The violin, viola, cello, and bass, each have four tuning pegs. Each individual peg is responsible for tuning one string. Modern-day string instruments use 4 strings, therefore – 4 pegs. As Scroll mentioned, today’s string instruments have evolved and traveled the world. The number of pegs on an instrument equals the number of its strings. Some early instruments had additional strings, which added to the instruments sound quality and resonance.
Some early bowed string instruments and their origins:
THE REBAB, (8th – 10th Century) is a 1-3 stringed bowed instrument from the Far and Middle East, which then traveled to Europe and influenced the Rebec. Spike made me promise to mention that in Turkey, the Rebab was nicknamed the “Spike Fiddle.” Rebabs came in all sizes and had a spike on the bottom to help support the instrument. There you go Spike!
THE REBEC, (11th-16th Century) Europe. Rebecs had a one-piece, pear-shaped, carved-out body. Musicians often constructed their own Rebecs. Rebecs accompanied popular song and dance. They ranged from 1 to 5 strings, but, 3 strings was the most common.
THE VIELLE, (13th-15th Century) Europe. This long bodied instrument was used by travelling French folk musicians called troubadours and jongleurs. The Vielle was also called the fidel in French, suggesting why the violin is sometimes called the fiddle.
THE VIOLA DA GAMBA was the most popular member of the viol family, (mid-15th Century-present), and it originated in Europe. The name was shortened to Gamba. The Italian phrase daGamba means “of the leg.”The Gamba is played with the instrument placed between the legs, much like today’s modern cello.
The Gamba came is six sizes, had frets, a flat back, and sloping shoulders. Early viols lacked the supporting piece of wood inside their bodies, called a sound post, which modern members of the string family have. This gave the viols a softer sound because of their lower rate of vibration. The viola d’ amore – viol of love – was a popular form of the viol, as was the viola d’braccio. It was positioned much like the modern- day violin and viola. The word braccio refers to the arm. Some gambas had up to 7 strings!
WHEW! That was a lot of information! The instruments you just learned about have turned into the instruments that we use today!
Look who has returned to introduce you formally to the VIOLIN FAMILY!