PNG images: Violin
The violin, also known informally as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments are known, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused in the 2010s. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato). Violins are important instruments in a wide variety of musical genres. They are most prominent in the Western classical tradition and in many varieties of folk music. They are also frequently used in genres of folk including country music and bluegrass music and in jazz. Electric violins are used in some forms of rock music and jazz; further, the violin has come to be played in many non-Western music cultures, including Indian music and Iranian music. The name fiddle is often used in reference to folk music, particularly Irish traditional music and bluegrass, but this nickname is also used regardless of the type of music played on it.
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The violin was first known in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Europe it served as the basis for stringed instruments used in western classical music, such as the viola.
Violinists and collectors particularly prize the fine historical instruments made by the Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it, though this belief is disputed. Great numbers of instruments have come from the hands of less famous makers, as well as still greater numbers of mass-produced commercial "trade violins" coming from cottage industries in places such as Saxony, Bohemia, and Mirecourt. Many of these trade instruments were formerly sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. and other mass merchandisers.
The parts of a violin are usually made from different types of wood (although electric violins may not be made of wood at all, since their sound may not be dependent on specific acoustic characteristics of the instrument's construction, but rather an electronic pickup, amplifier and speaker). Violins can be strung with gut, Perlon or other synthetic, or steel strings. A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier or violinmaker.
The word "violin" was first used in English in 1570s. The word "violin" comes "from Italian violino, diminutive of viola". The term "viola" comes from the expression for "tenor violin," 1797, from Italian viola, from Old Provençal viola, [which came from] Medieval Latin vitula", a term which means "stringed instrument," perhaps [coming] from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy..., or from related Latin verb vitulari "to exult, be joyful."" The related term Viola da gamba means "bass viol" (1724) is from Italian, literally "a viola for the leg" (i.e. to hold between the legs)." A violin is the "modern form of the smaller, medieval viola da braccio."
The violin is often called a fiddle, either when used in a folk music context, or even in Classical music scenes, as an informal nickname for the instrument. The word "fiddle" means "stringed musical instrument, violin". The word "fiddle" was first used in English in the late 14th century. The word "fiddle" comes from "fedele, fydyll, fidel, earlier fithele, from Old English fiðele "fiddle," which is related to Old Norse fiðla, Middle Dutch vedele, Dutch vedel, Old High German fidula, German Fiedel "a fiddle;" all of uncertain origin." As to the origin of the word "fiddle", the "...usual suggestion, based on resemblance in sound and sense, is that it is from Medieval Latin vitula." The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the term "fiddle" has "...been relegated to colloquial usage by its more proper cousin, violin, a process encouraged by phraseology such as fiddlesticks (1620s), [the] contemptuous nonsense word fiddle-de-dee (1784), and fiddle-faddle."