orig. Italy The smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family, which also includes the viola, cello, and contrabass, the violin is the linchpin of Western symphonic orchestra and chamber music, and the frequent star of solo performance. It features a fingerless fretboard and four strings tuned to fifths that enable a wide range of more than four octaves. The instrument is played by holding it against the shoulder with the left hand, and bowing with the right.
The violin originated in 16th-century Italy, but derived from earlier string instruments and has evolved in form since. Often also known as the fiddle, the violin has additionally played an important role in Western folk music forms, including bluegrass, Irish sessions, Eastern European and Scandinavian traditions. It is also a key component of Southern Indian classical music, illustrating the spread of the instrument's influence around the world.