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The Ultimate Stradivarius Library Is Now Being Recorded, And A City Remains Quiet

There’s a lot of controversy over the sound of what many think is the ultimate stringed instrument – the Stradivarius. To some, it can never sound any better, while others feel that much hype surrounds the name and that a new instrument achieves the same results in a blind A/B test. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that world’s most famous violin brand may be dying, and massive efforts are being made to preserve its sound, even if it means going to the extreme of quieting a city for an entire month.

Cremona Italy was the home of Antonio Stradivari, who produced some of the finest violins and cellos ever made in the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s also the home of the Amati and Guarneri del Gesù, two other famous stringed instrument craftsman. And it’s home to the Museo del Violino, or Violin Museum, which contains a collection of fine instruments that time will soon take from us.

Unfortunately, the distinctive sounds of the instruments changes after a period of time. The instruments “go to sleep” as the curator of the museum likes to say. In an effort to preserve the sound forever, the entire city of Cremona is trying to keep quiet while the instruments are recorded in all of their remaining beauty for what will be known as the Stradivarius Sound Bank. Streets are cordoned off, elevators stopped, and everyone in the town moves on pins and needles while the recording takes place.

Throughout January, four musicians will play two violins, a viola and a cello through hundreds of scales and arpeggios with different techniques, bows, and plucks. The musicians will play thousands of individual notes and transitions for eight hours a day, six days a week, for more than a month in a massive effort to complete the most comprehensive sound bank ever compiled.

There’s no word on the exact recording procedure (please send that to me if you know) except that a thirty-two microphone array in the museum’s auditorium is being used to capture the sounds. Also no word on who’s funding the venture, or if the results will be available commercially at some point, but you have to commend the team and the city for its efforts.

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