The secret behind the Stradivari violin: Famous instruments produce their stunning sounds thanks to a chemical treatment of borax, zinc, copper, alum and lime water, study finds
02:06, Monday, 30 August, 2021
The exceptional tones of Stradivari violins comes from how they were chemically treated with alum, borax, copper, lime water and zinc to fight worms, a study found. Analysis by an international team led from the National Taiwan University found that the chemicals were found throughout the instruments' wood, not just the surface. This, they said, directly affected the unique tones made by the violins, explaining why the sound of these instruments has arguably not been equalled in 220 years. Involved in the study was biochemist and violin maker Joseph Nagyvary of Texas A&M University, who first argued that the quality of the Stradivari family's violins — and those of some others — had, for the largest part, a chemical origin.'All of my research over many years has been based on the assumption that the wood of the great masters underwent an aggressive chemical treatment, Professor Nagyvary explained. This treatment, he continued — thought to have been a necessary measure to combat a worm problem at the time — 'had a direct role in creating the great sound of the Stradivari.