Imprimir Republish


Modern violins beat Stradivarius

Wikimedia Commons Orchestra soloists preferred the sound of present-day instruments to that of ones made in the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the StradivariusWikimedia Commons

Old Italian violins like the Stradivarius are extremely expensive and are considered to be the best in the world. Crafted by artisans in the 17th and 18th centuries, these violins are said to produce more precise notes and to achieve tones that cannot be reproduced by modern instruments. A study by American violin maker Joseph Curtin and acoustic engineer Claudia Fritz of Pierre and Marie Curie University in France has put this entrenched perception to the test (PNAS, April 8, 2017). In blind tests involving eight violinists and 140 experienced listeners in concert halls in Paris and New York, they compared the sound quality of the Stradivarius with that of present-day violins. The instruments were played with and without an orchestra by blindfolded soloists who were hidden behind an acoustic screen. Most of the musicians were unable to tell whether they had played a new instrument or an old one, but they preferred the modern violins to the Stradivarius. And the listeners in the audience—musicians, music critics, violin makers and acoustic engineers—were unable to distinguish the sounds produced by the different instruments.