Viola da braccio (instrument)

Viola da braccio on a fresco by Gaudenzio Ferrari in Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Saronno (ca. 1535).
Viola da braccio, mid-18th century, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Viola da braccio ("Arm violin", from Italian viola "violin" and braccio "arm", plural viole da braccio) is the collective name for the family of the string instrument in violin form emerging in the 16th century.[1] Both the name of today's viola and its Italian designation viola derive from the original name viola da braccio. The name refers to the arm position of these instruments in contrast to the instruments of the viola da gamba family, which are held between the knees. An exception is the bass instrument of the viola da braccio, which is also held between the knees, but without bottom support and "prickle" as in today's violoncello.

Viola da braccio and Viola da gamba [ edit ]

The families of the Viola da braccio and the Viola da gamba differ in size and form, the string tuning (Viola da braccio in fifth tuning - Viola da gamba in fourth tuning) as well as in the posture (Viola da braccio = arm position, exception: Bass-Viola da braccio - Viola da gamba = knee position with floor support) as well as in the bow position (Viola da braccio = overbow grip - Viola da gamba = underbow grip).

History and development [ edit ]

Over the centuries in the history of the violin and viola da gamba families, there has been a constant development to the present form of the modern instruments known to us as violin/violin, viola/viola and violoncello. The double bass, however, has developed from both the violone and the bass-viola da gamba.[2]

The first instruments of the viola da braccio family were built in Italy from about 1530.

After the early form with three strings, the four-stringed instrument developed into one without string frets with a tuning in fifth. In this family the instruments of different sizes and tunings are called soprano, alto, tenor and bass viola da braccio.

The alto instrument in the tuning c - g - d1 - a1 is comparable to today's viola. The tenor viola was tuned in the 16th century first to c - g - d1 - a1 and later lower to G - d - a - e1 like the alto viola. The soprano viola with its tuning on g - d1 -a1 - e2 corresponds to today's violin. The bass instrument with the tuning on B' - f - c - g then developed in the further course more and more to today's violoncello with the string tuning C - G - d -a.[2][3]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Geschichte der Viola in "Geschichte – Vienna Symphonic Library" (in German). Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b Geschichte der Bassinstrumente in "Geschichte – Vienna Symphonic Library". Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  3. ^ Brockhaus Musiklexikon. F. A. Brockhaus.
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