The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello, and occasionally the double bass. The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument; this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle". The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th century. Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier, or simply a violin maker. The parts of a violin are usually made from different types of wood (although electric violins may not be made of wood at all, since their sound may not be dependent on specific acoustic characteristics of the instrument's construction), and it is usually strung with gut, nylon/steel composite, or steel strings. Someone who plays the violin is called a violinist or a fiddler. The violinist produces sound by drawing a bow across one or more strings (which may be stopped by the fingers of the other hand to produce a full range of pitches), by plucking the strings (with either hand), or by a variety of other techniques. The violin is played by musicians in a wide variety of musical genres, including Baroque music, classical, jazz, folk music, pop-punk and rock and roll. The violin has come to be played in many non-western music cultures all over the world.

The earliest stringed instruments were mostly plucked (e.g. the Greek lyre). Bowed instruments may have originated in the equestrian  cultures of Central Asia, an example being the Kobyz (Kazakh: қобыз) or kyl-kobyz is an ancient Turkic,Kazakh string instrument or Mongolian  instrument Morin huur.

Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest fiddlers. Their two-stringed upright fiddles were strung with horsehair strings, played with horsehair bows, and often feature a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. ... The violins, violas, and cellos we play today, and whose bows are still strung with horsehair, are a legacy of the nomads.

It is believed that these instruments eventually spread to China, India, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East, where they developed into instruments such as the erhu in China, the rebab in the Middle East, the lyra in the Byzantine Empire and the esraj in India. The violin in its present form emerged in early 16th-Century Northern Italy, where the port towns of Venice and Genoa maintained extensive ties to central Asia through the trade routes of the silk road.

The modern European violin evolved from various bowed stringed instruments from the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. Most likely the first makers of violins borrowed from three types of current instruments: the rebec, in use since the 10th century (itself derived from the Byzantine lyra and the Arabic rebab), the Renaissance fiddle, and the lira da braccio (derivedfrom the Byzantine lira). One of the earliest explicit descriptions of the instrument, including its tuning, was in the Epitome musical by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556. By this time, the violin had already begun to spread throughout Europe.

The oldest documented violin to have four strings, like the modern violin, is supposed to have been constructed in 1555 by Andrea Amati, but the date is very doubtful. (Other violins, documented significantly earlier, only had three strings and were called violetta.) The violin immediately became very popular, both among street musicians and the nobility, illustrated by the fact that the French king Charles IX ordered Amati to construct 24 violins for him in 1560. The oldest surviving violin, dated inside, is from this set, and is known as the Charles IX, made in Cremona c. 1560. The finest Renaissance carved and decorated violin in the world is the Gasparo da Salò (1574 c.) owned by Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria and later, from 1841, by the Norwegian virtuoso Ole Bull, who used it for forty years and thousands of concerts, for his very powerful and beautiful tone, similar to those of a Guarneri. It is now in the Vestlandske Kustindustrimuseum in Bergen (Norway). "The Messiah" or "Le Messie" (also known as the "Salabue") made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 remains pristine. It is now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.

A violin is usually played using a bow  consisting of a stick with a ribbon of horsehair strung between the tip and frog (or nut, or heel) at opposite ends. A typical violin bow may be 75 cm (29 inches) overall, and weigh about 60 g (2.1 oz). Viola bows may be about 5 mm (0.20 in) shorter and 10 g (0.35 oz) heavier.

At the frog end, a screw adjuster tightens or loosens the hair. Just forward of the frog, a leather thumb cushion and winding protect the stick and provide a strong grip for the player's hand. The winding may be wire (often silver or plated silver), silk, or whalebone (now imitated by alternating strips of tan and black plastic.) Some student bows (particularly the ones made of solid fiberglass) substitute a plastic sleeve for grip and winding.

The hair of the bow traditionally comes from the tail of a grey male horse (which has predominantly white hair), though some cheaper bows use synthetic fiber. Occasional rubbing with rosin makes the hair grip the strings intermittently, causing them to vibrate. The stick is traditionally made of brazilwood, although a stick made from a more select quality (and more expensive) brazilwood is called pernambuco. Both types come from the same tree species. Some student bows are made of fiberglass or various inexpensive woods. Some recent bow design innovations use carbon fiber for the stick, at all levels of craftsmanship.

