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David Beard

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Posts posted by David Beard

  1. I would say always look for the simple underlaying proportional design rather than focusing on .1mm measurements.   You can see easily that this tool is based the size of a simple square.  All other measures are either doubled, ruduced by 1/4, or increased by 1/4.  You can see the design keys off a squre of about 75mm, but with as much 3mm deviation accepted in the execution.

     

     

     

    post-30802-0-78058800-1377991044_thumb.jpg

  2. I think we can also say this evidence suggests they were being accurate in any absolute way down to .1mm.   Their reference standard was on the loose side.

     

    However, their discussion of dividing whatever unit they used into such fine parts suggests they were very careful about the relative size of things, down to a very fine level.     This is a great contrast to modern approaches where we are often very precise in an relation to an absolute reference, but often nearly totally oblivious to the proportional relationship of parts. 

  3. I guess I'm inclined to see the taper's purpose as a tensioning and stiffing of the top plate. 

     

    From this bias, I had assumed it was all made by reducing the block from the top side.  This interpretation appeals to my intuition.  Since it doesn't seem to conflict with the physical evidence, I'll stick to it for now. 

     

    Also, If we conceive the build as a process essentially working upward from the foundation of the back, then the two block height arcs on the mold make an easy and straightforward control for the taper.

     

    As others have said, we can't know.  But to my eye, cutting the taper from the top side only fits the physical evidence very well. It incorporates easily and naturally into the build. And it makes reasonable sense to me structurally and acoustically.

  4. The looseness of a Master is not the same as the looseness of a Beginner, and there's the rub.

     

     

    Granted.  Unlike you and Christian, I'm only at the very beginning of my road.  So in that sense I have no right to comment.  

     

    I'm not even in the foothills of my journey.  I'm still hiking my way up to the trailhead.

     

    I don't at all believe the old masters aimed for looseness. Rather, I think they aimed to work as cleanly as they could manage.  But their technology and methods had limits.  Also economy of effort and resources played a role.  When an inherently wavering method is guided by skill to produce as clean a result as possible, there is something interesting and human about the result.

     

    As others have asserted, I suspect the old masters in the various arts worked along paths that were highly proscribed by the guilds and tradition. I believe these traditions framed the work and methods in such a way that a certain degree of success in the outcome was nearly assured, but also so that some level of deviation would not only be inevitable, but would with great sureness fall into an acceptable or even desirable range and character.

     

    Many modern makers seem to want to replicate this complex result in their finally product.  But there is the further choice of how to proceed.  One approach is to use very modern means and micro control to such an extent that the final product manages to emulate a classical feel.   Another way would be to seek the desired character of results through more historically consistent means.

     

    From where I stand now, either road presents a massive challenge.  But I know which mountain I'm determined to climb.

  5. It seems ones character and very soul are called into question by daring to raise any issue around the Messiah.  (So I suppose the instrument is aptly named).

     

    I thought the little Hill drawing raised a fair question.  But now I feel rather impugned for it.

     

    I thank Bruce for the great pics!   And I apologize to Roger for the toothache.

     

    It seems the overwhelming opinion of experts is that the Messiah is a Strad.   I bow to this consensus.

     

    My difficulty is that while I was raised to give authority full attention and heavy consideration, I was also raised never to accept authority in itself as sufficient demonstration of the truth of anything.  So my natural attitude is to look twice and thrice trying to see for myself the consensus Strad nature of the Messiah.  The difficulty is that so many features of instrument appear to fall at the extreme range of possibilities for an authentic Strad.  So try as I might, with my own eyes I'm only able to see that it possibly is a Strad.  But I'm so far unable with my own eyes to completely close out the question.   Until this thread, I've been mostly quiet about my Messiah questions, because I continue to believe that eventually I'll end up seeing what the consensus sees.   But not previously having heard any Authority pronounce such drawings to be rubbish for punters, the Hill drawing stirred me enough that I wanted to bring the question to our general community.

