String instruments are quite common in the world of music and even people who do not possess any passion for music can easily discern them. String instruments are the ones that produce sound through the vibrations of strings that are stretched across a surface. There are multiple ways through which one can produce sound from strings. These include plucking, rubbing, the use of a plectrum or even a wooden hammer. There are instruments like the piano that are also based on sounds produced by the string but string instruments are mostly based on a class of instruments that requires you to have some sort of direct access to the strings.
The body of a string instrument is usually hollow. The string instrument cannot solely depend on the vibration of the string as the sound emitted as a result of the vibration will be greatly limited without the hollowed-out surface to amplify the sound. The sound emitted by the vibration plays off the hollow surface and gives it a deeper effect which is then heard by the listeners. However, there are few instruments that do not have this hollowed-out surface but rather depend on electronic amplification of the vibrations to create sound.
String instruments went through a certain evolution since 13000 BC as cave paintings were found that resembled a bow harp. The initial string instruments had only one string and could play only one note. As time passed, the complexity of the instrument and the range it could play increased gradually. The number of strings was gradually increased which made it possible for players to hit different notes. The invention which was made after the initial bow harp was the lute. It was basically made to be a straightened-out version of a bow harp with a bridge that lifts the string to allow it to vibrate freely.
Orchestral String Instruments
String instruments are used in almost every music genre in a very dense manner. Orchestra is a place where string instruments are found in high numbers with a lot of musicians firing away at the same time to create music at a grand scale. Let us see some of the string instruments that contribute to the sensational final product of orchestral music.
Violin is one of the most famous orchestral instruments and the number of violin players in an orchestra can easily outnumber any other instrument players there. There are almost 20 to 30 violin players in an orchestra if we consider the average number. Violin makes the highest sound among all the stringed instruments in an orchestra. They are used tactically in an orchestral setting with the entire group of violin players divided into two groups. One group plays the melody while the other one plays the harmony. Violin is comparatively compact when it comes to other larger instruments included in an orchestra and is generally around 24 inches or so in length.
Viola is considered the elder sibling of a violin. This is because the viola is a bit larger than the average violin. It is just over two feet and the build of a viola is a bit bulkier than the violin. As a result, the sound produced by a viola is thicker and richer than the violin. The number of viola players is usually half the number of players playing the violin. You may find anywhere between 10 to 14 viola players in an orchestra. The viola is played in a similar manner to the violin with the player holding them between their chin and shoulder.
The cello looks like a gigantic violin and is played in a similar fashion to it by rubbing the strings with a bow. However, it has its distinct place in an orchestral setting and has its purpose that is very different from the violin. Any cello goes easily over 4 feet in height and certainly cannot be placed on the shoulder of the player. A cello player sits down in a chair and places the instrument between his two legs to play the instrument. The other mechanisms of the cello are quite similar and how it is played replicates the violin. The cello has a much deeper sound because of its humongous size.
Other Types Of String Instruments
Let’s take a look at some of the string instruments that are popular all around the world
This is the most popular version of a string instrument that is recognized and loved by a lot of people worldwide. The acoustic guitar has six strings that are held apart from the surface by a bridge. It has a hollow surface that amplifies the vibrations of the instrument to produce sound. This is one of the most used instruments worldwide and is known for its versatility. It’s often used to compose Bollywood song notes and music from across the globe.
The sitar is the Indian embodiment of guitar and has a similar mechanism to it. However, there are some stark differences that distinguish it both physically and in terms of the sound it produces. The Sitar is much larger than the guitar and is much heavier. Sitar is traditionally played by sitting on the ground as it is the most convenient way to play it. The sound produced by a sitar is also a tad higher than the guitar and the difference between them is quite apparent when played.
This may be the most unique one amongst the string instruments we have discussed above. The electric guitar is very much similar to the acoustic guitar in the way that it is played and its structure. One vital difference that separated both of them is that the electric guitar does not have a hollow surface to amplify the vibrations but it rather depends on an electric amplifier to produce sound.
These are some of the most popular string instruments out there. Strings instruments are used across all genres of music and the variations that one will find among different types of these instruments out there are many. A skilled string instrument player can bring a lot of impact into musical performance and the horizons to explore in this field are endless.