Historical bowed string instruments exhibit acoustic features and aesthetic appeal that are still considered inimitable. These characteristics seem to be in large part determined by the materials used in the ground and varnishing treatments after the assembly of the instrument. These finishing processes were kept secret by the violinmakers and the traditional methods were handed down orally from master craftsmen to apprentices. Today, the methods of the past can represent a secret to be revealed through scientific investigations. The "Cremonese" methods used in the 17th and 18th centuries were lost as the last Great Masters from the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families passed away. In this study, we had the chance of combining noninvasive and microinvasive techniques on six fragments of historical musical instruments. The fragments were detached from different instruments during extraordinary maintenance and restoration treatments, which involved the substitution of severely damaged structural parts like top plates, back plates, or ribs. Therefore, the fragments can offer to the scientists a valuable overview on the materials and techniques used by the violinmakers. The results obtained by portable X-ray fluorescence, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, and Fourier transform infrared microscopy allowed us to: (1) determine the stratigraphy of six instruments; (2) obtain new information about the materials involved in the finishing processes employed in Cremona; and (3) elucidate the technological relationship among the procedures adopted in the violin making workshops during the considered period.

Spectroscopic Analysis to Characterize Finishing Treatments of Ancient Bowed String Instruments

Fiocco, Giacomo;Gulmini, Monica;
2017

Abstract

Historical bowed string instruments exhibit acoustic features and aesthetic appeal that are still considered inimitable. These characteristics seem to be in large part determined by the materials used in the ground and varnishing treatments after the assembly of the instrument. These finishing processes were kept secret by the violinmakers and the traditional methods were handed down orally from master craftsmen to apprentices. Today, the methods of the past can represent a secret to be revealed through scientific investigations. The "Cremonese" methods used in the 17th and 18th centuries were lost as the last Great Masters from the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families passed away. In this study, we had the chance of combining noninvasive and microinvasive techniques on six fragments of historical musical instruments. The fragments were detached from different instruments during extraordinary maintenance and restoration treatments, which involved the substitution of severely damaged structural parts like top plates, back plates, or ribs. Therefore, the fragments can offer to the scientists a valuable overview on the materials and techniques used by the violinmakers. The results obtained by portable X-ray fluorescence, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, and Fourier transform infrared microscopy allowed us to: (1) determine the stratigraphy of six instruments; (2) obtain new information about the materials involved in the finishing processes employed in Cremona; and (3) elucidate the technological relationship among the procedures adopted in the violin making workshops during the considered period.
APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY
71
11
2477
2487
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026265X17301777
Fourier transform infrared; FT-IR; Musical instrument; scanning electron microscopy energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy; SEM-EDX; varnish; wood treatment; X-ray fluorescence; XRF; Instrumentation; Spectroscopy
Fiocco, Giacomo; Rovetta, Tommaso; Gulmini, Monica; Piccirillo, Anna; Licchelli, Maurizio; Malagodi, Marco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1658317
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