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I heard you guys like spidersFollow

#1 Mar 05 2012 at 1:41 PM Rating: Good
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Well, most of you anyways. Here's just another reason they're awesome:

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Spiders might soon give you goosebumps in a good way. Strands of spider silk have been used to make violin strings that have a unique and thrilling sound, thanks perhaps to the way the strands deform when twisted.

Shigeyoshi Osaki at Nara Medical University in Japan has studied the properties of spider silk for 35 years. In the past decade he has focused on trying to turn the silk into violin strings, even taking lessons on what was required of a string in terms of strength and elasticity.

Osaki learned how to coax Nephila maculata spiders to spin out long strands of dragline, the strongest form of silk. He bundled filaments together and twisted them, then twisted three of these bundles together to make each string. The thickest of these, the G string, holds 15,000 filaments.

The strings turned out to be tightly packed and strong. The key seems to be that the individual filaments changed shape when twisted: an electron microscope revealed that their circular cross sections turned into polygons, which nestle together more tightly than cylindrical strings.

This came as a surprise. "To my knowledge, no one has observed such a change of cross section. I doubted my experimental results," says Osaki. The spider silk must be deformed by the twisting process.

"The material is a bit squishy, like twisting plasticine," says physicist and violinist Katherine Selby at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Brilliant timbre

Osaki tested the new strings by comparing their performance with three established materials: steel, nylon and gut. He says that the spider silk has a unique and "brilliant" timbre, or quality of tone. You can judge for yourself in this snippet of Tchaikovsky, played by Jun-ichi Matsuda on a Stradivarius violin using all four types of string (see video above).

The timbre seems to result from a difference in how harmonics – frequency multiples of the main note – reverberate in the spider silk strings compared with other materials. Spider string has strong high harmonics, while steel and nylon tend to be stronger in low harmonics. Osaki does not yet know what mechanical properties lead to this acoustic performance.

Selby is impressed. "What people crave about natural gut strings is a certain complexity," she says. "Spider strings also have this brilliant sound – even more than gut."

"It is impressive when you remember these are prototype strings, just out of a material science lab, being compared with commercial strings perfected for years," she adds.

Selby points out that the high strength of spider silk may give it another advantage: "You could have a thinner string for playing the same pitch, which would be a bit more bendy and responsive – it would hit a note quicker." The material could be especially suitable for thin E strings, which are very fragile when made from gut.

"Is it something all violinists will like? That's an open question. It will have some surface texture, like a rope. Some people may find that off-putting as they slide a hand up and down the neck. I think these will be gourmet strings," Selby adds.

The price will be too steep for most fiddlers in any case, but Osaki is now trying to find a way to produce the strings in larger numbers.


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21540-spider-silk-spun-into-violin-strings.html
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#2 Mar 05 2012 at 1:42 PM Rating: Good
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I hear that's the next story line for Spider-Man.
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#3 Mar 05 2012 at 3:05 PM Rating: Decent
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Nifty. I have a 100 year old violin that belonged to my grandfather that I need to get replaned and restrung. I think it will be conventional steel for me, though.

What I heard from the snippet in the video was that the open string notes (each phrase began with with an open D) lacked the characteristic metallic edge of the steel strings. That's a good thing. It can be disguised with vibrato on notes that are fingered, but on the open strings it's nearly impossible to get vibrato, so that faint metallic sheen is always there. A lot of compositions are written with that in mind, however, with a heavy loud leading note on open strings, and a message to use the 4th finger on the previous string for notes that would sound gross with the metallic edge.

Disclaimer: I took violin for three years and hated most of it.

Edited, Mar 5th 2012 4:06pm by catwho
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#4 Mar 05 2012 at 3:56 PM Rating: Good
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I knew that they used spider silk for cross hairs on scopes for guns. This is pretty interesting.
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#5 Mar 05 2012 at 8:31 PM Rating: Excellent
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catwho wrote:
Disclaimer: I took violin for three years and hated most of it.
Overbearing parents that thought it would introduce culture and class into your life? That was the line mine fed me. Boy, were they ****** when I strayed and went for through that rebellious phase and picked up that one and only instrument of hellfire and brimstone, the hallmark of all the cool kids and leather jackets.

