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String Instruments

Our discussion of string instruments is limited by time. However, if you wish to pursue a more in-depth analysis of string instruments, perhaps for your class project, a unique collection of research materials is maintained here at CCRMA. The Musical Acoustics Research Library (MARL) is a collection of independent archives or libraries assembled by distinguished groups or individuals in the field of musical acoustics research. Currently, MARL is comprised of the Catgut Acoustical Society Library, the Arthur H. Benade Archive, the John Backus Archive, and the John W. Coltman Archive. The Catgut files in particular are well oriented toward string instrument acoustic research.

As we will see in this and subsequent sections, most musical instruments can be analyzed in terms of three principle acoustic components: a waveguide, a resonator, and an excitation source. The corresponding elements of a general string instrument are its strings, body, and plucking, striking, or bowing mechanism, respectively.

The String as a Waveguide

String Excitation Sources

  1. The Plucked String:

  2. The Struck String:

  3. The Bowed String:

The Violin Body

  1. Air and Wood Modes:

  2. Tuning Top and Back Plates:

  3. The Bridge:

Other Stringed Instruments

  1. Guitars:

  2. Electric Guitars:

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