The physics and making of a paper mache violin

Faculty Advisor

Jolene Johnson



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The physics and making of a paper mache violin

When one hears the beautiful whine of a violin, they probably never consider that behind the music are endless equations and physics concepts. Every aspect of the instrument can be explained through physics, and this poster presents some of the most important concepts to consider. First developed in the 16th century in Italy, the violin has evolved to become the small, stringed instrument we know today. The violin features four strings that are tuned to be a fifth apart. When it is struck with the bow, the complex vibrations of the string and the body of the instrument create the sound that we hear.

When building this violin, I have decided that stray from the traditional route and use paper mache instead of wood for the body. In order to make the instrument sturdy enough to support the tension of the strings, I have also used bits and pieces of wood. The shape of the violin body is also changed slightly due to my inexperience and short construction period. All of these constructional factors have had an influence on the resultant sound of my violin. These changes in sound can be explained using physics equations and concepts.