A pair of red violins have become a fixture in the repertoire of a Scottish school, but the origins of the instruments’ distinctive sound are a mystery.
It all began when a Scottish family played the red violin at a wedding, according to the Scotsman newspaper.
In 1776, John McBride, the Duke of Cumberland, played the instrument on his wedding day at the Scottish village of Taverne.
According to legend, the bride’s mother gave birth to a son named John McBean who played the viola, a type of instrument that is more commonly known as a clarinet or bass clarinet.
After McBeans death, the violinist’s son, James, who was also born in 1776 and also played the violin, was asked by his father to give his mother’s violin a try.
McBean agreed to play and, as the years passed, his voice gradually gained the characteristic red colour.
As the instrument’s distinctive tone grew, so did the family’s interest in the instrument.
At a time when the British Empire was in its waning years, the family travelled to Scotland to seek the instruments to replace their violin, according the Scotsport Gazette.
The family returned to Cumberland to perform at weddings, but in 1783 the family lost contact with James McBea, who had moved to Scotland in 1816.
“James and his wife, Martha, were never heard from again,” the Gazette said.
Instead, James McBrien was taken to London, where he died in 1845, aged just 42.
There have been various theories about why the instrument became a part of the Scottish repertoire.
One theory posits that it was played as a wedding instrument because it was popular at weddings in Scotland.
Another theory suggests that the instrument was created to serve as a traditional instrument for the church.
Other theories point to the fact that the instruments were part of a string quartet, a popular form of music popular in England.
Regardless of the reasons for its popularity, the instrument has remained a symbol of Scottish independence.
While some have argued that the red viola is an indication of independence, others argue that the name “red viola” is an Anglicization of the Latin word for “red”, viola.
A British music teacher, James Wilson, once said that the “viola’s distinctive sound” could be interpreted as a signal to the audience that the music was not to be listened to for long.
Since the instruments use the same instrument, the name has been used by many musicians as a code to describe the sound of a piece of music.
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