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Mushrooms & Violins

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According to CBCnews.ca, mushrooms make violins sound better:

Mushrooms might be key to Stradivarius sound

Stradivari Violin

If the violin sounds good, it might be the mushrooms.

A Swiss researcher announced Thursday that treating maple wood with a certain mushroom improves its sound quality.

Speaking at a conference in Basel, Switzerland, Francis Schwarze said his maple violin, a replica of a 1698 instrument made by the Italian master Antonio Stradivari, has a sound comparable to the elusive timbre of a Stradivarius, according to a report from Agence France-Press.

Schwarze, of the Zurich-based Federal Materials, Science and Technology Institute, treated the wood with Xylaria longipes, a mushroom that grows on the bark of trees. The mushroom nibbles lightly on the wood, reducing its density and intensifying the sound, he said.

Mushrooms: Xylaria Longipes
Xylaria Longipes

"It has a very good sound and also carries well," violin maker Michael Rhonheimer said at the Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel.

Many researchers believe the unmatched sound of Stradivarius violins comes partly from the instruments' age.

Researchers have studied the density of the wood, the quality of the finishes and the shape of the violins and other string instruments made by the Stradivari family in an effort to determine why their sound is so rich. As of yet, the sound has proved irreproducible.

Because of the high value placed on the violins, which can sell for more than $1 million, numerous con artists have tried to pass off other instruments as Stradivariuses.

How on earth did it occur to this researcher to treat the wood with mushrooms, of all things? I wonder if were to eat mushrooms before my gigs if it would make me play better too? Hm.