Air accelerates quickly through long, narrow openings, powering instrument’s lowest notes
Takeshi Kuboki/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
How a violin’s f-holes are shaped can influence the instrument’s lowest notes.
MIT scientists, along with a Boston-based violin maker, analyzed how air moves through a violin’s f-shaped holes and through the round, half-moon and C-shaped sound holes of violin ancestors from the 10th to 16th centuries. Air accelerates more quickly through the long, narrow f-shaped holes than through round holes, allowing violins to put out more powerful sounds at lower frequencies. The finding, published online February 11 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, suggests that the shape of the violin’s holes may have evolved to create slight gains in acoustic power.
Based on calculations of airflow and experiments, the team found that an instrument with f-shaped holes should have twice the acoustic power of one with circular holes. That corresponds to about a three