January 30, 2006 at 01:35 AM · Tremblay,

Your post was *way cool*! ROFLMAO

January 30, 2006 at 01:11 PM · "I have contacted professors and colleagues in the major symphonies and all of them say it is simply a MYTH that Da Vinci had anything to do with the evolution of the violin."

Well, to be fair, the above like asking random drivers about the history and evolution of the automobile.

But I'd still like to see Julie's source.

January 30, 2006 at 01:51 PM · Perhaps someone less lazy than myself would care to read this article.


And then tell me if it's relevant or not! lol

January 30, 2006 at 01:58 PM · The above source is apparently affiliated with the LaRouche Youth Movement (which certainly means there is an objective, dispassionate, non-political agenda).

Since DaVinci also invented (at least in theory) the airplane, the submarine, and various other modern devices, it stands to reason that he also invented the violin. I, myself, own an original DaVinci violin (it says so on the label). It even has a small piece of wood (the "hair-pusher-wall") on the side of the bridge, the purpose of which is to keep your beard from getting in the way of the strings.

(If anyone believes this, I have some land in Siberia you might be interested in)

January 30, 2006 at 06:09 PM · "Well, to be fair, the above like asking random drivers about the history and evolution of the automobile."

MICHAEL: This is a very poor anaolgy. My contacting professors and colleagues in major symphonies (dedicated professional scholars and masters of the violin) is NOTHING like asking "random drivers" (NON-professional), many of whom don't even know HOW to drive well or truly KNOW the rules of the road--let alone a history/evolution of the automobile. Perhaps your analogy would have been better if you said "drivers of NASCAR"--only, then you would have been supporting my argument. I happen to know a few former NASCAR and Daytona drivers who know a great deal about how cars are built and their evolution.

Furthermore, I don't think you are in a position to pass judgment on the knowledge of those whom I contacted since you have no idea who I DID contact. Let's be a bit more careful before we dismiss others' statements.



January 30, 2006 at 06:52 PM · God invented the violin.

January 30, 2006 at 06:56 PM · Oh boy, here we go again---again ;-)

January 30, 2006 at 07:23 PM · Ain't it fun?

January 30, 2006 at 06:25 PM · I studied the topic of the development of violin construction briefly for a project some 15 years ago, so my details are fuzzy. However, I do recall that my research turned up far more commonalities between the modern violin and the rebec, or rabab, described in Middle Eastern texts around 900 C.E. or so and imported to Europe by 1100 C.E.

The rebec is commonly described and depicted as being held on the shoulder, with the left hand doing the fingering and the right hand doing the bowing. A scant few artistic renderings show the position reversed, as well. It was tuned in fifths, either two strings or three, with some descriptions specifying a middle-C and the G above it, some specifying G, D, A, and some (especially later, toward the 1500's) D, A, E. It was fretless, with the bridge cut to allow individual playing of each string. The instrument had a rounded back, made of hardwood, with a sounding board of softwood and soundholes (simple or complex in shape) on either side of the bridge/bowing area.

The viol family, on the other hand, are fretted instruments with five or more strings, typically tuned in fourths (viol players can please correct me on the specifics here) or in some cases with a third, like the modern guitar or the lute. Wikipedia has a brief article that may be of some interest here (and if it's wrong, you can edit it ;)).

The violin seems to combine qualities of each family, without descending wholly from one or the other. It keeps a semi-rounded back courtesy of the rebec (viol family instruments have flat backs), while taking on the narrow waist of the viol family. It gains a string, giving it a wider range, but keeps the playing characteristics of the rebec as it's tuned in fifths and each string is played individually.

As far as the internal construction elements, I'd guess that such things as the bass bar and the blocks more likely come from the viol/guitar. Since the first violin makers also made lutes, it would make sense that they would incorporate the improvements they'd learned from their other projects when designing a violin.

While Amati arguably perfected the design, there are earlier makers that were on the same track (as pointed out by other posters).

I never did come across any mention of Da Vinci having invented a violin, however. Granted, I haven't actually studied Da Vinci's inventions, and he certainly might have had an interest in the developing instrument. However, the violin itself is not so different in construction or concept from other contemporary instruments, so it doesn't seem likely that it was "invented" fifty years before the first one was built.

January 30, 2006 at 09:05 PM · "C.E."

Please call it what it is: "A.D."

