3-stringed viola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Audiences across the world enjoy various concerts through the year, each one different and unique. Most of them are either solo performances or in groups of about 4-6 members. In case of groups, you will see a drummer, guitarist, vocalist and one who melts out beautiful tunes on the viola. Yes, you read it right; it is the viola and not violin. This is also a stringed instrument which is bowed very much like the violin.
A person unfamiliar with this instrument might mistake it for the violin at first glance going by its size and near similar pitch range, but will realize it is very different upon close inspection. The timbre is much more full bodied and is used to play soft harmonies in concerts. Unfortunately there are not many violists as there are violinists. At times referred to as the big fiddle, the violas parallel the alto voice in a choir group.
Violas are also placed with a bow where the instrument is placed on the shoulder, which gets people more confused. If a child is playing the instrument, the size of the viola would be around 12 inches and for adults it could go anywhere from 13 to 16.5 inches depending on their comfort level and their years of experience. Off late, with people facing problems in holding and playing the viola, there are some being made using lighter material and are much shorter. Some are manufactured with a shoulder cut while others come with an additional bout for comfort. Because of its large body, it needs higher amounts of physical stamina to hold and play this string instrument. For a person interested in playing the viola, they need to understand that since it is fitted with thicker strings, they will have to apply extra pressure to get music to come out perfectly.
There are different kinds of violas, based on a person’s level of experience and while making a selection, this factor should be kept in mind else the viola player will find it difficult strumming it. But the beauty of this instrument is that all are hand made and each one is exquisite to look at and play. Among the most famous violas are the ones that Mozart used in his musical notes. He wrote quintets that used two violas in the orchestra and had as important role as a violin.
If you are looking at purchasing a viola, unlike earlier when you had to make a trip to their nearby store to take a look at all the instruments, today you can do the same online. The purchase or rentals come with the assurance that they can return the product if unhappy with it. Simply approach one of the leading websites, such as stringworks. So, if you are just getting curious about the violas and are not very keen on purchasing, but would like to try your hand at it, no better way but to rent a viola and watch your hands create music."