Sound Sculptor: Sam Zygmuntowicz

Sam Z Cover

Ten years on from Strad3D, project co-developer Sam Zygmuntowicz talks to Chloe Cutts about the impact of the groundbreaking study of violin form and function within the context of the story of American lutherie and his own journey as a maker and researcher. From January 2017

As a violin maker you spend your entire time trying to imagine what the thing you are constructing will sound like as a finished instrument. But you can’t see the vibrations, only the parts. You’re like a medical student examining a heart or the nervous system: you can’t see the beating valves pumping the blood around the body, and you can’t see the electricity running down the nerves and across the synapses. You’re essentially working in the dark.’ Comparing a violin to a heart might seem a little fantastical, but to US luthier and researcher Sam Zygmuntowicz, his analogy encapsulates perfectly how he views this most elusive of musical instruments. It is a perspective that has come about over the course of a 40-year career as a maker who takes a long-range view of his craft and his place within it – telescoping back in time to the founding fathers of current lutherie in America around the turn of the 20th century, and forward to the future and how making might evolve as advances in technology continue to open up new worlds in our understanding of how violins work.

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