Notes de passage



Pines and quarantine

Published on 1 April 2020

If you are lucky enough to have pines near you, the Laboratoire du Musée de la musique in Paris has an important mission for you

While we are stuck at home, the resin is rising in the pine tree trunks.

Pine resin is used to produce colophony, which is then used to make oil-based varnishes, particularly for violins.

Pine resin contains many different molecules and atoms and one of them is strontium, which can appear in different variations called isotopes.

Why should you care about strontium isotopes? The same ratio of strontium isotopes that are found in the pine resin can also be found in the soil in which the tree grew. Can you see where this is going?

That’s right! The strontium isotopes we can detect in the pine resin can be found in the varnish on violins, creating a GPS tracking system for old violins. 

By time the lock-down is over, the season for harvesting the resin will also be over. So if you or your friends have pine trees nearby, don’t hesitate to collect some samples.

As a knowledgeable research technician, please collect the following:

- pine resin

- soil sample at the base of the pine


Pine resin and soil samples :

① Find a conifer and identify it:

  • Pine species  will do (All pines, larches, silver fir, balsam fir, European spruce, except cedars.
  • Silver firs (Abies alba)​
  • Larches

If any doubt, use or send us a piece of a branch, or wood, or a pine cone.

② Take a resin sample already exuded by the tree or slightly cut the bark to reach the sapwood with a pocket knife (⚠ be gentle with the tree).

Tip: You can also staple a bag at the base of the cut and go do something else while waiting for the resin to flow out.

Résine de pinDR


③ Take a soil sample at the base of the tree

One tablespoon is enough. Put the resin and soil in separate freezer bags. Note the geographical coordinates on the bag using a compass application.

Take some nice pictures of the tree and your work



Then, please send us the sample by post at the following adress : 
M.G Durier - Pins et confinement
8 rue des violettes 92220 Bagneux.


If you have any questions, contact us by email at the address below and send us your pictures and the geographical coordinates of your tree to the same address:

Histoire d’instrument

Un Musée qui sonne

Christophe Rousset

La série Histoires d’instruments propose aux plus grands solistes et musiciens programmés à la Philharmonie de Paris de s’exprimer dans l’intimité...

Les coulisses

Le laboratoire du Musée vu par Fabernovel

Laboratoire du Musée de la musique

Après avoir collaboré avec la Philharmonie sur la conception de son site web, Fabernovel propose de partager sa découverte du laboratoire du Musée de la musique.