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Tapping a violin's vibrations.

"For years, we've dreamed of being able to see and to understand exactly how a violin moves," says violin maker and researcher Carleen M. Hutchins of the Catgut Acoustical Society in Montclair, N.J. Now, computer-based techniques like "modal analysis" are bringing this goal closer.

In his experiments, Kenneth D. Marshall of the BFGoodrich Research and Development Center in Brecksville, Ohio, using a miniature hammer that measures force, lightly taps the surface of a violin at more than 200 locations to excite its natural vibrations. An accelerometer attached to the violin's top plate measures its motion, and a computer compiles the data.

Recently, Marshall used this technique to get a "first look" at how the presence of a musician alters the vibrational behavior of a violin. The results show that a violin vibrates less strongly when held by the player than when suspended by rubber bands (a method used in the past for studying violin sounds). "At times the difference can be enormous," he says.
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Title Annotation:acoustical research
Publication:Science News
Date:May 11, 1985
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