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Violin strings made from spider silk

March 5, 2012 at 7:58 PM   |   Comments

NARA, Japan, March 5 (UPI) -- A Japanese researcher says thousands of strands of spider silk spun into a set of violin strings can yield a "preferable" timbre for many musicians.

The way the strings are twisted, resulting in a "packing structure" that leaves almost no space between any of the strands, provides a "soft and profound timbre" compared to tradition gut or steel strings, said Shigeyoshi Osaki of Japan's Nara Medical University, who has been interested in the mechanical properties of spider silk for years.

Osaki has perfected methods of obtaining large quantities of silk from captive-bred spiders and has begun researches possible uses of the remarkable material, the BBC reported Sunday.

"Bowed string instruments such as the violin have been the subject of many scientific studies," he wrote in the journal Physical Review Letters.

"However, not all of the details have been clarified, as most players have been interested in the violin body rather than the properties of the bow or strings."

Osaki created violin strings by twisting between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle, then twisting three of these bundles together in the opposite direction.

The structure lends them both strength and, crucially, their unique tone, he wrote.

"Several professional violinists reported that spider strings ... generated a preferable timbre, being able to create a new music."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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