Friday, April 30, 2010

Wood for Great Violins

The latest book I have been reading is Barron's Pocket Factbook of Natural History. Among the many intriguing facts now in my pocket is that the secret of the superior sound of Stradivarius violins may be that they were made from trees growing during the Little Ice Age.

The Little Ice Age lasted from about the 15th century to the 19th century. Within this period there were three distinct low points. Antonio Stradivari was born just before the beginning of the lowest low point (the "Maunder Minimum"), which lasted from about 1645 to 1715. Therefore, the wood he used for his violins came from trees growing during the Little Ice Age, and especially during the Maunder Minimum.

It is well known that wood growing during colder weather is denser than wood growing during warmer weather. The wider, lighter colored rings of a tree are created during the growing season, and are more porous (less dense) because they are transporting water. If the growing season is colder, the tree will grow less, these rings will be narrower, and the tree overall will be more dense. There will also be less variation in density throughout the wood, since the lighter rings will be closer in density to the darker rings.

It is believed that (among many other factors), wood with a more uniform density makes a better sounding violin. Since the trees growing during the Maunder Minimum would have the most uniform density in recent history, Stradivari and his contemporaries had a natural advantage over modern luthiers (violin makers).

I should note that the superiority of Stradivarius violins is controversial. Many blind tests have been conducted over the years, with experts unable to distinguish between a Stradivarius and other high quality violins. In one interesting test, the clear winner was a modern violin in which the wood had been treated with fungus.

Spruce treated with the fungus Physiporinus vitrius was used for the front of this violin, and sycamore treated with with Xylaria longipes was used for the back. These fungi are known for breaking down the cell walls within the wood, but leaving the structural compounds between the cells intact. This makes the wood less dense but just as strong. Because of the way these particular fungi selectively break down the wood, they decrease the variation in its density. This is a different means to the same end, of making the wood more uniform.

Other methods have been tried over the years for making the density of wood more uniform, although it is not believed that Stradivari used these methods. They include soaking the wood in water ("ponding") and boiling it ("stewing"). Ponding may inadvertently use microorganisms in the pond that work in a similar manner to the fungi described above. The common practice of air drying wood before using it also increases its uniformity.

After all is said and done, there is one thing everyone can agree on - the beautiful music created by the violinist would not be possible without the beautiful, majestic trees.


  1. It's no surprise that the quality of wood would affect the quality of a violin (or guitar or other similar instrument), but this detail on the Little Ice Age trees is fascinating!

    You commented on my blog that you and your wife are planning a trip to Europe... good luck! It's a Salomonic choice what to see and what to leave out! My advice is avoid the temptation of trying to take in too much 'cause people who do that inevitably feel rushed, exhausted and often frustrated at all the things they didn't get to see! Spend at least a couple of nights in each stop! Where are you thinking of going? I might be able to give you some advice...

  2. We are planning on going to Italy. Since it is our first time and neither of us speaks the language, we are planning on taking an organized tour. We are still in the early planning stages, but we have heard good things so far about Tauck Tours.

  3. I'm not a fan of the organised tours... but I must admit they help avoid a lot of the headaches and hassle when travelling to a place you have no idea about and can't speak the language!

    Just be sure not to choose one that will rush you around to visit all the "must sees" or you'll spend the trip stressed out and not being able to enjoy what you do see! Be sure to start by accepting the fact there's no way you can see everything... and have fun! :o)

  4. Implement you intend to beginning meditate and additionally better your present health and additionally louis vuitton replica sale any spirituality? Advantages for choosing about awesome why to employ deep breathing, and additionally when you begin to try deep breathing techniques on a normal schedule, web page beginning look and feel a portion of the fantastic many benefits by means of deep breathing. As soon as you meditate fake louis vuitton outlet, you will will quickly look and feel hassle freer and better located at calm. Small to medium sized what may in general infuriate you will won't experience which usually equal impinge on with you, and will also be willing to look and feel grounded and additionally depending in daytime. Practising Deep breathing is normally fake louis vuitton sale willing to reduce pulse and additionally hold anxiety after awhile, all of which educate you on to completely settle back nonetheless your head. Deep breathing allows you to center and additionally aids you with to concentrate just for more lengthy durations relating to a single problem without having to be fake chanel bags. Deep breathing equally for you to into your faith based succeed and additionally causes it to quite a bit easier for one to experience help and advice within your More significant Sub-conscious and additionally instinct. Here are a few smart idea which usually you could get started in any put into practice still don't know you'll be able to fake chanel bags, you need ponder what you dream about to attempt within your deep breathing succeed.

  5. Over the years there have been many different Michael Kors Outlet Store launched with some being more successful than others. Even the Michael Kors Outlet that did not reach the dizzying heights of success as some of Michael Kors's best sellers were still very, very well made leather handbags. One such Michael Kors Outlet Store Online that became a fashion icon was the Michael Kors Wristlet Sale.
    If you want to get more information,click here!

