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David Beard

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Posts posted by David Beard

  1. 54 minutes ago, sospiri said:

    Those papers conflicted with Echard et al.


    Most researchers so far have used limited tests, with limited resolution.  Layers get blurred and confused.  There is also a difficultly in terminology.  For general Italian arts, terms like ground and size have rather established meanings.  The modern violin world borrows the same language, but tends to go its own way in using the words.


    However, we begin to see studies that combine multiple tests and high resolution imagery to give a strong stratigraphic analysis.

    Hopefully this kind of work will continue and give us a clearer and broader window on historical finishes.





    2018 Micro Imaging of Finish Layers supporting.pdf


    2018 Micro Imaging of Finish Layers Main Article.pdf




    2018 Micro Imaging of Finish Layers Main Article.pdf

  2. 33 minutes ago, David Beard said:

    Basically, yes.  However, some of the most studied Strad finishes seem to be different than the broader instrument finishing practices.


    But, I would add that the evidence supports more the idea that there was a fairly uniform general approach.  But that at each stage of work the exact materials and recipes were wide open.

    So staining or sizing wood could be done with any number of stains or sizes.    A role for 'white grounds' could be fufilled by a range of minerals, etc.

  3. 6 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

    Why should we assume that there was a standard Cremonese varnish/ground formula that lasted 200 years.

    Basically, yes.  However, some of the most studied Strad finishes seem to be different than the broader instrument finishing practices.


  4. 3 hours ago, sospiri said:

    Why do recent research papers focus on entirely different preconceptions?

    Echard et al and the oil ground. And the other researchers promoting the contemporary Cremona ground?

    Something is very wrong somewhere.

    Those recent researches focus on Strad.   

    The use ground minerals (leaving the question of use as pore fill, ground layer, are filler in varnish) is well document in paintings and instruments in Italy during the period of classical Cremona making.  And, there are some Cremona instruments were it's well documented.

    However, there appear to be at least some Stradivari instruments were such minerals don't fill the pores.

    Many people currently expand the context of that one quite limited fact to such minerals weren't used in a much more general way.

  5. 3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    David, I am surprised that you are making such razor sharp dividing lines. What are 'traditional classical players'? IMO interpretations and the sound ideals linked to interpretations are evolving. Therefore the classical instruments are permanently reajusted for 'traditional classical players' to serve new trends. 

    In this sense I wouldn't draw a razor sharp division line between the original Cremona approach and newly developed making concepts. I think successful new concepts are based on the transformations the classical instruments have undergone in the setup over the past 200 years. There is a reason why modern setup became a general accepted standard. (Maybe with the exception of Il cannone:rolleyes:)

    We have to be aware as well that 'classical music' as such has undergone enormous changes. Broadly speaking I see very different sound ideals in the music of let's say Mozart and Shostakovitch. Musicians figure out techniques of sound production to give both composers the right expression on classical built instruments. But isn't it time to think about it a little in violin making to support the efforts of musicians?

    Personally i see  a small contradiction in the fact that players use for 21st century violin technique instruments designed in  the 16th century essentially for 16th century violin technique.

    I see as well that many so called classic players drift in other music regions like Tango, Jazz Pop, or Rock. I see there the desire to redefine our view on a classical music which often fights with its own inflexible viewpoints. 


    Yes. I guess that's fair.  I do see a sharp divide between classical Cremona making versus any sort of inventive or idea driven redesign approach.

    To me, the Cremona making was distinguished by extreme continuity of tradition.  Their development of the instrument was the most succesful ever.  But proceed by experiments with the smallest incremental variations in applying the one and constitent tradtional method.  The variations were minute, and within extreme continuity.  That is way their development looks like and is a cultural evolution of the violin.  The geniuses of the group like Strad and DG did not innovate, they only varied.  The played entirely within the exact same playground of methods that run through the tradition and period.

    And besides its prolonged and dominant success, there is another reason that the 'classical violin' for 'classical music' should be treated as a fixed flavor, traditional received.

    These are the specific instrument at the heart and root of the develipment of western classical music, from the Ars Nova through Shostakovich.   These are the instruments of Monteverdi and the Ars Nova, of Corelli, etc.

    And, one of the great virtues of these archetype instruments is tonal richness and flexibility.  That has also translated into adaptability.  This allowed the classical violin of Italian origin to remain the root flavor behind violins in Mozart's world, Beethoven's, Brahm's, Stravinsky's etc.

    Now, I admit that today we face a new juncture in musical tastes, adjuncture were musical values and tools are diversifying.  There is now more need and room for innovating new instrument and flavors than at any time since the Renaissance.

    But at the same, classical playing is vital and remains as active as ever.  And even subcategories like Baroque, Rennaissance, and Classical (Haydn era) period playing are gaining strength.

    Lastly, I believe that some of us should resume Cremona method making as completely as posssible.  I believe that market of the coming decades will find a little room foe this sort of making.  And I think that it is a very different thing than trying to engineer or achieve a louder or different sort of violin.


