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【Cello Factory】The amazing function of mutes

A mute is a device attached mainly to the bridge or sometimes the strings that dampens the sound of violins, violas and cellos by increasing the bridge’s weight. It is because when the bow plays on the strings, the strings vibrate. Then the bridge will transfer these vibration to the sound box and amplifies the sound. If the mute is placed on the bridge, less vibration will reached the sound box and the sound will be weakened.

Actually, mutes can do more than that.

Practice mutes we usually use at home are often made of rubber or ebony and may absorb about 20% of the vibrations. Resonance and sound projection are therefore lowered and the relationship between each note becomes articulated. Players can take this opportunity to listen more attentively to practice phrasing and try out different expressions.

On the other hand, performance mutes are often heavier, usually made of metal, and can absorb as high as 80% of vibrations. During concert performances when string players are not the soloist or where the score sheet states con sordino (with a mute), the mutes are used to weaken the sound and also darken the tone.

Mutes can not only reduce the volume, change the tone and also allow us to practice musical skills. Let’s make good use of it!

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