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Stradivari's secrets

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2:59pm, June 26, 2007

From Salt Lake City, at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

Antonio Stradivari's coveted violins have been around for more than 3 centuries, but experts are still struggling to understand just why they sound so magnificent. A new study of the vibrations of 17 violins from various makers finds one Stradivari that's especially efficient at directing sound toward the audience.

George Bissinger of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., used three lasers and the Doppler effect—the familiar phenomenon that makes a siren's pitch drop when an ambulance speeds by—to image the vibrations of each violin's surfaces.

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