  6. 3 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

    I'm also a hobby wine maker for about 40 years. I don't make any novel wines.   Wine making is very similar to violin making. You folks out in California bought into the  successful international mass marketing hype that French and Italian classic "traditional" varieties (cab sauv. cab franc, merlo, pinot  noir, chardonnay, nebbiollo etc.) were the best and nowadays everybody follows that "tradition" of making only about twelve different grape wines. In a similar fashion violin makers copy Strad and DG models.

    However many very very old grape varieties do taste interesting and there is an immense variety of them that is overlooked.  At the moment I'm drinking some of my home made  Blaufrakisch which is an old variety from Eastern Europe that predates all the other classic grape varieties mentioned earlier.  

    My experimental violins and violas explore other ancient instrument ideas.  My flat tops and sound post through the f hole are taken from the medieval fiddle and thousand year old Welsh crwth.  My use of paulownia wood is from a thousand year old Chinese instruments.

    But screw tradition-- I use Wittner geared pegs.


    More power to you!

  7. 1 hour ago, Anders Buen said:

    Here it is: 


    Notice one big difference is less noisy and well defined articulation.

    We do wrong to aim at maximizing one aspect of violins over another.

    The received classical Cremona ideal is a highly evolved design, and a highly evolved balance of elements into a favored tradtional sound.

    Let's aim to make the traditional wine, not to remake it into something novel.

    The Cremona examples have tops that are quite diaphragm like, but not crazy thin or thick, nor super light.   If you greatly change this balance, you will also rebalance the tone into something novel.

    Some guys, like Marty, are out and out serving up novel wines.  But for those serving to traditional classical players, I say serve a classic wine.

  8. 3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments. The player needs to adapt to a Strad in order to make it sound really good. And it is in this sense I understand 'hard to play' but once a player got the bowing into his/her system for a particular instrument it seems to be best thing ever. 

    (I don't know if there are any Strad players here in this forum to ask...)


    My take on this is that better violins offer more range of voice to the player, but can at the same time and for related reasons can be more particular about how you draw a voice.   In other words, making then speak and the resulting colors are less automatic.

    But better players will end up valuing this aspect greatly.

  9. 34 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

    Well, the oldest instrument I regularly care for was made around 1580. Some restoration and alteration, but still going strong... I see plenty of 17th century fiddles on a regular basis that are still just fine... some with surprisingly little past restoration... so I think the Strads are safe for now.  :-)

    And their are Chinese stringed instruments in active use for over a 1000 years.

    It is being cared about, or not, that makes wooden stringed instruments live or die.

  10. 2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    One might ponder if Cremonese violin makers didn’t try to get as close as possible to a ‘membrane like violin top’.

    Just change your word to diaphragm, skip the issue of implied stretching.

    In a membrane or a string, it's implied that the restoring force comes of an elastically stretched material.

    In a rod or diaphragm, the restoring force comes from the elastic stiffness of the material.





  11. 3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    capacitance? Like in an electric circuit?

    Would it be as easy as 

    Capacitance is a function governed by the entire mass?

    And how would a violin with low capacitance sound versus a violin with high capacitance?


    Don't know if this is related to this. I watched the video where Ray Chen plays a 65 dollar fiddle and compares it to a 10 million dollar Strad.

    At one point he says that the cheap violin feels for him like 'It wants to continue to vibrate on the same note when I am already on the next'. 

    Wouldn't this be a description of high capacitance? 

    No. That's a description of high Q and low dampening.

    Think of changing fingers right after plugging a string.  Guitarists do this a lot deliberately. Violinists don't normal do this, but I'm we can all remember moments goofing around.

    The energy persists, but changes to the new signal.  Capacitance lends a persistence of energy, not necessarily of signal.

    It is high Q resonances that want to keep energy at their pitch, instead of responding to a driving signal.  


  12. 18 minutes ago, uncle duke said:

    Is ot possible the energy simply permeates through the wood and varnish to the outside surface.  Things seem to be better after the violin has warmed up to at least the human body temperature.

    Side note - long ago, I was told that air can actually go through concrete - that gave me the thought for the above comment.

    1) as heat, or 2) as vibration leaving the instrument as sound.

  13. 4 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    But it is using energy where it DOES NOT produce sound even if it is not lost. If energy loss equals only friction, I don't know what it is all about anyway. Too complicated with no benefits.

    Anyway, those abstract calculations tell me only that if I can alter the assumed 4 percent to 5 I have an increase of 25% which is a lot.

    I remember quite well, when my father, a physicist, bought the book read it page by page. When I looked into it I saw only those Einsteinian formulas and thought 'Forget it!' A little later my dad was scribbling with pencil things in the book and when I asked him what he is doing he got into a small rant what Cremer is all wrong about. 

    I rather spend my free time to sharpen chisels for my next experiment and maybe I have a good idea...


    An active vibration or standing wave isn't 'using up' that energy.  Think of it as storing the energy.

    From the storage in a resonance, the energy can: 1) linger, 2) go back to the instrument or another resonance, 3) radiate as sound, 4) plastically deform something, or 5) dissipate as heat.

    Only the last three of those actually lose energy from the system.

