Date: 24 May 2013

Acoustical Measurements on Experimental Violins in the Hanneforth Collection

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Abstract

In 2011, the collection of Prof. Wolfgang Hanneforth was donated to the Museum of Decorative and Industrial Arts in Hamburg (MKG), comprising some 250 string and wind instruments. The focus of Hanneforth’s 30 year collecting activity was on experimental constructions and innovations in the 19th and 20th century. Since the foundation of the patent office (“Kaiserliches Patentamt”) in 1877 more than 300 patents have been granted on innovative violin constructions in Germany alone. Some of the unusual violins, their constructions and acoustics are discussed here: a violin with a fold in the top, or with the strings attached to a bridge on the top, or relatively flat and without a waist, or with a cornet replacing the wooden body. How will these instruments sound? Guided by some of the basic principles of violin acoustics, seven of these experimental instruments are investigated and referenced against a valuable Stradivari violin and against a student level instrument, both not part of the collection. Section 1 introduces into some of the basic principles of violin construction, Sect. 2 briefly explains the measurement method and summarizes target acoustical properties using a fine example of a Stradivari violin and a moderate example of a conventional violin. Section 3 holds results for the investigated violins and discusses construction modifications in the light of the outlined principles and the employed references.