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Offlinepftek
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FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins.
    #11165633 - 10/01/09 08:54 PM (8 years, 22 days ago)

We can be quite sure that the British violinist Matthew Trusler had never bowed his strings at a forest husbandry conference before — or that he had played his 1711 Stradivarius to such a bemused audience.

Still, it was all in a good scientific cause. Trusler attended the conference in Osnabrück, Germany, to take part in an experiment comparing a Stradivarius with modern instruments.

The result? The celebrated violin, worth a seven-figure sum, was trounced in a blind play-off by a modern instrument costing only $25,000.

Of 180 “blind” listeners who enjoyed Trusler’s efforts with five different violins — his own Strad, plus four modern instruments — 113 mistook the same modern instrument for the Strad, with 90 claiming that it offered the most pleasing aural experience.

The instrument, called Opus 58, had been treated with a fungus; the other modern versions were variously constructed of treated and untreated wood. Only 39 people correctly identified the Stradivarius.

The experiment is likely to cause reverberations in the music world, which has long lionised instruments created by Antonio Stradivari and other craftsmen in their workshops in Cremona, northern Italy. Research has suggested that these instruments derive their superior sound quality from a quirk of planetary history: the wood used to produce them grew during a little ice age called the Maunder Minimum, which slowed down tree growth, narrowed the space between rings, and made the wood more uniform.

The Maunder Minimum lasted for a century from about 1650; Stradivari lived through most of this period, producing more than a thousand instruments, of which about 700 survive.

The coincidence of climate and craftmanship would leave its imprint on the world’s auction houses centuries later. In 2006, a Strad called the Hammer sold for $3.5 million at Christie’s, New York.

Perhaps the most famous example of Stradivari’s handiwork is the Messiah, which lies, pristine and untouched, in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It was bequeathed on the heartbreaking condition that it remain unplayed, and is still one of the most valuable of Stradivari’s creations.

The violin showdown was the result of work by Professor Francis Schwarze, of the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research, who thought he could replicate the effects of a cold climate by using fungi. He impregnated Norwegian spruce wood with the fungus Physiporinus vitrius and sycamore with Xylaria longipes.

It was almost like sending the wood back to an ice age: the density of the wood evened out, while other factors, such as elasticity, remained unaffected.

Schwarze then asked Michael Rhonheimer, a Swiss violin-maker, to craft two instruments out of the treated wood and two out of untreated wood. Then came the play-off with Trusler, in which the Strad was beaten into second place by the “biotech violin” — Cremona’s most famous artisan outdone by a scientist and his fungi.

It is quite possible, though, that the Italian master will have the last laugh: the fungi used by the professor nibbles away at the wood to reduce differences in density, and the same process might eventually cause it to disintegrate.

Still, many are hailing the fungus violin as a revolution in classical music. “In the future, even talented young musicians will be able to afford a violin with the same tonal quality as an impossibly expensive Stradivarius,” said Horst Heger, an impressed observer.

Even Trusler can’t quite seem to believe the result. “When I played them, I had no idea which of the modern violins were treated with the special fungus and which weren’t,” he said.

“But, honestly, a Strad is a Strad. At least, that’s what I think.” A sentiment that the auction houses will find reassuring.


http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6848937.ece


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Offlinedanlennon3
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: pftek]
    #11165659 - 10/01/09 08:58 PM (8 years, 22 days ago)

nice article:thumbup:


--------------------
"Psychedelics should be used not to escape reality, but to embrace it"



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InvisibleTacticalBongRip
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: pftek]
    #11167118 - 10/02/09 01:10 AM (8 years, 22 days ago)

sweet article.


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OfflineTwiztidsage
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: TacticalBongRip]
    #11167922 - 10/02/09 04:04 AM (8 years, 22 days ago)

Very cool.


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InvisibleMisterMuscaria
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: pftek]
    #11168591 - 10/02/09 09:48 AM (8 years, 22 days ago)

Should I inoculate my cheap Stradivarius replica?


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Offlinepftek
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: MisterMuscaria]
    #11168760 - 10/02/09 10:48 AM (8 years, 22 days ago)

Quote:

MisterMuscaria said:
Should I inoculate my cheap Stradivarius replica?




haha. i read another article earlier that really got technical on the whole process. cant find it though.


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OfflineApJunkie
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Re: FUNGI are the WORLD'S BEST VIOLINS! Beats rare $2 million violins. [Re: pftek]
    #11168824 - 10/02/09 11:11 AM (8 years, 22 days ago)

the "most pleasing aural experience" is so subjective that this story is almost silly. I'm sure professional concert violinists would still prefer the strad just because of the history, and while it's sound might not be as "rich" or what have you, it's still going to be so distinctive that it's literally the gold standard for violins.


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