The trumpet.

Edited, Mar 5th 2012 9:31pm by lolgaxe
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#6 Mar 05 2012 at 9:07 PM Rating: Good
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Oh god, the trumpet. I learned both the Sax and Trumpet in middle school, and sucked at both.

I actually always wanted to learn the Violin. But through my school I could get free lessons in the above instruments (or drums/clarinet/flute). So that's what I learned.
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#7 Mar 05 2012 at 10:19 PM Rating: Good
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Oh god, the trumpet. I learned both the Sax and Trumpet in middle school, and sucked at both.

I actually always wanted to learn the Violin. But through my school I could get free lessons in the above instruments (or drums/clarinet/flute). So that's what I learned.
French Horn is where it's at.
#8 Mar 05 2012 at 10:34 PM Rating: Good
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LeWoVoc wrote:
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Oh god, the trumpet. I learned both the Sax and Trumpet in middle school, and sucked at both.

I actually always wanted to learn the Violin. But through my school I could get free lessons in the above instruments (or drums/clarinet/flute). So that's what I learned.
French Horn is where it's at.

Nah, it's all about the bass flute
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#9 Mar 05 2012 at 11:14 PM Rating: Decent
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Bardalicious wrote:
LeWoVoc wrote:
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Oh god, the trumpet. I learned both the Sax and Trumpet in middle school, and sucked at both.

I actually always wanted to learn the Violin. But through my school I could get free lessons in the above instruments (or drums/clarinet/flute). So that's what I learned.
French Horn is where it's at.

Nah, it's all about the bass flute
*****, please. That's a contrabass flute.
#10 Mar 06 2012 at 1:36 AM Rating: Good
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You're all wrong. Percussion is where it's at.



Until you're stuck shaking a dented metal can filled with beans.
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#11 Mar 06 2012 at 1:52 AM Rating: Good
You're a bunch of band nerds. Guitar is where it's at.
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#12 Mar 06 2012 at 3:24 AM Rating: Excellent
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Band Geek and proud. Started off at 5 playing trumpet when I was 8 also took violin. Only played violin for a couple years but played trumpet until I was 24ish. Messed around with bass guitar as well as the ukelele. I got pushed to playing trumpet when I was a kid since my grandfather played trumpet with the Dorsey Brothers and was good friends with Manny Klein. Too many hours spent playing jazz, classical, "concert" and marching band music in highschool, I think I spent more time in the music wing then I did the rest of the school in my senior year since I had 3 music classes plus before/after school practices for marching band.

Now those strings I would love to hear if made thicker for a double bass.
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#13 Mar 06 2012 at 3:43 AM Rating: Good
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PunkFloyd, King of Bards wrote:
You're a bunch of band nerds. Guitars imitating violins is where it's at.

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#14 Mar 06 2012 at 11:07 AM Rating: Good
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When I was in primary school it was compulsory for each student to learn to play the recorder. We also had hymn practice and singing class.

I did take up the Clarinet for about three years, though. I couldn't afford the lessons any more so had to give it up. Sad times.
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#15 Mar 06 2012 at 12:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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PunkFloyd, King of Bards wrote:
You're a bunch of band nerds. Guitars imitating violins is where it's at.

Violins imitating guitars.

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#16 Mar 06 2012 at 2:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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Hot chicks, violins, drums.... who needs ****!
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#17 Mar 07 2012 at 12:06 PM Rating: Good
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I started on piano, went to violin, and then went the trumpet route for eight years. Everyone thought I was going to go pro, but then I hit my first real bout of sexism when the late great Fred Mills decided I wasn't good enough for his program. Smiley: frown

So I quit and switched to opera. And then got turned down again because I kept catching colds during my auditions. Smiley: bah

So I said **** it and switched to English.
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I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

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#18 Mar 07 2012 at 12:36 PM Rating: Good
Real band geeks play the bassoon. 6 years of that, three of sax, and three of piano.