Even an atheist recognizes that it is A.D. and B.C. It has been that way for a long time. Call it what it is--not some pinko-liberal-politically correct-gender-neutral-everyone's-ok-newfangled-abbreviation.

God. The stupid ideas people come up with.

Oh, and Wikipedia shmikepedia....you need a barrel of salt to go along with that ridiculous experiment at "intelligence."

**Edit** I don't like the way this reads now. I don't mean to attack Patty..it's just the C.E. thing that bothers me :-)

January 30, 2006 at 07:45 PM · What does "C.E." stand for?

January 30, 2006 at 07:47 PM · Nevermind. I just looked it up. CE stands for 'Common Era.' BCE would be 'Before Common Era,' I suppose.

Just didn't know.....

January 30, 2006 at 07:48 PM · Well, it is all the rage now in academic writing.

It supposedly means either "Common Era" (common to whom?) but some people are joking that it backfired because it just as easily means "Christian Era." So it backfired. But that is typical for those who allow themselves to be sucked into fascist groupthink.

January 30, 2006 at 08:12 PM · Bill, that's been in common use for 20 years. I figure some vocal politician just now got wind of it or something.

January 30, 2006 at 08:17 PM · Yes, 20 years goes by fast. I remember seeing it starting to pop up back in college. That's also when I discovered that if you scratch a liberal, you find a bleeding fascist. And the conservatives were just as bad (they thought anyone that wasn't like them was a devil worshipper). Fortunately my college still supported open dialoge and freedom of expression, but a few years later, my brother found that Yale had become a bastion of liberal fascism...

January 30, 2006 at 09:23 PM · Well, at least the violin teachers in academia are above reproach. But we digress. What about Leonardo? Where are the academics when you need them?

January 30, 2006 at 10:04 PM · Didn't realize that was a sore point for you, Bill. I got in the habit of using C.E. back in college in ancient history courses where they really were doing their best to separate out the whole religious connotation thing from actual history without making dates incomprehensible. Sorry if I offended, but I'm not going to stop using the "Common Era" terminology. You're welcome to use "Anno Domini". To me, trying to be historically accurate and factual, it really is the "Common Era". We don't know the real year of the birth of Christ -- but that's a whole different thread, which you're welcome to start if you're interested in it.

So yes, it means "Common Era" and "Before Common Era".

January 31, 2006 at 03:56 AM · "where they really were doing their best to separate out the whole religious connotation thing from actual history"

See, that's the problem right there---you *can't* separate religion and history. Connotation or not.

The other thing that is so absurd about the CE thing is that nobody really says in his/her head "year of our lord" (in latin) or "before christ" every time he or she reads it--you just know-- direct translation--that it is before 2000 years or after 2000 years ago.

And so the CE thing actually brings the religion thing into, rather than out of, every document that has that new abbreviation polluting it.

When you look at an Albrecht Durer cut, you see AD___ on it, and you know what that means (Albrecht Durer!:). Seriously though, it is really a wonderful piece of continuity--which will be lost--a continuity which another "progressive" culture is also attempting to eradicate: communist China, which no longer supports or teaches the traditional characters. Rather, they use "simplified" characters. The new generation of communist Chinese will be unable to read their own history--a history which goes back--legibly--a looong way.

See, this CE thing seems small, but it is merely a manifestation of a more sinister, pernicious attempt to rewrite history to suit some short-sighted near-term expectations and mores. I hate that.

What's the fastest way to get an atheist to read the bible? Make him read Middle English literature! :-)

In fact, the church *was* the state in many respects (remember the French business about the church, the crown and the people). Da Vinci's entire life and career were shaped--distorted even--by the church. Of course we are all "distorted" by one thing or another so that's not necessarily as bad thing...his "greatest achievement" as far as the art history books are concerned, is his religious paintings...but as far as medicine goes is his anatomical stuff...of course I am partial to his fluid flow studies and his backwards writing myself...

January 31, 2006 at 03:05 AM · Whatever happened to my discussion about Da Vinci and the invention of the modern violin? I mean, Jesus Christ! . . . er, uh . . . sorry.

January 31, 2006 at 05:18 AM · Not that Bill would be trying to tell us all how to think now would he? Besides that would be "liberal fascism" <-- What a stupidly perjorative expression.

Sorry Peter, I think Lenny da V. took his violin and went home. Can't say I blame him.