     

    I don't apologize for asking a well intentioned question.  I might perhaps be an idiot for doing so, but I believe even poor questions are healthy.

     

    OK!!!

     

    So 99.999% bet is Messiah is a Strad.  .001% bet that the story is somehow more complicated.

     

    My current favorite alternative Messiah theory:  Roger made it on a time travel vacation he takes in 2018.  Materials are right because he made it in Strad's workshop with Strad's tools.

     

     

  6. I agree with you Torbjorn.

     

    I too feel that quality of work should be the focus.  And similarly, I believe the actual tonal character resulting will be somewhat beyond or control and will arise not only from controlling details input and process, but also from desireable variance arising through the unfolding work, and from the nature of the materials and instrument in hand.

     

    A central notion for me is the idea that the old guys allowed considerable drift between plan and outcome.   They had a design, but didn't even both much to make the mold symmetric, etc.  You even see this principal acting in the old type fonts.  They clearly reflect an elegant design, but in execution a considerable variance is introduced.  There is also a difference between the kind of variance they accepted and simple error.  They clearly used both a design plan, and set working methods.   In combination, the two yield an envelope of variance with pleasing characteristics and balance.  The combination of design and method they chose corrals the variance into desirable patterns and range.  To me, this is the very essence and heart of what we find lovable in the old work.

     

    As I result, I tend to question our modern inclinations both for extreme precision, and for specific copying.  While I'm sure that someone can actually copy every dip and bobble of shape, and perhaps every feature of an acoustic chart even, I tend to believe that this kind of success intrinsically fails to capture the essence of the old work.

     

    I prefer to seek designs and methods that lead to a good quality and character of work, but encourage and allow that old kind of variance to play a major role in the process and outcome.   I see attempts to fix outcome by immense control of input and process to be very very modern and antithetical-- at least to my goals. 

     

    IMHO.

  7. So what of makers that speak of customizing or preplanning tone for a customer?   Does anyone really have such control of ingredients and process that they can predetermine playing characteristics?

  8. Hi Don,

     

    I have great respect for your approach to studying the violin.

     

    I'm aware from past threads that you believe the speaker cone notion can be over done.  However, is it not also possible to underrate the notion?

     

    As I understand it, vibrating physical systems tend to move in all available modes simultaneously -- to greater and lesser degrees.   Even though motion studies show the top twists and pumps in rather complex ways, still it seems unlikely to me that the geometric stiffness of the central section and bar, and the contrasting geometry of the edges and approaches to the edges are not relevant (in a way at least partially similar to a speaker cone and spider).

     

     

  9. Seems a good idea to try and see broader connections of themes, rather than just the separate component effects.  

     

    For example, the several ideas mentioned earlier about dark versus bright all seem to be related as themes of stiffness.  Stiffer top makes brighter, opposite makes darker.    The higher top will imply more of a cupped shape in the central section of the top.  Cupped shapes give more geometric stiffness, therefore brighter sound.  But thickness of edges and geometry of edges and approach can also either contribute or take away from stiffness/brightness.  Similarly, the effects of the bar can also be seen in terms of stiffness.

     

    While the stiffness/brightness theme and variations seems to be one of the most important factors for tone, there certainly are other themes of interest.  

     

    For me, I'm very intrigued by themes around the idea of energy traveling into, through, and then out from the instrument. 

     

    Thickness of the back for example doesn't just contribute stiffness.  Because the back thickness is centralized, it creates a mass of maple that can act to 'store' energy.  This provides a 'reservoir' for power which is something different than the stiffness/brightness theme. 

     

    To me, these are interesting things to ponder while carving.

  10. To a very great extent, all these economic changes are being driven by computer and technology changes, and the resulting shifts in public consumption of media and content.   

     

    Perhaps in the old paradigm there was more emphasis on providing many replicas of the core services and repertoire.  So the economic current pushed toward delivering many solid but generic regional orchestras and attendant soloists to deliver acceptable regional performances of core repertoire.  And similarly it pushed to deliver many competent but interchangeable studio players to churn out movies music, etc.  The old system focused on producing many replicas of the core skills and major works, but perhaps sacrificed original identity and breadth of material.

