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Systems Analysis of the Violin

Systems Analysis of the Violin

by A.F. Standing

Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #173, 1981

My first introduction to the violin was my father’s playing, and I remember, young as I was, a fascination with its strange shape and even stranger sound. From that time to this I had no further contact with the instrument until I met professionally (we are computer programmers) a young lady whose many talents include that of violin making. My interest in old crafts led us into many discussions on the design, construction and adjustment of the violin.

As I borrowed, and read, the articles she had collected, I became more and more astounded as from their arcane depths arose the musty odor of eye of toad and toe of newt. With my curiosity and interest aroused it seemed a good idea to consider each part of the violin, the problem it solved, and its interaction with the remainder of the instrument. In this way, once, the basic operation of the instrument was understood, all the second order effects that make all the difference in the real world could be considered as perturbations from the basic instrument. This article was written in an attempt to see if I could, with no musical knowledge or experience whatever, determine by thought alone the modus operandi of the violin.

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