Cello vs violin

Svetlana November 11 2021

General characteristics

The cello and the violin are two different musical instruments in the string family. They both make a sound by way of a bow that is drawn across one or more strings. A "string" instrument, is played with a bow, which changes the volume of vibrating air in an enclosed space through which a thin stick-like bowing device called a bow passes from middle to side.

In general, stringed instruments can be divided into 2 broad categories: those that produce their sound from being bowed (i.e., violins), and those that have some sort of mechanism for drawing out or tightening the strings so they will vibrate when picked or plucked (i.e., guitars). The six most common string instruments are all bowed, including the violin. The six common stringed instruments are guitars, violins, violas, cellos, double basses, and harps.

Bows are generally either light "arco" (to distinguish this technique from "pizzicato", the plucking of bowed strings with the fingers), in which the player dips the head of the bow into rosin then draws it across a selected string or pair of strings while being very careful to prevent it from bouncing on and prematurely hitting another string; or down-bows, where gravity pulls the bow onto and through a string.

Bow construction has become standardized as carbon fiber for all but the lowest quality bows. Hair used for horsehair bows had been preferred by many players because the cost of good-quality horsehair was historically very low.

Now in many cases, inexpensive synthetics such as nylon are used in place of the traditional material. Synthetic hair does not have the elasticity and "memory" of real horsehair, nor will it absorb moisture or perspiration when in use. However, fiddlers who sweat profusely from physical exertion while playing may still prefer to use genuine horsehair for its superior grip and moisture-wicking properties.

What is a cello?

The cello (plural cellos or violoncellos) is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes violin and viola, and is the bass member of the viol family. The cello is used as a solo instrument, as well as in chamber music ensembles (e.g., string quartet, string orchestra ), and some full orchestras.

It is the second-largest bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, where it often part to section "C", or contrabass section. Smaller orchestral string sections may also be composed entirely of cellos (i.e., no violas or violins), often differentiated with the title " contra ", "low C instruments ", or even using paid instrumentalists on smaller concerts.

What is a violin?

The violin is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Older variants of the instrument were significantly larger, but are nowadays rarely played. Positioned between the violin and viola, it is more commonly found than either of these other members as a member of a string quartet, a quintet, or a jazz ensemble.

The violin produces sound by linking an elastic thread (about four-millionths of an inch thick) pulled taught over a thin bony bridge resting on top of two hollow "bow" boxes that contain loosely fitted strings. Violins come in several sizes - from piccolo to bass - and are typically tuned at one-fifth intervals from each other.

A violinist plays the instrument by drawing a bow across one or more strings to cause them to vibrate, either by drawing the bow across the strings (arco) or by plucking them (pizzicato). While most violin music is written in a single clef, that is, with the sound produced by vibrating strings running on one side of the standard musical staff, some pieces will call for the use of alternative clefs.

A musician who plays any instrument in the violin family is called a "violinist" or a "violin player", and a maker of violins is called a "luthier". The adjective form of violin in English is "violin".

Comparison of materials

Cello and violin are both wooden string instruments - but they are made of very different wood. Most cellos are made of maple, spruce, or other hardwood, while the top boards of most violins are made from softwood (such as pine).

Only the highest-quality wooden instrument will stand up to rigorous daily use over time without the need for restoration and/or adjustments. All violin parts must fit together precisely for the instrument to be considered playable. If an affordable instrument is not built well enough to last at least a couple of decades, it will likely end up in storage rather than being played on a regular basis.

On the other hand, an inexpensive cello that is well built should allow for many years of play before needing even basic repairs or maintenance - and may well still be in playable condition after a century or more if it is handled with care during storage

Comparison of sound

The cello and the violin both produce sound in different ways: The cello is played with a bow, and the notes can be sustained as long as required, similar to a piano or guitar. The violin produces its sound by plucking the strings; this gives it a more percussive tone that decays much faster than a note produced by bowing (however, it should also be pointed out that there are numerous exceptions to this generalization).

Although violins builders use many different materials for making violins, they all possess very similar construction. Cello makers make their instruments from one solid piece of wood - and it's their varied thicknesses and densities that account for differences in their voices. The two instruments are tuned differently - the violin is tuned G D A E, while the cello is C G D A.

Comparison of ranges

The cello can easily play notes in the tenor range (very low-pitched notes) and also has an extended upper register that goes beyond what is considered to be standard for a human voice. The violin's range extends upwards into high positions but not very far down into lower positions unless you're listening to it through speakers or headphones with woofers.

If all you hear--at live concerts or at recordings--are treble clefs, then your ear will only be able to pick up the higher-pitched strings on either instrument when you can hear both instruments playing together.

The violin can sound shrill in the high register, but it has a brighter voice when compared with cellos.

Comparison of playing styles

Cello players must run their fingers along the neck when they are shifting up the fingerboard - whereas when a violinist shifts positions on the fingerboard, s/he need only move his or her left hand.

Both instruments have four main strings that are stopped (pressed down to produce different pitches) by the musician's fingertips using either individual fingers or a unique type of plectrum called a "frog" which is attached to all four fingers. However, unlike the bow-strokes of string instruments played with bows, pizzicato notes are short and percussive.

Further notes about violin playing style

Violinists have to shift position when they are playing particularly high notes. They also need to be aware of the space in which they are performing, so that there is no danger of their bowing arm hitting another musician or an audience member in the front row. This isn't a problem with cellists because the instrument itself juts out in front of them in a similar fashion to how a man's crotch might jut outward if he were wearing tight-fitting pants.

Cello vs Violin Conclusion

Although both instruments are used for solo pieces, chamber music, and orchestral performances, they are played very differently. Cello players must essentially push down on the string with a bow, whereas violinists use a combination of left-hand and right-hand movement to produce different pitches.

Cello players also need to be aware of the space in which they are performing, so that there is no danger of their bowing arm hitting another musician or an audience member in the front row. This isn't a problem with cellists because the instrument itself juts out from the body in a similar fashion to how a man's crotch might jut outward if he were wearing tight-fitting pants.

The violin produces its sound by plucking the strings; this gives it a more percussive tone that decays much faster than a note produced by bowing (however, it should also point out that there are numerous exceptions to this generalization).