Stradivarius instruments—violins, violas, and cellos made in the 17th and 18th centuries by Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy—are known for their unmatched tones. It's for this reason that the instruments are passed down and painstakingly restored over generations. Even so, their tones begin to change as the instruments weaken with age, and eventually they must "go to sleep," as Fausto Cacciatori puts it. The curator of Cremona's Museo del Violino, however, wants to make sure that future generations don't lose out. He's working to preserve the sounds of two violins, a viola, and a cello. It's actually a city affair. As the New York Times reports, Cremona's mayor has urged residents to avoid unnecessary sounds and police have closed the cobblestone streets around the museum for five weeks as work progresses.
A barista got an idea of just how important the project is when she accidentally smashed a cup. "Even a police officer popped in and asked me to keep it down," she tells the Times. Lightbulbs in the museum's concert hall were even unscrewed to eliminate a faint buzzing during recordings for the "Stradivarius Sound Bank," the brainchild of former DJ Leonardo Tedeschi. "We are making immortal the finest instrument ever crafted," he says, while a sound engineer explains hundreds of thousands of recorded notes could in the future be used to "record a sonata with an instrument that will no longer function." The Times of London previously reported that cold temperatures in the region during Stradivarius' lifetime allowed him to work with a denser quality of wood, taken from a Paneveggio forest that was heavily damaged in a storm. (Read more Stradivarius stories.)