Viola: description of a wind instrument, composition, history

Viola: description of a wind instrument, composition, history

The voice of this wind musical instrument is constantly hiding behind more significant and significant “brothers”. But in the hands of a real trumpeter, the sounds of the viola turn into an amazing melody, without which it is impossible to imagine jazz compositions or marches of military parades.

Description of the tool

The modern viola is a representative of brass instruments. Previously, it experienced various design changes, but today in the composition of orchestras one can most often see a wide-scale embouchure copper altohorn with a tube bent in the form of an oval and an expanding diameter of the bell.

Viola: description of a wind instrument, composition, history

Since the invention, the shape of the tube has changed several times. It was elongated, rounded. But it is the oval that helps soften the sharp noisy sound inherent in tubas. The bell is directed upwards.

In Europe, you can often see altohorns with a forward bell, which allows you to convey to the listeners the whole mixture of polyphony. In Great Britain, military parades often use a viola with a scale turned back. This design improves the audibility of music for soldiers marching in formation behind a musical group.


Violas are distinguished by a wider scale than other representatives of the brass group. A deep bowl-shaped mouthpiece is inserted into the base. The extraction of sound is carried out by blowing a column of air out of the tube with different strengths and a certain position of the lips. Althorn has three valve valves. With their help, the length of the air is adjusted, the sound is reduced or increased.

The sound range of the altohorn is small. It begins with the note “A” of the large octave and ends with “E-flat” of the second octave. The tone is dull. The tuning of the instrument allows virtuosos to produce a sound a third higher than the nominal Eb.

Viola: description of a wind instrument, composition, history

The middle register is considered optimal, its sounds are used both for chanting melodies and for extracting distinct, rhythmic sounds. Tertsovye segments are the most commonly used in orchestral practice. The rest of the range sounds vague and dull, so it is not used as often.

The viola is an easy-to-learn instrument. In music schools, those who want to learn to play the trumpet, saxophone, tuba are offered to start with the viola.


Since ancient times, people have been able to extract sounds of various pitches from the horn. They served as a signal for the start of the hunt, warned of danger, and were used on holidays. Horns became the progenitors of all instruments of the brass group.

The first altohorn was designed by the famous inventor, musical master from Belgium, Adolf Sachs. It happened in 1840. The new instrument was based on an improved bugelhorn, the shape of the tube of which was a cone. According to the inventor, the curved oval shape will help get rid of loud sounds, make them softer and expand the sound range. Sachs gave the names “saxhorn” and “saxotrombe” to the first instruments. The diameter of their channels was smaller than that of the modern viola.

Viola: description of a wind instrument, composition, history

An inexpressive, dull sound closes the viola’s entrance to symphony orchestras. Most often it is used in brass bands. Popular in jazz bands. The rhythm of the extracted sound allows you to include viola in military musical groups. In the orchestra, his sound is distinguished by a middle voice. Alt horn closes voids and transitions between high and low sounds. He is undeservedly called the “Cinderella” of the brass band. But experts believe that such an opinion is a consequence of the low qualification of musicians, the inability to virtuoso master the instrument.

Czardas (Monti) - Euphonium Soloist David Childs

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