The violino piccolo (also called the Diskantgeige, Terzgeige, Quartgeige or Violino alla francese) is a stringed instrument of the baroque period. Most examples are similar to a child's size violin in size, and are tuned a minor third (B♭3–F4–C5–G5) or a fourth higher (C4–G4–D5–A5). Probably the most famous work featuring violino piccolo is the first Brandenburg Concerto of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The best-known violino piccolo is the Brothers Amati example in the National Music Museum, in Vermillion, South Dakota. By modern measurements, the body is 1⁄4 size, the neck 1⁄2 size, and the head corresponds to that of a 3⁄4 size instrument. The string length is the equivalent of a 4⁄4 violin stopped a minor third from the nut, which corresponds with its normal tuning of a third higher than a 4⁄4 violin. This Amati violin also has fingerboard widths similar to that of a 4⁄4 board cut a third shorter, which in view of the other measurements implies a clear conceptual relationship to the 4⁄4-sized violin.
When the construction of the violin changed as the rococo period began, it became possible to play many higher-pitched violin parts on a standard violin, and the piccolo was no longer considered necessary. In modern performances of older works that specifically call for the violino piccolo, it is common for a woodwind instrument capable of playing in its range, such as an oboe, to be substituted.
Violins of similar tuning have been built in modern times (specifically the soprano violin of the new violin family) but have not yet been accepted as standard.
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