David Beard

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    http://davidofsantabarbara.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-first-draft-imagining-how-to-make.html
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  1. Part of the culpability sits historically with buyers. Violin owners, even professional players, seem to prefer owning instruments with an intriguing backstory, even if significant self-delusion is required. In a market where honesty puts dealers out of business, only those who support such fantasies of provenance survived. I suspect these forces were even stronger in the past. Modern culture somewhat promotes increased transparency, which has helped some
  2. I agree. The vast majority of factory stuff is as you describe. Only when someone tries to 'add value' does the real deceipt appear. Though historically it might be true that a large majority of past dealer houses participated at some level, especially if your scruples call foul for 'house' labeled violins that are just generics with in-house setup and perhaps in-house varnish.
  3. David Beard

    Asymmetry; Character or poor craftsmanship?

    I couldn't resist the cute way of saying it. What I mean by 'intentional' is not that they chose any process because it would cause asymmetry. I agree with you there. What I mean is that they didn't bother choosing processes that would be more effective at preventing asymmetry. To me, this says that the degree of variance commonly seen in their work didn't bother them. For example, they could easily have referenced every horizontal position by reference to a center line. If they worked loosely, there would still be variances, but they wouldn't compound and build up. But we don't see such steps as the norm in classical work. Instead, we routinely see them using methods that end up compounding the asymmeries one on top of the other. So when a new feature is to be worked on each side of a piece, they will very likely relate it to features that already exist in slighly different asymmetric versions on each side. So classical work characteristically chooses to let features follow off each other, accepting the consequent accumulation of variances. They routinely make such choices instead of using alternatives that would correct features on the two sides of a work back toward symmetry by referencing new details to shared global references instead of references that are independent and already asymmetric on each side. (center line references for example) So I think of classical building as 'following the variances', and modern building as usually 'correcting the variances' as work proceeds.
  4. David Beard

    Asymmetry; Character or poor craftsmanship?

    Nice example, Bruce! I would venture to say the following apply in classical building of instruments (and probably buildings too): *The many small asymmetries are unintentional in the sense that: 1) such asymmetries would not be included in any design plan or roadmap design for the building that might be prepared ahead of time. *But these same little asymmetries are intentional in the sense that: 1) the builders would work freely with rather loose tolerances and showing no great interest in avoiding small variances in work; 2) They referenced the sizing, and positioning of each next bit a work off of other elements of the work that had already been established, thus often compounding variances one on top of the next; 3) they didn't correct or adjust further work back to any original design priority. In a modern paradigm, we tend to act as if some global map framework surrounds something we are making, and there is a priority to keep correcting next bits of work back to this ideal global reference. With classical work, no such ideal frame is suggested. Some bits of work might be placed or size off of large-scale references in the existing work, which can help keep things on a reasonably harmonious track, but still, these new elements will be referencing and following off other real and often imperfect elements already established. A brief way of summarizing the classical approach to asymmetry might be to say that: Asymmetry is intentionally allowed, and built into the working process, but it is not intentionally introduced or designed in.
  5. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    This is very good!
  6. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    I'll try looking at this idea again tomorrow. But for now, I can't find anything specific about the treble versus bass side in these examples. The sense of the treble sides seeming longer appears to be just a mental bias or illusion on my part.
  7. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    Agreed. The facts don't actually support this idea. In the Strad examples above, the height and width of the soundholes in each example match well from treble to bass side. But do you also see how somehow the treble side holes appear longer or curlier? Maybe it's just my imagination?
  8. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    Catenary and any other mathematical curve is idealized. Nature often approaches such things, especially in aggregate behavior, but nature always ultimately diverges from these informational constructs. Entropy, as well as the discrete and particle character of nature assure this. But these things are just philosphy. You can make a symmetric design plan. But a physical version can only aproximate such ideals. No matter how exquisitely fine your tolerances, the little difference between your physical version and the ideal will be conceptually bigger than the whole physical university. But how does any of that count in making an instrument?
  9. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    Recently I had the idea of trying to identify instruments that had historically been favored by great players and then looking to see if there might be some common themes running across those instruments. I can't claim this is a well-conceived idea. Besides other problems, it tends to be very subjective. Obviously, such a collection of instruments ends up having a heavy representation of Del Gesu, and of Golden Period Strads. The one big thing that sort of initially stood out to me is that the Strad's in the group I selected seemed to mostly have soundholes that looked more like Del Gesu than I would have expected. They tended toward that gangly kind of look, mostly having their upper curves extend quite a good way above the upper eyes. I also had the persistent sense that the treble side soundholes seemed to have somehow more elongated appearances. On the other hand, this is apparently only an illusion. Upon analysis, the Strad's consistently show their treble and bass side eyes and curve extensions basically equally placed. And the Strad's don't generally show nearly as much asymmetry as the Del Gesu examples. Still, these are the things I was thinking of in referring to Andrea's instrument. Some instruments from the group: 1714c Strad Joachim: 1714 Strad Soil: 1715 Strad Alard: 1715 Strad Lipinski: 1741 Del Gesu Vieuxtemps:
  10. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    You're right! I Mixed up examples. That's what I get for a glib off the cuff response from my phone. The violin shown is the Strad Joachim, 1714c.
  11. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    Assmetry is additional information. Theories and designs tend to be extractive and reductive, thus tending to the reduced information content of symmetry. But life and reality go the opposite way. Thus an idealized line is symetric on every point of itself. But no real object approximating a line shape has this property. etc.
  12. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    Not Telling-- You unleashed a wild thread! Various- Thanks for the kind words. Here's Pollock in his earlier mode of highly skilled representaional work: Andrea -- Gangly soundholes and a bit extra on the treble seem almost typical of Golden Period Strad. You assymetric instrument reminded me. The Soil:
  13. David Beard

