Difference Between Violin vs Viola
If you know anything about music, you will be aware that the tiniest tweak in an instrument is enough to alter the sound it makes. “Sound” in this context does not refer to the musical note but how deeply pitched and mellow it is. A very good example would be to take a look at the difference between violin and viola, and that is what this article is all about.
Definition of Violin
A violin is defined as a stringed musical instrument held between the hand and the neck and shoulder area and played with the fingers and a horsehair bow. This instrument has a treble pitch and is considered the highest-sounding instrument of the modern string instrument family.
Here are a few highlights that define a proper violin.
- The size of a standard violin is 35.5 cm in length, making it quite portable and easy to hold or carry around.
- As the highest-ranged string instrument, the violin is played in the treble clef. In an orchestra ensemble, they are known as a soprano sound.
- The strings are usually not less than four in number. The electric-powered types may have up to six strings. The string can be tuned with a fine tuner found on the tail piece.
- The note range in a violin starts from the lowest open string, which is G, all the way to A, which is up on the A string.
- The sound is not as deep or mellow as the viola because violins always carry the melody line in music.
Definition of Viola
A viola is a stringed instrument played with a bow to produce sounds that are notably lower and deeper compared to the violin. It is slightly larger than the violin in the sense that it measures between 38 cm and 43 cm in length. It is held in a similar position and played with a bow that is about 1 cm shorter than a violin bow.
Other information about a viola includes the following.
- A major difference between viola and violin is that violas have the second-highest pitch of instruments in this family. The best way to describe the sound is “deep and mellow” unlike that of violins, which is more pitchy.
- Strings are usually tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4, which is a fifth lower than the violin tuning. This is what makes it deeper.
- The clef is c, and music is written for this instrument in the alto clef to fill in the harmonies in many compositions.
- It does not have less than four strings. Electric violas may have up to six strings.
- The bridge of a viola is less arched than a violin.
Main Differences Between Violin vs Viola
Let us put violin vs viola side by side to see how they compare to each other in a table. We will highlight the main variations as they relate to the difference in their definitions and other distinctive properties.
|Basis of Comparison
|A stringed musical instrument held between the hand and the neck and shoulder area and played with the fingers and a horsehair bow
|A stringed instrument played with a bow to produce sounds that are notably lower and deeper than the violin
|35.5 cm in length
|Between 38 cm and 43 cm in length
|Highest-pitched instrument in the stringed instrument family
|Second-highest pitch for an instrument in the stringed instrument family
Difference Between Violin and Viola: Conclusion
So far, we have managed to identify some of the things that differentiate between violin vs viola. These two instruments are very similar in a lot of ways, but after more careful observation, you will realize that they sound notably different. One is high pitched while the other is not as high pitched.
Another difference can be seen in the size of the instruments. The viola is bigger than the violin by a few centimeters. Also, the bows are not the same. The bow for the viola is about 1 cm shorter than that of the violin. Importantly, both instruments make equally beautiful music.