Department of Physics, NCU
The sweet sound of Stradivari violins: Fact or Fiction
Prof. Hwan-Ching Tai (戴桓青)
Department of Chemistry, NTU
For over two centuries, top violinists and collectors have universally praised the works of two violin makers for creating the best sounding violins in human history. These two makers, Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesu” (1698-1744) were neighbors in the Italian town of Cremona. The violin itself was invented in Cremona by Andrea Amati around 1550, and hence it was believed that makers in this town possessed “lost secrets” which allowed them to make superior violins.
However, in recent studies, some scientists have challenged the notion that Stradivari violins possess unique tonal qualities. But our own data, in collaboration with Chi Mei Museum in Taiwan, suggest that Stradivari violins show different resonance properties from other good violins. In this talk we will discuss the history of acoustic research on Stradivari violins and the latest development. How to measure violins and how to analyze the sound have always been contentious issues, and surprisingly little research using has been conducted. We will also discuss evidence that reveals special material technologies used by Stradivari, which may be underlying reason for their unique sound.