How music history was preserved

© Fraunhofer IIS

Xray image of a »Hamburger Cithrinchen«.

3D computed tomography used to digitalize over 100 historically significant musical instruments.

In the last three years, the Fraunhofer Development Center X-ray Technology EZRT has helped to preserve music history. In collaboration with the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (GNM) in Nürnberg and the Chair of X-ray Microscopy (LRM) at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, we have digitalized over 100 historically signifi cant musical instruments as part of the MUSICES research project.

The 3D X-ray images not only contain information about manufacturing techniques, hidden structures in the sounding bodies, or the materials used, but also reveal unknown damage such as cracks, delamination, and woodworm. This is invaluable information for professional restorers, musicians, museum educators, and instrument makers. However, we still lack measurement standards that defi ne the best way of using three-dimensional CT to scan old musical instruments. We have therefore developed guidelines to enable museums around the world to digitalize different types of instruments in the future. A large part of the collections of musical instruments held by museums is kept in underground storage facilities, as there is simply not enough exhibition space to showcase all of them. The CT digitalization project will enable us to make these instruments accessible to everyone.