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David Beard

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Posts posted by David Beard

  1. I greatly respect those who cultivate true expertise. But as others have said, dealing and instruments are progressively getting more widely dispersed, along with pseudo expertise.

    That is why I’m more interested in developments that allow a very select handful of individuals to have a broader reach and to participate (at least partially) in a higher percentage of “evaluations”.

    The idea that any process can deterministically stamp out ‘experts’ is dangerous (as I believe Roger said), as well as ridiculous.

    Some professions use societies and various schemes of certifications and levels to supposedly assure qualification, but these are really more indicators of ability with internal group politics and conformity to process than of attainment or expertise. Again, the long term opinion of colleagues and the market are probably the only real guards against the ‘pseudo’ experts.

    While the skill of identifying violins is sometimes likened to identifying people, it’s really more like being able to identify kinship and lineage.

    A skill that many have:

    “Hey Luke! I remember you. I saw you at an auction a few years back.”

    But much rarer:

    “Luke! Very nice to meet you. Oh hey, I can tell just be looking at you who your father was. You’d probably better sit down for this.”

  2. There are other fields where book and classroom learning are insufficient, and where true expertise is in problematically short supply. Medicine for example prepares students with school study, but then requires internships to complete the education.

    Also, I wonder if some of the high tech options might enable 'specialist experts' to provide long distance support to violin shops around the world.

    Pictures might not be enough to id fiddles, but what if the local violin dealer and remote expert link up with high definition video and sound?

    I would think the local guy and the expert could work together very effectively to make an id, or valuation, or arrive at a repair plan for a difficult job.

  3. I read Maestronet much more than I post.

    For me, Maestronet is a lifeline and a school. I've spent the last couple years researching and preparing, and now am in the midst of making my first several violins.

    Maestronet is a treasure. Beyond the current threads, the archives are full of gold. Besides providing constructive information, the forum also gives a window on the diverse and multilevel violin culture around the world.

    Posting does seem to be a tricky business! When I do post, sometimes the pointy sticks attack. Egad! And sometimes someone is offended or someone's feelings are hurt even when not intended.


    Bottom line though, Maestronet provides the most convenient way to enjoy a little community with people similarly obsessed with violins.

  4. Perhaps it's something in the lighting? Or maybe others won't see the same thing?

    For me, the tops of the siblings seem to present a stronger contrast than the backs?

    Any insights into this divergence of impression? And why do the backs seem more harmoniously similar by comparison?

  5. Any thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of a water soluble ground, on something which will be exposed to perspiration?

    Certainly outside of instrument making, the use of water based colors and grounds under varnish is well established. Apparently this was still the normal structure for paintings in Andrea Amati's time.

    As evidence of its continued and broader use, Watin and others describe Chipolin as kind of royal wall finishing. Chipolin was basically a carefully applied white mineral ground in water based glue, followed by varnishing. Well executed Chipolin was reputedly an extremely durable material, once dried.

    None of this necessarily means anything for instrument making. Except that we shouldn't easily dismiss the plausibility of water binders under varnish.

  6. I hope the playground is big enough for many, and for more than one star.

    I've learned from the posts of Burgess, Carlson, Hargrave, Holmes, Saunders, Darnton, and other true experts who thankfully have and/or do post. These stars don't always agree, but always are worth reading. I've also learned from the post of many many others here on MN.

    I don't believe than anyone who has felt cause to offer a supportive word to one member has intended belittlement of others.


    Asking for tolerance. And intending respect toward all our stars.

  7. I'd like to better understand the classical treatment of the linings and blocks.

    I've searched the internet for pictures, and there are a few. But it would be nice to see more pictures of the blocks and linings from classical violins. Particularly, I found it hard to find pictures of the upper and lower blocks and how they meet the linings.

