Violining Vivaldi

violin (12)Activities which focus on the timbres Vivaldi explores and utilizes in his “Four Seasons” concertos.

The four concertos in Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” are violin concertos with a solo violin and an orchestra of stringed instruments with continuo. These activities will help you learn more about the instruments in the concertos and also help you to find certain particular sounds or timbres that Vivaldi uses in these pieces to make them distinctive.

Instrument Project

Choose one of the stringed instruments in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons orchestra (violin, viola, cello, double bass) and find out these things. You could work in groups and present your findings to the rest of your colleagues in an entertaining and informative way!violin (14)

  • Find out what these things are –
  1. tuning pegs,
  2. Stradivarius,
  3. viol,
  4. sound box,
  5. fingerboard,
  6. pizzicato,
  7. sul ponticello.
  • Explain and demonstrate how a bow and a mute work.
  • Discuss the shape and construction of the instrument, and how they contribute to its distinctive timbre. How does your chosen instrument compare to the other members of the string family?
  • violin (20)Learn to play four different fingered notes on your instrument, both bowed and pizzicato.
  • Listen to two recordings of your chosen instrument: one of a modern stringed instrument and one of a viol of similar size. Compare and contrast the two sounds.
  • Compile a listening guide to at least five pieces of music which feature your instrument. Include the date of the composition, brief information on the performer and composer, and your comments about the music itself.
  • Find at least ten different timbres on your instrument. Compose a piece of music which uses all of the timbres you have found.

violin (11)


Violin Scorch

  • Find examples of the following violin timbres, styles, moods and techniques in The Four Seasons:
  1. three solo violins in an unaccompanied trio
  2. all violins playing in unison
  3. solo violin unaccompanied
  4. lyrical melody
  5. a sad tune
  6. a thunderous interjection
  7. a fast-moving passage requiring speedy bow movement
  8. violin (19)a fast-moving passage requiring speedy finger movement, but using only one bow stroke
  9. happy, dancing music
  10. a fast-moving passage requiring speedy across-the-strings bowing
  11. athletic leaping
  12. triple-stopped chord
  13. double-stopping – two-part melody
  14. double stopping – fast notes plus held note
  15. quick contrast between staccato and legato playing
  16. quick changes in dynamics
  17. trills
  18. pizzicato
  19. muted violins
  20. bowed tremolo on one note

violin (13)

Being Other Things

  • violin (20)Find a moment where something is imitating…
  1. a cuckoo
  2. a dog
  3. a mighty wind
  4. hunting horns
  5. raindrops

violin (17)


…and finally….

  • Find at least ten differences between a harpsichord and a piano

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