Why do you think viola is not at the same level of appreciation as a violin in classical music?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 16, 2012 6:23 AM GMT
    Has anyone noticed the repertoire for viola is not as extensive as it is for the violin? Why do you think so?
  • maxi_bon

    Posts: 6

    Jan 06, 2013 7:46 AM GMT
    Probably because the viola was considered more of a harmonising instrument. For example in a string quartet it sits in the middle of the texture. The violin for centuries was seen as the most brilliant, virtuosic and showy of the string instruments. It also has to do with the performers that brought the instruments to prominence (eg. Paganini). Composers would write for these performers and there have been many more known great violinists than violists!

    Hope that kind of answers your question icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 07, 2013 3:47 AM GMT
    JOKE TIME icon_lol.gif


    What is the difference between a violist and a prostitute?











    A prostitute knows more than two positions.




    or a prostitute has better rhythm.



    So pretty much what maxi-bon said. While the violin does it thing on top and the bass on the bottom, the cello and viola are often left filling in the middle. In a quartet setting, that's different, though. It felt like everyone had their fair share of moments. But there are quite a number of pieces that were originally created for violas. I miss performing.
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    Feb 18, 2013 1:05 AM GMT
    Yes I was going to say the same thing as the others stated before me. The 1st violin usually plays the melody of a song, while 2nd violin is known for doing the accompaniment. Viola also has a deeper sound too
  • aaronkei

    Posts: 211

    Feb 18, 2013 1:09 AM GMT
    A lot of people don't like the Viola because it is difficult to play in tune according to most musicians.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Feb 18, 2013 1:12 AM GMT
    vla8 saidJOKE TIME icon_lol.gif


    What is the difference between a violist and a prostitute?











    A prostitute knows more than two positions.




    or a prostitute has better rhythm.



    So pretty much what maxi-bon said. While the violin does it thing on top and the bass on the bottom, the cello and viola are often left filling in the middle. In a quartet setting, that's different, though. It felt like everyone had their fair share of moments. But there are quite a number of pieces that were originally created for violas. I miss performing.


    A prostitute can make good money.

    OR:

    The conductor and his First Chair Viola were caught in front of a speeding bus. Which one survived?

    Who cares?
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Feb 18, 2013 1:29 AM GMT
    Wasn't Brahms a violist? I think also that someone has done the Bach 'Cello suites on viola. It really is a wonderful sound, viola jokes notwithstanding, and has a sort of lightness that other strings do not.
  • danisnotstr8

    Posts: 2579

    Feb 18, 2013 1:33 AM GMT
    I've thought about this in the past. I concluded for myself that the viola kind of sounds like a violin that has been smoking for years.

    For similar reasons, people gravitate toward the soprano voice and the tenor voice--- each representing the higher partials of the voice. Most people are not particularly fond of listening to altos sing coloratura repertoire, and the bass-baritone range is the least popular of all (unfortunately for me!)

    Anyway, there has been a lot of audiology research that shows that people are instinctively programmed to enjoy certain sounds. Nature sounds, for instance, tend to cause positive feedback from the brain, including the release of endorphins. Tweeting birds tend to sing in the same range as the violin, for instance; when Vivaldi wrote his countless works for the violin, he often made direct references to particular birds in his music. Bach, Handel--- all the way to Bartok and beyond. Everyone uses the violin to represent birds.

    Why, on a very basic level, then, do humans like the violin and the soprano voice? Because hearing it reminds of us birds (and other positive sounds, such as the squealing of infant children), for the color and the timbre and the gesture. Birds sing in the spring and the summer, and that's human mating season. Babies are the product of sex. Outrageously, there is a visceral and intrinsic reaction to hearing high pitches that reminds people of sex and sunlight.

    Unfortunately, the viola sounds more like a chimp, which is a sound that causes an equally visceral reaction from the brain: FEAR. Even recent studies have shown that sounds in that range, such as nails on a chalkboard, or violas--- anything that screeches--- remind us of earlier stages in evolution, because they conjure thoughts of primates, which is a step away from our success as a race.

    So, long story short:

    VIOLIN: SEX
    VIOLA: PRIMATES

    OK, done.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 18, 2013 1:58 AM GMT
    danisnotstr8 saidFor similar reasons, people gravitate toward the soprano voice and the tenor voice--- each representing the higher partials of the voice. Most people are not particularly fond of listening to altos sing coloratura repertoire, and the bass-baritone range is the least popular of all (unfortunately for me!)


