Wednesday, 07 June, 2006
At the heart of many of the world's musical instruments is the same, simple component-a string stretched tight between two points. Plucked, bowed, or struck, each of an instrument's strings creates ear-catching vibrations.
Now, mathematicians in Canada say that they have invented a family of music-making devices based on a network of three or more string segments-for instance, a Y-shaped string anchored at three endpoints. The extra segments supply exotic overtones that a single string doesn't, say the researchers.
The first, and so far only, member of this new family of instruments is the tritare-rhymes with guitar-devised by mathematicians Samuel Gaudet and Claude Gauthier of the University of Moncton in New Brunswick. Resembling a guitar with two extra necks, the tritare hosts six Y-shaped strings. As in an ordinary guitar, each tritare string runs from a tuning peg along a fretted neck. However, the familiarity ends at an unanchored juncture point where the string branches. From there, one string segment runs along each of the two extra, unfretted necks.