The unique sounds of a Stradivarius violin may come down to the density of the wood it is made from.
Scientists say the patterns of the grain are markedly different from modern instruments
It is believed that the seasonal growth of trees in the early seventeenth century was affected by a mini-Ice Age.
Stradivarius had the benefit of wood that was produced in conditions that have not been repeated since then, the journal Plos One reports.
The work by a team from the Netherlands represents the latest finding in ongoing efforts to understand the sound quality of these violins. The musical instruments created in Cremona, Italy, by Antonio Stradivari in the early 1700s have acquired a matchless reputation for tone and clarity down the centuries.
Around six hundred of the violins, violas, guitars and cellos made by the Italian master survive; on the rare occasion they come up for auction they sell for millions.
There have been several suggestions as to why these instruments sound so good and why the modern world has thoroughly failed to replicate their quality.
It was once argued that Stradivari and others used wood from ancient churches or that they added a mysterious ingredient to the wood or used techniques that have since been lost. But modern technology first developed to help people suffering from emphysema may have unlocked the riddle of these fiddles.