The hurdy gurdy or hurdy-gurdy (also known as a wheel fiddle) is a stringed musical instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents (small wedges, usually made of wood) against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic string instruments, it has a soundboard to make the vibration of the strings audible.

Hurdy gurdy

Most hurdy gurdies have multiple "drone strings," which provide a constant pitch accompaniment to the melody, resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes. For this reason, the hurdy gurdy is often used interchangeably with or along with bagpipes, particularly in French and contemporary Hungarian folk music. Many folk music festivals in Europe feature music groups with hurdy gurdy players, but the most famous annual festival is at Saint-Chartier, in the Indre département, in central France, during the week nearest July 14 (Bastille Day). The hurdy gurdy is generally thought to have originated from fiddles in either Western Europe or the Middle East (e.g. rebab) some time prior to the eleventh century A.D.  The first recorded reference to fiddles in Europe was in the 9th century by the Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih (d. 911) describing the lira (lūrā) as a typical instrument within the Byzantine Empire.  One of the earliest forms of the hurdy gurdy was the organistrum, a large instrument with a guitar-shaped body and a long neck in which the keys were set (covering one diatonic octave). The organistrum had a single melody string and two drone strings, which ran over a common bridge and a relatively small wheel. Due to its size, the organistrum was played by two people, one of whom turned the crank while the other pulled the keys upward. Pulling keys upward is a cumbersome playing technique, and as a result only slow tunes could be played on the organistrum.  The pitches on the organistrum were set according to Pythagorean temperament and the instrument was primarily used in monastic and church settings to accompany choral music. The abbot Odo of Cluny (died 942) is supposed to have written a short description of the construction of the organistrum entitled Quomodo organistrum construatur (How the Organistrum Is Made, known through a much-later copy, but its authenticity is very doubtful. Another 10th century treatise thought to have mentioned an instrument similar to the hurdy gurdy is an Arabic musical compendium written by Al Zirikli.  One of the earliest visual depictions of the organistrum is from the twelfth-century ´Pórtico de la Gloria (Portal of Glory) on the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, which includes a carving of two musicians playing an organistrum.

Later on the organistrum was reduced in size to allow a single player to both turn the crank and manipulate the keys. The solo organistrum was known from Spain and France, but was largely replaced by the symphonia, a small box-shaped version of the hurdy gurdy with three strings and a diatonic keyboard. At about the same time as the symphonia was developed, a new form of key pressed from beneath were developed. These keys were much more practical in faster music and easier to handle and eventually completely replaced keys pulled up from above. Medieval depictions of the symphonia show both types of keys.

During the Renaissance, the hurdy gurdy was a very popular instrument, along with the bagpipe, and a characteristic form with a short neck and a boxy body with a curved tail end developed. It was about this time that buzzing bridges first appear in depictions of the instrument. The buzzing bridge (commonly called the dog) is an asymmetrical bridge that rests under a drone string on the sound board. When the wheel is accelerated, one foot of the bridge lifts up from the soundboard and vibrates, creating a buzzing sound. The buzzing bridge is thought to have been borrowed from the tromba marina (monochord), a bowed string instrument.

During the late Renaissance, two characteristic shapes of hurdy gurdies developed. The first was guitar-shaped and the second had a rounded lute-type body made of staves. The lute body is especially characteristic of French instruments.

Detail of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, showing the first known depiction of a buzzing bridge on a hurdy gurdy

By the end of the 17th century changing musical tastes that demanded greater polyphonic capabilities than the hurdy gurdy could offer had pushed the instrument to the lowest social classes; as a result it acquired names like the German Bauernleier ‘peasant’s lyre’ and Bettlerleier ‘beggar’s lyre.’ During the 18th century, however, French Rococo tastes for rustic diversions brought the hurdy gurdy back to the attention of the upper classes, where it acquired tremendous popularity among the nobility, with famous composers writing works for the hurdy gurdy (the most famous of which is Nicolas Chédeville’s Il pastor Fido, attributed to Vivaldi). At this time the most common style of hurdy gurdy developed, the six-string vielle à roue. This instrument has two melody strings and four drones tuned such that by turning drones on or off, the instrument can be played in multiple keys (e.g., C and G or G and D).

