Over centuries and millennia, our ancestors worldwide found the most appropriate materials for increasingly complex acoustical applications. In the temperate climate of Europe, where the instruments of the Western symphony orchestra were developed and perfected, instrument makers still primarily take advantage of the unique property combination and the aesthetic appeal of wood. In all other continents, one material dominates and is frequently chosen for the manufacture of wind, string, and percussion instruments: the grass bamboo. Here, we review from a materials science perspective bamboo's and wood's unique and highly optimized structure and properties. Using material property charts plotting acoustic properties such as the speed of sound, the characteristic impedance, the sound radiation coefficient, and the loss coefficient against one another, we analyze and explain why bamboo and specific wood species are ideally suited for the manufacture of xylophone bars and chimes, flutes and organs, violins and zithers, violin bows, and even strings.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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