The violin is an integral part of classical music. The instrument became popular around the 16th century and has since undergone a gradual tweaking to today's modern version.
The violin started as a pear-shaped instrument, whereas the version we see today was influenced by an Arabian fiddle and the three-stringed rebec in Western Europe. Currently, there are different violin types, including acoustic and electric violins.
The violin pairs well with jazz and classical music because it can produce a wide range of tones. Recently, modern violinists have changed these trends to include more contemporary music.
Throughout this article, we will focus on the violin for classical music, its history, and five of the best sites where you can find classical violin sheet music.
History of the Violin
Although highly influenced by the Arabic fiddle, the Italians made the finishing touches to the modern violin we know today. It all started when Catherine de Medici ordered one for her son, creating the Amati workshop that made them famous. His descendants continued with the family business.
Although Lombardy is host to maple and spruce, two wood types used by violin makers, Cremona in Italy has taken the crown as the home of the violin. The town has hosted famous instrument makers, including the Guarneri family. People looking to become luthiers travel to Cremona to learn more about violin making.
Composers such as Monteverdi and Lully continued using the violin during the 17th century, cementing the instrument's place in classical music. Then came Antonio Vivaldi, Tartini, Locatelli, and Mozart, who made violin essential in orchestras.
Because people were increasingly interested in the violin, it became hard for aspiring violinists to purchase this instrument and learn. Nowadays, violins are readily available in music stores at different price ranges depending on the quality of the material used to make them.
Difference Between Playing the Violin and Fiddling
This is a popular question because it's hard to see a physical difference between the fiddle and violin. In some circles, fiddling and violining are used interchangeably. Almost all components, including the body, neck, pegbox, and scroll, look similar, excluding the strings.
The violin, as stated earlier, accompanies jazz and classical music well. Violin performances are primarily structured with compositions written on sheets that include measures and note variations carefully provided to produce a smooth sound.
The fiddle uses steel strings, while violins can be made from sheep intestine, nylon, or steel. The main difference lies in playing styles.
The fiddle works for folk music, such as Celtic, bluegrass, cajun, and country music. Fiddling is less structured, and players can make variations to the music they play.
Other noticeable differences come with techniques such as bowing practices and fingering techniques. Despite the striking similarities, there's a world of difference between the two.
Why the Violin?
If you're just starting music and looking for something to motivate you to go further, then the violin is the perfect choice for you. The instrument is versatile, and thanks to modern influence, you can play almost any music genre on the violin.
The violin is an excellent accompaniment for genres like traditional music, including Asian, middle eastern, and eastern regions. The instrument also works well for pop music, rock, Americana, and country music.
The violin is an excellent hand-motor skills activator, as it stimulates different parts of the brain. This is a great skill for your kids to nurture as they grow. It also helps kids focus on one thing at a time and creates structure by allowing them to play a disciplined type of classical music.
The violin has four strings that span the entire length of the instrument. The strings have pegs to hold them at the top, and the tailpiece holds them at the bottom. The violin also comes with a wooden bow that resembles an archery bow, and the ends of the bow hold horsehair string to produce maximum sound.
Reading Violin Sheet Music for Beginners
Reading violin sheet music is a necessary skill for any violin player. It's easier to learn by listening to music, but if you're looking to play classical music, you can't escape this skill.
Sheet music will tell you all you need to know about the song you're trying to play. You will learn about the pitch, rhythm, timings, key signatures, tempo, and other essential sheet playing factors.
Violin sheet music offers even more information, including the bow and neck direction and techniques such as vibrato and pizzicato. When starting, focus on the basic musical concepts, which include:
- The musical alphabet: The musical alphabet begins with "A" and ends at "G." These letters represent sound variations and vary from sharps and flats. The sharps accompany the alphabets and use the “#” sign, and flats use the "b" symbol.
- Musical notes: Musical notes show players different tones or sounds written as symbols. The symbols include tiny dots, vertical lines, and tails representing varying melodies. Music notes can either be quarter notes, eighth notes, or sixteenth notes, among others.
- Treble clef: The treble clef is a symbol right at the beginning of a staff. Although there are two clef symbols, the treble and bass clef, the symbol at the front will be a treble clef.
- Staff: The staff are the lines on the sheet music and tell the violinist which musical note to play. The staff comes with a "measure," the small lines dividing the staff.
- Time signature: The time signature looks like a fraction with two numbers, one at the top and the other at the bottom, like 4/4. The numerator represents the number of beats, and the denominator tells violinists how long they need to hold the beat.
- Key signature: You will find the key signature at the beginning of the staff adjacent to the treble clef. This helps you navigate between flats and sharps.
5 Best Sites for Classical Violin Sheet Music
At Violinonline.com, you can learn violin basics, sign up for violin lessons, visit the music store, and above all, find free music. The free music includes violin scales, classical violin music, and Christmas music.
The best thing about these resources is that you can find sheet music interchangeable with cello, viola, and bass parts. You'll receive violin pieces from famous composers such as Vivaldi, Schubert, Bach, and Pachelbel.
8 Notes offer free classical violin sheet music from composers such as Beethoven, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, and Kreisler. This free resource contains more than 42 pages filled with free music sheets. The founder created 8 Notes for the sole purpose of helping musicians learn classical music free of charge.
This site's primary goal is to provide beginner violinists with enough learning resources free of charge. They aim to create competent violinists by providing sheet music to help them self-learn and navigate through the sheets.
The website also caters to intermediate and advanced violinists who want resources like these to practice their skills. Beginner violinists enjoy music such as “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven, “Spring” by A. Vivaldi, and other traditional music like Frere Jacques.
Intermediate violinists enjoy music by composers such as O. Rieding and G. F. Handel. Advanced violinists can use music sheets from the more complex works by these composers.
This site has its composers arranged in alphabetical order, making it easy for you to find your favorite composer. You can get sheets for solo violin players, duets, and combinations between violins and pianos.
Find Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Paganini and enjoy playing while using your violin. You can also browse the music using the titles.
With over 400,000 sheets, Music Notes are easily the largest online sheet music library. The library provides not only violin sheet music, but also viola, cello, and piano music sheets.
You can also access sheets on the Music Notes app, available for all devices. The app has in-app transposition, and you can highlight text. You can also playback all videos and audios as you practice.
You can also find violin solos from famous modern violinists such as Lindsey Stirling, Secret Gardens, and ViolinAround. Additionally, you can search for your favorite classical music and download the violin sheets.
Even though classical music can seem fairly rigid, violinists tend to have fun in their own way. You need to remember a few things as you become seasoned. Your violin will need constant tuning, and you may have a violin string mishap one or two times.
Playing the violin requires having two "right hands" because both will be working simultaneously. The first few practices will be tough, your hands will cramp, and your neck will suffer some bruises, but it gets better.
There are techniques to becoming an excellent violinist. Having a qualified trainer can help, but it doesn't have to be an expensive fit for you. Most resources are available online, starting from the basics. Start on youtube and learn how to read classical violin sheet music. After that, you’ll be playing the violin like a professional in no time.