The Catgut Acoustical Society Library

File #:S3225

Name:Schelleng, John C


See also:

General Information:

A graduate in electrical engineering from Cornell in 1919, Schelleng was drafted by the Bell Telephone

Laboratories to work on the overseas radio telephone and never pursued his plan for graduate study. He

was a fine cellist and enjoyed playing chamber music with his wife Eleanor, a violist, and with his many

friends. For years he was principal cellist in the Monmouth symphony. His pioneering application of

circuit theory to the violin stems from this combination of engineering skills and lifelong interest in music.

He retired from the Bell Laboratories in 1957 as Director of Radio Research and became actively

involved in violin acoustics. He went to F A Saunders with some of his ideas on the acoustics of the cello

and became a part of the small group working with Saunders which included R E Fryxell, C M Hutchins

and A S Hopping (an engineer who had developed some test equipment for Hutchins). It was Schelleng

who jokingly suggested that the group call itself the Catgut Acoustical Society. He was a founding

member of the official CAS and, after Saunders' death in 1963, became its president and recognized

leader of its technical activities. He also joined the Acoustical Society of America and was elected a

fellow in 1974. Schelleng's monumental paper, "The violin as a circuit" represents the first time the

functioning of the violin as a whole had been technically researched, and much of the subsequent

research on the violin is based on Schelleng's thinking. CMH was fortunate to live close enough to the

Schellengs so that she and John could collaborate in research for many years, until Schelleng's death in

1979. He contributed a great deal to the Benchmark volumes, and much of Hutchins' research is based

on the helpful interchange of ideas with John as well as with A H Benade who often joined us.

Schelleng's definitive papers on the bowed string, varnish and the violin as a circuit can be found in

JASA, Scientific American and the CASJ, as well as in Benchmark volumes 5 and 6.

File Contents:


Correspondence: (1961-1980) between CMH and JCS (also his wife, Eleanor, sons, John and Charles

and daughter, Florence Skiff). Others include Cramer and Lindsay of ASA and Scanlan, president of

CAS, and GEorge Bissinger.

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Miscellaneous: Biog and obit material, memorial seervice program, info on orchestra of which he was

principle cellist and president, newspaper and Bell Labs News articles.

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Technical: 27 publications from 1963-1982. See Technical Summary.

Key Words:Wood; bowed strings; varnish; wolftone; nodal pattens; soundpost


Misc Technical: An assemblage of miscellaneous hand written notes from discussions with JCS.

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JCS Correspondence file: (1966-1973) with CMH, J R Pierce, Maxwell Kimball, D Sur, and others on

business and technical subjects.

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JCS Miscellaneous: Formative years (1965-69) of CAS with by-laws and minutes, etc; info on the

Violin Octet including CMH's article in Physics today, newspaper articles, etc.

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JCS Correspondence file: ASTA correspondence (1967) with Van Sickle, president and Askegaard,


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JCS Corr file: Technical correspondence (1964-65) with Paul Brandt, harpsichord maker.

Key Words:Harpsichord


JCS Correspondence file: 1965 Technical exchange with J W Young of Navy Electronics Lab mainly

on topic of inharmonicity.

Key Words:Inharmonicity


JCS Correspondence File: (1969-70) Technical exchange with John Huber and Don Thompson of C F

Martin & Co. (guitars)

Key Words:Guitars


JCS File: 1967 Categories on varnish; correspondence with Melvin Mooney on losses in plastic

materials. Articles by and about Joseph Michelman on the rediscovered secret of Strad's varnish.

Key Words:Varnish; Strad's `secret'; Michelman


JCS Technical File: 1970 Critique of paper by Mathews (M4295) & Kohut on the bowed string. [1.37 MB, DjVu]

Key Words:Bowed string;


JCS Technical: 8 unpublished papers of JCS (1961-68). See Tech Summary.

Key Words:Power; Scaling; wood; string; radiation


JCS Technical file: Study file on violin quality including notes, scaling charts for violin octet,

correspondence with Benade (B4560), relevant papers of others (e.g. E Skudrzyk (S6295), excerpts

from book `Kunstdie Giegenbau' by Mockel-WInckel, list of adjectives for violin tone compiled by

Sterling Gorrill, 9/68, etc.

Key Words:Violin quality; tone


JCS Work file: Discussion by JCS, CMH and Benade on method for plate tuning - later abandoned. [596 KB, DjVu]

Key Words:Plate tuning


JCS Reprint file: Papers by other authors (5 from 1951-1971), one with some annotations. Authors

include: Ottokar Cadek, Frederic Palmer, Ernest Rabonowicz, L F Rampal, Brian J Thompson and

William R Zinky.

Key Words:Friction; halography; string deterioration; violin acoustics.


JCS Technical Workup File: Preparations for publications 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 ,18, & 22 (See

Technical Summary)

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JCS Technical Workup File: Preparations for publications on varnish: 4, 6, 8, 11 & 13. (See Technical


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Last modified: 27 June 1998