Monday, July 11, 2011

B&W Portraits: Viola 1

When I'm carrying this thing around or playing it, I frequently hear people refer to the beautiful instrument in the following photo as a violin. This is incorrect. This is not a violin, but its sibling the viola. What's the difference, if they look the same?

The viola has the same tuning as the cello: C, G, D, A; this is a fifth lower than the violin, which is tuned at G, D, A, E. Additionally, violins have a maximum size of 14"; violas have no maximum size that I know of. Mine is 16". As you might guess, the larger size of the viola makes for a greater depth of sound, more resonance. It doesn't mince and shriek unless you try, unlike the violin.

It is also, I have been told, the hardest string orchestra instrument to play, because it is heavy (try holding one under your chin, propped lightly up by your wrist, for twenty minutes minimum). The width of the neck is harder to deal with than that of the violin's when it comes to bowing as well.

Now why on earth did I post this photo when the title of the post says "portrait"? Portraits are not always of faces; they represent a subject (like Georgia O'Keeffe's hands, for example). This viola in some way represents me, so consider it a self portrait.

I have a slightly modified version of this, which I may or may not post later.

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