Given the importance of wood, it’s natural that any effort to understand what gives a Stradivarius its storied voice would begin there. In 2003, researchers suggested that the lumber Stradivari sourced from forests in the Val di Fiemme in northern Italy’s Dolomite Alps was the beneficiary of an unusual cool period in history. For 70 years, beginning in 1645, average temperatures dropped as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit throughout Europe and North America. Trees grew slowly during this time, called the Maunder Minimum, resulting in denser structure with tighter grain that, the thinking goes, made Stradivari’s instruments more resonant. A radiologist at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands bolstered that theory in 2008, when his CT scans of two Stradivari creations, three by his peer Giuseppe Guarneri, and eight modern ones revealed that the old masters’ handiwork featured slightly more-even grain. Skeptics like retired biochemist Joseph Nagyvary of Texas A&M University discount the idea, however, arguing that luthiers throughout the continent relied upon the same forest, yet their results do not rival the Strad tone.