The computer science professor and amateur luthier will discuss his ’Digital Amati’ project using digital methods for understanding the structure and interpretation of classical stringed instruments, with digital curation, in a free Zoom talk to be held on 15 May 2024


Harry Mairson © Lou Jones

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On Wednesday 15 May, 12pm ET, Harry Mairson will present a talk about non-invasive digital curation and study of iconic instruments from the Italian golden age of violin making.  Mairson is an amateur luthier and the 2023-24 Rieman and Baketel Fellow for Music at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and a computer science professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.   

He will speak about his ‘Digital Amati’ project, named after Andrea Amati, the progenitor of Cremonese violin making.  The project uses digital methods, including a digital library of canonical stringed instruments under construction, to facilitate an examination of the structure and interpretation of these iconic instruments. He hopes that these resources will be useful to luthiers, organologists and musicologists.  Using freeware and and subscription with negligible costs, a further goal is to advance the responsible dissemination of knowledge about these canonical instruments.

’The idea is to able to examine and measure these instruments as if you had them in your own hands,’ says Mairson.

This work includes deconstructing data into the proportional Renaissance geometry that was used to design these instruments, founded on the geometric design insights of Angers luthier and organologist François Denis.  Applications of this work could lead to a ’cello compiler’ that translates high-level geometric designs into computer numerically-controlled fabrication, as well as a computational art history using computer-manipulable representations of this Renaissance geometry to explain the evolution of instrument forms.

The talk will conclude with a 15-minute concert by cellist Emmanuel Feldman and pianist Anne Tyson, featuring Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words, written for the French cellist Lise Cristiani. Her instrument, the 1700 ‘Stauffer, ex-Cristiani Stradivari cello, is in the Museo del Violino in Cremona.  It is the centrepiece of Mairson’s initial CT-scanning project in 2018 with Paolo Bodini, and is the model for the cello Mairson recently finished and that Feldman will play.

Screen Shot 2024-04-30 at 9.13.40 AM

Folio of CT images of the 1700 Stradivari ’Stauffer-ex Cristiani’ cello, available from the Museo del Violino, Cremona

The talk will take place on Zoom and is free, though individuals must register to attend. To find out more, click here.

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