Secret ingredient in Stradivari may be heaven sent By Duncan Mansfield, Associated Press KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The secret of a Stradivarius violin's heavenly sound may actually have celestial origins. For centuries, experts have debated whether special varnishes or wood treatments were the secret to the instruments' rich resonance, which some consider superior to contemporary violins. Now a tree-ring dating expert at the University of Tennessee and a climatologist at Columbia University offer a new theory — the wood developed special acoustic properties as it was growing because of an extended period of long winters and cool summers. "It just amazed me that no one had thought of this before," said Dr. Henri Grissino-Mayer. "The relationship between the violins, the trees that they were made from, the climate that existed when the trees grew and how it affected wood density to create a superior tonal quality. Complete story here.