The Science of String Instruments

The Science of String Instruments

Language: English

Pages: 470

ISBN: 1441971092

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Thomas D. Rossing String instruments are found in almost all musical cultures. Bowed string instruments form the backbone of symphony orchestras, and they are used widely as solo inst- ments and in chamber music as well. Guitars are used universally in pop music as well as in classical music. The piano is probably the most versatile of all musical inst- ments, used widely not only in ensemble with other musical instruments but also as a solo instrument and to accompany solo instruments and the human voice. In this book, various authors will discuss the science of plucked, bowed, and hammered string instruments as well as their electronic counterparts. We have tried to tell the fascinating story of scienti?c research with a minimum of mathematics to maximize the usefulness of the book to performers and instrument builders as well as to students and researchers in musical acoustics. Sometimes, however, it is dif?cult to “translate” ideas from the exact mathematical language of science into words alone, so we include some basic mathematical equations to express these ideas. It is impossible to discuss all families of string instruments. Some instruments have been researched much more than others. Hopefully, the discussions in this book will help to encourage further scienti?c research by both musicians and scientists alike. 1.1 A Brief History of the Science of String Instruments Quite a number of good histories of acoustics have been written (Lindsay 1966, 1973; Hunt 1992; Beyer 1999), and these histories include musical acoustics.

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circles and in the Renaissance period, although initially it was restricted to noblemen in court circles. Later, its use became more popular, and references have been found to citterns O. Inacio (*) ESMAE, Rua da Alegria, 503, Porto 4000-045, Portugal e-mail: OctavioInacio@ESMAE-IPP.PT T.D. Rossing (ed.), The Science of String Instruments, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-7110-4_4, # Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010 47 48 O. Inacio being played in the theater as well as in taverns and

strings in four double courses. With the exception of the mandobass, the courses are tuned in intervals of fifths, as are the strings in violin family instruments. The soprano member of the family is the mandolin, tuned G3-D4-A4-E5. The alto member of the family is the mandola, tuned C3-G3-D4-A4. The mandola is usually referred to simply as the mandola in the USA, but is called the tenor mandola in Europe. The tenor member of the family is the octave mandolin, tuned G2-D3-A3-E4. It is referred to

(2006) Die vollst€anding erhaltene Leier des 6. Jahrhunderts aus Grab 58 von Trossingen Lkdr. Tuttlingen, Baden-W€ urttemberg, Germania 84, 93–142. Thompson, L.K. (2004) My Kantele Is My Teacher: Basic Info and Instruction for 5/10 String Kanteles. Brass Window, Stoneham, ME. V€alim€aki, V., Huopaniemi, J., Karjalainen, M., and Ja´nosy, Z. (2002) Physical modeling of plucked string instruments with application to real-time sound synthesis, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 44, 331–353. von

the impact point of the tangent, and the bridge, while the “sounding length” is just that from the impact point of the tangent to the bridge. 8 Harpsichord and Clavichord 8.3.2 139 String Excitation in the Clavichord The action of a clavichord is very different from that of a harpsichord, although the key lever is mounted on a pinned balance rail just as shown in Fig. 8.2. Each key lever has near its distal end a “tangent” made from a thin brass plate and so arranged that it strikes a pair

hands. 9.3 9.3.1 Strings History Over the centuries, strings have been made from the strongest filaments available. In the past, copper, bronze, brass, horsehair, silk, and gut have been used (Firth 1988). Of these traditional materials, only gut remains in common use, mostly for 9 Harp 151 the midrange of concert harps. Nylon is stronger than gut, and can be made more uniformly, and so it is almost ubiquitous for the higher strings. For the lowest strings, steel is favored, sheathed with

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