Test Your Violin History Knowledge

The instrument from that we recognise today as a ‘Violin’ emerged over 500 years ago from Italy. The earlier history of the Violin however is a story of development from a variety of other instruments from many different parts of the globe. From where? How and by Whom? Read on…

Way Back

Many believe that the stringed instrument from the Middle East called the ‘Rebab’ is the 8th Century likely main ancestor of the violin. The popularity of the Rebab with its bow and spike at the bottom (which lead to the ‘Spike Fiddle’ name) spread across the Islamic trade routes of the Middle East and North Africa into Europe.

Early European Influences

The 10th Century Byzantine and early Cretan Lyras provided another influence on the design that would become the violin. In the 11th and 12th centuries, as these instruments spread to Europe any bowed instruments began to be called ‘Liras’ or ‘Fiddles’.

The History of the Word Violin?

The Latin word for ‘stringed instrument’ which is ‘Vitula’ is thought to a likely source for the modern word. There may also be influences from the Icelandic word ‘Fiola’ and the names given to the early German types of fiddle.

Next – The Rebec

In the middle ages in Europe a bowed instrument that had descended from the Rebab emerged and was called the ‘Rebec’. It was typically made from one solid piece of wood and had 3 strings.

The Violin as We Know It

Further development of stringed, bowed instruments in Italy in the 1500s led to the production of what we would recognise as the ‘modern’ form of violin. An Italian lute maker from Cremona called Andrea Amati is generally given the main credit for merging the influences of the Rebec and the popular lyre into a light portable instrument which is essence the profile of the violin that we would recognise today. Some examples of these early violins still exist.

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