martin swan

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  1. martin swan

    Luiz Bellini

    I genuinely hadn’t thought of this ...
  2. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    I agree that the knife is essential, but the face of the man who is about to slay you should wear a smile ...
  3. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    Husky implies a slightly veiled quality, pleasantly distorted in the lower register I suspect that what Melvin and Christian value I would describe as “present” or “punchy”. “harsh” would be interpreted by most people as an excessive emphasis in the high mids, to the detriment of the low register and the “silver” frequencies
  4. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    I have spent more than 20 years in recording studios, never heard anyone use the word “harsh” as a positive. I think some other word would better describe what you mean.
  5. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    “Harsh” is in all situations a derogatory word, even when it refers to much needed criticism ie, “harsh but fair”. i can’t imagine anyone in any circumstances welcoming harshness in a violin, unless they have no experience of powerful and projecting violins which are also tonally rich. Perhaps we need another word for whatever it is that a modern power player values ... my own linited experience of Strads and DGs is that none could be described as “harsh” - stiff, full on, overpowering, bold maybe, but not harsh. I suppose if you are playing a recital with an overpowering Steinway, then harsh but audible would be better than sweet yet inaudible, but audible and tonally complex would surely be better.
  6. martin swan

    Luiz Bellini

    You say “rightly”. What would you say were the reasons for this caution?
  7. martin swan

    Who is this Bowmaker?

    I agree. The last word doesn't look like Belgium, and I don't think it relates to the first two words in font or orientation. The brands seem to me to be unrelated to the maker of the bow - the adjuster looks classy, maybe you could get photos of the head too ...
  8. martin swan

    Tailpiece Grain Direction?

    If the material is hard enough to be used in a tailpiece I don't suppose it matters ... if it was a wood that was susceptible to splitting I would probably favour the lower of the 2.
  9. martin swan

    Anselmo Curletto Violin ID

    cellopera, what is your expectation of an Ebay seller (in Germany) who doesn't accept Paypal? The claim that it's Italian seems about as serious as the claim that it's a cello ... These days everyone, knowledgeable or not, is within reach of (and easily finds out about) the many auction companies who bust a gut fighting for half-decent Italian violins. Why would anyone sell such a thing on Ebay?
  10. martin swan

    Tailpiece Grain Direction?

    Can you show what you mean? The grain can only run lengthwise - maybe you are looking at tailpieces with some flame?
  11. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    Yes, on both the macro and the micro level. I don't believe anything very valuable about the quality of a fine violin can be deduced from analysing it as if it was a percussion instrument. Just as an analogy, let's take the comparison between Christian's violin (sorry Christian!!) and the Panette. It's only over time that one can understand how each functions as a musical tool in a particular context. In the case of trying to make a judgment from a performance of the Bach Double, probably an experienced listener needs about 30 seconds of varied material from each violin to be sure of their preference. In other words, the different nature of each violin's "sound" distinguishes itself over time, and in how it responds to different player input. A few notes simply aren't enough. That's the macro, but as for the micro, I believe this is also true within the context of individual notes - with sustained notes we enjoy constantly changing character. OK with rapid playing we are looking for a very pronounced attack portion, which is to do with the dynamic response of the violin over no more than 20 milliseconds, and I imagine that this "articulacy" could be measured with an impact hammer and predicted - but any longer note and the special character becomes extremely complex. It's true that some players require a neutral palette of sounds, essentially harsh, with a very high output - I met with one a month ago who was delighted with his latest acquisition, a Pistucci which made my ears bleed and had no potential for beauty - but this is a particular kind of preference. It's also an easier tonal goal than emulating one of the great Cremonese instruments, if that is in fact a sensible objective in the first place. Varnish - I can't really add anything, except that I have found great violins with hard varnishes, thick varnishes, soft varnishes, almost no varnish. I think the varnish can be seen as a way of mitigating other factors, rather than as a way of creating good tone.
  12. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    Waveform ie. sine wave, triangle, sawtooth, all combinations and infinite variants thereof. In a complex instrument like a violin I don't believe you could generate a stable enough impulse with a bow to really study the unique waveform of a particular instrument as opposed to another, but the ear can hear the difference. Personally I don't think any of the work done with plate tuning or control of resonances addresses this fundamental question. If you take singers as an example, you can train anyone to project and to make their voice resonate well, but some people just have vocal chords which make a beautiful sound. If you combine that with great technique, then you have magic.
  13. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    I have no vested interest - I am only interested in sound ... Partly I think Christian is negative about his own violin just because he made it - I think it sounds very good. But the Del Gesu in those hands has a quality which we have all learnt to admire as the quintessential sound of a violin. I wonder if it's possible to achieve this sound without 3 centuries of wood deterioration - I would characterise this sound as the opposite of "harsh" (which for me implies emphasis around 3-5kHz, either as peaks or as an absence of everything else), it seems more that it's very strong on fundamentals, very complex in its waveform (impure in a beautiful way), and full of energy above 6 kHz, pinpointing and giving shape to the sound. A hint of "voweliness", gives a slight illusion of a voice, but the main thing (which I never hear anyone talking about) is the nature of the waveform, not the frequency characteristic. By comparison Christian's violin sounds a bit plain - which to me means that all the frequencies are there in their correct amounts. But it's a very fine sounding instrument, and if it wasn't next to the Panette I wouldn't think to pick at it.
  14. martin swan

    The importance of varnish

    I have to agree (except for the stuff about Dunnwald frequencies). There is a difference in tonal quality beyond the quality of the playing, but it is absolutely not to do with "harshness". And while it's not a serious difference, it does somehow correspond to my understanding of what a modern violin struggles to achieve by comparison with a venerable Cremonese ...
  15. martin swan

    Ansaldo Poggi authentication

    Not a Poggi IMHO The f-holes look like some strange pseudo-DG model (Poggi f-holes are very distinctive), the scroll eye is very small (and most of Poggi scrolls are inked) and the front view shows a rather narrow profile at the bottom of the scroll, the pegbox seems to be blackened and the varnish looks a bit synthetic or lacking in lustre. Ebay?