Saving the Sound of Stradivarius

Saving the Sound of Stradivarius Instruments



A very interesting project is taking place in Cremona, Italy this month. (As we speak!)

Cremona was and still is home to some of the best violin makers. As you might guess, Stradivarius’ shop was in Cremona. And Cremona is also home to the Museo del Violino, where there is a collection of Stradivarius instruments.

But the instruments are aging (they date from the 1600’s.)  And this aging is changing their sound and thus the world is losing the opportunity to hear their unique sound. So a plan was hatched to record the sounds of four of these instruments, creating the “Stradivarius Sound Bank”.  This will be a  “database storing all the possible tones that four instruments selected from the Museo del Violino’s collection can produce.” (

What makes this story interesting to the Noise Curmudgeon?

NOISE!  Apparently the part of Cremona where the museum is located is very noisy. And because the museum won’t let the instruments out of the building,  the recording has to take place in the museum.

“The streets around the auditorium are all made of cobblestone, an auditory nightmare,” Mr. Tedeschi said. The sound of a car engine, or a woman walking in high heels, produces vibrations that run underground and reverberate in the microphones, making the recording worthless, he explained. “It was either shutting down the entire area or having the project not seeing the light of day,” Mr. Tedeschi said. (

So the city has cordoned off the streets, turned off the ventilation system, shut down the elevators, even taken the light bulbs out of their sockets.  And asked people in the neighbourhood to keep it down. The article starts with a story of a barista dropping and smashing a glass in a nearby cafe.  Read the article to find out what effect this had.

Here is the New York Times article for your perusal.

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