During this time the hurdy gurdy also spread further east, where further variations developed in western Slavic countries, German-speaking areas and Hungary (see the list of types below for more information on these). Most types of hurdy gurdy were essentially extinct by the early twentieth century, but a few have survived—the best-known of which are the French vielle à roue, the Hungarian tekerőlant, and the Spanish zanfona. In Ukraine, a variety called the lira was widely used by blind street musicians, most of whom were purged by Stalin in the 1930s. Today the tradition has resurfaced. Revivals have been underway for many years as well in Sweden, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The revival of hurdy gurdies has resulted in the instrument’s use in a variety of styles of music (see the list of recordings that use hurdy gurdy), including contemporary forms not typically associated with the hurdy gurdy.

The hurdy-gurdy appears to be the instrument played by Der Leiermann, the melancholy last song of Schubert's Winterreise . The hurdy gurdy is featured and played prominently in the film Captains Courageous (1937) as the instrument belonging to the character Manuel, acted by Spencer Tracy.

The instrument came into a new public consciousness when Donovan released his hit rock song, "Hurdy Gurdy Man" in 1968. Although the song didn't feature an actual hurdy gurdy in the mix (but did feature three members of the later rock group Led Zeppelin), the repeated reference to the Hurdy Gurdy in the song's lyrics sparked a new curiosity and interest about the instrument by the youth at the time, eventually resulting in an annual hurdy gurdy music festival in the Olympic Peninsula area of the state of Washington each September.

Beat gardon/knocked gardon

Az ütőgardon (gardon, gardony, ütősgardony, tekenyőgardon, csipi-s-üti, dob) olyan csellóra  emlékeztető népi húros ritmushangszer, amelyet ütővel és „csipkedéssel”, pengetéssel szólaltatnak meg. Az ütőgardon teste egy darab fából van kifaragva, anyaga legtöbbször jávor-, nyár- vagy fűzfa. Kivájt teknőhöz hasonlít, nem túl hangsúlyos középhajlatokkal, végén vaskos, rövid nyakkal, fakulcsos hangolófejjel. A testet befedő tető sík vagy enyhén domború, a húrláb két oldalán szimmetrikusan elhelyezkedő, a vonós hangszerekére emlékeztető hangnyílásokkal. Ritkábban három, többnyire négy húrja van, melyek egy síkban futnak, lapos húrlábon áthaladva a húrtartóhoz  csatlakoznak. Vannak csellóból átalakított, vagy annak mintájára kávásan, dobozszerűen felépített ütőgardonok is. A megszólaltatására vonó helyett ütő – ütőpáca, gardonpáca – szolgál, ez nagyjából 40 cm hosszú, seprűnyél vastagságú keményfa bot.

A négyhúros ütőgardon három vastagabb húrja a nagybőgő G-húrjának felel meg, egy vékonyabb húrja pedig a cselló D vagy G húrjának. Ez utóbbi a pengető húr. A húrok leggyakoribb hangolása D–D–D–d, régebben használt hangolások még háromhúros hangszeren: D–d–g; D–d–a; A–d–d. Az ütőgardon kísérő hangszer, rendszerint a szólista, a hegedűs tulajdona, aki feleségét vagy egyik közeli rokonát tanítja be a hangszer használatára, vagy egy-egy alkalomra felfogad erre a célra valakit. A hangszert nem vonóval szólaltatják meg: a zenész a jobb kezében levő ütővel az egyenes felületű láb miatt egy síkban lévő húrokra üt, a hangszert átkaroló bal kezének hüvelyk- és mutatóujjával pedig a pengetőhúrt felcsippenti, felemeli, majd elengedi, hogy rácsapódjon a fogólapra. Ez utóbbi technikát rácsaptatott pizzicatónak  nevezzük. A kíséret ritmusképletében az ütés és a csippentés egymással váltakozik. A megütött hang tompa, üstdob  jellegű, a csippentett hang éles, csattanó. Az ütőt a csellóvonó tartásától eltérően úgy markolják meg, hogy a hüvelykujj van a bot végénél.

