Michael Appleman

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About Michael Appleman

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    Violin Nerd

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  1. "Tartini tones" or false fundamentals are a very real thing. You will not find them on FFT analysis, because they are psycho-acoustic phenomena, like the fundamental of the open G string (and other lower notes up to about C) on the violin. Our brains "hear" them, because we're being fooled into perceiving them by the combination of overtones we are actually hearing. I use them intensively in my own practicing, my teaching, and in evaluating violins. They inform me about the envelope of overtones I'm producing, the temperament of my intonation, and the types of overtone envelopes a given violin produces at different bow pressure/speed/contact point combinations.
  2. Regarding these controversies, I was just musing over something. I'm a professional violinist and teacher. I've made nearly 20 violins (and violas) so far, and when I retire from playing and teaching, I plan to make violins, violas and maybe cellos as my main retirement activity, so if I'm lucky and don't suffer any health problems, I may wind up leaving over 100 "Pomerius" violins behind. In a couple of hundred years, if by chance someone goes looking through archives trying to figure out who I was, they'll find traces of where I've worked as a violinist and teacher, but nothing showing I ever went to a violin-making school or served as an apprentice in a violin shop. Of course the idea that I'll be the "Deconet" of the 23rd century is pretty silly, but I can imagine scenarios that aren't necessarily entirely fleshed out by documentary evidence. About the Lorenzo Guad story, I had a good laugh recently. Just before the lockdown, I was giving a ride to a colleague from the Radio France Philhramonic, going to a gig outside of Paris. He told me he just got a new student who had a violin made by my father, and he found it really good. I was flabbergasted, because as far as I know, my father never made a violin. I realized that I had sold a violin to a very sweet family, who don't have a lot of money but two kids who play the violin. When I delivered the violin to the dad in his little restaurant he insisted I have a drink with him and I told him the story of how my father became a violin "repairman" and how I grew up in a house filled with violins. Somehow, for that family the story morphed from "I sold them a violin I made" into "I sold them a treasured heirloom my father had made for me." I guess I'll just have to start making violins to attribute to my dad...
  3. 1) All depends who says it's a Gobetti. The general wisdom of the "expert hive" is that there are no known Gobetti cellos on which they all agree. If the Gobetti attribution is recent and from a big resepected expert like Beare, this would be like the cellos that have recently become accepted as having been completed by Del Gesu after a century of the experts believing he had made no cellos. If the only person saying it's a Gobetti is the owner and/or a dealer not considered part of the "expert hive," then it's probably just wishful thinking. 2) The clearest theory on Lorenzo Guadagnini is that when G.B. took up violin making in Piacenza, he decided to pretend he came from a family of makers and started calling himself "son of Lorenzo" on his earlier labels. He seems to have made a few violins that he labelled as the work of his father, presumably to sell them as older violins that could fetch higher prices than fresh new ones. As time passed by, dealers coming across violins of similar style either unlabelled or labelled by makers they hadn't heard of started re-labelling them as Lorenzo Guads, and a "body of work" was constituted, that carried on until the intrepid archive researchers found the documents that make it hard to imagine that Lorenzo could have known how to make violins of this quality. The one ex-Lorenzo I got to play (and it was a first class concert violin) was re-attributed to Gasparo Lorenzini, (an excellent maker from Piacenza slightly younger than G.B.) and if you have a copy of the old Hamma book on Italian violins, the violin featured as a Lorenzo Guad was clearly made by the same hand that made the violin that shows up on the Lorenzini page. The one I played was of the same type. Another good Piacenza maker whose work might have been re-assigned to Lorenzo Guad was Giusseppe Nadotti. I started this post yesterday morning but didn't get around to finishing and posting it. When I came back today I saw Andreas gave a good answer to all the relevant questions, but I was going to give my 2cts worth on no.4. When I started typing I saw the forum site had saved what I had written yesterday, and I guess it adds some details to what Andreas has already posted, so I'll leave it in case anyone finds it of interest. Regarding question 4, are there any re-attributed Deconet cellos by Peter of Venice? Peter of Venice's work is quite distinctive, and his violins and cellos are in many ways very different from other Venetian makers like Goffriller and Montagnana. The cellos I have seen in person attributed to Deconet so far don't tick the Peter of Venice boxes regarding too many key elements, outline, scroll, f-holes and varnish among them, and I think any that did would have gotten Peter of Venice labels a long time ago.
  4. A violin is not a guitar! There are no "easy "perfect fifths anywhere. They all need some "correction," and it varies from one spot on the fingerboard to another. Fifths are a drag, it's our job to get 'em right, not the luthier's...
  5. There's not much to attribute there. Many of the violins are simple, cottage industry type instruments, and the descriptions say so. The couple of "Schweitzers" are of the Saxon trade type, nothing to do with the real workshop of Schweitzer. The one older violin is attributed to the Klotz family and looks about right. One violin that has no attribution in its article but looks very interesting is the "Sandor Fisher" violin. That looks more like something that could have come from the Schweitzer workshop. The Zach viola could be correct.
  6. This is appalling. I wish you a speedy recovery, Nathan! There is just so much anger in the air. I hope as a species, we can find a way to get control of it and let go of it before we tear each other and our entire world apart.
  7. You're right, of course. My appreciation was deformed by the fact that the owner of the one I saw recently had a solenoid-operated exhaust cut-out on his...
  8. That's it. What a silly car! Still, the sound of the v8 is worthy of some of the best sounds from Cremona, (even if Lancia and Ferarri are from another region...)
  9. That's precisely why this 2000HF was sitting in this mechanic's showroom! The original owner preferred to give it to him rather than pay for the work it needed! Oh, the sad decline of Lancia from an "engineer's ideal car" to a badge owned by Fiat...though I saw a Thema 8.32 the other day...crazy car, but what a sound!