  14. temperature v heat

    volts v current

    water speed v flow


    Sound is a transfer of energy as vibrations.    Like the energy transfers above, there is also an aspect of the 'heft' of what is happening.

    With heat, we talk of temperature, but also thermal mass.

    With vibrations, there is a similar aspect, though we don't seem to have ready language to address it.

    The energy in vibration is not just about the amplitude of the vibration, but also about the mass that is in motion.  More mass moved at the same speed/amplitude holds greater energy.

    Yes, thin light plates will swing more for equal energy.  But heavier plates brought into equal motion will hold more energy.  And will have more capacity to radiate energy.


  15. 1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

    What about the vibrating neck which doesn't produce sound?

    I wonder too how this compares to other music instruments. Maybe there is, for what reason ever, always a big energy loss factor.



    Vibration itself isn't loss.  It's dampening in to heat that is loss, and radiation of as sound also.

    Most vibrations, like the neck, will  cycling through the instrument until dissipated as either sound/noise radition or heat. I can't think of any other dissipations for a violin.

  16. 21 minutes ago, Anders Buen said:

    I think Cremer tried to estimate this. If I recall correctly is was about 4%. I may look that up tomorrow. The number is correct. He say only 0,4% per cycle is radiated as sound. Thank God, our ears are very sensitive.

    That seems very low.  Much lower than I imagined.

    I guess there are several points where it would be interesting to know power levels.

    There is the arm waving to move the bow. That has a power level.

    There is the transfer of enegry from the bow contact into string vibrations.  That has a power level.

    Then there is the energy transfer from bridge feet into the violin.

    And at a later pointed there is the energy radiating as sound.

    If the overall drop is 96%, most of the loss must be at the bow arm to string transfer.

    There can't be too much energy lost later, as there aren't any heat issues with violin playing.

  17. 24 minutes ago, ctanzio said:

    If you add the fundamental and the overtones together for a vibrating string, you get what looks like a single kink traveling up and down the string. IOW, the vibration of the string is not symmetrical as one might expect for a perfect sine wave. 

    Although it is common to refer to the shape of the wave as "sawtooth", it is actually pretty far off from that shape. A perfect sawtooth would only generate odd numbered overtones. Because of the complex shape of the kink, it is the sum of all the overtones, not just the odd ones.

    Your description of how the bow is actuating the string is correct. It constantly tugs the string to one side, and the kink traveling up and down the string periodically increases the force against the motion of the string to kick it loose until it slows down enough for the string to grab it again. It is during the kick loose and sliding phase where I would expect noise, or small vibrations, to be introduced into the string.


    Yes. As ctanzio says, vibrations add.

    The OP asks how harmonics/overtones are reproduced in a violin.

    One thing that doesn't happen is they don't travel as separated sine waves.    Instead, vibrations add together and travel with the shape of their summed totals.

    This means that when we hear a sound, we aren't very good at distinguishing between a sound composited from many separate sources versus a single source that produces total of that composite in one complicated wave shape.

    This is why we aren't great at distinguishing a speaker reproduction from an orchestra of seperate sound sources.

    We can separate harmonics mathematically, but in a medium they are combined.  

    We can also isolate and stimulate separate harmonics on a string, as we all know.

    For these reasons, it's easy to make the mistake of talking and thinking about overtone harmonics as if they somehow did exist as independent sine wave shapes in a string or an instrument.

    But mostly they are more just mathematical artifacts of a non-sinewave wave shape.  They are the simple sine waves that add up to the shape of the actual physical wave present.

    When we strongly pull a string to the side in a triangle shape and then let go, the distortions shooting back and forth along the string have shape related to the initial triangle shape we pulled.  Nothing much looks like sine waves.

    But when we hear that, our ears and brain process the cyclic shape of the presure distortions reaching us as a sum of sine waves.  So we hear harmonics.

  18. 10 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

    That's kind of what I was thinking, when I starting the question, followed with some tests.

    I also thought that the notes/string motion by themself could contribute, but it does that only when a note is very near a mode.


    Yes.  The bow can pull the string only when it's velocity and the strings are similar.  

    That will tended to be cyclic, but won't be strickly so.  

  19. 1 minute ago, jezzupe said:

    D. Burgess wrote "a regular pattern  corresponding with the frequency of the played note"

    So that means it's matching the frequency cycle of what ever note is being played? and therefore will change note to note? 

    That is the tendency. But reality includes transitions and imperfections and complications.

    Even that the most skilled players include 'consonances' in their playing. It isn't all vowels.

    Just plain not as simplistic as described.

  20. 9 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

    How is this possible do you think?, I'm not disagreeing, just wondering how something with such little mass {the string} could "send" energy transfer back to the bow, {way more mass} and start to drive the bow hair? or dictate a patterned skipping or skating, is it that the bow hairs act as individuals in such a dynamic state? 

    No. It is the cycle of stick slip that tends to fall into pattern.

    But, noise are still in the sound.  And virtually the energy comes via the bow.

    And any noise in the system, of whatever origin, is energy that has the potential to be captured into the signal.


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