Navigation Links
On the road to creating an affordable master instrument
Date:12/9/2011

What talented young violinist has not dreamt of playing on a Stradivarius, that non plus ultra of the violin-maker's art? Unfortunately, of course, these instruments are rare, and well beyond the budget of most musicians. "Imitations" of similar tonal quality are therefore very sought-after, and the Empa researcher Francis Schwarze has managed to achieve this feat with the help of a Swiss violin maker. By treating the wood with Physisporinus vitreus, a white-rot fungus which attacks and destroys certain structures in spruce, he was able to create a material with extraordinarily good tonal qualities. So good in fact that the new "fungus violin" put its own role model in the shade. At a specialist conference in 2009 two of the new instruments were compared in a blind test to a Stradivarius and both the jury of experts and the conference audience judged their sound to better than that of the violin made by the Italian Master of Cremona.

Schwarze now intends to develop a standardized biotechnological process so that sufficient fungally-treated wood can be produced to make instruments in respectable numbers. This is the only way that would allow an industrial partner interested in the technology to manufacture the violins on a quasi-"mass-produced" basis. In order to create the necessary bridge between science and industry it is vital to develop technologies which offer potential partners significant commercial advantages. In this case this means standardizing the wood treatment parameters to such an extent that a specific tonal quality can be guaranteed. This is not an easy task to accomplish with a material such as wood which is subject to natural fluctuations in quality.

Generous support from the Walter Fischli Foundation

In the Walter Fischli Foundation the Empa scientist has found financial support which will enable the "fungal violin" project continue. Explaining why he decided to provide funding for Schwarze's work, Walter Fischli, who is co-founder of the biomedical company Actelion and an enthusiastic hobby violinist, says "In my opinion it would have been unforgivable to allow such an interesting project one that so ideally links science and the art of violin making to wither for lack of funding." Fischli hopes that the Empa specialists will finally uncover the secret of why violin makers such as Stradivarius and Guarnerius managed to make instruments of such fantastic quality around 1700. Their craftsmanship is, of course, one decisive and undisputed factor but it seems that the wood they used also played a vital role. "Using modern science to explain the technical details of the material properties is something I find enormously interesting," says Fischli.

Developing a standard wood treatment process in an interdisciplinary way

The project, which commenced at the beginning of September and will run for three years, is led by Iris Brmaud, a specialist in the field of tonal woods. The French scientist is responsible for ensuring that the treatment with the white rot fungi P. vitreus and Xylaria longipes optimally "ennobles" samples of spruce and maple woods. In addition she is already in contact with Michael Baumgartner, the renowned instrument maker from Basel. Under his guidance the "fungus violins" using the treated wood will be created.

Before Empa can take delivery of the first violin, however, numerous tests on both treated and untreated wood samples must be carried out. Experts are currently systematically measuring the density of the wood, the speed of sound in it and its acoustic attenuation. Specialists in the field of ultrasonics are developing methods to determine where the fungus was active and where not. Other scientists expert in optical measurement techniques are using their specialist methods to create images showing how sound is radiated by the different woods and also complete instruments. The final steps should involve collaborations with specialists of psychoacoustics to understand how musicians and listeners perceive these "mushroom violins."


'/>"/>
Contact: Prof. Dr. Francis Schwarze
francis.schwarze@empa.ch
41-587-657-247
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Better beer: College team creating anticancer brew
2. Argonne scientists discover possible mechanism for creating handedness in biological molecules
3. Creating ideal neural cells for clinical use
4. Marine microbes creating green waves in industry
5. Marine microbes creating green waves in industry
6. Stimulus-funded university research addressing issues from climate change to cancer, creating jobs and training a new generation of scientists
7. Melting tundra creating vast river of waste into Arctic Ocean
8. Scientists are first to unlock the mystery of creating cultured pearls from the queen conch
9. Forest deal at Copenhagen must avoid creating carbon refugees
10. VAI researchers find long awaited key to creating drought resistant crops
11. Creating a dream breed
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
On the road to creating an affordable master instrument
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... to integrate the Onegini mobile security platform with ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The integration will ... to access and transact across channels. Using this ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 15, 2016  A new partnership announced today ... underwriting decisions in a fraction of the time ... and high-value life insurance policies to consumers without ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and ... (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... -- IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in Central ... in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with higi. ... patients can routinely track key health measurements, such as ... when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER clinicians ... retail location at no cost. By leveraging this data, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes ... through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes ... cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other ... and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the ... increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in developing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Cancer ... what they believe could be a new and helpful biomarker for malignant pleural ... Click here to read it now. , Biomarkers are components in the ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. ... the faculty of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ... entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt and ... Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian ... to the country,s inflation target, which is set by both ... "In certain areas there needs to be ... why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
Breaking Biology Technology: