Washington, July 2 : Studying classical Cremonese violins from the famous masters like Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu with the help a CT scanner, a Dutch researcher at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) has shown the possibility gaining a better understanding of what renders their sound production superior to that of modern instruments.
Writing about the study in the online journal PLoS ONE, Dr. Berend Stoel said that 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.
Dr. Stoel pointed out that it had been impossible to study the material properties of the wood from which the classical violins were made without damage to the instruments, each valued at several million dollars, before their study.
To realise this purpose, he designed a computer program to study wood densities from CT scans.
Working in collaboration with a renowned luthier in the US named Terry Borman, Dr. Stoel scanned in New York five Cremonese and seven contemporary violins at Mount SinaiHospital, and analysed the wood densities.
The average wood density of the classical and modern violins did not differ significantly, but the differences in wood density between early and late growth were significantly lower in the ancient violins.
As differentials in wood density impact vibrational efficacy and the production of sound, says Dr. Stoel, his discovery may help explain the superiority of these violins.
The researcher said that this insight offers new possibilities into replicating the tonal qualities of these ancient instruments.