Viola Rental Online
- All of our viola rental stringed instruments are professionally set up as follows
- Premium strings
- Horsehair bow – wooden or fiberglass
- Our viola rental instruments are professionally adjusted.
- Maple back and side
- Spruce top
- Ebony or boxwood fittings
- Ebony fingerboard
- Composite fine tuners for easy tuning
- Cleaned and polished
- Our viola rental program serve Centreville, Fairfax, Bristow, Chantilly, Sterling, Manassas, Haymarket, Clifton, Vienna, Gainesville, Oakton, and South Riding. Please check our website and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
The viola (/viˈoʊlə/ vee-OH-lə, Italian: [ˈvjɔːla, viˈɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed, plucked, or played with varying techniques. Slightly larger than a violin, it has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth higher) and the cello (which is tuned an octave lower). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.
In the past, the viola varied in size and style, as did its names. The word viola originates from the Italian language. The Italians often used the term viola da braccio, meaning, literally, ‘of the arm’. “Brazzo” was another Italian word for the viola, which the Germans adopted as Bratsche. The French had their own names: cinquiesme was a small viola, haute contre was a large viola, and taile was a tenor. Today, the French use the term alto, a reference to its range.
The viola was popular in the heyday of five-part harmony, up until the eighteenth century, taking three lines of the harmony and occasionally playing the melody line. Music for the viola differs from most other instruments in that it primarily uses the alto clef. When viola music has substantial sections in a higher register, it switches to the treble clef to make it easier to read.
The viola often plays the “inner voices” in string quartets and symphonic writing, and it is more likely than the first violin to play accompaniment parts. The viola occasionally plays a major, soloistic role in orchestral music. Examples include the symphonic poem Don Quixote, by Richard Strauss, and the symphony/concerto Harold en Italie, by Hector Berlioz.
In the earlier part of the 20th century, more composers began to write for the viola, encouraged by the emergence of specialized soloists such as Lionel Tertis and William Primrose. English composers Arthur Bliss, York Bowen, Benjamin Dale, Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten, Rebecca Clarke and Ralph Vaughan Williams all wrote substantial chamber and concert works.
Many of these pieces were commissioned by, or written for, Lionel Tertis. William Walton, Bohuslav Martinů, Tōru Takemitsu, Tibor Serly, Alfred Schnittke, and Béla Bartók have written well-known viola concertos. The concerti by Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Carl Stamitz, Georg Philipp Telemann, and William Walton are considered major works of the viola repertoire. Paul Hindemith, who was a violist, wrote a substantial amount of music for viola, including the concerto Der Schwanendreher.
The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola’s body is between 25 mm (1 in) and 100 mm (4 in) longer than the body of a full-size violin (i.e., between 38 and 46 cm [15–18 in]), with an average length of 41 cm (16 in). Small violas typically made for children typically start at 30 cm (12 in), which is equivalent to a half-size violin.
For a child who needs a smaller size, a fractional-sized violin is often strung with the strings of a viola. Unlike the violin, the viola does not have a standard full size. The body of a viola would need to measure about 51 cm (20 in) long to match the acoustics of a violin, making it impractical to play in the same manner as the violin. For centuries, viola makers have experimented with the size and shape of the viola, often adjusting proportions or shape to make a lighter instrument with shorter string lengths, but with a large enough sound box to retain the viola sound.
Prior to the eighteenth century, violas had no uniform size. Large violas (tenors) were designed to play the lower register viola lines or second viola in five part harmony depending on instrumentation. A smaller viola, nearer the size of the violin, was called an alto viola. It was more suited to higher register writing, as in the viola 1 parts, as their sound was usually richer in the upper register. Its size was not as conducive to a full tone in the lower register.
Several experiments have intended to increase the size of the viola to improve its sound. Hermann Ritter‘s viola alta, which measured about 48 cm (19 in), was intended for use in Wagner‘s operas. The Tertis model viola, which has wider bouts and deeper ribs to promote a better tone, is another slightly “nonstandard” shape that allows the player to use a larger instrument.
Many experiments with the acoustics of a viola, particularly increasing the size of the body, have resulted in a much deeper tone, making it resemble the tone of a cello. Since many composers wrote for a traditional-sized viola, particularly in orchestral music, changes in the tone of a viola can have unintended consequences upon the balance in ensembles.