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Why Is The Viola A Popular Musical Instrument?

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By Author: micheljordan4
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The viola is the oldest of the present day’s main stringed instruments, pre-existing the cello, violin, and string bass. Viola, analogous to the violin, is a stringed musical instrument having lower and deeper sounds and therefore, is the alto voice of the violin family. It is to be noted that the viola is a very delicate but exquisite instrument therefore its safety must be ensured with viola insurance.

Originating in northern Italy between the years 1530 and 1550, the viola initially was viola da braccio which translates to the viola played in the arms. It mainly emerged after the instrument Soprano gained popularity in the mid-1500s.

Why is Viola so lovable?

Violas are in between violins and cellos in both size and tune. It has the alto voice between the violin being tuned to a perfect fifth above and the cello having a tuned octave below. Thus, it is the ideal instrument for those with not so high a range as violins.

Violas are rather unique in the sense very few people start by playing the viola.

Music of viola, violin, and cello can be played by a violist leading to more efficiency ...
... in music theory. The viola maintains the same string notes as the cello, but an octave higher, so music that is written for the cello can be easily arranged for the alto clef without any changes in key. Learning different clefs is also beneficial for a musician.

Playing viola leads to proficiency in different genres of music as violists can perform a wide variety of instruments’ music.

Playing the harmony is rather effortless than playing the melody, making the viola a perfect choice for beginners.

How Viola Differ from Violin?

Viola and violins, though similar in appearance, have significant differences that make them stand apart.


The viola is slightly larger than the violin. Although the size of the viola is set, it usually ranges from 38cm to 43cm. A full-size violin has a 35.5cm long body. The bow of the violins is, however, somewhat longer than that of the viola.


Though both violins and violas are four-stringed instruments, the notes of each string differ. The viola string order from lowest to highest is C, G, D, A. Violin strings, on the other hand, go from G, D, A to E.

The viola has thicker strings and is tuned to be one-fifth lower than the violin leading to a lower range.


Violins are the highest-pitched instruments in the string family seconded by violas. A viola produces a deeper, mellow, and slower sound than violin because of its thicker strings.


One of the main contrasts between the violin and the viola is the clef that each instrument uses. Music for the viola is written in an alto clef, which uses the C clef. The viola is the only instrument to use the alto clef whereas the violin uses the treble clef.

Bow frog

The viola bows are a bit heavier, with curved frogs (end of the bow) than violin bows which are generally straight-edged. The viola bow also has a wider band of horsehair.


The techniques used in playing viola and violin are different due to their sizes and tunes. The fingering is quite different as the viola has heavier strings which require more intense weight application to vibrate them. However, both of them have the same manner of holding.


The sound of violins is carried above another instrument hence, they are used to play the melody lines. They can also be used to harmonize whereas violas are mostly used to fill in harmonies. Violas are more popular in folk music and violins in jazz music.

How to keep your Viola safe?

Violas are delicate musical instruments requiring care and maintenance. Restringing every 3 to 6 months, distancing polish and fingers from bow hair, and using humidifiers to avoid cracks to keep it safe are some ways to ensure the longevity of a viola. However, having viola insurance is the key to its long-time safety.


Viola can be thought of as an instrument that has seen the journey of evolution rather than being instantaneously invented. Due to the intrinsic property of the timbre, the viola has a melancholic and richer tone than the violin. Viola belongs to an extremely sophisticated and exquisite range of instruments; thus, it is recommended that professionals get their viola insured to ensure the safety of their viola. It has an undeniable contribution to the world of music though it was initially highly overlooked.

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