The violin is a member of the string instrument group. It has four strings that must be tuned precisely in order to produce the desired sound. The violin is a fairly temperamental instrument that easily falls out of tune and must be tuned perfectly or the sound will be off. It is possibly the combination of having to learn how to tune this instrument properly, hold the hand on the neck of the violin right and use the bow properly that this particular instrument is often seen as one of the more difficult ones to learn. The violin is often referred to as the fiddle, which is its informal title. In the past the strings of the violin were made of animal gut or catgut and the hairs on the bow were made of horse hair. Today, the strings are often made out of steel or other metals and the bows are still made with horse hair.
While the violin may not have a history as long or old as wind instruments or percussion instruments do, it has still existed for a long time. Throughout most of its history, the violin remained more or less the same in use and appearance until the 1700s. It was after this that the violin went through some minor changes in design, mostly in regards to the angle of the violin's neck. While this change may not have changed the sound of the violin much, possible changes in the materials used to make the violin have a significant affect on the sound the violin will make.
For starters, the violin is hollow and consists of mostly spruce and maple. The bridge that holds the strings up off the face of the violin is also wood. The pegs are made of wood or plastic, though wood is preferred because it has more grip to hold the strings in place. Unfortunately, many violins are sold with plastic pegs. Chalk is sometimes used to increase the grip. Other than the strings, the smaller tuning keys and the chin rest, the violin is wood. Violin makers, also known as luthiers, are particular and specific in what they use in making a violin. If the instrument is made with the wrong material, or the material is not aged or graded properly, the violin will not emit the sounds it is supposed to.
Violins are the smallest of the violin family of instruments, which include the viola, the cello and the base. They can also emit a higher pitch than the others, while still managing to give out a rich sound that can reach the soul. It may be a temperamental instrument that requires a lot of practice and dedication, but it is also quite a flexible instrument with a large range of sounds it can make. The four strings may seem limiting to the inexperienced, but they are not very limiting at all. The violin can play just about any kind of music and has an amazing range that can be well manipulated to create beautiful sounds and music.