January 31, 2006 at 03:50 AM ·

Peter, I stand by my analogy as long as you use the descriptive "professors and colleagues in the major symphonies", which is certainly NOT a descriptive of anyone who by default has any info on this. About 99% of the professional musicians I run into (which does include many respected players and teachers) who claim to know much about violins actually know pathetically little beyond a collection of old wives tales and questionable stuff they've read in books somewhere along the line. The other one percent know a heck of a lot, but "professors and colleagues in the major symphonies" isn't the title that qualifies them to speak on this--their qualifications as researchers make that title a coincidence, not a qualifier. Actually, I can think of only one player who's an first-class expert on this type of subject, and I suspect that at most he'd offer a reserved "I wasn't aware of that".

But if there's a written source for this rumor, I'd still like to know what it is, and in this regard, it seems like we're both on the same side--we both want a qualified opinion on this from someone who really knows something.

The problem here is that if there's not definite proof, then all there is is speculation, which is worth, un, about nothing.

January 31, 2006 at 03:35 AM · Yea, the point of my post is you can't really pinpoint who made the modern violin. Somebody loooong ago in the BCE made a thing with strings with a sound post and a bow. Somebody gave it the modern violin shape. Somebody gave it a relatively modern bridge. Somebody removed the frets. Somebody changed it from vertical to horizontal. Somebody changed the length and tilt of the fingerboard. Somebody invented the chinrest.

So you know, saying ONE person invented the modern violin doesn't make sense. Do we give all the credit to the one person who made the most recent significant advancement to the violin? Also, where do you draw the line for modern violin? If a modern violin is the type of violin you play now, Strads aren't modern violins unless they're moded. On the other hand if a modern violin is horizontal with no frets Strads and Amati clearly fall into that category.

January 31, 2006 at 03:52 AM · In the past, most people who've talked about this have offered the definition of a three or four stringed instrument with corners and arched top and back, with no frets, in a body size of about 13-1/2-14" as the definition of a violin. There don't seem to be any precursors that come even close to this, which implies a single invention rather than a broad transition over time. Of course that could all change with some missing links turning up, but so far there aren't pictures or descriptions of any transitional instruments, either.

January 31, 2006 at 04:03 AM · Isn't the Viol a vertical fretted instrument played with a bow that is roughly violin shaped? Not the same size of course, and yes with a distinctive shape, but it definitely shows similarities to the violin. I could see somebody going "well gee...wouldn't it be cool if the viola da amore only had four strings?" or saying "gee...I think these frets are annoying". Nothing's ever a sweeping change out of nowhere. Even Newton said he only saw as far as he did because he stood on the shoulders of giants (and he was...pretty dang smart XD)

January 31, 2006 at 06:24 AM · Peter, I believe that you should hold yourself to the same standards you hold other people to. Can you tell us the names and affiliations of the numerous professors whom you have consulted on this issue? On second thought, that may not be necessary. I learned from reading other discussions on this site that professors of music are always right, always experts, and should never be evaluated or criticized.

Tremblay, you are way, way cool!

Patty, I appreciate the research you've done. I've done a little myself, although not as much as you. I've read that there were many violin-like instruments in Asia and Europe in pre-Renaissance times, and they evolved. The violin as we know it came into existence around 1500-1550, when Amati in Cremona was making instruments.

Now I have some related questions. I was telling one of my students that pernambuco, a Brazilian wood, is usually used to make bows. He asked me what people in Europe used before they went to Brazil. I think that Europeans had visited and begun to plunder the area which is now Brazil by the 16th century. Now I have another, even more intriguing question. Bow hairs come from horses in Mongolia or thereabouts who have very long hair which helps them survive the cold weather. What did Europeans around the time of Amati use for bow hair? How do we get this hair now? International politics involving China and Russia are interesting, to say the least. One of my friends was shocked at how expensive bows can be, and he suggested that we use genetic engineering to develop a breed of horses that can live in our area and have long hair which grows very rapidly, especially after it is cut. I know that there are luthiers who sometimes contribute wisdom to discussions on this site. Where are you now, and what can you tell us?

January 31, 2006 at 08:03 AM · In part I'm with Patty (and hey, what's really wrong with CE and BCE and the Wik that a few snorts of Fascist Propaganda won't cure). But hey, I'll list a couple of authorities and be original. Na Na Na Na Naaaa(ROFL)

If we look at the current musicologist and 16th Century specialist Peter Holman and the 19th Century authority on violin history Antoine Vidal we see an agreement (though there is also much disquietude among authorities of this subject) concerning the origins of the violin. This agreement spans over 100 hundred years and still is the dominant thesis as far as I know.

