I was attracted by the Stroh violin or phono violin because of its unusual appearance. I read somewhere that it was designed in 1899 by an Austrian, Karl Stroch, and it was made in 1901 in London by his son, Charles. In the early part of this century, you could order it in stores in Vienna.

What I could not understand about the Stroh was how it fell into the hands of Romanian farmers in Bihor. It is true that the region belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire at the time. Are we to suppose, however, that Bihor farmers did their shopping in Vienna, which in any case is a long way from Bihor? I imagine there might have been travelling salesmen that introduced and sold the instrument to people in the villages… What intrigues me even more is that the phono violin has not been mass-produced for a long time. It has disappeared from stores and none of the neighbouring communities use it… However, the people of Bihor are so attached to it that they have prolonged its existence by making it themselves in a rudimentary way, significantly changing it, from what I can understand… Why? Well, there is yet another surprising reason: the phono violin has a Hungari Read More
I was attracted by the Stroh violin or phono violin because of its unusual appearance. I read somewhere that it was designed in 1899 by an Austrian, Karl Stroch, and it was made in 1901 in London by his son, Charles. In the early part of this century, you could order it in stores in Vienna.

What I could not understand about the Stroh was how it fell into the hands of Romanian farmers in Bihor. It is true that the region belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire at the time. Are we to suppose, however, that Bihor farmers did their shopping in Vienna, which in any case is a long way from Bihor? I imagine there might have been travelling salesmen that introduced and sold the instrument to people in the villages… What intrigues me even more is that the phono violin has not been mass-produced for a long time. It has disappeared from stores and none of the neighbouring communities use it… However, the people of Bihor are so attached to it that they have prolonged its existence by making it themselves in a rudimentary way, significantly changing it, from what I can understand… Why? Well, there is yet another surprising reason: the phono violin has a Hungarian name. It is called highèghe rather than ceterã like fiddles in the rest of Transylvania. But from what I can tell, the Hungarians never played this instrument! So why this name? Is it because the salesmen who had it for sale in the villages were Hungarian? ... I would very much like to find an answer to these questions.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Stroh

Stroh violin or phono violin (viora cu goarnã or highèghe)

Jelu Covaci, village in Bãlnaca, Bihor region

Museum of the Romanian Peasant
c. 1998
Violin – wood, soundbox – brass
Violin:61x12cm, H:9 cm, Le:39cm, D:12cm,
© Museum of the Romanian Peasant


The Stroh violin or phono violin (vioara cu goarnã) can be found only in a few villages and towns in the tiny region of Transylvania, called Bihor. The body of a violin has been replaced by a mechanism consisting of a diaphragm (previously a phonograph amplifier) fitted into a small round box and connected to a trumpet or bugle bell (previously a phonograph bell). As the bow makes the strings move, they in turn make the bridge vibrate, transmitting the vibrations to the diaphragm which amplifies and expands them through the soundbox. The vioara cu goarnã has a nasal and penetrating sound, much louder than the standard violin (called a vioarã dulce or "soft violin" in the region) which it has supplanted over the course of the century.

Amateur musicians play the vioara cu goarnã (country people play it at home) but professional popular musicians also use it in their groups called taraf. Some buskers who play at fairs and in other Romanian regions, also use it. (In the photo from the Note Book, we see Dumitru Vrânceanu from the village of Berzunti in Moldavia). On festive occasions in Bihor (weddings, Sunday dances, baptisms, et Read More
The Stroh violin or phono violin (vioara cu goarnã) can be found only in a few villages and towns in the tiny region of Transylvania, called Bihor. The body of a violin has been replaced by a mechanism consisting of a diaphragm (previously a phonograph amplifier) fitted into a small round box and connected to a trumpet or bugle bell (previously a phonograph bell). As the bow makes the strings move, they in turn make the bridge vibrate, transmitting the vibrations to the diaphragm which amplifies and expands them through the soundbox. The vioara cu goarnã has a nasal and penetrating sound, much louder than the standard violin (called a vioarã dulce or "soft violin" in the region) which it has supplanted over the course of the century.

Amateur musicians play the vioara cu goarnã (country people play it at home) but professional popular musicians also use it in their groups called taraf. Some buskers who play at fairs and in other Romanian regions, also use it. (In the photo from the Note Book, we see Dumitru Vrânceanu from the village of Berzunti in Moldavia). On festive occasions in Bihor (weddings, Sunday dances, baptisms, etc.), their songs and dance tunes (like Pe picior, Poarga and Mãnãntelul) are accompanied by the beating of a large tambourine (dobã) and possibly by the rhythmic playing of the double-stringed contrã (in this audio recording, a regular violin).

A few craftsmen still make the Stroh violin. The best known makers today come from the village of Rosia. They sell their violins from home or at big country fairs.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Stroh Violin: Audio

Stroh Violin: Audio

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Centre des recherches et études andalouses, Centre des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes Ennejma Ezzahra, Musée de la musique, Laboratoire de recherche des musiques du monde, Musée acadien de l'Université de Moncton, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de l'Université d'Antananarivo, Musée ethnographique Alexandre Sènou Adande, Musée national du Mali, St. Boniface Museum, Lycée de langues étrangères Alexandre Dumas, Museum of the Romanian Peasant

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand that music is an expression in all cultures
  • Understand that the relationship between personal feelings and music transcends borders and cultures
  • Develop respect for music from a variety of cultural contexts
  • Examine traditional music practices in selected Francophone countries
  • Demonstrate geographical awareness by identifying Francophone countries
  • Be aware of the musical contributions of various cultural groups in their own community
  • Understand that all world music can be organized within a standard classification system

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans