A Viola is an alto voice in the string family and looks just like a violin; the instrument is held under the chin and rests on the shoulder when being played. However the viola is physically larger than the violin and it is tuned five notes lower than that of the violin. In fact, a lay man may not differentiate between a violin and a viola as they are similar in size, their pitch rage is very close and both instruments are played while in the same position. However, it should be noted that the viola is the middle voice and is placed between the cello and violin. The instrument’s sonority is dark toned, rich and full bodied than that of the viola rental. Its mellow voice is often used to play inner harmonies and is not a popular solo repertoire when compared with the violin.
An ideal viola is one to four inches longer than a violin though there are violas made for children that are half the size of a violin. The person playing a viola is often referred to as the violist though sometimes as a viola player. The fingering technique for playing the instrument is similar to that of the violin though the difference in size creates some technical differences. In playing the instrument, one plays with thicker strings when compared with the violin. The violist must add more weight to the strings with a bow if they want to produce the intended sound. The bow that is used to play the instrument has a wide band of horsehair when compared to that of the violin especially near the heel or the frog.
The four strings of a viola are usually tuned in fifths; with C3 being the lowest, and then G3, D4 and A4 being above it. The tuning is done in a way that it is accurately one fifth below the violin meaning that the two instruments have three strings in common; A,G and D. Viola is also one octave above another string family, a cello. The first string to be tuned is A and then the others follow at an interval of perfect fifths, by bowing two strings at the same time. Many of these instruments have adjusters also referred to as the fine tuners and that are utilized in making finer changes. One can also tune the viola by stretching one string by hand. One can tune down a string by pulling the string above the fingerboard and can also tune it up by pressing the section of the string in pegbox. These actions are very significant as they prevent the negative effects that result from strings that are not well tuned. One can do this temporarily and wait until he or she has an opportune time for tuning.