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Fiddleheads Violin Studio Top Image featuring a photo of Rhiannon, Owner Fiddleheads Violin Studio is Operated by an Award-Winning Symphony Violinist and Teacher Fiddleheads is the World's First Eco-Friendly Violin Shop Fiddleheads' Owner has won numerous awards for Business and Musicianship Fiddleheads Serves Elated Customers Worldwide Welcome to Fiddleheads Violin Studio Located in Canada, Fiddleheads serves customers worldwide View Shopping Cart Like and Follow Us on Facebook! Spring Break/March Shipping Delays: Click Here Fiddleheads Violin Studio is Operated by an Award-Winning Symphony Violinist and Teacher Fiddleheads is the World's First Eco-Friendly Violin Shop Fiddleheads' Owner has won numerous awards for Business and Musicianship Fiddleheads Serves Elated Customers Worldwide Welcome to Fiddleheads Violin Studio Located in Canada, Fiddleheads serves customers worldwide foo Like and Follow Us on Facebook!

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Writings

Talking Tone is Harder than it Sounds

Words which describe the tonal qualities of violins and other instruments

by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio

Attempting to describe tone or timbre with mere words is tricky for even the best musicians. Even more difficult with non-players who don't know the instrument or the lingo.

Case in point: My filmscoring teacher in music school told a story of when he was writing a jazzy piano theme for a CBC Television program. The show's producer had been asking for small corrections to the score, finally requesting the music be more "snakey." "What the heck is snakey," my teacher asked, totally perplexed. "You know," said the producer slowly, "sna-a-a-a-key," as if this would help.

This list won't eliminate stupid situations from your musical life, but I hope it will help you better describe the tone you produce, seek or even wish to avoid in an instrument when discussing it with my shop!

Dark (or Bright)

Rich

Brassy

Even (or Uneven)

Fat (or Thin)

Sparkling

Ringing/Bell-like

Crystalline

Bell-like

Warm

Pure

Throaty

Smooth

Breathy

Nasal

Reedy

Rounded

Clear

Harsh

Resonant

Mellow

Piercing

Focussed (or Unfocussed)

Heavy (or Light)

Grating or Gritty

Flat (or sharp,
not to be confused with pitch)

Deep

Velvety

Dry (or Splashy)

Strident

Full (or Hollow)

Sonorous

Boomy

Soft (or Hard)

Haunting

Ethereal

Crisp

Complex

 

Please note this list is not complete and I welcome your additions: email me

With this handy list at your disposal you will be able to order a viola faster than a coffee at your neighbourhood Starbucks. "I'll have a Grande 15" viola with pure tone, some dark on the low end and a sprinkle of sparkle on the side. No whipped cream, thanks, I don't want a fat bottom end."

Oh, and I think I understand what the producer was looking for with "snakey." I think he desired a middle eastern mode such as harmonic or hungarian minor. Somethingl worthy of a scene featuring snake charming or flying carpets. You know, Alladin playing jazz piano.

Twenty years playing the violin and I know what snakey means. That was gobs of money and years of practicing well spent...

 

Links you may find interesting:

A scientific study at MIT Media Lab- "Words that Describe Timbre: A Study of Auditory Perception Through Language"

Extended Essay by a University of Maryland Phystics Student- Assessment of Violin Timbre: Examination of the Fourier Spectra and Resonance Curves of Medium- and Low- Quality Instruments

Back to Writings

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Violins, bows and cases are shipped Canada Post Expedited service (arrives via USPS in the USA) and takes about 2-6 days on average. Shoulder rests ship via Xpresspost within Canda (1-4 days) or Airmail to USA (2-6 days).

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Fiddleheads.ca is the Planet's First and Only "Green" Violin Shop Operated by a Symphony Violinist: "Fiddle with a Conscience"

 

Fiddleheads.ca Main Page Like and Follow Fiddleheads Violin Studio on Facebook View Shopping Cart: Pay with Credit Card or Paypal Account Fiddleheads is a Canadian Business that serves customers around the world Fiddleheads is an eco-friendly business Fiddleheads is an Award-Winning Business run by an Award-Winning Musician and Young Entrepreneur Serving Elated Customers Worldwide: Click here for Testimonials Fiddleheads Violin Studio is Operated by an Award-Winning Symphony Violinist and Teacher Fiddleheads is the World's First Eco-Friendly Violin Shop Fiddleheads' Owner has won numerous awards for Business and Musicianship Fiddleheads Serves Elated Customers Worldwide Welcome to Fiddleheads Violin Studio Located in Canada, Fiddleheads serves customers worldwide foo Like and Follow Us on Facebook!