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Letter: Circles in Classical Violin Design

Letter: Circles in Classical Violin Design

by Jim Blilie

Originally published in American Lutherie #89, 2007

Hi Tim,

I’m sure Michael Darnton has infinitely more experience with violin design and a much more sensitive eye for the form of violins than I do (See The Power of Circles). That being said, I was really bothered by his article.

Mr. Darnton writes that his theory of circles in the design of classic Cremonese violins seems to be the only one that will produce aesthetically pleasing shapes. I have no doubt that circles were used extensively in the design of violins, since they are much easier to draw than parabolic, hyperbolic, or elliptical curves. But he goes on to say that essentially all the extant violins of the height of the Cremonese school do not follow his plan. He posits various reasons for this, but in engineering, if the data don’t match your theory, you go back to the drawing board and find a new theory!

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