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What Are the Different Parts of a Viola?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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Similar to a violin, there are a few major parts of a viola. The body of a viola is typically the largest and most recognizable, and this is also divided into three parts. A long narrow strip of wood is connected to the body of a viola, and this is referred to as the fingerboard or neck. Strings also run from the body of the instrument to the end of the neck. A bow is also needed to rub on the strings for the instrument to create music.

A viola is an instrument in the string family, more specifically the violin family. This string instrument is typically smaller than a cello, but larger than a violin. On average, the bodies of most violas are roughly 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) long, but smaller versions are available.

Of all the parts of a viola, the body is the most prominent. This is a large, wooden piece at the bottom of the instrument, shaped like an hourglass. The inside of this part is hollow, which allows the sound to vibrate. Scroll-shaped F holes adorn either side of the body.

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The lower part of the body, known as the lower bout, is slightly larger than the top part. The chin rest and the tail piece, which holds the strings, are located on this part. The middle of the body is known as the waist, and the bridge, which holds the strings away from the body, is located here. The upper bout is the top part of the hourglass shape, and this is where the finger board is attached.

A fingerboard is also one of the parts of the viola. This is a long narrow strip of wood on which the strings lay. When a musician presses her fingers on certain strings at different parts of the fingerboard, the instrument produces different pitches, or notes.

As mentioned above, the lower part of the fingerboard is attached to the body of a viola. The upper part of the fingerboard extends past the body. This is sometimes referred to the neck. A couple other parts of a viola are attached to the top of the neck.

The carved end of the neck of a viola is known as the scroll. Other parts of a viola, tuning pegs, are attached to the scroll. Strings are threaded through these pegs, and when the pegs are turned one way or another, the strings are either tightened or loosened. The tightening or loosening of the strings creates the different pitches needed to tune an instrument.

Other important parts of a viola are the strings. A viola has four strings, which are typically thicker than violin strings. The thickness of the viola strings is what helps create the instrument's lower pitch.

Although it is not usually considered one of the parts of a viola, a bow is necessary to play the instrument. This consists of a wooden rod with horsehair or synthetic horsehair stretched between each end. Dragging the bow across the strings causes them to vibrate, which causes the instrument to emit sounds.

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