As they both relate it, the viol family is the immediate precursor to the violin family, not its actual ancestor, which would more representatively be both the veille and the rebec. The latter arrived over time from the East, with small transformations during its long route to the West. For instance, the Spanish rebab is actually a rebec. And if language accounts for anything, in Catalonia, at least until the 19th Century if not to today, the violin was/is called a rabaquet. The rebec was a 3 stringed instrument, played with a bow, tuned in 5ths (GDA).

Concerning the ancestry of the viol we are lead back to the vielle side of things, it being a larger instrument than the rebec, though similar and still played under the chin (at least this was one way of playing it), with a flat bridge played chordally.

Da Vinci was a musician of sorts. This much we know. For a composition see:


He was also one of the many people involved in the transformation of the vielle to the viol. We are speaking here of his (over-) sophisticated (a trade mark of Da Vinci) "viola organista." For further info:


I think this is where most of the confusion about Da Vinci's 'violin' comes from.

After the viol, there are a number of makers of stringed instruments that are credited with other changes along the way which result in the final form of the violin (exs., Kolitzer's changing of a viola da braccio to a violin by installing a 'neck'; the work of Tieffenbrucker, a master carver and a maker of many varieties of wooden string instruments). If you don't know Tieffenbrucker's (aka baby-faced Duiffoprugcar) work you really owe it to yourself to investigate. He was a genius with wood in every sense of the word, and his varnishes are another story.

The popular influence of polyphony, and its change from monophony accounts for the necessity of changing the flat and fretted chordal instruments into ones with curved bridges.

This suffices, for me, to bring the subject matter up to one of the claimed earliest violin makers (as Peter mentions). Personally I see more interesting historical violin evolution in studying the lute.

January 31, 2006 at 03:57 PM · > See, that's the problem right there---you *can't* separate

> religion and history. Connotation or not.

Well, religion is a part of history.

And hopefully soon religion will be history. Or mythology.

Also, DaVinci did invent the violin, according to his website at the time =)

> Tremblay, you are way, way cool!

uh.... thanks (: (now why do i have the impression of sarcasm from that remark? hehehe)

January 31, 2006 at 04:04 PM · "Well, religion is a part of history.

And hopefully soon religion will be history. Or mythology."

That does not appear to be likely or even plausible, judging from current events.

I just want to know why Éric's accent egu only works half the time?

January 31, 2006 at 04:52 PM · Rick,

Thanks for the violin organista link! I couldn't find a photo of it (something seemed broken on the link to the festival site, oh well) but the description is very interesting.

The rotating bow idea made me think of the hurdy-gurdy, which is a keyed instrument if not a keyboard instrument, also with a circular rotating bow set beneath the strings. Anyone know the derivation of the hurdy-gurdy?

January 31, 2006 at 05:27 PM · There is such a thing as "zeitgeist" (spirit of the times) that often leads many different people to be dealing with or coming up with similar ideas or ways of thinking. Given da Vinci's incredibly curious mind, and given that there were precursors to the violin being invented, discussed, or examined, it is likely he would have taken a creative interest in it. But that is a long way from proving that he invented the violin.

January 31, 2006 at 06:33 PM · > I just want to know why Éric's accent egu only works half the time?

Yeah, i'd also like to know why the writing on this site is so ridiculously small..... luckily in firefox (at least the linux version) you can quickly adjust font sizes with ctrl+mousewheel.

Oh and Symphony X officially kicks major ass, especially Michael Romeo's guitar sound on their album "Divine wings of tragedy"...... rip the f***n paint off the walls, man.

February 1, 2006 at 05:55 AM · Sander Marcus wrote "There is such a thing as 'zeitgeist' (spirit of the times) that often leads many different people to be dealing with or coming up with similar ideas or ways of thinking."

Ah, time to haul out my (retired) sociologist hat. There have actually been a number of studies by social scientists of the history of invention (though none nearly as far back as we're talking about here). For almost all major inventions or new ideas whose history has been studied, ranging from the development of Calculus to the steamboat and dozens of others, the innovation came from several people more or less simultaneously, often working without direct knowledge of each other (e.g., Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace in developing the theory of evolution). The standard interpretation by sociologists is that innovation depends not so much on a single great man (and when I studied high school history, it was all men, which is another issue), but rather on a common body of knowledge which people of great insight and creativity (like DaVinci) can draw on to put existing ideas or technology together in a new way. Earlier posts have indeed pointed out the many specific innovations that were necessary to form the violin. So in historical perspective, it is very unlikely that any one person invented the modern violin; rather, many people contributed and refined existing technology.

