Saunders Research Group - Technical Correspondence I S2571-101

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Correspondence and technical writings, graphs, charts and diagrams for and by FAS, JCS, CMH, Fryxell and Scanlon. These years led up to the forming of the CAS. Much but not all tech work herein was ultimately published.


Type of resource mixed material
Date created 1959 - 1963
Language English
Digital origin reformatted digital


Associated name Saunders Research Group

Bibliographic information

Biographical/Historical note This group evolved slowly. After CMH had finished her first viola in 1949 (the only one she planned to make) Louise Rood (Professor of viola at Smith College who played chamber music with FAS) and Helen Rice (of Amateur Chamber Music Players fame) introduced her and the viola to Saunders. He looked the instrument all over, tapped it, blew in the f-holes and said "Young lady I shall be interested in your next one." He gave CMH several reprints which indicated that he had never made any drastic changes to the violins he studied. So CMH offered to make one that he could cut up. This worked so well, she made several more. Saunders did over 300 tests on these using mainly his "loudness test" (see Notebooks). Shipping instruments back and forth from Montclair to South Hadley with suggestions for experiments gradually developed into quite a program over the next ten years, with CMH adding her ideas for tests and changes. The violas in the experiments and the regular ones she was making during this time were checked twice a year with Helen Rice's musical friends who met in Stockbridge, MA or in NYC. R E Fryxell, a chemist, who was the cellist in the Stockbridge gatherings, became very much interested in the experimental instruments and visited Saunders several times. From these discussions Fryxell started doing some research on properties of wood for violins. After J C Schelleng's retirement from Bell Labs he contacted Saunders on the acoustics of the cello, and was subsequently introduced to CMH who lived near him. This started a long and fruitful interchange between Saunders, Schelleng, Fryxell and CMH on violin research. The early correspondence was not kept, but the lively interchange between Schelleng, Fryxell, Saunders and Hutchins from 1961 through 1965 is in Files 101 and 102. It was during this time that the Catgut Acoustical Society (a name jokingly suggested by Schelleng) was formally started just a few days before Saunders died on June 9, 1963.
Finding aid
Location M1711
Repository Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives

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Musical Acoustics Research Library collection, 1956-2007

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