Creative and Innovative Technical Elementsof late 18th and 19th Centuries Violin Playing

Holding the Violin

The Position of the chin was the debating issue during 18th and 19th centuries. In addition; violin players belonged to this era, were divided into two parts: The players who put their chin put their chin the left side of the tailpiece (which is the southest point of the violin), and right-siders (who believes in the truth that, the chin should be put on the right side of the tailpiece)…

One of the theorist named L’abbe le fils demontrates that, modern violin hold with the chin presumably gripping the instrument on the left side of the tailpiece (Stowell 1985, 38). Many of other namely Löhlein, Campagnoli, Galeazzi, Cambini and Roeses also follow the path of L’abbe’s method…

Logically, Galeazzi said that right-side of the tailpiece should be used or suggested, after all violin is placed on the left shoulder.

According to Baillot’s L’art, there are some rules which are related methods of holding the violin. For example, typically the violin should be placed on the collar-bone, and inclined towards the right side about 45 degrees, held firmly by the chin, on the left side and close against the tailpiece and the chin should be leaning on the violin, not on the tailpiece (Stowell 1985, 40).

On the other hand, Woldemar’s edition of Leopold Mozart’s, advocates the idea that chin position on the left position of the tailpieces, but he says the position is not suitable for very young pupils, because of some obligatory factors (such as left arm should be brought well under the violin, but it could cause arm-ache), they can be injured…

Besides, some evidences recommends that Paganini, the person did not play with chin-rest, placed his chin on the left side of tailpiece, therefore his favourite violin (Guarnerius) is heavily worn on that side. (Stowell 1985, 40)

However, contrary factors show that Paganini’s chin is positioned on tailpiece itself. Furthermore, “…a sketch by Adolf von Menzel, entitled ‘Violin Concerto’, clearly reveals Joachim’s playing position, with his chin on the right side of the tailpiece, even as late as 1854.” (Stowell, 40)

The first chin-rest was invented by Spohr in 1820’s and was designed to be placed over the tailpiece. There is no doubt, holding the violin in general (or holding the bow) are open to discuss but this is the fact that, violin should be played in delicately graceful and comfortable way.   Otherwise, writing, methods or names written above are not important at all, unless someone can feel comfortable while he is playing…

The level of the violin is naturally varied because of some factors. In other words, many extra tools relating to the violin such as chin-braced or shoulder pad support, which helped the ascents the height of shoulder so the player managed to play with optimum freedom of left hand movement and flexibility of bowing also rised…


  1. Stowell Robin, ‘Violin Technique and Perfomance  Practice in Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth  Centuries’, Cambridge musical Texts&Monographs. Cambridge University Press, 1985. p. 38-45

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