World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nail violin

Article Id: WHEBN0002755314
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nail violin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Friction idiophone, Triolin, Hornbostel–Sachs, WikiProject Missing encyclopedic articles/1911 verification/N, Idiophone
Collection: Bowed Instruments, Friction Idiophones
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nail violin

The nail violin is a musical instrument which was invented by German violinist Johann Wilde in 1740.[1] The instrument consists of a semicircular wooden soundboard, approximately 1.5 feet (46 cm) by 1 foot (30 cm) in size, with iron or brass nails of different lengths arranged to produce a chromatic scale when bowed.[2]


Wilde was inspired to create the instrument when he accidentally drew his bow across a metal peg, which produced a musical sound. The instrument consists of a semicircular wooden soundboard, approximately 1.5 feet (46 cm) by 1 foot (30 cm) in size, with iron or brass nails of different lengths arranged to produce a chromatic scale when bowed. The bow used was fitted with coarse black horsehair, which produced sound by friction. An improved instrument, now in the collection of the Hochschule in Berlin, has two half-moon sound-chests of different sizes, one on the top of the other, forming terraces. In the rounded wall of the upper sound-chest are two rows of iron staples, the upper giving the diatonic scale, and the lower the intermediate chromatic semitones.[2] The instrument has a sweet bell-like tone but limited technical possibilities.

History records the name of a single virtuoso on this instrument; he was a Bohemian musician called Senal, who travelled all over Germany with his instrument about 1780–1790.[2] Senal had modified the instrument by adding sympathetic strings, and dubbed this enhanced version the "violino harmonico".

There have been several other modifications or variations on Wilde's original design. Modifications include the use of glass or wooden rods instead of metal nails. Träger of Bernberg (Saxony) created a treadle-operated keyboard version in 1791. The Adiaphonon, created by Franz Schuster in 1818-1819, was similar to the nail violin. It used bowed steel rods and had a six octave range. A Nineteenth Century modification, called the Stockspiel or Melkharmonica, incorporated wooden rods, which were played using rosined gloves. Bill Wesley has invented the Array Nail Violin, in which the notes are arranged according to the Array system. It is played with the fingers, thumbs, and palms dusted with dancer's rosin. The waterphone works on similar principles, but is atonal rather than chromatic, and has water in its resonator.

Musical instrument category

The instrument is categorized as a friction idiophone, as it is played by bowing.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.