Finally, history is an unreliable filter. We know DaVinci's name, but I'll bet there were lots of others who made major contributions whose names are unknown but who deserve major credit.

February 1, 2006 at 06:22 AM · True. One discovery or development inevitably leads to the next, and since the cumulative body of knowledge is shared by a great many people the work is often done simultaneously. Leonardo looks like a highly energetic special case though, similar to people like R.Feynman. If he'd gone on and done the phonograph I'd have said Einstein.

September 7, 2008 at 07:39 AM · Within the basic design of the violin, Leonardo Da Vinci left a secret code... this code reveals that Mary Magdeline is actually the dark Lord Xenu.

People are too obsessed with the thought that Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius nowadays. They attribute anything and everything to him.

September 7, 2008 at 01:42 PM · Hi,

To throw in ideas...

On the use of C.E. and B.C.E. - the reasons are not only religious but have to do with more historical matters. The Roman calendar set as year 1 (there is no zero in Roman Numerals) seems not to coincide according to many scholars with the birth of the man refered to as Jesus Christ (I say that here as the closest names in Hebrew to the Greek version Jesus are most likely Joshua, Jeshua or Yeoshua), who seemingly would have been born several years before the purpoted date.

As for Mary Magdalene, there is supposedly a newly discovered portrait of her attributed to Da Vinci that has come in recent times. I remember reading about it somewhere but don't remember the exact details. Since portraits by Da Vinci are rare (this would put the number to four along with the Mona Lisa and the portraits at the National Gallery in Washington and the one in Poland), it would be indeed an interesting find.

As for the rest, I am not sure whether there is necessarily one inventor of the violin, but it appears that the form was developed in Italy and probably refined by various craftsmen culminating in the eventual model by Andrea Amati that set the initial standard for violin making in the baroque (I mean the musical baroque) period.


September 7, 2008 at 01:33 PM · Christian-"On the use of C.E. and B.C.E..." That's almost word for word from a book published by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society."

September 7, 2008 at 01:43 PM · Hi,

Royce - I was basing my remarks on comments made by friends that are historians or archivists. I do not know the book you mention but will look it up for curiosity's sake.

Also, here is the link to the article on the Da Vinci painting:


Thanks and cheers!

September 7, 2008 at 03:00 PM · It's called, "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial". As far as I know you'll have to call one of the local Kingdom Halls and one of the publishers will deliver it too you. As for cost, it's on a donation basis, so if you want to contribute to the cost of the matirals used to make it they will see that a donation will get to the Canadian Branch Office.

Or, I can mail you one. I'll need a mailing address.

And thanks for the web page!

September 7, 2008 at 03:41 PM · Although there were a number of instruments resembling the violin around the early 1500s, the modern violin was first delivered to Francis Euberth by aliens from the hidden planet Staccato around 1580. It was actually a life-size statue of their leader, but poor Francis misunderstood. The bow was a statue of the leader''s spouse. This also brought the origin of the phrase 'make music together'. When the aliens saw Francis' use of the statues, they saw us as a deviant race, and have never since allowed any contact with us.

September 7, 2008 at 07:13 PM · I did read the link provided by Mr. Wolcott, and my impression is that it is attempting to be a description of scientific proportion, but it uses waaaay to many descriptive adjectives and adverbs.

For it to be truly objective, it should not use such glowing terms to describe the subject.

That said, I am fairly certain that Leonardo's research into sound was research into the existing sounds he heard, and not the invention of that sound. Many of his other works were the analysis of what he perceived in nature on the world around him, and simply the application of that information in a novel or different manner. I suspect he was simply trying to understand the nature of the violin sound, and find some analytical method of ascertaining why two violins so similar can have such a different sound. We do the same thing all day long on this site, but generally do not go into the level of analysis that he dis.

