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Resonance in string instruments

  1. Feb 10, 2015 #1
    Can resonance occur at multiple frequencies for the same given instrument? For example, in a violin, each note on a given string (say A) resonates and is the loudest only at a specific point on the string. Since each note on the same string can resonate, and each note has a different frequency, does that mean that resonance is occurring at many different frequencies ? If not, shouldn't just one note be loud and clear on the instrument...?

    Basically, I understand that resonance has a role to play in how stringed instruments work, I just can't understand how.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    It's not usually an effect best thought of in terms of resonance.

    A string fixed at both ends has a fundamental frequency and a series of harmonics.
    Playing different notes on a may involve selecting some harmonics and suppressing others but usually you just change the length of the string by where you press: changing the fundamental.

    If you bow a particular place I suppose you can dampen any harmonic that does not have a node there.

    Resonance plays a part in the sound-box of a string instrument - the box has frequencies that it prefers to vibrate at, and those frequencies of the strings get amplified.

    For more details see:
  4. Feb 10, 2015 #3


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    Certainly. Type "violin modes" into google and see what you get. The complex shape of the violin affects the sound that comes out.
  5. Feb 10, 2015 #4
    As was mentioned above, the body of the instrument is not really resonating, but is in forced vibration by contact with the string through the bridge. That is why the instrument is made as free to vibrate as possible, so it can respond to the frequencies imparted to it. What frequencies the instrument body favors will "flavor" the sound, enhancing some harmonics, not so much others. One topic you may want to look at is "wolf tones" of a cello. They are frequencies favored by the cello body (natural frequencies) to the point that they need to be dampened.
  6. Feb 11, 2015 #5
    Thank you, everyone...:)
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