Robert T. Schumacher
Dept. of Eng., Univ. of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK
Dept. of Phys., Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Lothar Cremer had a life-long interest in the acoustics of the violin. Growing from Cremer's work, an efficient simulation algorithm for bowed-string transient motions was developed some 15 years ago and applied to elucidate some of the oscillation regimes the system can support. Work is now in progress to use this algorithm in a more systematic way, to seek physical correlates of the perception that one instrument, or one particular note, is ``easier to play'' than another. This perception presumably has its origin in the fact that sometimes the required oscillation regime is easy to establish from a wide range of bowing transients, while in other cases a small error of bowing may elicit a different, undesirable, oscillation regime. Using 16 384 parallel processors of a Connection Machine, two-dimensional parameter subspaces are scanned, and pictures produced to show which starting conditions produce the violinist's required regime, and how long the initial transient is. The effects of varying parameters of the physical model may then be seen. Starting from a simple model due to Cremer, effects of string stiffness, string torsion, and violin body resonances have been studied.