Founding a Family of Fiddles
Research and new fiddles

The problem of applying basic research results to actual design and construction of new instruments now faced us. From the previous ten years' experimentation, the following four working guides were at hand:

  1. location of the main body and main cavity resonances of several hundred conventional violins, violas and cellos tested by Saunders and others, [Ref 1, 4 - 9]

  2. the desirable relation between main resonances of free top and back plates of a given instrument, developed from 400 tests on 35 violins and violas during their construction, [Ref 2, 10, 11]

  3. knowledge of how to change frequencies of main body and cavity resonances within certain limits (learned not only from many expertments of altering plate thicknesses, relative plate tunings and enclosed air volume but also from construction of experimental instruments with varying body lengths, plate archings and rib heights) and of resultant resonance placements and effects on tone quality in the finished instruments, [Ref 2, 4, 11]

  4. observation that the main body resonance of a completed violin or viola is approximately seven semitones (quarter notes) above the average of the main free-plate resonances, usually one in the top and one in the back plate of a given instrument. [Ref 2] This observation came from electronic plate testing of free top and back plates of 45 violins and violas under construction. It should not be inferred that the relation implies a shift of free-plate resonances to those of the finished instrument. The change from two free plates to a pair of plates coupled at their edges through intricately constructed ribs and through an off-center soundpost, the whole under varying stresses and loading from fittings and string tension, is far too complicated to test directly or calculate. [Ref 12]

Author, Carleen M. Hutchins
Author, Carleen Maley Hutchins - In addition to nurturing her fiddle family, the author shows interest in children. After graduating from Cornell she taught for 15 years in New York schools, acquiring an MA from New York University meanwhile. She also acquired a chemist husband and two children, all of whom live in Montclair, NJ.

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