Violin as a Multicultural instrument

Violins today have adopted to play in many different cultures around the world. There’s even a documentary about how cultures have learned to used the violin in there native music!. Of course when we think of the violin we think of the leader of a full string orchestra, the instrument that plays the melody but it is so much more then that.

In morocco the way the violin itself changes and this video saws it very well. The violin blends with the others instruments like that is where it came from. In the Andalusian classical music of Morocco, which is one of the oldest genres in Morocco the violin is played along with Arabic instrument and a singer. the violin has also been introduced to other genres such as Gharnati music, Malhun music, in Berber music as a fiddle, and many more. The violin allows for 1/4 notes to be played which is perfect for the music of Morocco and that’s why it adopted so easily. here the violin is playing in monophony and the guy playing it is telling and showing how the violin is played in morocco which i liked a lot. He says that Moroccan and Arabic music is different but the scales are played the same. The vibrato gives the music grace notes and it is common in Arabic music to have that. Moroccan music requires quick movements with the fingers and the bow and he shows the difference between Moroccan playing and Arabic. like in this video most of the videos shows violin playing in Morocco the violins are played upright like a cello on the knee. But this doesn’t effect the quality at all they are still able to play the Heterophony music and at moments the violin is heard over the others when the sings stops. Looking around in the video you can see that there are four violins being played if not more.

India has also changed the violin to fit with their music. The violin became part of India’s music in the 14th century and from there it split into Carnatic music of the south and Hindustanti music of the north. The violin allows graces notes to be played very easily and in the European world this makes it a difficult instrument to learn but in India grace notes are a good thing and the violin is perfect for it. They are used in Raags which “will specify the use of a combination of certain melakartas(scales that each of which has its own set of ornaments or grace notes) and talas(principal rhythms), and will have a simple melodic line, often from a religious or folk song” Before the violin there was an instrument called a Sarangi which is played alot like a cello and this instrument was native to India. After looking at a Sarangi it is easy to see how the people of India could easily pickup the violin and introduce it into there own music. here two violins are playing in Antiphony and there are other instruments of India in the background. The music is very upbeat and the violin fits in so well with the other instruments.

In Mexico the violin in played in mostly Mariachi bands. The Mariachi bands have two or more violins playing with other instrument like the guitar, trumpet, vocals and other instruments. And all of the instrument usually play together in harmony. There is a lot of vibrato used and grace notes and also pizzicato which is plucking the strong. in this video the violin adds a beautiful smooth sound to the Mariachi band unlike the violins in Morocco and India which had a harsh timbre. But here it is very smooth and they harmonize together beautifully. There are five violins and there is an Antiphony with the vocals and singer sings and the violins reply but also something there is singing with the violins. Also I’ve noticed that in Mexico the music is played standing up for a group of people while in Morocco and India they are sitting down and it is a social thing more then a performance. The violin is very different in Mexico than it is in Morocco and India. It is played slowly and smoothly but it Morocco and in India it is faster and harsher. And in Morocco it is even played differently by sitting it on the knee upright and bowing it like a cello.

Finally the biggest influence on the violin was from Africa In Africa there was a violin like instrument called the goge that was held like a guitar and bowed. From there African influence began and we got the blues. In blues music the violin plays homophony with a guitar and a vocal line where the vocal line is the melody. It began with traveling of freed slaves and they would come together and play music which later become the blues. The violin or fiddle was one of the instrument that that had and they used it to play about lief and religion. In this the violin has long sweet sounding bows and a lot of vibrato which produces grace notes. Grace notes are even played in the music that the violin is playing and not just in the vibrato. It has a repeating line that plays over and over again which is very different from the random sounding playing in Morocco and India. W C Handy was said to be the father of the blues. here he sings the blues with an orchestra playing homophony with him. And in the background there are mostly violins. The violin is smooth at first but then reacts quickly to the lines he sings and then goes back to smooth long bows. The violin here isn’t there to accent the when the vocal line says but instead gives a long smooth support to it. In blues the violins repeat the lines they play a lot and in this piece they are playing the same line over and over again.

In conclusion violins can adopt to what ever culture they are in and can be changed to fit the style of music. In Morocco the violins had a harsh timbre and were playing sitting on the knee. In India the violin had a harsh timbre and many grace notes. In Mexico the violin had a smooth timbre. And in American blues the violin had a smooth timbre and repeating lines. Every place played them differently and in every place the violin fit in.

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