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“A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. Which one do you run over first, and why? The conductor. Business before pleasure.”
“Ich bin eine Bratsche!”
The Viola is a stringed musical instrument, which everyone thinks is a Violin but is not. In spite of this misconception, viola players have a semi-respectable position in any orchestra. They, much like the violinists, often show hostility and resentment towards the cello and bass sections.
The viola was created by Sir Iphen Ankleheimer in the early part of the Middle Ages. He was trying to make a violin for his daughter but accidentally made the neck of the instrument too long. Well, he figured, "Fuck it. I'll just tell her it's an oversized violin, and that it's better. She's dumb. She'll believe it." Then, after realizing that he had put popped cello strings on the instrument, he thought, "Fine. I'll call it a... A viola! Yeah, a viola..."
And so the instrument of the Apocalypse (not Apocalyptica; they are cellists) was born.
edit Instrumentation throughout the ages
After the Plague killed most of the real musicians in the middle of the Middle Age, many people craved for the revival of music and theatre. Well, the Cornpickles (the descendants of Sir Iphen Ankleheimer's daughter) decided to replicate and mass produce the viola in hopes of making big bucks.
With thousands of violas spreading from the countryside, people began to include them in the orchestra, alongside with other string instruments at the time. Unfortunately, due to its unique acoustics, no composers were able to write anything that sounded at all decent for the thing. The answer to this problem conductors just told the violists to just sit there and not play at all. This tradition, for the most part, continues to this day. It also has resulted in many violists to not even acknowledge the conductor even when he does tell them to play their three notes.
During the Renaissance, Bach introduced violas actually playing, although they usually only pizzicato one or two notes. He even wrote the Six Suites for the viola originally, until he realized what he had done. He quickly transposed the Suites so the cello could play them instead.
Today, some songs actually have them playing up to seven notes. Usually whole notes. Amazing.
Also, the violas now sit between the second violinists and the cellists (they use to be seated next to the oboes) and are almost always led by something called a "third violinist". Third violinists are the worst violinists imaginable and can't even play a simple one octave C major scale without playing out of tune. But, when they play that third violin part, they outshine the viola's, whom the part was actually written for.
edit Other facts
There are several other facts about the viola that are useful if you're ever on Jeopardy and get asked something about it, as that is probably the only reason you would ever be asked anything about the viola. Even then, Alex Trebek probably wouldn't even know the correct answer and would give you credit either way.
- The viola is often used as kindling wood, even today, despite the fact that they don't burn very well. That doesn't stop people from trying.
- The viola has the power to become invisible when no one is looking (and when people are listening).
- The difference between a violist and a prostitute is that a prostitute knows more than one position and can get the rhythm right.