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Has anybody on this forum heard of the so-called Violin Octet or the New Violin Family? I just found out about this today... Basically, some years ago some luthiers and physicists got together and extended the standard violin into an entire family of 8, with refined tone quality that has much better carrying power and timbral compatibility with each other, also adding instruments to fill in the gaps between the instruments in the standard string orchestra. Here's the first of 3 introductory videos featuring these new instruments.

Here's an actual concert where the 8 instruments play an excerpt from Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody.

I must say, I'm quite impressed by the tone quality of these instruments... the so-called contrabass violin seems to have a much clearer tone in its lowest notes than the standard contrabass (IMO) with much stronger carrying power, and its high register is nice and clear and blends into the timbre of the higher instruments in the family, not pinched like the standard contrabass. The mezzo violin, which is a slightly bigger version of the standard violin, has a slightly more mellow tone to it, but it's complemented by two even higher instruments (tuned a 4th and an octave above the standard violin, respectively). All in all, because the instruments are basically extensions of the violin itself, their timbres blend into each other, so that they form a seamless whole that works together very well as a unit.

Anyway, I'm quite impressed by the tone quality and homogeneity of these instruments, and now I'm starting to dream about writing octets for them... :-) Now, imagine if we replace the string section in an orchestra with (suitably many of) these 8 beauties... I think it would take the string orchestra to whole new levels!

What do you guys think?

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Comment by H. S. Teoh on April 11, 2015 at 6:41pm

Very true, though Yo-yo Ma did win an award playing the Bartok viola concerto on the knee-held new instrument... so maybe there's hope yet. :-P

Comment by Michael Lofting on April 11, 2015 at 6:21pm
Sacrilege! Never!

Now that I've calmed down it is true that the viola is supposed to be too small but right size would mean played like a cello.

The real issue is going to be all the investment people have with current instruments.

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