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Violin strings made from spun spider silk

A researcher in Japan has twisted together thousands of strands of spider silk to create string for a violin.

A spider works on its web as an early morning dew highlights the thin strands of silk, Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, in Tallahassee, Florida
A spider works on its web as an early morning dew highlights the thin strands of silk, Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, in Tallahassee, Florida
Image: Phil Coale/AP/Press Association Images

A JAPANESE RESEARCHER has created functioning violin strings from a novel new material: thousands of strands of spider silk.

The strings are said to have a “soft and profound timbre”, similar to that of traditonally-made strings.

The creator, Dr Shigeyoshi Osaki of Japan’s Nara Medical University, said that he had “overcome the difficulties in pulling long draglines from spiders, (twisting) bundles of dragline filaments and (succeeding) in preparing violin strings.”

Osaki began to apply the applications of spider silk after first perfecting a method of obtaining large amounts of the material from captive-bred spiders, reports the BBC. In 2007, he wrote:

Bowed string instruments such as the violin have been the subject of many scientific studies. However, not all of the details have been clarified, as most players have been interested in the violin body rather than the properties of the bow or strings.

Osaki made the strings by twisting between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk, made by 300 female Nephila maculata spiders, in one direction to form a bundle. Three of these bundles were then twisted together in an opposite direction to form a string.

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