Listener evaluations of new and Old Italian violins

Listener evaluations of new and Old Italian violins

By Claudia Fritz, Joseph Curtin, Jacques Poitevineau, Fan-Chia Tao, PNAS, May 2017

In the fall of 2012, ten violin soloists blind-tested six new violins and six Old Italians (including five by Stradivari) in a hall on the outskirts of Paris. This paper, the second based on the Paris study to appear in PNAS, explores projection and listener preference.  ...Read more


The Indianapolis Experiment

By Joseph Curtin, The Strad, November 2012

Two years before Guadagnini’s death in 1786, King Louis XVI of France appointed a committee directed by Benjamin Franklin to investigate Franz Mesmer’s claims for the healing powers of “animal magnetism,” then being used to treat Marie Antoinette.  “Mesmerists” were asked to identify trees, flasks of water, and other objects previously ...Read more


The Sound of Science : Developing the digital violin

By Joseph Curtin, Strings Magazine, April 2008

AT SIX O’CLOCK ON WEEKDAY MORNINGS, I drive to Portofino Coffee, a family-owned café on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan. There I plug in my laptop and order a pot of tea and a cranberry muffin. For many years, I’ve given myself two hours a day to write. Thanks ...Read more


Double Acts

By Nick Shave, The Strad, Dec. 2007

In 1984 Gregg Alf and I visited Ann Arbor, Michigan, with thoughts of setting up shop there. A University of Michigan professor took us to the laboratory of his colleague Gabriel Weinreich, a physicist who was researching violin acoustics. I’d only recently become interested in the subject, and I had ...Read more


Building Ultralight Violins

By Joseph Curtin, VSA, Fall 2007

Before talking about the possibilities for building ultra-light violins, we should first ask: Why would anyone want to build a lighter violin? I remember my teacher Otto Erdesz saying, “I don’t like light violins. They’re like light cameras – they feel cheap.” He was probably only half serious. He often ...Read more


Bridge Tuning: Methods and Equipment

By Joseph Curtin, VSA Papers, Summer 2005

Violinmakers know that tiny changes to an instrument’s bridge can make large differences to its sound. In recent decades, researchers – especially Erik Jansson – have shown the importance of the bridge to the violin’s treble response. They have focused mainly on the bridge’s lowest in-plane resonance and the extent ...Read more


Gabriel Weinreich and Directional Tone Color

By Joseph Curtin, The Strad, April 2000

“When I say I study violin acoustics, ” says Gabriel Weinreich, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan and pre-eminent figure in the world of musical acoustics, “people ask me if I’ve found the ‘Secret of Stradivari’. Well, I suppose it was the instrument’s mystique that drew me to it ...Read more


Innovation in Violinmaking

By Joseph Curtin, Proceedings, International Symposium of Musical Acoustics (ISMA), July 1998

Abstract: The violin is a cultural icon as well as a working tool, and departures from its traditional form have been variously regarded as impossible (it would no longer be a violin), unnecessary (the violin is already perfect), and unacceptable (players would not play it). Is it possible to change, ...Read more


The Violin’s Genius and Mystery : Nation's top maker discusses the science of his craft

By Bill Dietrich, The Seattle Times, March 12, 1995

In an age of constant computer upgrades, annual car restylings and gimmick gadgets, the violin is an invention that has persisted almost unchanged for more than 300 years. Assembled from up to 108 individual pieces of wood plus hide glue, sheep gut for strings and a horse-hair bow coated with ...Read more