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.

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 July 28, 2014 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) — AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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