In our previous blogs (read part one and part two at the links) we started covering the history of the violin by tracking it from its origins in Italy in the early 16th Century, through its refinement over the next several hundred years, and began talking about how it spread from Italy to the rest of Europe. Today we will talk about the widespread proliferation of the violin throughout Europe and to the rest of the world and how it continues to impact modern music, including rock and pop music. If you’re looking for violin music that straddles borders and styles, check out Mairead Nesbitt. The former violinist for Celtic Woman has released a new solo album called Hibernia. Hibernia is full of the heart-felt emotion of traditional Celtic music and the epic grandiosity of Classical music. Pick up her new album on iTunes or Amazon today!


Adoption of the Violin

The violin became a folk instrument the second they were purchased by folk musicians. They quickly learned to weave the violin into their own styles because, much like classical composers and musicians, they realized just how adaptable and wide-ranging the instrument could be. It added a new flair to older compositions and allowed for new songs to soar to new heights of emotion and range.

While the actual spread of the violin is difficult to precisely pin down, the results are plain to see: over time, the violin became an inextricable part of many different styles of folk music, including Celtic folk music, Turkish music, Romani folk music, and many others.

The Spread of the Violin to the New World

As immigrants from across Europe left their homelands and traveled to North America, they brought their instruments and their music with them. While communities were initially isolated along ethnic and national lines, over time they began to interact with other groups and shared their cultures, including their music. The development of American folk music was only possible because of the influx of immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and the rest of Europe. As the influence of the old world began to wane in favor of the new culture being created in the US, the music began to change and take on a new form with many of the familiar flavors of the old styles still present.

Without the folk music of Europe and Africa, the world wouldn’t have rock and roll, country, jazz, bluegrass, or any of the most popular forms of music in existence today. And if you listen closely enough you’ll find the violin adding a needed swell or an extra melody line in songs from artists as diverse as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to The Beatles.

The violin speaks to something very deep within us. It’s flexibility, range, and proliferation across all styles of music has created a link to our subconscious that forces us to pay attention when we hear a violin. It’s ability to almost mimic the human voice while also settling into the background of a complex orchestral arrangement makes it well suited for almost anything. If you’re looking for violin music performed by an absolute master of the instrument, pick up Mairead Nesbitt’s new album Hibernia from iTunes or Amazon now.