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The Fiddle and Friends
A 'stylish' bow tie; the mark of an advanced violinist?

The Fiddle and Friends

This Quiz definitely comes 'with strings attached' as it is all about stringed instruments ~ of which there may be more than you thought you remembered!

1.
What are the four instruments in a classical String Quartet?
Violin, viola, cello, double-bass
Two violins, viola and cello
Violin, two violas, cello
Violin, viola, two cellos
You might have expected 'one each of each' in the four sizes of the modern violin family, but there are two violins instead and no contrabass. The range of pitches is typically within the range of the human voice (from baritone to soprano, or above that in more extreme violin passages) which may be one of the elements in this medium that appeals to players and listeners, since the music proceeds in ways analagous to conversation or debate
2.
Which is the odd term out here?
Bowing
Stopping
Tuning
Purfling
Answers 1-3 are all techniques in the preparation or playing of a stringed instrument, but 'purfling' is a feature of the decoration of the bodywork of the instrument
3.
A typical violin has four strings; how many are there on a Hardanger fiddle?
5 strings
6 strings
8 strings
12 strings
It has four 'conventional' strings, and another four set beneath them which pick up and enrich the vibration of these main strings. Other instruments from elsewhere in the world may have similar strings; this is not limited to the Hardangerfjord in Norway. Even there, however, this fiddle may have its strings tuned in any one of 20 different schemes, a little like the ukelele
4.
Mars, the opening movement of Holst's Planets Suite, begins with two surprises: the first is its time-signature of 5/4, so that the pulse and style are clearly suggestive of a march, yet the march itself is (intentionally) 'un-marchable' to those of us without 5 feet. The second, more subtle but distinctive feature is that all the string players are instructed to perform col legno from the outset. What does this instruction mean?
Similar to pizzicato ('plucking'), except the string is flicked with the fingernail
The strings are plucked with a plectrum or quill, rather than the bare fingertip
The bow is turned over and its wooden back is bounced off the string, instead of the 'hair' side of the bow being drawn across it as more usually
A mute is applied to the strings
This phrase means 'with wood'. The brittle, spiky sound is almost other-worldly, reminiscent perhaps of the jagged barbed wire and ruined trees and buildings of the Great War which began while Holst was writing the piece.
Your present author is old enough to remember hearing this piece as his first-ever digitally recorded track from a CD, rather than the previous analogue / vinyl versions, and can attest that for the first time in his life he could 'hear the texture of the wood'
5.
Apart from the piano and certain other keyboard instruments, which stringed instrument also has pedals (usually seven of them)?
Clavichord
Hurdy-gurdy
Harp
Dulcimer
The concert harp has 7 pedals, each engineered to raise or lower notes of the same pitch-name throughout the instrument's range (e.g. B) by one semitone. So far as we know, this is the only instrument where the player's feet are used to change the pitch in such a way; a pianist's feet add expressive and 'textural' elements to the interpretation, and organists and pedal-harpsichordists routinely play notes with their feet
6.
With which early-modern stringed instrument was John Dowland most closely associated, often writing and performing songs accompanied on it?
The guitar
The lute
The mandolin
The theorbo
His lute songs are early classics of the genre
7.
The 'golden age' for the manufacturing of classical stringed instruments centres around the names of Stradivarius (of course ... ) and Guarneri: when and where were these makers active?
Around Cremona in the 17th and 18th centuries
In Spain in the 17th century
In Switzerland in the 19th century
In Hungary in the 18th century
There are about 650 known/acknowledged 'Strad' instruments in the world today
8.
Before the days of modern synthetics and steel, all the parts of an instrument and its bow would necessarily be made of organic materials ('animal, vegetable or mineral').
Parts from which animals would typically have been involved in performances of the Baroque and Classical eras (Bach, Mozart & co.)?
Cat, horse
Cow, pig
Sheep, horse
Pig, sheep
Traditional strings are/were often referred to as 'cat-gut' (as with the stringing of tennis rackets) but would far more usually be made from the gut of a sheep (any one 'head' of which would obviously yield a lot more gut than one small cat). The horse's involvement is limited to a couple of hundred tail hairs with which to 'string' each bow.
We cannot readily imagine how the products of any of these other mentioned species might have contributed to such a performance!
9.
This plucked string instrument has a wide cultural history but seems, in the 20th century at least, to have found its spiritual home in Austria. It features in Strauss' Tales from the Vienna Woods, on the soundtrack to the film The Third Man, and there is a fairly well-known carol in whose choral arrangement the harmony singers are required to imitate the 'zing' of its strings. Alphabetically also, it's probably about the last instrument you would think of ~ further down the list, even, than the xylophone.
What instrument is this?
Zymbelstern
Zither
Zitar
Zutor
This is indeed the Zither, whose roots may go back into Old Testament times. The word itself is fairly distantly related to 'guitar': well, we suppose they may both be played by strumming or picking.
The Zymbelstern (Answer 1) is, if anything, a percussion instrument: it is in the shape (usually) of a smallish revolving star, mounted on the top of the case of a large pipe organ, and when engaged this star revolves gently so that a series of little chimes is sounded, slightly akin to a vertical version of the 'angel chimes' that some people may have on their meal table or elsewhere around Christmas time. All very charming and tinkly if you happen to like that kind of thing!
10.
Some while ago there was a violin teaching book called Take a Bow. Why was this title so neat?
Because without a bow, the player would be limited to playing pizzicato and never discover the singing tone of the violin
Because the bow needs to be mastered in the right hand before the student holds the instrument with their left
Because when the student advances far enough, they may wear a bow-tie or hair-ribbon while giving a public performance
Because after playing, they may 'take a bow' (in its other sense and pronunciation), to acknowledge their listeners' applause
How better to round off this Quiz than with the beaming performer (concertist, leader, whatever) taking due credit?

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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