Japanese scientists have succeeded in making violin strings out of spider silk:
Shigeyoshi Osaki at Nara Medical University in Japan has studied the properties of spider silk for 35 years. In the past decade he has focused on trying to turn the silk into violin strings, even taking lessons on what was required of a string in terms of strength and elasticity.
Osaki learned how to coax Nephila maculata spiders to spin out long strands of dragline, the strongest form of silk. He bundled filaments together and twisted them, then twisted three of these bundles together to make each string. The thickest of these, the G string, holds 15,000 filaments.Shigeyoshi Osaki at Nara Medical University in Japan has studied the properties of spider silk for 35 years. In the past decade he has focused on trying to turn the silk into violin strings, even taking lessons on what was required of a string in terms of strength and elasticity….
Osaki tested the new strings by comparing their performance with three established materials: steel, nylon and gut. He says that the spider silk has a unique and “brilliant” timbre, or quality of tone. You can judge for yourself in this snippet of Tchaikovsky, played by Jun-ichi Matsuda on a Stradivarius violin using all four types of string…
The timbre seems to result from a difference in how harmonics – frequency multiples of the main note – reverberate in the spider silk strings compared with other materials. Spider string has strong high harmonics, while steel and nylon tend to be stronger in low harmonics. Osaki does not yet know what mechanical properties lead to this acoustic performance.
Selby is impressed. “What people crave about natural gut strings is a certain complexity,” she says. “Spider strings also have this brilliant sound – even more than gut.”
Add autotune to that, and it’s really a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, those who believe that concerts aren’t visually interesting enough will enjoy this breakthrough performance:
And, while not really a triumph of “science” per se, this little parody of technological “progress” must have taken quite a bit of work to put together:
I wonder if anyone at the New York Phil has seen this – and what they thought of it.