Still, there are traditions, and the fact Stradivarius instruments are renowned for their sound (even if blind tests and acoustical analysis has found no significant differences between Strads and instruments of comparable quality). For years scientists and luthiers have speculated on what exactly makes a Stradivarius sound like a Stradivarius. The wood has a special resonance, but theories have also bubbled up about the varnish used, or the effect that imperfections and modifications can have on a violin’s sound. A few years ago a radiologist in Minnesota decided to run one from 1704 through a CT scan to find out more about the instrument’s anatomy. Each was, like people, unique.

Musical instruments are one of those things that, at first glance, seem pretty simple, but get more and more complicated the further you look. Every aspect of the instrument changes the way it resonates, and thus adds something new to the sound. It’s a fascinating field, and I’m glad to see that it’s keeping up with the times.

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