Stories tagged violin


Stradivarious secret is in the sauce
Stradivarious secret is in the sauceCourtesy caribb

Stradivarius violins soaked in "secret sauce"

Having obtained minute wood samples from restorers working on Stradivarius and Guarneri instruments, scientists now have verified that the wood was treated with borax, fluorides, chromium and iron salts. Borax is a wood preservative and an insecticide. It makes sense that wood craftsmen would want to protect their creations from being chewed up by worms.

Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus of biochemistry, first theorized in 1976 that chemicals used on the instruments – not merely the wood and the construction – are responsible for the distinctive sound of these violins." Texas A&M University

Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus of biochemistry, along with Renald Guillemette, director of the electron microprobe laboratory, and Clifford Spiegelman, professor of statistics, all Texas A&M faculty members published their research in the current issue of the scientific journal Public Library of Science (PloSONE).

Learn more about Nagyvary's research

Source: "Secrets Of Stradivarius’ Unique Sound Revealed"
Nagyvary's website: Nagyvary Violins


Stradavarius sound from graphite and balsa

Violin engineering: image modified from via wikipedia
Violin engineering: image modified from via wikipedia
Can we make violins today that sound as sweet as those made by Antonio Stradivari? Joseph Curtin (Ann Arbor, Mich.),who received a 2005 MacArthur Foundation “genius award” for his violin designs, thinks so. In reference to violins made by Douglas Martin, Curtin stated that

“the traditional violin became obsolete in early July of 2005.”

One of Mr. Martin's prototype violins, Balsa 4, when passed around at a violin design workshop at Oberlin College, startled the participants with its punch and responsiveness. Using balsa for lightness and graphite for stiffness, Martin is breaking the traditional violin design rules.

New materials "sing"

Another violin maker to use modern materials like graphite fibers is Martin Schleske. Ingolf Turban, a touring concert violinist, compared Mr. Schleske’s latest violin, which has a top made of a mix of spruce and graphite, with a 1721 Stradivarius by recording passages from Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D Major with each. He told Mr. Schleske he preferred the new one.

I have never been playing any violin with such a singing E string,” Mr. Turban said in a testimonial. “It is no longer like playing violin but like singing.”

Violin acoustics analysed in physics laboratory

George Bissinger, a physicist at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., is using medical-imaging gear, laser scanners, arrays of microphones and computers to measure and model how the parts of a violin react once energy is introduced by a bow, fingertip, pick or, in the laboratory, the repeated taps of a tiny hammer.

Particularly important, Dr. Bissinger said, is determining which factors translate the side-to-side sawing of a bow on a string into vertical motions of the violin top. “Up and down is what matters,” he said.
Another important influence, particularly on low violin notes, is the movement of air in and out of the f-holes, Dr. Bissinger said. If the dimensions are right, the air sloshes forward and back like disturbed water in a bathtub (or air in an organ’s pipes) at rates that increase the instrument’s volume.

Want to learn more?

I recommend viewing the video and multimedia graphics found in the New York Times post, "String Theory: New Approaches to Instrument Design".


Can today's technology recreate the time-honored craftsmanship of a Strativarius violin? Researchers are tyring to find out.
What makes a Stradivarius violin sing so sweetly?

A couple of Swedish researchers are hoping to figure that out using some advanced mathematical formulas with a goal of eventually being able to make duplicates of the treasured musical instruments. They’re beginning a two-year study of the famous instruments using computer models and high-end math.

But can technology figure out how to duplicate old-time craftsmanship? Many musicians believe that the old instruments have their unique sound because their wood has aged since they were made nearly 300 years ago. Their unique sound may also have something to do with the stains and finishes from that time that were applied to the wood.

About 600 Stradivarius violins remain out of the more than 1,100 originals. And they’re known for more than just their sound quality. They can fetch some pretty high price tags. Last year, one sold for just over $2 million at an auction in New York City, the most money every paid for a musical instrument.

What do you think? Is this a good way to apply technology of the 21st Century?