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The Science of Violin Sound
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BaldBeardedViolinist
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February 17, 2015 - 11:54 am
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I found an interesting article about (as the title says) the science of violin sound.

http://www.techtimes.com/artic.....iolins.htm

Cool stuff. I wonder if this could motivate someone to experiment with some older/cheaper violins' holes to see if they could make the sound any better, or at least different. Maybe take a small file to the f holes and re-shape them.

"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be."

~Marcel Pagnol

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rockinglr33
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February 18, 2015 - 5:16 am
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That is a very interesting topic! that would be a very fun experiment on some violins to see how adjusting the F holes makes the violins sound change :D It possibly explains why a lot of players, when faced unkowinly against the old violins and todays new violins, choose the newer violins? a curious thing to explore! 

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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kylesito
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February 18, 2015 - 8:14 am
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This is an interesting discussion...

 

I also heard that the reason Stradivarius and Guarneri instruments sound so well also has to do with the age of forest the wood they used was cut from.  Something about second generation growth.  I'll see if I can find the article I got this from.  What was most interesting to me though was the comparison to the forests we are cutting from now being very similar.  So it's possible we are entering a new golden age of string instrument making!

 

But one point from the article specifically...it mentions that sound quality is a function of the perimeter dimension of the f hole along with its narrow dimension.  But it doesn't address why the f shape itself is important.  If it truly is a function of these two things, a more efficient shape might be a zig zag - maximized perimeter and you can vary the width of it as it goes.  Perhaps the f hole shape was done not just to maximize the physical properties which boost sound but also because it was the most aesthetically pleasing option available as well!  

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BaldBeardedViolinist
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February 18, 2015 - 10:21 am
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It might have something to do with the general shape of the sound waves, or the specific range of sound waves that are wanted (and maybe cutting out some that we don't want?).

It would be fun to have a lab with a bunch of violins with all different shapes, or being able to change and test the same shapes at different lengths and widths. thumbs-up

"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be."

~Marcel Pagnol

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Tyberius
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February 18, 2015 - 4:58 pm
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There's more to the sound output then just the shape. A lot of the sound wave "shape" is governed by the instrument shape. Moreso, it has to do the the transfer of energy through the bridge to the connection points of the bridge to belly, down the sound post and across the bass bar. The mechanical energy of the oscillating strings use the bridge as a transducer to wave energy. The sound emanating through the instrument is constricted by the wood grain, the direction of the grain and blemishes. It also is affected by how well the bass bar and sound post connect to the violin surface. Chladni testing shows wave form on the plate and is a good indication of what to expect out of your instrument when compared to "comparable" patterned instruments.

Also remember the belly and back are not a straight plain. They are contoured and some instruments are kind of "bulbous" in shape. There's Afterlength of the strings - from the bridge to the tail piece, and even the tail piece itself can induce an interference if not set properly.

The F-holes are in a huge range of what is used. I have 4 acoustics and all 4 have distinctly different F-holes. It is proven that sound clarity and intensity is a direct factor of the size and position of the F hole. By adjusting the F-hole, you more then likely will be deterring a positive sound output. Not to say don't try mind you, but I would be doing it on a $3500+ Master violin  It would be easier on a cheaper violin to use frog tape or a really non-adhesive tape and slowly cover the f holes. its not so permanent.  ;)

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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BaldBeardedViolinist
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February 19, 2015 - 12:51 pm
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haha, yea. I think testing that on really good violins would be much more cringe-worthy to watch than those smartphone drop tests. ;-)

Maybe if I hit the lottery I would destroy some of the higher-end violins, for science. devil

"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be."

~Marcel Pagnol

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Uzi
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February 19, 2015 - 2:57 pm
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My humble opinion is that either the author did not understand the study (the most likely case) or that MIT is not producing very good students.  While it's likely true that longer F holes produce more sound than shorter ones of the same width, I don't buy for a second that F holes produce more volume than a big round hole in the middle.  Go to a guitar store and pick up any round holed acoustic guitar and compare its output to an acoustic F-hole guitar and tell me which is louder. 

I'm not arguing for a big hole in the middle of violins, I'm just saying there's a lot more to violin volume and tone than the length of F-holes.  I would say that it's pretty clear that f-holes were an artistic, aesthetically pleasing and clever way to maximize hole size and/or hole perimeter, within the limited length of the body of the instrument, while at the same time leaving as much vibrating spruce in place as possible.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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MrYikes
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February 19, 2015 - 4:12 pm
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You guys are too scientific.  I just stuffed kleenex in both f holes.  The volume went from about 65 down to 55 or 50 db.  Of course you know that I'm just guessing on the numbers, but it gives you an idea of the reduction of volume.  I couldn't tell a difference in sound though.

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