1. A stringed musical instrument from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, similar in appearance to a large violin and played with a bow, but usually having six strings and frets on the neck. It has a curved body, a flat back, and sloping shoulders. The viol is held vertically between the legs or supported by a strap around the shoulder while being played.
2. A precursor to the modern violin family, the viol was popular during the 16th to 18th centuries, especially in Europe. It was widely used in both chamber and orchestral music, as well as for solo performances. The viol's distinctive tone and timbre, resulting from its unique structure and gut strings, were highly valued during that time.
3. The term "viol" is often used collectively to refer to the family of bowed instruments that includes the bass viol, tenor viol, alto viol, and treble viol. Each member of the viol family has a different size and range, enabling the performance of various musical parts and harmonies.
4. The term "viol" can also refer to the act of inflicting physical harm or injury upon someone or something. It describes an act of violence or aggression that may cause pain, damage, or disruption. As a noun, it signifies an instance of forceful infringement on another person's rights, often resulting in harm or distress. The term is commonly used in legal, ethical, and social contexts to describe various forms of harmful behavior, such as assault or abuse.
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The word "viol" comes from the Latin word "vitula", which referred to a stringed instrument played with a bow. The term was later adopted into Old French as "viuole" and eventually transformed into the Middle English "viole", from which "viol" was derived. The word has been used since the 15th century to describe various bowed, stringed instruments, including the viola da gamba and the viola da braccio.