     

    Now that system is retreating.  But the sword often cuts two ways.  Perhaps there will emerge an upside from the current changes.  At the same time that audience and money for the umpteenth generic replica is eroding, there seems to be some resurge of individually among younger players and a broadening of the range of repertoire, reaching into every remote corner of the catalog.

     

    I'm not at all convinced that overall total demand for violins and violin music is in decline.   As one indicator, the number of violin images and references in pop culture, advertising, and newspapers, etc. seems to be as high as or higher than ever.  This suggests the violin continues to have a strong hold on the general psyche.  

  11. These days there are several non-invasive ways to produce images of the interior.

     

    Curiously, there are other corner blocks depicted for different instruments in the same series of drawings.   All drawings are presented as drawn by the same person.  The other corner block depictions seem much less inappropriate to the instruments in hand.     Again, why should this one be so wrong?

  12. I understand that this can not be a typical Cremona block.   But it is the block shown for the Messiah in the Hill blueprint drawing, presumably drawn by the last people that actually looked at the Messiah blocks.

     

     

    This is why my questions:  

     

             Is it accurate?  Hill certainly put it forward in a context were you expect accuracy.

     

              Is it a repair or replacement?   They make no such note.  So you would expect the one block shown to representative of the four corners generally, not the one exception -- with no comment made.

     

              Are there other similar Cremona blocks?  I'm pretty sure there aren't.  Certainly it is a common enough block shape, just not a classical one.

     

     

    So did the Hill's just make a big mistake?    It makes me really want to see the Messiah corner blocks.

     

     

     

    I think the likely thing is that the drawing is far from true.

  13. Perhaps their attitude and approach to fire were a bit more intimate and less afraid than our modern view.    Fires and coals were everwhere in constant daily use for heat and warmth.   How many of us would consider heating our bedding with live coals???     We also don't have near so many wide stone hearths available to safely contain small scale fires and flare ups.

     

    Many of the old recipes do discuss process and fire safety, as well as what to do when your varnish cook happens to catch fire.  Further, the old recipes are very usually in small quantity, making for lessor risk.   We also have documentation that the later Markneukirchen were cooking varnish.  But in large batches with sometimes fatal results.

     

    While it's certainly possible the old makers might have bought prepared varnishes, I can't see any barrier to them cooking their own when they wanted.  And it's easy to imagine many provocations for them to do so.

  14. We can only speculate....

     

    Given that, I'm inclined to believe that violin varnishing was deeply rooted in generations of art/craft traditions.   Broadly, I expect the varnish was entirely in line with general art material practices of the times. 

     

    I imagine that instrument makers had a selection of finishing recipes before the violin/viola was even invented.  I tend to assume these were based in art recipes, but refined and modified over generations of instrument making to be more appropriate visually and acoustically, while protecting the instruments from handling and use.

     

    My impression from the texts I've read so far is that virtually all the trades in those times shared a basically common pallet of materials.  And that almost all recipes were variations on a few commonly shared themes.   Koen Padding's articles that suggest violin varnishes were closely related to early painting and finishing practices seems on target to me.

     

    While it seems popular to believe the old makers bought ready made varnishes, I'm inclined to see that as only a more remote possibility.  The art culture and existing texts of the time seem to indicate workshops mostly 'rolled their own' as much as possible. A range of naturally sourced fundamental materials were traditional and available to the trades.   The earlier you look, the more completely compounds were prepared in workshop.   If you look back early enough, even things like lead white, verdigris, and ultramarine tended to made from raw materials.   Purchasing prepared materials instead of basic ingredients is more a modern rather than ancient approach.  Since instrument makers have fairly specific special needs in varnish, I suspect the makers would have had a body of shared recipes that they would likely prepare themselves rather than trusting external sources.

     

     

     

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