ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

1eID1. Violin acoustics.

Gabriel Weinreich

Randall Lab. of Phys., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1120

The almost magical sound of a well-played violin, whose expressive capacity approaches that of a human voice while its technical possibilities far exceed it, has always excited the intellectual curiosity of people who cannot resist asking: ``How in the world is it done?'' In fact, although developed primarily by trial and error, the violin represents a surprisingly complex piece of machinery, some of whose detailed workings are only now beginning to yield to scientific investigation. This talk will outline, on a popular nontechnical level, the present understanding of the physical mechanisms that operate when a violin is played, commenting also on important aspects that are not yet understood. [Work partially supported by NSF.]