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To Save the Sound of a Stradivarius, a Whole City Kept Quiet

Florencia Rastelli was mortified. As she wiped the counter at the cafe where she works, she knocked over a glass and it shattered loudly on the floor. The customers all stood still, petrified, Ms. Rastelli recalled. “I was like: Of all days, this one,” she said. “Even a police officer popped in and asked me to keep it down. I was so embarrassed.”

The people of Cremona, Italy, are unusually sensitive to noise right now. The police have cordoned off streets in the bustling city center and traffic has been diverted. The city’s mayor implored Cremona’s citizens to avoid any sudden and unnecessary sounds.

Cremona is home to the workshops of some of the world’s finest instrument makers, including Antonio Stradivari, who produced some of the finest violins and cellos ever made. The city is getting behind an ambitious project to digitally record the sounds of the Stradivarius instruments for posterity. And that means being quiet.

So that future generations won’t miss out on hearing the instruments, sound engineers are producing the “Stradivarius Sound Bank”—a database storing all the possible tones that the instruments can produce.

The engineers thought their project was finally ready to get underway. But a soundcheck revealed a major flaw. The sound of a car engine, or a woman walking in high heels, produced vibrations that ran underground and reverberated in the microphones, making the recording worthless.

The police cordoned off the streets. The auditorium’s ventilation was turned off. Every light bulb in the concert hall was unscrewed to eliminate a faint buzzing sound. The violist played a C-major scale as the recording team watched their screens responding to the crisp sound of the instrument.

Then it happened, and they froze. “Stop for a moment, please,” the sound engineer said. They rewound the recording, and played it again. The technician heard the problem, loud and clear: “Who dropped a glass on the floor?”

Possible Preaching Angles:

1) Bible; Scripture; Word of God – The Bible accurately records the very words of God so that we can hear his voice generations after he has spoken; 2) Meditation; Silence; Fellowship with God - In order to meditate on Scripture and to fellowship with God we must silence the constant noise around us and focus on him.

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