Research

The Barberini Harp Wood Species Identification

Synopsis: In 2018, Harfenlabor asked Institut für Holzforschung at the Thünen-Institut (Hamburg) to, for the first time ever, examine the wood on the Barberini Harp’s column and other parts (some of which have been examined using different methods) using new non-invasive methodology, and identify the wood species used in the construction of the Barberini Harp. On December 16-18, 2018, Volker Haag and Valentina Zemke from the Institut für Holzforschung carried out anatomical determination of structural features on the harp, at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali (Roma). In close consultation with the museum’s management, Haag and Zemke used the non-destructive high-resolution 3D-reflected-light microscopy. This technology includes integrated image analysis software enabling production of flat observation surfaces in order to identify structural features of wood. Structural features detected on the examined areas of the harp were compared with data held in the scientific wood collection at the Thünen Institut, and with databases of macro and micro wood data. Volker Haag presented the findings in a report to Harfenlabor, dated February 18, 2019.&&

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by Volker Haag, Valentina Zemke

The team from the Thünen-Institut, Institut für Holzforschung transported comprehensive microscopy equipment from Hamburg to Roma for this investigation. At the heart of this equipment is a state-of-the-art 3D-RLM (3D-reflected-light microscopy) microscope. This advanced technology enables a completely non-destructive material analysis that allows identification of the types of wood that the harp was built of. The scientists’ repertoire of tools also includes a custom computer with specialist image analysis software, as well as various eyepieces and stands for different applications.

Equipment set-up, Swati Tamantini, Valentina Zemke, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Setting up for specialist image taking and processing requires a great amount of time and concentration from the scientists. Valentina Zemke, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Fine adjustments to 3D-RLM imaging device settings in preparation for microscopic investigation, Volker Haag, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

3D-RLM investigation: the lens transmits “live” to the screen for real-time examination of the harp’s surfaces, Valentina Zemke, Volker Haag, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Frequent touching has over time thinned out stain and varnish layers on the column, enabling examination of the surface of the wood. Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Macroscopic examination of the harp’s soundboard and tailpieces with a hand magnifier, Volker Haag, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Macroscopic surface examination and identification of locations suitable for microscopic investigation, Valentina Zemke, Volker Haag, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Examination of damaged paint surface and identification of locations suitable for microscopic investigation, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Transcript of the examination protocol, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Examination of a button, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Examination of a button, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Creating a 3D microscopic image, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Transmission of a 3D microscopic image, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

3D microscopic image of a vertebral boxwood fragment, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Scaling and measurements on 3D microscopic image, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Analysis of microscopic wood structure (wood anatomy) based on image material, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Comparing the examination images with anatomical wood structures in digital databases, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Geographical distribution of wood species in the Thünen-Institut database, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Description of the characteristics of Norway spruce, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Comparison of ring-porous as opposed to diffuse-porous types of pore arrangement in wood, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Roma, 2018

Volker Haag comparing the harp’s wood surfaces with samples in the scientific wood collection (Xylothek) of the Thünen-Institut, Institut für Holzforschung, Hamburg, 2018

Volker Haag conducts image-analytical comparison of the Barberini Harp examination material with the samples in the scientific wood collection of the Thünen-Institut, Hamburg, 2018
All images © Armin Linke / Harfenlabor 2020. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND International 4.0