    Of course there are some great resources out there, like Roger Hargrave's articles.

    post-30802-0-84966200-1327378787_thumb.jpg post-30802-0-84207800-1327378769_thumb.jpg

    Latter makers seem to have changed these features very freely. Often, later makers seem to 'clean up' the asymmetries by centering their blocks more equally on the corner, and often by using the same kind of lining join on each side of the block. Obviously symmetry has a natural kind of appeal and logic to it, but clearly the classical makers had some other idea in mind.

    The mortised C bout linings clearly have a rather spring like connection to the blocks. But all the other lining joins apparently are simple butt joints. These I would expect to be almost like hinged joints.

    The shape of the blocks extending into the outer bouts and just barely reaching into the C bouts also seems to emphasize this disparity between the hinged and mortised lining joints.

    I'm hoping and wondering if people have more pictures, and maybe some theories about why?

    What are the consequences of their design? What might be the purpose?

  8. Thank you Michael!

    There are some people with experience making, and some people with experience handling the great instruments, and some people who can communicate clearly and effectively, and some people with a probing curiosity and evident love of violins, but...

    you are among the extraordinarily rare elite that combine all these virtues with an openness and generous sharing.

    Cheers! :)

  9. And here are the data for 49 del Gesús. Thicker, but the differences are smaller around the f-holes, especially the inner wings and sides.

    Thank you for posting maps from such large samplings, and with deviations showing!

    I don't suppose you could post maps of the rest of the top and back?

    Really great to see basic data presented cleanly and simply.

  10. One area of theory that seems to be getting less attention that it should is arching. The only treatment vaguely close (that I'm aware of) is the Woodhouse paper on confined modes of S-shaped steel, which does not appear to have much utility for violinmakers.

    I have looked a little at the "ring mode" as described by Evan Davis, just to get some idea where we are on the frequecy-curvature field, and it looks to me like arching would have significant influence on mode shapes (and thus radiativity) even up at the higher frequencies.

    The picture is complicated further by the nature of wood, where the properties can vary wildly depending on the angle of the grain to the surface. Some of that variation may contribute to good sound... or not... we don't really know. So advocates of plate bending, in an effort to maximize stiffness in all directions at all times, might not be aiming in the right direction... or might... we don't really know.

    There is plenty of concern about total arching, long and crossarch patterns, cycloids, and the like, but not much of the "how" and "why" of the arching from a fundamental physics/acoustics view.

    I'll put that on my "to do" list.

    I thank you for your exceptionally clear headed approach to applying science to the art of violin making.

    I would suggest that since resonances are readily measurable, they have filled the view screen and obscured other lines of observation for most scientifically inclined violin lovers.

    Certainly resonance plays a part. But the violin is largely a driven system. Resonances ARE the story for systems that passively respond to an unorganized input, but they are NOT the full story for driven systems, nor for systems that transform and radiate a highly organized input. Indeed, in some driven systems resonances are simply unwanted pests.

    I wish more of our scientifically talented people would turn down their attention to the blatantly observable topics of resonance and varnish just a bit and ask: WHAT ELSE MIGHT MATTER??

  11. Great thread!

    I had a long reply, but it looked way too tiresome and I deleted it in favor of a brief opinion statement:

    Plate tuning: nope*

    Chladni patterns: nope

    Micro-tuning: nope

    modal analysis: not yet**

    wood properties: some help

    ... At the moment, the "trial and error" theory still looks very efficient.

    ... I got the idea to ask this question after making my 25th violin and realized that I no longer use plate tuning à la Hutchinson. In fact, I wish I never heard of plate tuning.

    ... But IMHO I think many well-meaning, smart researchers have lost focus. Noon and Buen maintain that focus. ;) ...

    ... To me this is the single greatest contribution that Science has made to violin making is; that Science has, more than anybody else, eliminated the most 'smoking guns'.

    ... Surely we see this as a human endeavour, and do not seek an answer from Science. So why do we seek an answer on Making?

    ... I think that people like Noon and Buen to mention a few, are laying some important foundations, for someone later to come along, and build on. ...

