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Thread: Violin or Viola?

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Default Violin or Viola?

    Hi all.

    I have been playing piano for around 8 months, and would like to start learning another instrument. I have around 6 quiet months between now and when I begin studying at the Conservatorium, so I will be spending most of my time learning the basics of one of these stringed instruments. The only question is - which one?

    If anyone could give me some general information about both, that would be great. Which is harder to play - what are the characteristics of each - etc. I will most likely be hiring one from a music store.

    Please, if anyone has any advice for a beginner, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks.

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    Senior Member Celloman's Avatar
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    I'd say start with Violin. It's smaller and the finger stretches in the left hand are easier. Once you get good on your instrument, you can always switch to viola. I know several people who have done this, and they say it's a pretty smooth transition.

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    Newbies Oblivion's Avatar
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    Talking

    Start with violin, but when you get better switch to viola - it's very underrated - my orchestra currently does not have a single viola player! It's on demand, and it's a good instrument.
    But start with violin.
    The greatest piece ever written - the Grieg Piano Concerto

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice. I actually chose viola, and love it so far - I just wish I had the energy to practise for more hours!

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    Senior Member Saturnus's Avatar
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    Viola was the perfect pick

    It is even more demanding than the violin if we look only at 20th century works, but in other eras it almost never gets something juicy. The only pre-1900 violin solo works I know of are Berlioz's concerto, Brahm's sonatas and a few concertos by Teleman.

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    Beware! Whichever you choose first, you will form an iseperable bond with and you will be reluctant to change. Both instruments offer the same musical knowledge, but the violin has a much broader repetuoir.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saturnus View Post
    Viola was the perfect pick

    It is even more demanding than the violin if we look only at 20th century works, but in other eras it almost never gets something juicy. The only pre-1900 violin solo works I know of are Berlioz's concerto, Brahm's sonatas and a few concertos by Teleman.
    Well, you should investigate Vieuxtemps several pieces, Mendelssohn sonata, Paganini's
    pieces,Alessandro Rolla's,Hummell, Stamitz, and others. Vieuxtemps is very important for
    the viola. But do not believe on a Haendel viola concerto!. It was composed by Henri Casadesus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celloman View Post
    I'd say start with Violin. It's smaller and the finger stretches in the left hand are easier. Once you get good on your instrument, you can always switch to viola. I know several people who have done this, and they say it's a pretty smooth transition.
    Well... you know what 1st violins say:

    every good violist, comes from a bad violinist



    I play the piano and the violin myself and I can assure you that after learning your string instrument, your whole musical approach will change. As the way the sound is generated in the violin/viola is completely different to the piano; and you're forced to improve your ear and pitch also. Of course, playing violin is not just passing the bow over the strings; it's much harder than what it looks like. So... when my violin sounds scratchy, I move to the piano and play some heavy Debussy or Brahms (to convince myself I'm not THAT bad interpreter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oisfetz
    Well, you should investigate Vieuxtemps several pieces, Mendelssohn sonata, Paganini's
    pieces,Alessandro Rolla's,Hummell, Stamitz, and others. Vieuxtemps is very important for
    the viola. But do not believe on a Haendel viola concerto!. It was composed by Henri Casadesus
    Hold your horses man. The fellow poster is just starting. Don't send them to face Vieuxtemps.

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    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    You'll have to get used to oisfetz's outlandish suggestions. Just mention a cello concerto or string sextet and he's got a list of ten composers most of us have never heard of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexameron View Post
    You'll have to get used to oisfetz's outlandish suggestions. Just mention a cello concerto or string sextet and he's got a list of ten composers most of us have never heard of.
    We are already colleagues at other forums, so I know how he works, and my little knowledge on rare chamber works owes a lot to him. I despised Ropartz once*, and he even happened to suggest an obscure chamber work by him.

    We also come from the same place deep in the third world, but he lives in the great city. My location is even deeper in the underdeveloped world.





    * I usually despise Ropartz, actually.

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    Well boys; almost everybody has a mania: mine is unknown or forgotten composers, unknown or forgotten works of famous composers, and unknown or forgotten historical
    versions of very famous works. But I'm not dangerous. With medication, is under control.

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    Junior Member captaintim's Avatar
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    Default instrument

    which instrument do you prefer the sound of....I mean to listen to not to play. OK the two instruments are compatible but it boils down to which instrument you want to play more. Both instruments are great, but you have to decide which is more 'you'. good luck

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    IMO, you can live and find a work as an average violinist, but you must be
    an excelent violist to get something. A mediocre violist has no future.
    But if you choose the viola, be very careful to play it as a viola, and make
    it sound as a viola, and no as a violinist playing the viola.

  14. #14
    Junior Member captaintim's Avatar
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    Default violin or viola

    there are more good violinists around than good viola players though, so I'd say the opposite is true - people are always on the lookout for viola players and a decent viola player is always in huge demand.

    Besides, I think if the aim is to get work then that's the wrong reason to play the instrument and I think its unlikely that the thread starter would be contemplating being professional just yet, rather just trying to learn and enjoy playing whichever instrument he wants to play more.

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Pinchas Zukerman might disagree with the contention that viola is a default option for not-quite-good enough violinsts. It's also interesting to consider the chamber music possibilities (particularly the quartet literature). I'm considering the chance that it might be tougher for such an ensemble to get an amenable violist than it is for such a grouping to pick up a pair of violinists.

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