Edited, Mar 7th 2012 1:37pm by IDrownFish
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#19 Mar 07 2012 at 3:43 PM Rating: Good
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I did trumpet in middle and high school. I started college as a trumpet playing music major, but I changed to voice after my first year. However, I stayed in the College Pep Band for my time in college. That was a blast (and the cheerleaders/dancers were hot).
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#20 Mar 07 2012 at 4:00 PM Rating: Decent
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If you genuinely don't like spiders then don't read this.

It's quite eerie - spiders working together to build a giant upwards web to avoid the floods in Australia.

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#21 Mar 07 2012 at 10:54 PM Rating: Decent
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catwho wrote:
I started on piano, went to violin, and then went the trumpet route for eight years. Everyone thought I was going to go pro, but then I hit my first real bout of sexism when the late great Fred Mills decided I wasn't good enough for his program. Smiley: frown

Are you sure you weren't just.. you know.. bad?
#22 Mar 09 2012 at 4:19 PM Rating: Good
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I played the french horn.


Cue whatever jokes that may bring...
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#23 Mar 10 2012 at 11:23 PM Rating: Good
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Majivo wrote:
catwho wrote:
I started on piano, went to violin, and then went the trumpet route for eight years. Everyone thought I was going to go pro, but then I hit my first real bout of sexism when the late great Fred Mills decided I wasn't good enough for his program. Smiley: frown

Are you sure you weren't just.. you know.. bad?


Sure, if ranked 16th in the state my senior year is bad.
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#24 Mar 11 2012 at 12:26 AM Rating: Good
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jtftaru wrote:
If you genuinely don't like spiders then don't read this.

It's quite eerie - spiders working together to build a giant upwards web to avoid the floods in Australia.

What impresses me is that spiders usually eat each other if they can catch one, even of the same species. They are natural cannibals. This is why centuries of sporadic attempts at cloth making from spider silk have come to nothing, until very recently, when we have had the resources to keep every single spider apart from all the others.

Anyway, while those huge webs are impressive, I'm even more impressed that the spiders all seem to have come to a truce until the water goes down. A truce so firm they are in some cases clustering together as closely as bees or ants.
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#25 Mar 11 2012 at 12:40 AM Rating: Excellent
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Aripyanfar wrote:
Anyway, while those huge webs are impressive, I'm even more impressed that the spiders all seem to have come to a truce until the water goes down. A truce so firm they are in some cases clustering together as closely as bees or ants.


It's not so much a truce as it is a giant Mexican Standoff.
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#26 Mar 11 2012 at 4:27 AM Rating: Good
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BrownDuck wrote:
I played the french horn.


Cue whatever jokes that may bring...

I didn't know you and Ikkian were that close.
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#27 Mar 11 2012 at 4:29 PM Rating: Decent
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catwho wrote:
Majivo wrote:
catwho wrote:
I started on piano, went to violin, and then went the trumpet route for eight years. Everyone thought I was going to go pro, but then I hit my first real bout of sexism when the late great Fred Mills decided I wasn't good enough for his program. Smiley: frown

Are you sure you weren't just.. you know.. bad?


Sure, if ranked 16th in the state my senior year is bad.

Regardless, I'm not really seeing the cognitive leap to sexism on this one.
#28 Mar 11 2012 at 4:48 PM Rating: Good
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Probably because orchestra has a well documented prejudice, extending to the present day, against women?

It's hard to link any one case to institutional sexism unless it is very overt indeed; all interactions are to some extent affected. Was it a deciding factor? Who can say. That analysis is somewhat artificial. Similarly, no-one weather event can be conclusively linked to anthropogenic climate change

In this case, maybe some comment was made? You haven't got a clue. You seem to assume by default that any claim of sexism is bogus, to the point of 'calling someone out' without anything on which to base your supposition. Charitably, your comment is simply a sign of a personal dislike of catwho, and a corresponding lack of faith in her abilities. Believe me, I'm sympathetic to that. But I don't think your skepticism is justified.
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#29 Mar 13 2012 at 7:52 PM Rating: Good
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Aripyanfar wrote:
jtftaru wrote:
If you genuinely don't like spiders then don't read this.

