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Bridges and Mutes


aweld98

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At first glance, this blog post may appear to be about the physics behind a large civil structure on which vehicles and human beings move across.  However, that is not the case.  This post is about the importance and purpose of a bridge in the structure and function of a violin, as well as the impact a mute has on a violin's performance.  On the violin, the bridge is a wooden structure perpendicular to the rest of the violin; it sits atop the wooden face of the violin, and the four strings lie across the top of it.  The purpose of the bridge is to transmit the vibration of the four strings into sound.  Let me explain.  The various strings on a violin (and any stringed instrument for that matter) vibrate, hence creating sound waves, when some type of work is done to them (in the case of the violin, the most common way to get this vibration is to pluck the string or play it by applying pressure with a bow).  However, these vibrations do not directly translate into beautiful music.  So, the bridge serves to transmit vibrations to the structural part of the violin, which gives the vibrations more space to vibrate on and throughout; instead of vibrating a thin string, the vibrations ring throughout the entire structure, causing an increase in volume and projection of music.  Another component worth mentioning would be the impact of a mute on the bridge and this transmittance of vibrations and sound.  A mute is placed directly on the bridge whenever a musician wishes to dampen their sound.  How does it work?  Well, the mute reduces the vibration that occurs on the bridge during the transfer of sound from the strings to the wooden structure of the violin.  As a result, the amount of vibrations transferred to the main structure are significantly reduced, resulting in a less vibrations throughout the entire instrument and a noticeably softer sound.

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