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Surprising Science

New Fungus-Infected Violin Sounds Like a Stradivarius

A scientist has created a new process for treating wood with fungus that allows new violins to sound like Stradivari.

What’s the Latest Development?


The sound and quality of a Stradivarius violin make it one of the most sought after instruments in the world. But what if there was a way to replicate the tonal quality of a Stradivarius? Francis Schwarze, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, was doing research on the acoustic properties of wood effected by fungus. While most fungi leave wood soft and reduce the ability for wood to carry sound, he found that some types of fungi did not slow sound. “Moreover, the acoustic properties of wood so affected seem to be just what violin-makers desire. So Dr Schwarze had some violins made from the infected wood and discovered that they sounded like a Stradivarius.”

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What’s the Big Idea?

Instrument makers have tried and failed to replicate the qualities of a Stradivarius for 300 years. Now Dr Schwarze has created a treatment process that makes wood infected with specific fungi, which he calls “mycowood,” mimic the acoustic qualities of a Strad. While there is much speculation on what exactly makes a Stradivarius sound like it does, these violins aren’t so mysterious, and yet, they both emit the same sought after warm and mellow tones.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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