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Secret of the Strad

Musicians treasure the small number of Stradivarius violins that were made in the small area of Cremona, Italy in the 17th century. Modern manufacturers have struggled in vain to make instruments that have the same musical qualities. Now a tree-ring dating expert and a climatologist have discovered the secret of the Stradivarius.

Henri Grissino-Mayer and Lloyd Burckle say the "Little Ice Age" in Europe, which lasted from the mid-1400s until the mid-1800s, produced long winters and cool summers that slowed down tree growth, making the wood used for the violins incredibly dense.

Grissino-Mayer says, "It just amazed me that no one had thought of this before. The relationship between the violins, the trees that they were made from, the climate that existed when the trees grew and how it affected wood density to create a superior tonal quality."

Modern violin makers have analyzed the type of varnish used during that period, and even used computers to study the precise shape of the instruments. The small number of Stradivarius violins that exist in the world makes them too expensive to be purchased by individual musicians. Most are owned by non-profit corporations that loan them to violinists for use during their careers.

There are hidden secrets everywhere?if you know where to look.

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