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1alpha's Achievements

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  1. I would call it kitsch. However sometimes things are so naff they are almost desirable. A Japanese virtuoso violinist friend of mine has a violin shaped toilet seat for example (:
  2. Exactly. What are the key elements of a great sounding fiddle then? Having played several Strads and DGs and many modern instruments I now realise to 'judge' an instrument in an objective way requires a different way of listening - shall we say passive listening. It is all too easy to project the sound of ones current instrument onto whatever one is playing...hence the observation from many sellers that "most players want a fiddle like the one they have already but louder" I think it is not fair or relevant to compare the sound of a a new fiddle to 300 year old Stradivari. An instrument is what it is and is unique to the time it was made. Rather the merits of new fiddles should be assessed by those qualified to do so (I wince when somebody makes a fine looking fiddle then posts a badly recorded mp3 played by an amateur sounding player) and by the degree by which they enable the player to express himself freely. I always find that on fine instruments, playing is twice as easy with half the effort. Also I believe that those fortunate enough to have played great old master instruments will be able to easily create an impression of that sound when playing a new violin. For example Henning Kraggerud has played and recorded on late DGs for the last few years and will have that sound imprinted in his imagination which will be subconsciously transferred to anything else he plays - within limits of course. The recording posted above - a slow expressive piece in a resonant acoustic - as beautiful as it sounds doesn't really amount to a comprehensive road test. The other elements such as clarity, dynamic range, multiple stopping, response time, evenness across the strings and quality in low and high positions, etc etc the list is endless.... Would Henning choose to play the new instrument over his DG for a performance of Ysaye 6th sonata at Carnegie Hall I wonder? Last week I was fortunate enough to play a golden period Strad next to a late del Gesu. Pointless to say one was 'better' than the other, rather that the darkness and booming bass of the DG was perfectly suited for my style/concept of producing an ideal of solo Bach while I would prefer to play say a Brahms concerto on the Strad which under the ear seemed to have more upper partials and a soprano voice. It seems that many of the great fiddlers of the past (according to cozio) had a Strad and a del Gesu (and quite often a Vuillaume too for practice) and chose the instrument which best suited them for the repertoire they were playing at the time. Clearly there is no such thing as the perfect instrument. The answer lies more in ourselves methinks.
  3. Yes good point. I remember when Toyotas were considered junk, called Jap Scrap by some, now the world's best selling car for price and reliability.
  4. Come come Ben I think it's excellent - to make a violin from leather and then play "if I were a rich man" on it. The guy should be applauded for his unique approach - I guess if you can make a violin from leather that works then making one from wood may be much easier..
  5. I notice that the Vuillaume is very oversized 36.7cm - did it sound viola like I wonder and how about playing in higher positions and stop length? I agree that the instruments to try at auctions are not the ones with names but the unknowns which most pass by. I suspect that most of the time the best sounding instruments with provenance never appear in auction as they sell themselves privately and at a much higher price. Also I have found that many violins that look impressive in photos online actually turn out to be disappointing in real life and vice versa. In my opinion if you want to find an instrument purely for sound not for investment then look for the beaten up 18th century unknowns - there are still many great sounding bargains to be had. Finding something that can give you true pleasure everyday of your life for $20K/30K is a small price for the return IMO
  6. I quite like the carved tailpiece look....does anybody make these apart from the Chinese?
  7. Wow, what a beauty! Has anybody played it? The history has no players attached. Lady Blunt was an exceptional lady according to Wikipedia Anne Isabella Noel Blunt, née King-Noel, 15th Baroness Wentworth (22 September 1837 – 15 December 1917), known for most of her life as Lady Anne Blunt, was co-founder, with her husband the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, of the Crabbet Arabian Stud. Lady Anne was a daughter of William King, 1st Earl of Lovelace and Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, said by some to be the world's first computer programmer. Her maternal grandparents were the poet Lord Byron and Annabella Byron, 11th Baroness Wentworth. In childhood, she was known as "Annabella," after the grandmother for whom she was named. She was fluent in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Arabic, a skilled violinist and a gifted artist who studied drawing with John Ruskin. She also had a lifelong love of horses, dating from childhood, and was an accomplished equestrienne. Her interest in the Arabian horse, combined with Wilfrid's interest in Middle Eastern politics, led to their mutual interest in saving the Arabian breed and thus their many journeys.
  8. Getting bogged down in what the finger is doing does not help. Any golfers will know that thinking of the hands during the swing completely messes up the stroke. The best way to learn the action of vibrato is below; amazingly effective IMO Take a box of matches in the left hand and hold them in the palm of the hand raise the left arm into playing position, then shake the matches from the forearm.
  9. 1alpha


    If this was a car, the back half of the chassis would be a Ferrari, the front half a Renault with a Renault engine, the rest a Bugati....
  10. 1alpha


    I notice one of Tarisio's top lots coming up The ex-Castelbarco Composite Stradivarius A FINE COMPOSITE ITALIAN VIOLIN BY ANTONIO STRADIVARI, CREMONA, 1707 Labeled, "Antonio Stradivarius, Cremonensis, 1707..." The top early 19th century, attributed to the work of Nicolas Lupot. The ribs and head 18th century Italian work, attributed to Matteo Goffriller. LOB 35.5 cm Stradivari?!
  11. He he reminds me of once a lady came round with her daughter in the school holidays who needed a lesson before her scholarship audition - the daughter had been learning at school for free (in the days of free school music lessons) when I said my fee was £30 for the hour she looked aghast and said, "that's nearly as much as a plumber!"
  12. The key to playing octaves in tune is to become a better listener - ie develop ones ear by hearing acoustic beats. Many string players are totally unaware that they even exist. When 2 notes are of the same pitch, (a unison or octave) are perfectly in tune then only pure tone is heard, move one of the fingers slightly and a kind of throbbing is heard, an acoustic beat. First practice by playing an open A and 4th finger A on the D string as a unison. When the notes are perfectly in tune with each other the sound will be pure and sweet. Now move the 4th finger down slightly in pitch and hear the acoustic beat beginning, the further down the 4th finger goes the faster the beat. Go down to an F# and the beats are very fast. Now tune the open strings, notice the beats as the perfect fifth goes in and out of being perfect. Finally with this new way of listening tune the octaves as purely as you like. Hope this is of help. I would like to add that the better the fiddle the stronger the acoustic beats are, and when I judge a fiddle the ease with which I can play in tune is one of the first considerations. One plays in tune with the ear first, fingers second, NOT the other way round.
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