September 9, 2008 at 03:02 AM · It is beyond me as to how this discussion turned into such as what I have read! Very YouTubish, I must say! As for the question involved, it is my understanding that the "violin" was not generally invented overnight, but evolved from other ancient instruments, particularly in the Middle Ages. The rebec, which has normally 3 strings, and originated in the Orient. It is played either in the lap, like a small viol, or on the breast. From this unusual beginning, it evolved into the family of viols, which were considered at the time more "tasteful" than the violin, which was considered a beggar's instrument. The connotations of the word fiddle, in those days, was one of a negative sense. To be "fiddled" in the street was to be pickpocketed by a thief, while their confederate played upon an instrument,usually a violin, which at that time, was considered a novelty, thus diverting the attention away form the unwary and unfortunate person who pocket was picked clean.

The oldest known dates for the violin as we know it starts with the works of Caspar Tieffenbrucker (c.1514-1571)later to be called Caspar da Salo. His instruments did not look like the violins of today, but more in the vein of the viol family. Differences prevailed in not only the shape, but in the number of strings and tunings used, and the evolution now had began. The Amati family has been credited with the look as we recognize it today, starting with Andrea Amati (c.1510-1580) and 24 violins, 6 violas and 8 celli, were preserved due to an order placed by King Charles IX in 1560 at the Royal Chapel at Versailles. These instruments were the "models" in which all other instruments would be fashioned, but slightly varied by other violin makers. The whole question has been an ongoing debate among luthiers and music historians alike, and even today we have new evidence that shows the accepted origin may be erronous.

September 9, 2008 at 03:58 AM · Can we tralk about the Sousaphone for a while? I think that may be unique in being the only instrunment the inventor can be clearly identified.

June 2, 2014 at 07:25 PM · John, resurrecting a post can sometimes show how time flies.

Today, "CE" stands mostly for Conformité Européenne (like the UL in the States, they stamp-approve products for sale) or for China Export; and "BCE" for the European authority on economic misery of the masses, aka European Central Bank (Banque Centrale Européenne). Go figure!

June 2, 2014 at 09:36 PM · There were many interesting new ideas floating around in Renaissance Europe, even if they did not all make it to fruition. For example, the English Renaissance philosopher, statesman and essayist Francis Bacon, in his unfinished last work "New Atlantis" (1626) describes a visit to that eponymous fictional island on which he had placed what we would now describe as a research institute. At this institute the research was specifically intended for the benefit of mankind (Bacon apparently had some sort of agenda here). The governor of the institute gave his visitor a detailed account of the research being carried out, including this remarkable prescient passage about music and audio:

"We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds and their generation. We have harmonies, which you have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds; divers instruments likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have; with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep, like wise great sounds extenuate and sharp. We make divers trembling and warbling of sounds, which in their original are entire; we reprent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps, which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and artificial echoes reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it; and some that give back the sound louder than it came, some shriller, and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes in strange lines and distances."

For reference, here is the Latin original:

Habemus etiam domus sonorum, ubi experimus et demonstramus sonos omnes eorumque generationes. Habemus harmonias quae apud vos in usu non sunt, miscentes non tantum beta illud acutum et molle, ut vos, sed quadrantes sonorum et sonos tremulos aliquos dulcissimos. Habemus instrumenta musica quae vobis nondum innotuerunt, aliqua eorum melodiam exhibentia suaviorem quam vestra. Campanas quoque et tintinnabula soni iucundissimi. Exhibemus sonos exiles tanquam magnos et graves, graves similiter tanquam extenuatos et acutos. Dein fingimus trepidationes plurimas ex sonis qui in ortu suo primo integri sunt. Exhibemus atque imitamur sonos omnes articulatos et literas, item voces et cantus quadrupedum et avium. Habemus quoque adminicula auditus quae, auribus imposita, maiorem in modum sensum ipsum et sonorem delationem promovent. Habemus vocem reflexiones, quas Echo dicitis, complures mirabiles et artificiales, vocem non tantum multipliciter repercutientes et iactantes, sed earum alias vocem augentes alias extenuantes. Nonnullas autem earum vocem articulatam reddentes differentem ab originali. Habemus ultimo modos deferendi sonos in tubis et concavis aliis ad magnam distantiam atque in lineis tortuosis.

June 3, 2014 at 04:20 PM · Returning to the OP's initial post, the key word is "speculation"; and in the absence of positive documentary evidence from Da Vinci's time that's how it will remain, no matter how entrancing the alternative.

June 9, 2014 at 07:15 PM · We live in a skeptical age where nobody believes anything anyway . This is what I believe.

John, I don't believe you believe that. :-)

For the casual observer, that was a joke.

June 9, 2014 at 08:01 PM ·

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

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker


Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine