The modern violin can be traced to the 16th century Italy and it is still seen today as a traditional icon of refined music for the past 500 years. Since then the instrument has evolved and gained high levels of popularity especially during the 18th and 19th century, the height of classical music where it was often the "star of the show" often sharing the limelight with the piano. But to confine the violin to western traditions would be completely unfair after all, the violin has made significant appearances in many cultures around the world particularly in Asia.
The violin is the smallest and the highest-pitched member of a family of string instruments which includes the cello and the viola. It produces sound traditionally by plucking the strings or by drawing a bow across the strings although other methods have been adopted as well. While closely associates to classical music the sounds of the violin has a powerful influence on jazz, folk music and even rock. The violin is also referred a fiddle in some cultures (particularly in Europe and Germany) therefore a violin player can also be called a fiddler.
A violin is usually made of wood with the exception of electronic violins. The strings are either made of gut, nylon or other synthetic materials. It can be argued that the evolution of stringed instruments gave birth to the violin. Stringed instruments were present as early as the Greek civilization and have survived to modern day. The lyre, a stringed musical instrument has been mentioned in many written and verbal accounts pertaining to heaven and heavenly figures. They are said to have evoked sounds that calms the nerves and rests the mind.
The violin as we know it now can be traced back to the Northern part of Italy particularly in the territories of Venice and Genoa. It is said that the inspiration of the design of the violin was actually derived from bowed stringed instruments from the Middle East.
During the height of the popularity of the instrument one French King named Charles IX ordered for a construction of two dozens of violin. Those who make violins are called luthiers, it remains up to this day a lucrative industry in certain parts of Europe.
Violin also ranks as one of the more expensive musical instruments to purchase and maintain it is because of this that it remained out of reach of the common populace which preserved its identity to be the instrument of the bourgeois. In the 1970’s there was a renaissance of the violin as an instrument used in popular music riding and complimenting the high pitched vocal calisthenics of rock and roll vocalists of that era.
Today, some alternative rock bands use the violin to provide a certain chilling effect to their music and catch the attention of the listeners. Because it is unusual to be as an accompanying piece in most pop/rock music the sound of a violin could very well be an effective way to stand out the media saturated present generation.