Instruments: The Little Wooden Song Box

The lordly violin and its less illustrious relatives in the string family are in trouble. As today's concert halls grow more cavernous, it becomes increasingly difficult for a solo violinist to project his sound above a thundering orchestra and out to the most distant seats. And even if he does, many stereo hi-fi addicts contend that the sound is only a pale echo of the "electronically enhanced" concertos that they can conjure up in their living rooms.

Troubled by such problems, Cellist Janos Starker recently hit on a solution that is "so simple...

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