It's quite eerie - spiders working together to build a giant upwards web to avoid the floods in Australia.

What impresses me is that spiders usually eat each other if they can catch one, even of the same species. They are natural cannibals. This is why centuries of sporadic attempts at cloth making from spider silk have come to nothing, until very recently, when we have had the resources to keep every single spider apart from all the others.

Anyway, while those huge webs are impressive, I'm even more impressed that the spiders all seem to have come to a truce until the water goes down. A truce so firm they are in some cases clustering together as closely as bees or ants.


Well if you think that's amazing - have a look at this. It's quite an incredible piece of scientific discovery showing the effect of various narcotics on spiders.


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#30 Mar 13 2012 at 9:43 PM Rating: Excellent
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Kavekk wrote:
Probably because orchestra has a well documented prejudice, extending to the present day, against women?

It's hard to link any one case to institutional sexism unless it is very overt indeed; all interactions are to some extent affected. Was it a deciding factor? Who can say. That analysis is somewhat artificial. Similarly, no-one weather event can be conclusively linked to anthropogenic climate change

In this case, maybe some comment was made? You haven't got a clue. You seem to assume by default that any claim of sexism is bogus, to the point of 'calling someone out' without anything on which to base your supposition. Charitably, your comment is simply a sign of a personal dislike of catwho, and a corresponding lack of faith in her abilities. Believe me, I'm sympathetic to that. But I don't think your skepticism is justified.


Specifically, orchestras in the US have a long documented prejudice against female brass players. Even my own mother was astonished at my choice of instrument at first, going so far as to say "Girls don't play trumpets!" Woodwinds and flutes? Fine. Drums? Be a rebel and go play this xylophone. Piano? Trés bon. Saxophone? Ehhhh... ok sure, but you'll want to switch to oboe or bassoon eventually.

Most girls in my (fine arts) school who started out on trumpet eventually moved to the French horn, which is considered less, um, phallic. I was also the only female member of my school's jazz band... Rather than wear the ugly garbage bag black dress that was my formal band uniform, I asked my mom for help and she found me a tux top at goodwill and sewed black piping on a pair of slacks for me.

It's actually changed a lot just in the last decade. I think if I were auditioning today, I'd have much better odds of being accepted. I just had rotten luck to be auditioning for one of the greatest band leaders of all time who was unfortunately still stuck in the 20th century mentality that women didn't have the requisite lung capacity to play brass instruments right.

Edit: That S, it is tricky and slippery.

Edited, Mar 13th 2012 11:45pm by catwho
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#31 Mar 13 2012 at 10:11 PM Rating: Good
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catwho wrote:
It's actually changed a lot just in the last decade. I think if I were auditioning today, I'd have much better odds of being accepted. I just had rotten luck to be auditioning for one of the greatest band leaders of all time who was unfortunately still stuck in the 20th century mentality that women didn't have the requisite lung capacity to play brass instruments right.


If you ever go for an audition and they ask why you picked the trumpet, just tell them that your trombone was rusty.
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#32 Mar 14 2012 at 4:01 AM Rating: Excellent
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My sister-in-law is a professional oboe player across the whole of Western Europe. There are many more world-class musicians than permanent orchestra slots, or even Temporary slots covering absent, sick or parenting permanent orchestra members. She had pretty solid Temp work playing in the best auditoriums with elite orchestras. She had to audition anew for every Temp slot. Half the time, the auditioning musicians played for the interviewers from behind a screen that would make them anonymous. I presume this was so that the most desirable musician was picked on basis of present sound, and not for any other reason.

It might not have been to make the choice gender neutral, since pretty much the same pool of Temps were auditioning over and over for the same orchestras, and music directors got to know and like or dislike individuals based on personality and looks, and have pets and enemies. But the effect was the same in eliminating any lingering unconscious gender discrimination.
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