    I have the same problem! I'm a light baritone and unfortunately my favorite composer wrote nothing for my voice!! icon_sad.gificon_sad.gif My voice range is taken as a handicapped tenor.

    At least he wrote a work for which he specified no instrument (Art of Fugue) and in a string quartet the viola has as much prominence as the other 3 string instruments when playing the fugues. No other procedure of making music is more equalitarian that the fugue...
  • Zinc

    Posts: 197

    Feb 18, 2013 2:02 AM GMT
    I was always curious about the viola, but I was shunted into violin playing early on.
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    Feb 18, 2013 2:11 AM GMT
    I personally do like the viola. I like violin too, of course. But I love the lower sound of the strings, it has more warmth. Like eating dark chocolate with a strawberry-flavored cream filling. Mmmmm... icon_biggrin.gif

    I wouldn't enjoy playing it though. That requires some decent finger spreading and I don't have very large hands. And that is a moot point anyway; I am a wind instrument/vocalist type, not a string player.
  • danisnotstr8

    Posts: 2579

    Feb 18, 2013 2:38 AM GMT
    bachian said
    danisnotstr8 saidFor similar reasons, people gravitate toward the soprano voice and the tenor voice--- each representing the higher partials of the voice. Most people are not particularly fond of listening to altos sing coloratura repertoire, and the bass-baritone range is the least popular of all (unfortunately for me!)


    I have the same problem! I'm a light baritone and unfortunately my favorite composer wrote nothing for my voice!! icon_sad.gificon_sad.gif My voice range is taken as a handicapped tenor.

    At least he wrote a work for which he specified no instrument (Art of Fugue) and in a string quartet the viola has as much prominence as the other 3 string instruments when playing the fugues. No other procedure of making music is more equalitarian that the fugue...


    Ha, well fugues are a bit more esoteric than the solo repertoire I suppose. The viola truly is necessary, of course. As a violist himself I am sure that Bach would appreciate the viola being used in Art of the Fugue. Actually I am teaching a unit on fugue in my music history class right now. Speaking of string quartets and fugues, you know the opening movement to Beethoven's opus 131?

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    Feb 19, 2013 12:05 AM GMT
    danisnotstr8 saidHa, well fugues are a bit more esoteric than the solo repertoire I suppose. The viola truly is necessary, of course. As a violist himself I am sure that Bach would appreciate the viola being used in Art of the Fugue. Actually I am teaching a unit on fugue in my music history class right now. Speaking of string quartets and fugues, you know the opening movement to Beethoven's opus 131?


    Listening to it right now! Do you recommend any interpretation in particular?
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    Feb 19, 2013 12:56 AM GMT
    Walter92 saidHas anyone noticed the repertoire for viola is not as extensive as it is for the violin? Why do you think so?


    Composers and listeners have frequently liked higher-pitched instruments, especially during the all-important baroque period. This extends beyond string instruments. Think of baroque opera. The great roles were usually reserved for soprano and alto castrati. Tenors and basses were less important. And, lest we forget, the viola is the bass string instrument.

    In addition, there is a long, long history in classical music of the violin being the supreme string instrument for soloists (think Vivaldi, Tartini, et al.). Meanwhile, the viola was very frequently relegated to playing the supporting role of playing the bass line, an essential task but far less glamrous than the violin which carried the main melody.
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    Feb 19, 2013 12:58 AM GMT
    Correction: I was thinking 'cello! Not viola in my last post. However, the ssame general thoughts apply. The high-lying violin had the glamorous melody line, but the viola played second-fiddle (so to speak).
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    Feb 19, 2013 1:18 AM GMT
    maxi_bonProbably because the viola was considered more of a harmonising instrument. For example in a string quartet it sits in the middle of the texture. The violin for centuries was seen as the most brilliant, virtuosic and showy of the string instruments. It also has to do with the performers that brought the instruments to prominence (eg. Paganini). Composers would write for these performers and there have been many more known great violinists than violists!

    +1

    When I was studying the Violin, the Viola in my view was a strange and unusual creature. While playing the Violin was effortless, the Viola was a total bomb. I could not even grasp the musical clef it was written in. Conseqently for me, instrument number two was...Cello! Silly sounding for sure, to be able to play one but not the other. Even string Bass was not too hard to get. To this day alto clef music still gives me grief, while bass and treble do not. The universe thought this funny and gave me a...Baritone voice. Grrrrr.....