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Scientists Recreate Bach's Forgotten Horn

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performer plays the recreated Lituus

The recreated Lituus in action.

Credit: EPSRC

Computer modeling software originally developed by a University of Edinburgh Ph.D. student to optimize the design of modern brass instruments has been used to recreate a long-lost trumpet-like instrument. The software is enabling one of Bach's works to be performed as the composer may have originally intended for the first time in nearly 300 years.

After being used to improve trombone design, the modeling software was used to help the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (SCB), who asked the university to recreate the instrument, which is called a Lituus and no one had played, heard, or even seen a picture of in hundreds of years. The SCB, a Swiss-based music conservatory that specializes in early music, gave the Edinburgh researchers their best information on what the Lituus may have sounded like and provided cross-sectional diagrams of instruments they believed to be similar to the Lituus. The design created by the software also had to have been easily made by an instrument maker in Bach's time. The SCB has used the program's designs to build two of the instruments."Sophisticated computer modeling software has a huge role to play in the way we make music in the future," says Edinburgh professor Murray Campbell, who supervised the program's development.

From Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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