I have a question about the effect of a viola's size on it's sound.
With a bass, the sizes all sound the same, until you get smaller than half-size. You can listen to a recording of a 1/4 bass, and tell that it's a 1/4, or something smaller than a half-size, anyway.
But there is no difference in tone between a 1/2, 3/4, and 4/4 bass... only a difference in volume.
A 4/4/ bass is louder than an 1/2, but you couldn't tell by listening to a recording WHAT size the bass was; the mastering engineer would have set the bass track at whatever optimum volume for the recording should be, whether that meant boosting or cutting the recorded volume.
So my question is whether or not violas work the same way.
I know that a 16" viola is going to produce more volume than a 14", but is volume the only difference, like with basses?
I play violin, and have been messing around with a viola.
I'm thinking that I might get myself a viola, but a 14" instrument, so I can switch between them without it messing up my intonation to the degree that I found with the larger one.
Re: Viola Size vs Sound 09:11 on Thursday, February 24, 2011
This is an interesting issue. I play the violin and viola, and viola ended up being my major instrument. I think that if you plan to switch back and forth a smaller viola would be great, but I wouldn't go under 15". I have a 15 1/4" German viola which was my mothers, that has wonderful sound. I also have a 16 1/2 English viola, that doesn't seem as big as that sounds, because of the shape of it. The English viola has a bigger sound, but the German viola is almost a sweeter sound. Another viola size issue is to make sure that you are able to play the larger instrument without causing the possibility of bodily injuries. A violinist that is also a violist has a stronger chance of "employment" because of the versatility. I used to have a case that carried both violin and viola. I sold it because it was just too heavy to carry when I needed both. Hope this helps you consider these issues.
Re: Viola Size vs Sound 02:52 on Saturday, December 03, 2011
A viola, were its size proportionate to its range, would be too big to put under your chin like a violin and too small to put between your legs like a cello. This, however, is what gives the instrument its distinctive timbre. A bigger viola will be more resonant (as a bigger bass will be, whether you notice or not) but otherwise less characteristic. Unlike the cello and the violin, the viola has no standard size.
Re: Viola Size vs Sound 18:45 on Wednesday, December 14, 2011