The words viola and violin sound very similar, but do the instruments sound the same?
In this article, we’ll note the difference between a viola and a violin, including in size and tone, and also list the other members of the violin family of instruments.
The difference between viola and violin
First, the similarities: both the violin and viola are members of the violin family of stringed instruments.
An older member of the violin family is the viola da gamba (also known as the bass viol), which is no longer commonly used.
Both the viola and the violin are typically played using a bow and are held underneath the chin. But they are different instruments with distinct sounds.
The difference between viola and violin is a matter of size and tone. Of the four instruments in the violin family, the violin is the smallest and the one capable of playing the highest notes.
The viola is larger in size (usually several inches longer) and has a lower range. Typically, the violin ranges from G3 to A7, while the viola ranges from C3 to E6. The viola is sometimes described as producing a “darker” tone than the violin.
A typical symphony orchestra has at least 20 violins (and often more) split between two sections, but only around 10 violas, which are grouped into one section.