X-ray a musical instrument? Why?, people might ask. But a look inside an instrument can answer a number of questions. Particularly with old instruments, it is often not entirely clear how their hard-to-reach areas are constructed, whether they have become damaged through old age, storage or long use, or whether they can still be played. Researchers use computed tomography to generate three-dimensional images that show the instrument’s inner structure.
Organized by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the MUSICES (MUSical Instrument Computed tomography Examination Standard) project is studying over one hundred different historically significant instruments. Scientists and conservators at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum are working with the Fraunhofer Development Center for X-ray Technology EZRT and the Chair of X-ray Microscopy (LRM) at the University of Würzburg to draw up guidelines and procedural methods for the 3D computed tomography of musical instruments.