The Science of Stradivarius: Researchers Sound the Depths of Violin Design

February 11, 2015 10:59 PM

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The Science of Stradivarius: Researchers Sound the Depths of Violin Design

Ever wondered about those elaborately carved openings on violins — what they do, and how they came about? Researchers at MIT and the North Bennet Street School in Boston did, and what they found out is fascinating. Over seven years of comparing measurements, X-rays and CAT scans of hundreds of violin-like instruments dating all the way back to the 10th century, researchers found that the characteristics of the instruments underwent changes surprisingly like evolution by natural selection.

It turns out that sound propagates best along the edges of the openings in the violin's body, and that the curved, elongated "f" shape in later instruments not only produces more "acoustic power," but takes up less space than the earlier circular or semicircular holes. But even master violinmakers, ...

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