How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 738

How does a violin create sound? Is the sound only made by the strings or is it made with the help of the violin's shape and structure? — RH, North York, Ontario
While the vibration of the strings is ultimately responsible for the sounds a violin emits, it is the body of the violin that emits most of that sound. Strings are very poor emitters of sound because they aren't able to push on the air effectively. When the string moves back and forth through the air, the air simply flows around it to the other side. So instead of compressing and rarefying the air, as it must do in order to produce sound waves, the string just stirs the air around. But the bridge of the violin rocks back and forth as the strings' vibrate and it conveys this motion to the belly of the violin. The belly moves in and out, compressing and rarefying the air and doing a fine job of producing sound.

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