The viola is the alto voice in the string family. Like the violin, it is held under the chin, resting on the shoulder. Unlike the violin, the viola is slightly larger and is tuned five notes lower. It has a darker and warmer tone quality than the violin, but is not as brilliant.
The viola's tone is thicker and darker than the violin which makes it perfect for providing resonant solo passages in the middle of the orchestral range and the perfect antidote to the penetrating, crystal quality of the violin. It also blends particularly well with the clarinet and bassoon.