  6. Coach Outlet Online Clearance was the bamboo handle that was used on all of their Coach Factory Outlet Online to give it a distinction from all others. In fact, look at all other handbags to make sure that the style of the Coach Handbags Outlet Sale that you want to purchase is something that you will like. Never purchase Official Coach Factory Outlet Online based upon its namebrand recognition unless you truly do like the quality and style of the item.

    Tags:Coach Bags On Sale At Outlet | Coach Factory Online Sale Invitation | Coach Outlet Online Clearance

    Before purchasing Michael Kors Factory Outlet Online Store At Wholesale Price, it is important to have a mindset that allows you to find the right Michael Kors Factory because it is right for you. Any designer Michael Kors Factory Outlet Online, even a Discount Michael Kors Handbags, can make or break your image based upon your own personality and personal wardrobe. If you are looking for more information on Michael Kors,click here.

    Tags: Michael Kors Factory Outlet | Michael Kors Clearance Bags | Michael Kors Store Locator

  7. Both things are possible if you carry Michael Kors Handbags Wholesale. If you are a woman who goes for innovative designs, a designer Michael Kors Bags On Sale is perfect for you. Offering a huge selection of chic purses, handbags, shoes and accessories, Michael Kors Outlet Online Store celebrates womanhood in an entirely unique way. Michael Kors Factory Outlet Online Store At Wholesale Price are one of the most sought-after handbags worldwide. We all agree that diamonds are a woman's best friend; however Official Coach Factory Outlet Online are absolutely next in line. To Coach Outlet Sale aficionados, don't fret because we have great news: a discount Official Coach Outlet Online isn't hard to find. If you are a smart shopper looking for a good buy and great deals on your next handbag purchase, you can go to Official Coach Outlet Online.

    Friendly Links: Toms Shoes Womens | Toms Clearance

  8. نقل عفش من جدة الى الطائف نقل عفش من جدة الى الطائف
    نقل عفش من المدينة المنورة الى جدة نقل عفش من المدينة المنورة الى جدة

  9. Jordan Black Backpack, RecruitingBryan McClendon, reported new Oregon Ducks WR coach, adds another elite recruiter to staff: AnalysisUpdated Apr 17, 2020; Posted Apr 17, 2020Georgia football interim head coach Bryan McClendon speaks at a press conference Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Athens, Ga. A coaching change at Georgia has left McClendon with a smaller staff as practice begins Wednesday for the TaxSlayer Bowl game against Penn State.

    The longest anyone's been away since then is two to three weeks. {tag: Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Cream White Real Vs Fake}Even if we do return to normal public life again, this project may continue to serve as a useful collection of musicians based here. {tag: Yeezy V2 Black White}

    Trump floats treating coronavirus patients with light and disinfectantsAt an unusually contentious briefing Thursday of the coronavirus task force, President Trump floated the idea that people infected with COVID 19 might be treated using injections of disinfectant and applications of ultraviolet light. Trump brought up those theories in the context of a presentation by William Bryan, a scientist at the Department of Homeland Security, about research indicating that the virus can be killed on surfaces and in aerosols by heat, humidity, sunlight and disinfectants, specifically bleach and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Adm. {tag: Real Vs Fake White Yeezy}

    Once you arrive in Ghana or Nigeria, the shopper will meet you at the airport. Once the transaction is complete, you receive 70 percent of whatever Shypmate made. (Side note: my jaw dropped when Ogwuche told me this because when I went to Ghana and Nigeria last August, I spent about $1,000 on flights. {tag: White Cream Yeezy}

    Air Jordan Retro 11 Black Red Footaction Restock, 1. In my experience, I've had the best results with starting a sourdough starter with organic wholemeal flour and then switching to unbleached organic plain flour for feeding until it is established. Once mature, you can then just switch to regular plain flour or bread flour for feeding, or even occasionally feed it with wholemeal flour again to add a little 'nuttiness' to its flavour..

  10. The latest trend in Coach Outlet Online is to purchase them secondhand.
    Today, buying Michael Kors Bags Outlet is looked upon as a smart choice.
    Because Michael Kors Purse Outlet are crafted of the finest material, they are known to last for many years, making them the perfect purchase.
    Some women are fanatical about changing their Coach Outlet Store Online or their style every few months, making it necessary to periodically clean out their wardrobe.
    Other women buy a MK Outlet for one specific occasion and some women just make a habit of buying a lot of purses.
    The trends are changing today; more and more people are buying classic shoes, including designer Cheap Real Yeezys.
    If your dream has always been to own a Cheap Yeezys, it is possible just by finding a store and click here.
    Coach Bags Clearance are pursued by many famous characters.
    Coach Bags Outlet in different styles and different colors are in different leathers.
    Next time, I will share some knowledge about how to maintain the bags in different material.