Name of Instrument:
How to Play:
The viola is held and played much like the violin. The musician places the bottom end of the viola in between his chin and shoulder then uses a bow to produce sound. Common playing techniques used in string instruments include double stop, harmonics, mute, pizzicato, tremolo and vibrato. Great composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Strauss and Berlioz, wrote parts for the viola. A good example is in Don Quixote where the viola is used to play the part of Sancho Panza.
The viola belongs to the violin family of instruments and is tuned a fifth lower than the violin. The viola is the tenor voice in a string ensemble. Its' tone is darker than that of the violin and it is longer than the violin by about 2 inches.
First Known Violas:
The first violas are believed to have been made in the 15th century and evolved from the viola de braccio (Italian for "arm viol"). During the 18th century, the viola was used to play the part of the cello. Although not a solo instrument, the viola is an important member of a string ensemble.
Notable violists include Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Walter Trampler, Lionel Tertis and William Primrose. Paganini played the viola occasionally. Other famous composers such as Schoenberg and Bartók also wrote parts for the viola.