    Science has given us a wealth of info, but few answers. Perhaps, as I think many have suggested, this is partly because violin making is at root a human art and not a science.

    trying to get modern science to make a better stradivari is like trying to get jackson pollack or salvador dali to help you paint a better mona lisa or last supper ...

    ... Trying to achieve the Strad or Guarneri sound through immersion in the spirit of their time is, I believe, filled with at least as many dead-ends as any other route (or more so). ...

    This I'm not convinced of. Dead-ends are part of any discovery method. In a sense, they don't really matter. What counts is that 'historic immersion' and 'hands on' yield a lot of good fruit.

    As a new maker, learning now, and building my first instruments now, I find writings from the 'immersion' crowd to be helpful beyond all other sources: Sacconi, Darnton, Hargrave, et al.

    The other source of supreme usefulness is direct reports and observations of the old instruments. In this, science plays a hand. The internet gives a wealth of access to sounds, pictures, words, and data. Science and computers enable our wonderful forum, and many of the tools that help us learn from the experience of others.

    Only as a distance third have scientific studies seemed helpful in themselves. Yet, some of them are very helpful indeed.

    Perhaps some of the weakness of scientific results is that science thrives on separating components of a problem to arrive at fundamental understanding, while the violin maker must be concerned with fitting the components together into an effective whole.

    Science can play a part, but making is not equal to physics + chemistry + engineering. It is also part history, culture, and art.

    For me, some of the most helpful scientific studies have placed information in a complex context. For example, some of the CT scan works present several coordinated maps giving thickness, density, and contour/elevation of the same instrument. To me, these are more helpful than any study that probes one of these separately. Similarly, there are some motion animations that show the coordination of movement through the whole instrument and the air motion for varied frequencies.

  12. To me, "response time" is still a term lacking an adequate and agreed-on definition. If it was about how quickly a string can go into a stable vibration regimen, it would leave out the "crunches and consonants" which can add so much to an instrument, and to a player's performance.

    Yes! It doesn't seem like a simple single quantity.

    Here are some impressions from my own playing and preferences:

    It seems that in instruments with a more satisfying tonal range, there are multiple components to the sound and different kinds of voices available from the instrument, with some components responding faster than others. My sense is that in better instruments the sibilants/stridents and other brighter components respond the fastest, and that there is a basic 'clean' voice that responds quickly. But under that there is both a blowy/airy voice and a gutsy/deep voice available - which are both slower to invoke. With pressure or closer to the bridge there are additional bitier and driven sounds possible, with response times somewhere in the middle.

    It seems as if the differences in response times are helpful, aiding in control and selection of voice as desired.

    Perhaps others can give more specific description of the mechanisms behind these effects? I'd love to get quantitative about these observations, but for me they are just impressions at this point.

    Beyond response times for different components of the sound and different voices, there is a separate set of response effects around the change of pitch/finger/string within one tonal voice. A desirable example of this is the special kind of crisp almost 'popping' transition from pitch to pitch that is available on some violins. You can sometimes hear the same effect with other kinds of instruments, clarinets for example. This effect seems to require both a lingering and persistence of the old pitch, combined with a suddenness and full blown cutting in of the new pitch.

    It does seem like it would be helpful to separate and distinguish different aspects of 'response time'.

  13. Rub your finger on the top of the bridge and notice which direction makes all the noise.

    I just tried this on a viola. Certainly most of the sound comes with rubbing along the arc of the bridge. But there is also a higher almost hissing sound when rubbing in the strings direction. Both seem significant.

  14. That's a great modern take on 'pink'. Very interesting.

    I've heard a very antiquated use of 'pink' as more of a process of whiting out a color. Similarly, 'lake' later was sometimes used to name a type of red, but originally was more about a particular coloring making process.

    In this archaic sense, you might have 'pinks' based on other colors then red or purple.

    I couldn't find much of any reference to this usage on the web. Except for some mentions of 'pink' to refer to a yellow lake of buckthorn. 'English Pink'

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