Az ütőgardont hegedű kísérőhangszerének használják a csíki székelyek és a csángók, illetve az ottani cigányzenészek. A két világháború között a hegedű-gardon együttesek fokozatosan eltűntek, az utóbbi időben már csak Csíkszentdomokoson és a gyimesi csángók között található meg. A hangszer múltjáról csak sejtéseink lehetnek, talán a 17.  vagy 18. századbeli tánckísérő dobok szerepét vehette át, melyet a töröksíp kíséretére használtak, és amit két oldalról két különböző ütővel – egy vastagabbal meg egy vékony, vesszőszerűvel – ütöttek meg. Az így előállítható tompább és élesebb hangszíneknek az ütőgardon ütött és csippentett hangjai felelnek meg. Az ütőgardonhoz hasonlóan bottal ütött húros hangszer a dél-franciaországi tambourin de Béarn, amit a galoubet nevű egykezes furulyán való játék közben a zenész a másik kezével szólaltat meg.


Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones  using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from different regions throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the Caucasus.

The term is equally correct in the singular or plural, although in the English language, pipers most commonly talk of "pipes." A set of bagpipes minimally consists of an air supply, a bag, a chanter, and usually a drone. Most bagpipes also have additional drones (and sometimes chanters) in various combinations, held in place in stocks—connectors with which the various pipes are attached to the bag.

The most common method of supplying air to the bag is by blowing into a blowpipe, or blowstick. In some pipes the player must cover the tip of the blowpipe with his tongue while inhaling, but modern blowpipes are usually fitted with a non-return valve which eliminates this need.

An innovation, dating from the 16th or 17th centuries, is the use of a bellows to supply air. In these pipes, sometimes called coldpipes, air is not heated or moistened by the player's breathing, so bellows-driven bagpipes can use more refined and/or delicate reeds. The most famous of these pipes are the Irish uilleann pipes, the Northumbrian smallpipes in Britain, and the Musette de cour in France.

The bag is an airtight reservoir which can hold air and regulate its flow while the player breathes or pumps with a bellows, enabling the player to maintain continuous sound for some time. Materials used for bags vary widely, but the most common are the skins of local animals such as goats, dogs, sheep, and cows. More recently, bags made of synthetic materials including Gore-Tex have become common.

Bags cut from larger materials are usually saddle-stitched with an extra strip folded over the seam and stitched (for skin bags) or glued (for synthetic bags) to reduce leaks. Holes are cut to accommodate the stocks. In the case of bags made from largely-intact animal skins the stocks are typically tied into the points where limbs and the head joined the body of the living animal, a construction technique common in Central and Eastern Europe.

The chanter is the melody pipe, played by one or two hands. A chanter can be bored internally so that the inside walls are parallel for its full length, or it can be bored in the shape of a cone. Additionally, the reed can be a single or a double reed. Double reeds are used with both conical- and parallel-bored chanters while single reeds are generally (although not exclusively) limited to parallel-bored chanters. In general double-reed chanters are found in pipes of Western Europe with single-reed chanters found elsewhere.

The practice chanter

The chanter is usually open-ended; thus, there is no easy way for the player to stop the pipe from sounding. This means that most bagpipes share a legato sound where there are no rests in the music. Primarily because of this inability to stop playing, grace notes (which vary between types of bagpipe) are used to break up notes and to create the illusion of articulation and accents. Because of their importance, these embellishments (or ornaments) are often highly technical systems specific to each bagpipe, and take much study to master.

A few bagpipes (the musette de cour, the uilleann pipes, the Northumbrian smallpipe, and the left chanter of the Surdulina, a type of Calabrian Zampogna) have closed ends or stop the end on the player's leg, so that when the player covers all the holes (known as closing the chanter) it becomes silent.

