A new study has found that violinists can achieve an impressive height increase when playing an instrument made from carbon fibre.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Musical Instrument Technology in Germany analysed the acoustic properties of a violin made from three layers of carbon fibre material.
The team discovered that the instrument was able to increase its maximum height by 3.6cm, compared with a standard violin made of aluminium, copper and nickel.
“The violin’s acoustic properties were higher than that of a standard aluminium-fibre violin,” said Professor Markus Boesch, one of the study’s authors.
“But the higher the dimensions of the violin, the higher its height increase.”
The research team says the results are important because they show how the violin’s increased height can be achieved without the use of special tools or special manufacturing processes.
“I think this is a good proof of concept for composers,” said Dr Katerina Ljubljana, lead author of the paper and a doctoral student at the Max-Planck Institute.
“If we can prove it can happen with a new material that we know is very strong and not fragile, that would be an important development.”
While the team’s results are encouraging, there are still many unanswered questions about the violinist’s height increase, such as what is the optimal height for a violin to reach, how much the violin should be played, and what happens to the violin when it’s played over time.
“One of the main questions is: what is optimal height increase for a person to achieve?” said Professor Boeser.
“It’s not an easy question to answer, and it’s difficult to make a prediction.”
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also suggest that violinist might want to consider an electric violin, a model that would allow them to make their own measurements of their height, and which they could also play over time to determine their optimal height.
“This new study shows that we should also consider using electric violin as a model of height increase,” said study co-author Prof Peter Zwiebel from the Centre for Engineering Physics at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
“We should also be able to measure the player’s height from the top of the instrument to the bottom of the body and to the top and bottom of his or her hands, for example, or from the centre of the head to the base of the neck.”
Dr Ljueva says there is currently no way of predicting how a violinist will develop a high enough height increase.
“When I look at the literature on violinists, I’m surprised that we don’t see any studies that compare violinists to musicians or people who play with a musical instrument,” she said.
“But there is also the problem of the height, which can be quite variable.”
And it could be that we need to look at other factors in order to reach an optimum height increase and that is what we are trying to do here.