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Give Me An 'A': Violins Can Mimic The Human Voice, Texas A&M Prof Says

"I analyzed her sound samples by computer for harmonic content and then using state-of-the art phonetic analysis to obtain a 2-D map of the female soprano vowels. Each note of a musical scale on the violin underwent the same analysis, and the results were plotted and mapped against the soprano vowels."

Nagyvary's 25 years of research on the project proved that the sounds of Pulley's voice and the violin's could be located on the same map for identification purposes, and their respective graphic images can be directly compared.

His discoveries are significant for two reasons.

"For 400 years, violin prices have been based almost exclusively on the reputation of the maker – the label inside of the violin determined the price tag," Nagyvary says. "The sound quality rarely entered into price consideration because it was deemed inaccessible.  These findings could change how violins may be valued."

The new graphic images of the violin sound could also become an asset in teaching students to improve the quality of their tone production, he adds.

He says that in recent years, the violins of Guarneri del Gesu have surpassed those made by Stradivari: certain Guarneri violins now sell for something between $10 million to $20 million each.

Nagyvary was the first to prove that Stradivari and Guarneri soaked their instruments in chemicals such as borax and brine to protect them from a worm infestation that was sweeping through Italy in the 1700s.  By pure accident, the chemicals used to protect the wood had the unintended result of producing the unique sounds that have been almost impossible to duplicate in the past 400 years, and his findings were supported and verified by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific organization.

The retired Texas A&M professor has himself made violins that included  carefully crafted woods soaked in a variety of chemicals.

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SOURCE Texas A&M University

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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