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Stringed instrument, the tenor member of the violin family. In appearance it is almost identical to the violin but slightly larger; its strings are tuned a fifth lower. It is a member of many chamber music ensembles, and the modern orchestra uses 6 to 10 violas. Its tone is darker, warmer, and less powerful than the violin's, and it is rarely employed as a solo instrument. The viola d'amore is an 18th-century instrument with six or seven melody strings, under which are strung several sympathetic strings that resonate in concord with the sounded pitches.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on viola, visit Britannica.com.