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HAPPENED TODAY - On April 21, 1951, the cellist and composer Aleksandr Krein died in Moscow

The physics of musical instruments

Over the centuries, many musicians, luthiers and scientists have questioned the report on the characteristics of an instrument and the characteristics of the sound produced by this instrument.

The central object of their study has always been the relationship between the empirically perceived sound as “beautiful” and the mechanism for generating such sound. The aim of the research is to find ways to determine in advance the characteristics of an instrument capable of producing the most perfect sound possible. The variables that are normally taken into consideration are the characteristics of the materials used for the construction of the instrument, the shapes and the thicknesses of the various parts involved in the generation of sound (sound box, soundboard, bridge, bow, string) and the mode used to vibrate these parts (pinched or rubbed strings).

In the last seventy years, numerous experiments have been conducted that have led scholars to a more precise knowledge of the topic and have opened the way to new questions. The study of the behavior of the individual parts that make up stringed instruments has been almost entirely completed, but it is not possible to predict precisely how a finished instrument will behave, because the coupling mechanisms of the resonances of the various pieces are not completely clear.

In her beautiful graduation thesis, discussed at the University of Padua and available online, Silvia Maria Macrì, offers many interesting ideas for those interested in learning more about the topic. In fact, it examines the individual parts of stringed instruments, illustrates their behavior in the mechanism of production and transmission of sound and finally presents the result of the most interesting studies of the studies already carried out and of the research lines of the studies in progress.

A pleasant and interesting reading.