Viola

The viola (/viˈlə/ vee-OH-lə,[1][2] also UK: /vˈlə/ vy-OH-lə,[3][4][lower-alpha 1] Italian: [ˈvjɔːla, viˈɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed, plucked, or played with varying techniques. Slightly larger than a violin, it has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below).[5] The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

Viola
String instrument
Other namesFrench: alto; German: Bratsche
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.322-71
(Composite chordophone sounded by a bow)
Playing range
Related instruments

In the past, the viola varied in size and style, as did its names.[citation needed] The word viola originates from the Italian language. The Italians often used the term viola da braccio meaning literally: 'of the arm'. "Brazzo" was another Italian word for the viola, which the Germans adopted as Bratsche. The French had their own names: cinquiesme was a small viola, haute contre was a large viola, and taile was a tenor. Today, the French use the term alto, a reference to its range.

The viola was popular in the heyday of five-part harmony, up until the eighteenth century, taking three lines of the harmony and occasionally playing the melody line.[citation needed] Music for the viola differs from most other instruments in that it primarily uses the alto clef. When viola music has substantial sections in a higher register, it switches to the treble clef to make it easier to read.

The viola often plays the "inner voices" in string quartets and symphonic writing, and it is more likely than the first violin to play accompaniment parts. The viola occasionally plays a major, soloistic role in orchestral music. Examples include the symphonic poem, Don Quixote, by Richard Strauss, and the symphony/concerto, Harold en Italie, by Hector Berlioz.[citation needed] In the earlier part of the 20th century, more composers began to write for the viola, encouraged by the emergence of specialized soloists such as Lionel Tertis and William Primrose. English composers Arthur Bliss, York Bowen, Benjamin Dale, Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten, Rebecca Clarke and Ralph Vaughan Williams all wrote substantial chamber and concert works.[citation needed] Many of these pieces were commissioned by, or written for Lionel Tertis.[citation needed] William Walton, Bohuslav Martinů, Tōru Takemitsu, Tibor Serly, Alfred Schnittke, and Béla Bartók have written well-known viola concertos. The concerti by Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Carl Stamitz, Georg Philipp Telemann, and William Walton are considered major works of the viola repertoire.[citation needed] Paul Hindemith, who was a violist, wrote a substantial amount of music for viola, including the concerto Der Schwanendreher.


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Viola, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.