History Of The String Instruments

For many centuries now, people in all parts of the world have succeeded in producing music by using an array of strings made out of different materials, which when vibrated, produce pleasing sounds.

A string instrument is defined as an instrument that has strings in its body, which when rubbed by a bow, plucked, or struck, produce different sounds depending on the intensity of vibration produced.

The most primitive type of string instrument ever to be used was a simple musical bow, which is nothing but an arched stick, stretched tight by a string tied to its two ends, which continues to be used till this day in parts of Africa and South America. Other string instruments such as harps and lyres appeared only about 5,000 years ago. They are assumed to have originated in ancient Egypt and Sumeria. Other string instruments which are also presumed to have been developed in ancient Egypt, Greece and India include guitar and violin-like forms, which contain a long box of wood over which one or more strings were stretched. In order to enhance the resonance effect, people learn to use hollow objects such as a coconut, calabash, tortoise shells, wooden boxes or pig bladders that were placed tightly in between the strings and the bow.

Although the beginning of the evolutionary process of musical string instruments is lost in the mist of time, the world still has a vague idea about how the present day string instruments evolved. During the 10th and 11th centuries, the musical bow underwent a modification and the music world was gifted with instruments like vielle and the rote.

During the 12th century, the vielle underwent a lot of changes to produce more deeply cut-out instruments, similar to the modern day guitar, which became extremely popular owing to the ease of handling and playing. Gradually, people began to experiment by increasing the number of strings. Later, people began to use ribs to facilitate the use of the bow. Even the flat plate, to which the strings were fitted, underwent a sea change with the evolution of a separate tailpiece to fit the strings and a bridge to produce more range of notes.

Early stringed instruments include Arched Harp, Angular Harp, Framed Harp, Rebec, Fiddle, Citole, Cittern, Gittern, Lute, Viol, Hurdy Gurdy, Psaltery, Dulcimer, Viola de Gamba, Viola baltarda, and lyra da bracio (a Renaissance instrument). With the passing of centuries, string instruments have undergone several modifications to give the world better sounding music. Modern string instruments belonging to the Violin family includes Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass. Other modern day string instruments include the guitar, mandolin, bass, cello, and the banjo, all of which have become quite popular across the globe today.