    Development of Taste

    As suggested, there's no accounting for taste, and no need to. And there's no need for uniform agreement of taste. What a smaller world it would be if everyone's tastes fully matched up! But, these recent questions about asymmetry being copied, omitted, or allowed to naturally arise, these quesions go to the artistic nature and identity of the objects created. So do some of the recent threads about automated making. We still have a making culture where the dominant concept is that of copying old masterworks. And this is despite a general understanding that the old masters themselves were decidedly NOT copyists. The extreme dominance of the copyist approach is also part of the reaction to something like Marty's work, which is innovative in nature, rather than copyist. And innovative work not only breaks the norms of copyist culture but also breaks from the classical examples that our market reveres above all. Yet, innovative work has something in agreement with classical work that copyist work does not: the work's 'truth' stands in itself. But with copy work, the 'truth' of the work ultimately resides in the original, not the copy. In contrast, classical working methods might be classified as 'traditional'. They created 'original' work, but not inovative. The instruments weren't in any sense copies, even treble and base sides were allowed to be themselves and not required to conform to each other, let alone to copy a model. But the works were created entirely within generations long, only slowly evolving, very conservative traditions of choices and work processes. You might say that classical instruments are all original individuals, but with a lot of shared DNA. Besides Classical, Copyist, and Innovation approaches, we can see that some work is simple Indifferent, some aims to perfect or Idealize, and most is above all Ecnomic and driven by costs versus profits. There is also is the possibilty of making new original instruments that use the methods and formative choices of classical work as much as possible, and as traditionally as possible. However, the scholarship to make such an approach viable is only now developing. For lack of a better label, I refer to this approach as Revival. ****** O.K. After all that preamble.... The aesthtic effective and merit of asymmetry very much depends on the kind of work you're doing, and the 'truthfulness' of its use. I tend to believe that in any sort of original work, asymmetry should arise naturally. Not as a contrived decorative addition. Naturally can mean a design feature, or incidentally to the work process. But copy work presents different circumstances. Again, as a concious contrived addition it will likely ring false. But as faithful detail in exact copying, it can ring true. But, I still have an overall objection to the aesthitics of a copy approach. As a concept, it finds its end point not as a pinacle handcraft continued in 2097, but as a middle market process turned over to factories and A.I. And eventually to something like the replicators on star trek. I believe the highend future of bowed strings is bright. Music is an artful human to human communication that will be of the higheat value as long as we exist. And a bow on unfretted strings will remain one of the most agile, subtle, and direct ways to connect a human brain and heart to sound. So I'm ready to believe that time and inovation will bring new bowed strings to music making, that old versions like viols and violette will find increasingly revived life, and that the traditional violin family instrument will have increasing numbers of profesional, artistic, and elite players. But I also believe that the pinacle handwork violin makers of the future will step away from copy work.
  14. David Beard

    Asymmetry; Character or poor craftsmanship?

    I suspect that if you could ask one of the old makers if the features of an instrument should be made even, square, and symmetric, the answer would be clear: 'Yes, of course'. But then would likely follow a litany of things that were actually more important. 'Oh, but it's more important for the top plate corners to be place well with sides.'. 'Oh, and when you use your pins and clamps to arrange the sides on the board for your back plate, it nice to have things square and even, but good relation of the bouts and length are more imporant.'. 'And it's more important this part relate to that one in the right way.' Etc. 'But it should all look harmonious and balanced, even if that means having to...'
  15. David Beard

    Asymmetry; Character or poor craftsmanship?

    What is more interesting to the human eye: an exact computer drawn line, or a skillful artist's free drawn version? Is there only one answer? There is looseness and there is looseness. Sometimes it's just negligence and meaningless lack of skill, and somtimes it's Delacroix. But a print or image of a painting isn't the same as the actual painting. Likewise, exact duplications and willful mimicries of asymmetry have a different ultimate result than the natural thing itself.