Strings

The string family is the largest and most well known in a symphony orchestra.

The string family of instruments include the violin, viola, violoncello (or cello), and double bass; these instruments resemble each other in appearance and method of producing a characteristic sound. 

The bodies of the string instruments, which are hollow inside to allow sound to vibrate within them, are made of different kinds of wood, but the part of the instrument that makes the sound is the strings, which are made of nylon, steel or sometimes gut. The strings are played most often by drawing a bow across them. The handle of the bow is made of wood and the strings of the bow are actually horsehair from horses' tails! Sometimes the musicians will use their fingers to pluck the strings, and occasionally they will turn the bow upside down and play the strings with the wooden handle.

The string family that plays in an orchestra is made up of violin, viola, cello, double bass, and harp, but there are many other string instruments, including guitar and ukulele.

  • Violin

    The violin is the smallest and highest pitched member of the string family.
  • Viola

    The viola is slightly larger in size than the violin with thicker strings, and therefore plays with lower pitch and a warmer tone.
  • Cello

    The cello looks like the violin and viola but is much larger, and has thicker strings than either the violin or viola.
  • Double Bass

    The double bass is the largest of the string family, and it is so large that players have to sit on a high stool or stand in order to play it, but the sound is produced in the same way as the violin, viola and cello.
  • Harp

    Whilst not a regular member of the orchestra, the harp is often added for a heavenly, other worldly sounds.
  • Guitar

    The Guitar is a very popular and an extremely versatile instrument, appearing in many genres of music throughout the world.

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