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The Science and Technology of Music


Research Project: Perception of string instrument quality

Back to Research Field: Music Perception and Cognition

Perception of string instrument quality

  Research Project Information
Runtime: Jan 03, 2010 until Dec 30, 2012
Project coordination: Gary Scavone
Scientific staff: Luc Mongeau; Gary Scavone

This research focuses on perceptual aspects of violin quality and how these correlate tomeasurable acoustical properties. The sound quality of a violin depends upon a number of different, often subtle factors. Most of them are acoustical, referring to the way the instrument vibrates and radiates sound. However, there are non-acoustical factors that relate to the way the instrument "responds" to the actions of the player. There is an extensive volume of published scientific research on quality evaluation of violins, but most has traditionally focused on the characterization of the acoustical factors and ignored the player's perspective. The instrument response is related to the feedback from the violin body to the string and its influence on the overall behavior of the instrument. How does the player "feel" the instrument? This is a critical aspect that has only recently been considered essential in developing an understanding of what distinguishes "good" and "bad" instruments.