5 Differences between the Violin and the Viola
#1 The viola sounds lower
It’s tuned a fifth lower than the violin and an octave higher than the cello. The viola is tuned CGDA and the violin is tuned GDAE. The G, D and A strings are the same pitch, but do have a different sound color.
#2 The viola and the viola sound different
A viola sounds warmer and darker, while the violin is more like a bright and clear sounding soprano.
#3 Violists and violinists read in different cleffs
The violin cleff indicates the G and the viola cleff indicates the C. The viola reads seven notes higher.
#4 The role in the orchestra is different
The viola is more like a middle voice and has less solos. This is comparable to the second violin. The first violin has a bit more solos and is the soprano voice.
#5 The playing technique is slightly different
As the viola is bigger and lower instrument, one needs more weight to make a full sound.
Bonus difference #6 The bow is a bit different
The viola bow has a rounded edge on the frog and is a bit heavier. The violin bow has a squared edge on the frog and is a bit lighter.