• Joseph Curtin
  • Thomas D. Rossing


The first known violins were built in Italy in the early 1500s. While not much is yet known about the instrument’s prior development, European forebears include the rebec and the Renaissance fiddle, which themselves evolved from instruments found in the ancient Eastern world. The violin brought together in a particularly happy way features seen in a variety of earlier stringed instruments. Arched plates increased the stiffness-to-mass ratio of the body, creating a more brilliant sound and helping resist long-term deformation. A pronounced waist gave the bow access to the outermost strings, while the precisely calibrated curves of fingerboard and bridge enabled the strings to be played individually as well as in two-, three-, and even four-part chords. In contrast to the viola da gamba and guitar, the violin’s top and back plates overhung the ribs, allowing easy removal for repairs, thus contributing to the instrument’s fabled longevity. A graceful outline, harmonious proportions, and the minimal use of ornamentation together lent the violin a timeless beauty – explaining in part why it has resisted significant stylistic modification to this day. For a discussion of historical string instruments, see Chap. 17.


Frequency Response Function Nodal Line Radiation Efficiency Body Mode Back Plate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Colin Gough, Gabriel Weinreich, and Jim Woodhouse for their many valuable comments, insights, and suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA)Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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