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String Instrument Brief Introduction

String instruments or stringed instruments are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings, which may be made of vegetable fibre, metal, animal gut, silk, or artificial materials such as plastic or nylon. In nearly all stringed instruments the sound of the vibrating string is amplified by the use of a resonating chamber or soundboard. The vibrations are transmitted to the body of the instrument, which also vibrates, along with the air inside it.

The string may be struck, plucked, rubbed (bowed), or, occasionally, blown (by the wind); in each case the effect is to displace the string from its normal position of rest and to cause it to vibrate in complex patterns. In most string instruments, In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones. Common instruments in the string family include the violin, guitar, sitar, electric bass, viola, cello, harp, double bass, rebab, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and bouzouki.

The strings are the largest family of instruments in the orchestra and they come in four sizes: the violin, which is the smallest, viola, cello, and the biggest, the double bass, sometimes called the contrabass. (Bass is pronounced "base," as in "baseball.") The smaller instruments, the violin and viola, make higher-pitched sounds, while the larger cello and double bass produce low rich sounds. They are all similarly shaped, with curvy wooden bodies and wooden necks. The strings stretch over the body and neck and attach to small decorative heads, where they are tuned with small tuning pegs.


String instruments are known as chordophones, a term that comes from the Greek words khorde, meaning 'string,' and phonos, meaning 'sound' or 'voice.' Chordophones have a long history. The earliest surviving stringed instruments to date are the Lyres of Ur, plucked chordophones, which currently exist in fragments that date back to 4,500 years ago.

The first bowed chordophones were probably developed in central Asia and were the forerunners of an Indian folk instrument known as the ravanastron. The ravanastron is one of the earliest intact ancestors of the modern violin family.

Early ravanastron

Earliest known image of a Byzantine lyra. Carving made in ivory casket, circa. 900 - 1100 C.E.

In the Middle East, the ravanastron evolved into the rebab, a 2-stringed fiddle that was brought by Byzantium via trade routes, such as the Silk Road. There, it influenced the design and construction of the grandfather of the modern violin family: the Byzantine lyra.

There were many different kinds of chordophones in use throughout Europe during the late Middle Ages and up through the Baroque era (1600 - 1750 C.E.), most of which can trace their ancestry to the Byzantine lyra. Out of these, the instrument that is generally considered to be the immediate forerunner of the modern violin is the lira da braccio.

An illustration of a lira da braccio, created by 16th-century composer Michael Praetorious in his book Syntagma Musicum

This instrument reached its peak popularity during the Renaissance era (1450 - 1600 C.E.), enjoying a brief period of supremacy as the preferred string instrument used to accompany poetic recitations in Italian courts. It was gradually supplanted by the modern violin and virtually disappeared by the mid-17th century.

An even more popular Italian stringed instrument than the lira da braccio was the viola da gamba, ancestor of the modern cello. Viola da gambas also thrived during the Renaissance and were commonly used both as solo instruments and played together in small ensembles known as consorts.

The names of both instruments refer to the way in which they are held while playing: braccio means 'arm,' gamba means 'leg.' Most viola da gambas had six strings and were supported with the calves and knees of the musician.

Better string technology during the Classical and the 19th century Romantic periods saw violins and other stringed instruments like the double bass benefit from mass production, as well as from the development of cheaper instrumentation; woodwind string instruments remained a key part of orchestras, with double bass, violin, viola, cello, and harp playing firmly established as key examples of classical music going into the 20th century.

Changes to string instruments in the 20th century included new amplification technologies that allowed for electric guitars and violins, as well as electric double bass playing – magnetic and resonating technologies were able to produce a wide variety of electric playing styles, with the electric guitar emerging as a clear alternative to acoustic and Spanish guitar playing. Steel strings and easier pickup technology helped string instruments to achieve amplification and portable playing.


A Night of Musical Kaleidoscope

Entering its 9th year and renowned for its innovative concert programming and versatility, the PSPA International Ensemble continues to provide the highest artistic excellence to the local audience, gathers the most gifted and professional musicians from around the world to the beautiful towns in Malaysia, i.e. Ipoh, Penang and Kuala Lumpur to partake in a unique and intensive chamber music making.

What entices these exceptional artists is a wonderful arena of discovery and an opportunity to achieve artistic and humanistic excellence.

The ensemble provides music of all eras by taking the audience on a diverse journey. And at the end of the journey, they will realise that the possibility with traditional classical ensemble is infinite.

From Bach to Yiruma! This year ensemble will be music from Vivaldi’s all time favourite, The Four Seasons violin concerto; Bach’s famous Air on G String & Brandenburg Concerto; the heart-warming Yiruma’s River Flows Into You; the exotic Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy and many more!

We will also feature the super clarinet soloist Mr. Andrew Simon, well-known for his flawless fingers-flying techniques and beautiful tone that will give you all an unforgettable musical journey!

The ensemble will also extend its mission on intensive education and outreach programs benefiting local community and younger generation, such as “Meet the Musicians” sessions and workshops involving students from various schools – to provide harmony for ALL.

So, let’s enjoy “A Night of Musical Kaleidoscope” with various popular tunes and the versatility of PSPA International Ensemble.

Ipoh Concert Date : 15th August 2015, Saturday Times : 8.00pm Venue : Tenby Schools Ipoh Auditorium

Ticket Prices :

(i) Category 1 seats (85 seats) @ RM150 (ii) Category 2 seats (110 seats) @ RM80 (iii) Category 3 seats (95 seats) @ RM40

*Early bird promotion (buy ticket before 30th June 2015) 20% discount

*Student 40% (early bird) / 30% discount

*Senior Citizen aged 60 years and above 30% (early bird) / 20% discount *Buy online from PSPA store will get a further 10% discount.

QR Code PSPA Store :

PSPA Store

Tickets can be obtained from PSPA online store and PSPA office. Call Witzi at : 012-5088818 PSPA at : 05-2427814

or visit our PSPA Store for more details.

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