Invented by science fiction author Frank Herbert, and first mentioned in his novel Dune, stravidium is a fictional substance, possibly intended to be interpreted as a previously-undiscovered metallic chemical element.
It is mentioned as a component of the ultra-durable fictional substance plasteel, which is described in the text of Herbert's works as "steel which has been stabilized with stravidium fibers grown into its crystal structure."
Stravidium is also the material used to create the nine strings of the Baliset, a musical instrument similar to the nonfictional Chapman Stick. According to Herbert, baliset strings are crafted by stretching long filaments of stravidium until they reach their correct final length and tone quality. Tone quality is determined by the speed at which stravidium filaments are stretched: a strident tone is achieved through rapid stretching, and a mellow tone is obtained through slower stretching. Stravidium cannot be cut to length, but can only be stretched. As a result, stravidium filament stretching is a task requiring specialist skills and strict discipline in the luthier: if a filament is stretched too far or not far enough, it becomes useless and must be discarded, and the process repeated on a new filament.
Stravidium is, along with balisets and numerous other musical instruments, a major export of the planet Chusuk, fourth planet of the Theta Shalish system of planets.
The baliset - actually a Chapman Stick with a small electrical fan attached to the base - can be heard here on YouTube, performed by Emmet Chapman himself and dubbed into the scene, where Sir Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck is shown playing it.
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