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  Voila! The Viola!
Music
Posted by Jack Mingo on 2001/01/04 13:42:40 US/Eastern

Things I learned from an article about violas in the Dallas Morning News:1. They are the butt of orchestral jokes, e.g.:"What's the range of a viola? About 35 yards, if you have a good arm.""What's the difference between a viola and an onion? People cry when they chop an onion to pieces."2. There is no standard size for a viola. it can range from 15 to 17 inches from bridge to frets. Said a soloist: "My worst nightmare would be breaking a string and having to grab my partner's instrument. I don't know if I could play in tune."[more]

3. Violas look like violins but are a little bigger and their range is a fifth lower than a violin. If they were humans, violins would be sopranos and violas would be altos.

4. Because of the viola's weight and size, small people (including children) should consider a different instrument. "With the arm extended farther out than with a violin and still having to twist it underneath, playing a viola is bound to put a strain on muscles and tendons."

If you want to read the whole article, alas, the newspaper's website requires paying a fee.

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Re: Voila! The Viola!
by Bill on 2004/12/28 16:24:10 US/Eastern

I recently bought a viola. Having played the violin as a teenager, I decided to switch.

Regarding size, it seems that "adults" usually play 15" to 16.5" instruments, and some to 17" or slightly greater.

The size refers to the length of the back, not including the little piece of the neck that looks like a bracket.

Regarding "scale length" I found that 16" violas, from bridge to "nut" (where the strings bend over at the pegbox) had scales of 14.5" +/- 1/16. 16.5" violas had scales from 15 to 15.15", and 17" violas about 15.25" scale lengths.

I chose a 17". I have big hands and long arms, and so it makes playing higher positions a joy for me. I always got cramped up in 4th position on the violin (I am no virtuoso!).

[ Reply to This ]


Re: Voila! The Viola!
by Bill on 2004/12/28 16:26:03 US/Eastern

I recently bought a viola. Having played the violin as a teenager, I decided to switch.

Regarding size, it seems that "adults" usually play 15" to 16.5" instruments, and some to 17" or slightly greater.

The size refers to the length of the back, not including the little piece of the neck that looks like a bracket.

Regarding "scale length" I found that 16" violas, from bridge to "nut" (where the strings bend over at the pegbox) had scales of 14.5" +/- 1/16. 16.5" violas had scales from 15 to 15.15", and 17" violas about 15.25" scale lengths.

I chose a 17". I have big hands and long arms, and so it makes playing higher positions a joy for me. I always got cramped up in 4th position on the violin (I am no virtuoso!).

[ Reply to This ]


Re: Voila! The Viola!
by Bill on 2004/12/28 16:26:45 US/Eastern

I recently bought a viola. Having played the violin as a teenager, I decided to switch.

Regarding size, it seems that "adults" usually play 15" to 16.5" instruments, and some to 17" or slightly greater.

The size refers to the length of the back, not including the little piece of the neck that looks like a bracket.

Regarding "scale length" I found that 16" violas, from bridge to "nut" (where the strings bend over at the pegbox) had scales of 14.5" +/- 1/16. 16.5" violas had scales from 15 to 15.15", and 17" violas about 15.25" scale lengths.

I chose a 17". I have big hands and long arms, and so it makes playing higher positions a joy for me. I always got cramped up in 4th position on the violin (I am no virtuoso!).

[ Reply to This ]

  • Re: Voila! The Viola!
    by erik on 2005/05/04 19:53:25 GMT-4

    I've played the violin on and off since I went to elementary school and I've always been rather tall (190-195 something now) but I only had a teacher for the first year or so so I wouldn't know if long armed people should be less fitted for playing the violin or if it just feels that way cause I mainly taught myself and may still be holding the instrument with a wrong grip or body position.

    It's still very difficult for me to relax when playing and thus vibrato becomes very labored which defeats it's whole effect as I guess it sounds as cramped as my left arm gets.

    I'm experimenting with the grip every time I play, moving the grip around from holding the violins neck further down the left hand thumb to further up which turns the hand further around the neck giving the fingers a more downwards angle towards the strings.

    is it a prevalent opinion that for long armed people there's simply no good solution when playing the violin?
    or are there long armed violinists who in their way of playing do not suffer from their long arms? (not counting a fiddle-pose with violin nearly straight forward over chest)

    I'd like to think there's some way to practice relaxing while playing or being stern on lifting the neck upon the thumb and not furthest down between the thumb and hand, which would make me not at all so ill adapted.

    maybe I can simply modify the supporting gadgets, extending them out from the base of the violin making it longer?
    is that usually done?
    has any known violinist done so?

    (I have a 4/4 violin)

    [ Reply to This ]


 

 
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