Most bagpipes have at least one drone. A drone is most commonly a cylindrical tube with a single reed, although drones with double reeds exist. The drone is generally designed in two or more parts, with a sliding joint ("'bridle'") so that the pitch of the drone can be manipulated.

Depending on the type of pipes, the drones may lay over the shoulder, across the arm opposite the bag, or may run parallel to the chanter. Some drones have a tuning screw, which effectively alters the length of the drone by opening a hole, allowing the drone to be tuned to two or more distinct pitches. The tuning screw may also shut off the drone altogether. In most type of pipes, where there is one drone it is pitched two octaves below the tonic of the chanter, and further additions often add the octave below and then a drone consonant with the fifth of the chanter.

The cimbalom is a concert hammered dulcimer: a type of chordophone  composed of a large, trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top. It is a musical instrument commonly found throughout the group of East European nations and cultures which composed Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), namely contemporary Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The cimbalom is (typically) played by striking two beaters against the strings. The steel treble strings are arranged in groups of 4 and are tuned in unison. The bass strings which are over-spun with copper, are arranged in groups of 3 and are also tuned in unison. The Hornbostel-Sachs musical instrument classification system registers the cimbalom with the number 314.122-4,5. Moreover, the instrument name “cimbalom” also denotes earlier, smaller versions of the cimbalom, and folk cimbaloms, of different tone groupings, string arrangements, and box types. In English, the cimbalom  spelling is the most common, followed by the variants, derived from Austria-Hungary’s languages, cimbal, cymbalom, cymbalum, ţambal, tsymbaly  and tsimbl etc. Santouri, sandouri and a number of other non Austro-Hungarian names are sometimes applied to this instrument in regions beyond Austria-Hungary which have their own names for related instruments of the hammer dulcimer family. The first representation of a simple struck chordophone which we categorize as a hammered dulcimer can be found in the Assyrian  bas-relief in Kyindjuk dated back to 3500 BC. The peoples of the Mediterranean all had versions this instrument under different names, as did many peoples in Asia.


The folk hammered dulcimer common amongst the Gypsy people of Austria-Hungary was taken by V. Josef Schunda, a master piano maker living and working in Pest, Hungary, as the basis for a concert cimbalom for which he arranged serial production in 1874. The fourth edition of the first textbook for the concert cimbalom by Géza Allaga, a member of the Hungarian Royal Opera orchestra, was published in 1889.

The concert cimbalom became popular within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was used by all the ethnic groups within the country including Magyar (Hungarian), Jewish,  and Slavic musicians, as well as Roma (Gypsy) lautari musicians (lăutari). Use of the instrument spread by the end of the 19th century and took the place of the cobza in Romanian and Moldovan folk ensembles.  In Wallachia it is used almost as a percussion instrument.[citation needed] In Transylvania and Banat, the style of playing is more tonal, heavy with arpeggios.[citation needed] Folk hammered dulcimers are usually referred to by their regional names, but throughout central and eastern Europe they are often referred to as "cimbalom" (cymbalom, cymbalum, ţambal, tsymbaly, tsimbl, ţambal, cimbál, cimbale etc.). These instruments can differ from each other in size, tuning, number of strings and method of holding and moving the hammers or "beaters". They are smaller and more portable than the concert cimbalom. In performance they were (or are) often carried by a single musician: typically using a strap around the player's neck and leaning one edge of the instrument against the waist. Like the concert cimbalom, the folk hammered dulcimer / small cimbalom is played by striking the strings with two beaters. However, these are generally much shorter than the beaters used with the concert cimbalom (usually half the length), and often without soft coverings over the area which strikes the string. These instruments also lacked damper mechanisms; therefore, the hand, fingers, and even forearms are used for damping. Tunings are often partially chromatic or even diatonic rather than the fully chromatic tuning of the concert cimbalom, and they can vary regionally. Construction of these instruments is more closely related to the particular style of music played on them than is the case with the concert cimbalom. In addition to the emergence of the concert cimbalom in Hungary, some other regions in Eastern Europe also further developed their local version of folk dulcimer and more formal schools of playing followed.

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