Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secret Of The Sweet-Sounding Stradivarius: Wood Density Explains Sound Quality Of Great Master Violins

Date:
July 2, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The advantage of using medical equipment to study classical musical instruments has been proven by a Dutch researcher from the Leiden University Medical Center. In collaboration with a renowned luthier, Dr. Berend Stoel put classical violins, including several made by Stradivarius, in a CT scanner.

Thickness maps of the top (A) and back plates (B). The contemporary violins are presented on the top row, and the antique on the bottom row. The violins have been anonymised. Scales are given in mm. The fourth instrument on the upper row is a viola, which typically is thicker than a violin (image size has been reduced to match that of the violins).
Credit: Stoel BC, Borman TM, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002554

The advantage of using medical equipment to study classical musical instruments has been proven by a Dutch researcher from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). In collaboration with a renowned luthier, Dr. Berend Stoel put classical violins, including several made by Stradivarius, in a CT scanner. The homogeneity in the densities of the wood from which the classical violins are made, in marked contrast to the modern violins studied, may very well explain their superior sound production.

Related Articles


Experts are fascinated by the fact that classical Cremonese violins from the famous masters such as Stradivari (1644 -- 1737) and Guarneri del Gesu (1698 -- 1744) are still unparalleled in their abilities of tonal expressiveness and projection. 300 years of technological advancement has not provided substantial improvements towards paralleling the achievements of the classical Cremonese violin makers.

It is obvious to look for clues in the material properties of the wood from which these violins are made, however until now it was impossible to study this without risk of damage to these instruments, each valued at several million dollars.

A unique collaboration between the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands and Terry Borman, luthier in the United States, led to new insights. Previously, at the Division of Image Processing, Department of Radiology, Dr. Stoel developed a computer program, in collaboration with pulmonologist Dr. Jan Stolk, that calculates lung densities in emphysema patients from Computed Tomographic (CT) scans, in order to demonstrate the efficacy of certain medical treatments.

Based on his knowledge of measuring lung densities non-invasively, Dr. Stoel designed a new computer program to study wood densities from CT scans. Subsequently, he and Terry Borman scanned in New York five Cremonese and seven contemporary violins at Mount SinaiHospital, and analyzed the wood densities.

The average wood density of the classical and modern violins did not differ significantly. However, the differences in wood density between early and late growth were significantly lower in the ancient violins.

Since differentials in wood density impact vibrational efficacy and thereby the production of sound, it is possible that this discovery may explain the superiority of these violins. This insight offers new possibilities into replicating the tonal qualities of these ancient instruments, as the researchers conclude in PLoS ONE.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stoel BC, Borman TM. A Comparison of Wood Density between Classical Cremonese and Modern Violins. PLoS One, 3(7): e2554 [link]

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Secret Of The Sweet-Sounding Stradivarius: Wood Density Explains Sound Quality Of Great Master Violins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221447.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, July 2). Secret Of The Sweet-Sounding Stradivarius: Wood Density Explains Sound Quality Of Great Master Violins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221447.htm
Public Library of Science. "Secret Of The Sweet-Sounding Stradivarius: Wood Density Explains Sound Quality Of Great Master Violins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221447.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) The entry by Cablevision and Google could intensify the already heated price wars for mobile phone service. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) A robot based on a stick insect can navigate difficult terrain autonomously and adapt to its surroundings. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Newsy (Jan. 26, 2015) President Obama&apos;s proposal aims to protect more land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so far, all that&apos;s materialized is a war of words. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins