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String instruments

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What are string instruments?

String instruments are

stringed instruments

are stringed instruments in which the strings are vibrated with a bow (then also called bowed instruments), more rarely with a rod or a wheel, by stroking the strings. The stick-slip effect is caused by the resulting jerky sliding. The vibrations of the strings are usually transferred to a resonating body, usually made of wood, to make them audible.

String players are musicians who play string instruments. When specifying the instrumentation of an orchestra, the string instruments are usually grouped together under the term strings (or Italian archi), usually in multiple instrumentation: 1. and 2.







double bass


History of string instruments

The history of string instruments stretches far back into the past. The simplest forms, such as the mouth bow, were often not clearly distinguishable from the hunting bow. An interesting feature is the mouth bow, where the stick or string is guided in the mouth to use the head as a resonating body. A photo on an Argentinian stamp shows a rudimentary form of a string instrument with a bow. The Chinese yazheng, a zither played with a bow, has its roots in the 8th century and was probably brought to China from Central Asia. In Armenia, the 9. or Depictions of musicians with string instruments were found in the 10th century. A glass vase shows a possible violin, while a ceramic depicts a kamanche, a spit violin.

In India, the exact age of stringed instruments is uncertain, but temple reliefs from the 10. the ravanahattha, a kind of spit violin, is considered the oldest Indian stringed instrument. In Arabia, there are descriptions of stringed instruments such as the rabab from the 10 In Europe, stringed instruments such as the fiddle and rebec have been popular since the 11th century and have their origin in the Arab world. The hurdy-gurdy, in which the strings are stretched over a wheel, has been around since the 10 The nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle, has been known to exist in Germany, Italy and Sweden since the 15th century. Instruments by famous violin makers such as Antonio Stradivari can be found in private and public collections. Since the early 2000s, string instruments have also been made of carbon, which gives them stability and robustness.

In China, there is an even longer history of string instruments, which are summarized under the term huqin. Stringed instruments with a narrow bamboo strip were already being played there around 800. At the same time in Korea, a wooden stick coated with resin was used to play the strings.

Structure of string instruments

String instruments have a uniform structure consisting of head, neck and body. Cello and double bass have an additional bridge, violin and viola have a chinrest. The head contains the scroll as a decorative element, pegs for regulating the string tension, the pegbox for the adjustable pegs and the nut for guiding the strings. There is a fingerboard on the neck on which the various notes can be played. The body consists of a top with sound holes (F-holes), back, sides and bridge to transmit the string vibrations. The tailpiece holds the strings in place.

The bow, an equally important element, consists of the frog, which holds and tensions the bow hairs, and the rod as a screw device for adjusting the tension. The stick provides the desired length, while the thumb leather and the wrap support the grip and protect the bow from sweat. The tip of the bow closes the bow and the bow hairs, which consist of at least 150 horsehairs, are responsible for producing the sound.

Tone or sound production in string instruments

The principle of sound production is the same for all stringed instruments: a taut string is made to vibrate by bowing or plucking. By pressing the string down onto the fingerboard, its length is changed, resulting in different pitches. The body serves as a resonating body.

List of string instruments


String instruments