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The World Without Music

In: Film and Music

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The World without Music
From as far back as scholars can trace, music has always been an essential part of the human culture all over the globe. Music can be used to convey feelings, promote religious agendas, and entertain. It can be expressed through chanting, singing, dancing, and most importantly, playing instruments. One instrument, the violin, has been a major part of musical compositions for many centuries. The violins importance with music can be analyzed by focusing on its history, its sound and effects, the style of music that made it popular, and how it is being incorporated in music today.
First, to understand the violin, one must know what it is exactly. The violin, also referred to as the fiddle, is a four-stringed instrument that can produce different tones depending on which string is played, A, E, D, or G. It belongs to a family of stringed instruments, which includes the cello and viola. The violin is the smallest instrument in the strings family. Kerman and Tomlinson, authors of the music book Listen, point out:
Stringed instruments produce their sound by means of taut strings attached to the sound box, a hollow box containing a body of air that resonates (that is, vibrates along with the strings) to amplify the string sound. The strings themselves can be played with a bow, as with the violin and other orchestral strings; the bow is strung tightly with horsehair, which is coated with a substance called rosin so that the bow grips the strings to produce continuous sound. (15)
The continuous sound of the bow and strings is manipulated by a musician, also known as a violinist to create different sounds, pitches, and color tones. These effects are captured by the violinist to create musical compositions that can be used to amuse an audience of people or a single person.
Next, although the origin of stringed instruments is open for debate, the history of the violin dates back to the Renaissance era. Richard Romando, an expert author for EzineArticles.com, examines the role of the birth of the violin:
The history of the violin itself goes back to 16-th century Italy. The Medici family commissioned a famous lute builder named Andrea Amati to make a stringed instrument that was small enough for street musicians to use but had a sound quality similar to that of a lyre. His first violins were very successful and he was soon commissioned to build an entire orchestra by King Charles IX of France. (Romando)
After Amati’s great success with engineering and mastering the violin, the instrument continued to be a part of the development of music throughout the Renaissance. “Instrumental music was to become one of the great glories of the Baroque era, and the basis for this was laid in the Renaissance” as noted by Kerman and Tomlinson. (79)
In addition, during the Baroque era, the violin became the main theme of the classical style of music, which made it popular to this day. Famous composers such as Antonio Vivaldi and J.S. Bach used the violin as the center piece in their Concertos and Concerti Grossi. In many respects, masterpieces like Vivaldi’s four series violin concerto, The Four Seasons, are still unrivaled. (CITE) In this piece, Vivaldi demonstrates the wide range sounds and pitches that the violin can produce, which he uses to express the feelings of the four seasons, summer, fall, winter, and spring. Furthermore, in the classical era, composers incorporated the brilliant melodies of the violin to create two classical genres, the symphony orchestra and the string quartets. A string quartet has fewer instruments than a symphony, and it only consists of members from the string family, two violins, a viola, and a cello. According to Kerman and Tomlinson “The heart of the Classical orchestra was still (as in the Baroque orchestra) a group of stringed instruments: violins, divided into two groups, first violins and second violins: violas: and cellos, with a few basses playing the same music as the cellos an octave lower” (161). Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Mozart are perhaps the most famous composers from this era.
Crossing into the 19th century, also referred to as the Romantic era, musicians continued to use the violin as a tool for composing symphonies. In the following exert, Kerman and Tomlinson examine the symphony in the 19th century:
Romantic composers and audiences alike were fascinated by the symphony orchestra, and for the first time conductors came to the fore – conductors wielding batons. In earlier times, orchestras had simply followed the first violinist or the continuo player, but now they needed experts to control balance out those special blended effects. (233)
Beethoven rose to become perhaps the most important figure of the Romantic genre. His styles and techniques inspired the following generations of composers. His famous Symphony No. 5, includes the violin to express color tone. Lastly, the 20 and 21st centuries cover the modern era, and how the violin is being used in music today. Although composers kept most of the violins roots in the classical style of music, during the first half of this era, in the second half, they began to venture into other genres. Charlie Daniels, a country music artist, is perhaps the most well-known fiddler in country music. One of his most famous songs, The Devil went Down to Georgia, covers lyrics that tell a tale of a boy competing against the devil for a fiddle made of gold.

Works Cited

Romando, Richard. “A Brief History of the Violin.” Ezinearticles. SparkNET, 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2012

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