  10. Wow, a Gamma coupé! I've been deeply in love with a Flavia 2000 coupé parked at a gas station near our vacation spot. I was in discussion with the garage owner to buy it, many years ago, but then he passed away and his widow wants a Ferrari sized price for it now. I'm afraid my Lancia dreams won't become reality in the near future. Quality control after the Fiat take-over was definitely a problem, though... I'm curious about the name on the plaque. Was this case made for Gil, or is this a model you offer? I'm not a close friend of his, but I do run into him from time to time (though who knows when the next time will be?). If this complaint is coming from him, I'll give him a good ribbing next time I see him.
  11. I'm sorry Carl, I misunderstood your intentions. I thought you might be suggesting he "owned" the political situation and thus kept other deserving violinists from being heard. I believe a journalist once had the gall to ask Oistrakh if he were upset about an obvious missed note in the concerto he had just played. He replied that, no, he wasn't. He hadn't made that mistake in over 20 years of performing that piece, so now he could look forward to another 20 years without making it again.
  12. These are profoundly interesting questions, and would merit a book-length study. How does one teach intonation? I'd suggest that for a large proportion of teachers and students around the world, it isn't "taught" at all. Teachers give students scales and left-hand studies, and tell their students this or that note's too high or too low, and eventually, those students who play in tune graduate and get jobs, and those who don't become amateur players or quit. When an effort is made to improve students' intonation, it often takes the form of "rationalizing" the intervals and placement physically, using arpeggios and double stops to "learn" the fingerboard in a physical, tactile way, and players who rely heavily on this approach will often be highly perturbed if they have to adapt to even a small change, such as string height or fingerboard scoop even when the scale length stays the same. When I was young, my russian émigré teachers would often tell me to sing the intonation in my head as I played, and as I've grown older, I've realized the profound importance of the "ear-side" of the equation, after having given so much importance to the "hand-side" for so long. Living and working alongside french musicians for the last 30 years, I gradually came to a startling realization. As a whole, even when I'm dealing with a musician who has an ugly sound, a poor sense of rythm or awkward phrasing, their intonation is startlingly good. The french music education system is notorious for relying heavily on solfege, even for many years subjecting beginners to years or ear-training before allowing them to touch an instrument. That's been changing recently, but I think that tradition has left a lasting impact, and even today young music students in France spend more time singing in chorus' and in solfege classes than in their instrument lessons. Obviously, both sides of the problem need to be addressed and cultivated, the "hand" and the "ear," and in my opinion it's a grave mistake to treat the violin like a guitar or a piano, that there are fixed, correct places to put your fingers, and you just have to learn those places. Even the best guitarists and pianists I know "play" with their intonation with different pressure and attacks in order to controle their temperament and chord voicing. I try to remind my students that not having frets is not a handicap, it's a liberation in that it frees us to play what we hear in our heads, the way a singer creates notes without any visual exterior frets or keys. Adapting to differrent string lengths does take an effort, and a little time to have confidence with the new instrument. Pianists are resigned to the fact that when they go to play someplace, they'll be playing on a different piano than the one they practice on daily, so they factor that into their preparation. A violinist is used to the idea that his violin is an extension of himself, and can have the feeling that it took so much work for so long to learn to play in tune on a given violin, that having to go through the process again would be too much of an ordeal to be worth it. That's why when I hear a colleague complaining about adapting to a different violin, it's always about being lent a Strad or a Del Gesu or some other big name sought after violin. For something like that, they'll make an effort, but for a Kaul... I'd say that the actual adaptation for intonation is not such a big deal, if one has developped the right "feedback loop." One has to have developped the physical side thorougly, the capacity to translate any passages into the appropriate combination of intervals between the fingers of the hand instantly, but if that's learned, then every note has to originate in the head. One has to be able to hear the note precisely before playing it, then one adapts the size of the half-step interval in the hand accordingly, the way we already adapt as we move up or down the fingerboard.
  13. Wow, in another thread a poster started criticizing Heifetz' intonation, and here some are going after Oistrakh! Guys, if you prefer other violinists, that's fine, go listen to them. If you're going after them as though they've gotten reputations they don't deserve, I suggest taking a step back, and asking yourself who were they, and who are you? As a sports fan, I feel I can say that I prefer Larry Bird to Michael Jordan, or Pele to Zidane, but, at my level as a basketball or football player, I would be pretty presumptuous to say Jordan or Zidane were inferior players, even if I can find video clips of them screwing up here or there. As a violinist who has devoted over a half century trying to reach as high a level as possible, I can only say that my admiration for the top violinists has only grown deeper as I've gotten older. There's a charming story of a pianist who was told by a lady after a recital that she thought he was better than Arthur Rubinstein, since Rubinstein made lots of mistakes on stage. The younger pianist had the humility to reply, "Madame, I wish I could make HIS mistakes."
  14. Last year I grudgingly sold my beloved Buchstetter to a student. She's a very promising young violinist who at 14 years of age is already over 5'9'' (175cm) tall with long hands. For their budget, her family couldn't really find something decent, mostly early 20th century Mirecourt makers, and she had absolutely fallen in love with the Buchstetter after I had lent it to her for an exam. For her, the 364mm body length is no problem, she never even noticed the violin was longer than what she had been using, and unlike some of the long Strads I've played, the body stop on my Buchstetter is normal, actually a bit under 195 to the nicks, so seeing a "good match" between this young lady and the violin, I let it go for the price of a Dieudonné, with the firm promise to sell it back to me if she gets another violin. She has the potential to do well, and I hope she'll keep the violin for a long time.