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Everything posted by skiingfiddler

  1. I would regret if my last post were found disgusting. My lack of a personal connection to Korea may have made me overlook what others would find objectionable in that post. Sorry if that's what happened.
  2. By the standards of pop music, this North Korean Girls Band (the current ruler's favorite) from Washingtonpost.com isn't kitsch. (Scroll down about half way to run the video.) By classical music standards, it might be; maybe all pop music is kitsch by those standards. But the ladies are very competent fiddlers, probably classically trained, who know how to make their electric violins and basses dazzle with some jazz and gypsy riffs in addition to schmaltz. It's a great dose of Socialist Realism, a la Cold War, in pop music. To tell the truth (of an old guy) I prefer this kind of pop to what I hear today. At least you can polka to it.
  3. Dwight, How many pieces constitute the ribs? It might be that a cornerless violin would be a great one for a first time maker to make. Someone new to making wouldn't need to fuss with how the corners look, trying to get them to match, and fussing with direction changes in purfling. Instead the maker could concentrate on acoustically more important things, like the arching and neck angle. I wonder if a cornerless violin could be made with the more typical contemporary dimensions of back length 355, widths 166, 110, 206 (all measurements with calipers and plus or minus a couple of mm). That might be a great first violin for a new maker, allowing a new maker to learn a step at a time and still have a completed instrument and eventually moving up to violins with corners.
  4. Thanks, Dwight. By contemporary Strad/del Gesu model standards, the fiddle is somewhat narrow in the upper and lower bouts and wide in the middle bout. The guesses we all made in the other thread were that the middle bout would be in the 120s and there it is.
  5. Dwight, Congratulations on your new fiddle. It's always fun to get to know a new fiddle. Enjoy it. When we were discussing the Chanot-Chardon Strad on another thread, there was some question about what the dimensions would be. Would you be willing to give the dimensions of yours, length, 3 widths of the back (over the arching with flexible tape is fine) and the body stop (mensur) of the top? Thanks.
  6. I don't know the Sackman and Pollens books, but am re-reading "Book 2, Selling It" pp.125 - 259, in the Schoenbaum book. Schoenbaum's writing style is, at times, off-puting in its flippancy and lofty tone. He seems to enjoy presenting anecdotes without providing an explicit context for them. Thus it's not always easy to see a path he wants you on in your thinking. Nonetheless, the "Selling It" section can be entertaining in its anecdotes (like the one about Machold, Roger Hargrave, and the North Koreans), and once he settles into giving you a history of the violin trade, you get a pretty good picture of the trade right up to the near present. He does present a number of instances of questionable or less than honest dealings in the trade, and that may give some readers the impression that he's emphasizing the negative. To me, his presentation seems balanced. The section is an extensive presentation of the violin trade, in terms of timeline, and Schoenbaum cites his sources. Therefore, I'd recommend it. If someone knows a more complete description of the violin trade over the centuries than Schoenbaum's "Selling It" section, please make that known.
  7. Anybody spending the rest of their lives defending their PhD thesis is wasting their lives. If you haven't learned anything beyond your PhD thesis then you are not active in the field. I've said this any number of times, but it doesn't sink in: A degree, whether a masters or a doctorate, does not confer on someone the title of expert. It simply means that the person knows the current material in the field (that's a masters) and, in the case of the PhD, knows how to do meaningful research in the field and has produced some new, additional information or idea in the field. A PhD doesn't make you an expert, but it gives you the background and tools to work toward being an expert if you choose.
  8. Ben, I doubt that evangelizing to the masses would be effective, but you have convinced me that if I'm serious about violin knowledge in a university setting I should make some effort to see what's going on at my alma mater, Indiana University, Bloomington, which has a very large and prestigious string program. There may be something to do there. Full disclosure: My degrees from Indiana University are not in music. I was a violin major in the Music School for 2.5 years (one year of which was spent in Hamburg, Germany, as an IU music student) but switched majors when it was clear to me that making it in music to IU standards would take more time and effort than I was willing to give.
  9. There seems to be some interest at some universities for some sort of introductory course about the violin. In past posts, Jeffrey Holmes mentions that the University of Michigan had an interest in such a course. Philip Kass is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute, as a violin historian, I assume. Indiana University might have such a course. And cm sunday has made references to some schools with a possible course. So, there's some interest out there in academia for such a course. But, Ben, you are right. The people to direct one's energies towards are the university administrators. Also, maybe university violin students who are reading this thread and who think that such a course could be beneficial can ask for one.
  10. Jezzupe posts: Begin: To me it's not so much the idea, I do however feel there is not enough demand for such a thing, but to me it's much more the format idea, meaning I could see this "School" but I pretty much see it as a small privately run institution that is not connected to university or college campuses, if anything those places are refering students to you. So really it comes down to money, if you had the ability to rent a proper facility, and then the hard part, pay for a quality staff of instructors, who would rather do this than what they are already doing based on being lured away by huge sums, or the ability to do both your thing, as well as what they normally do,...one wonders that after all that was done and you swung the doors open for business, how many people would have the interest and gobs of money that it would take to study at the private school? I just think the the internet has the ability to create an "everyone knows that" or a false sense of importance as either and individual or group. And as a group, I think we are all very important, however the world of violin, as big as it is, isn;t that big, and that world, the relatively small slice of the pie that focuses on valuation, identification and authenticity is even smaller....a niche within a niche.....and s again I say, novel idea, but I just see any where near the amount of students to make it a viable business idea....and thus places like here, where people are the staff that is paid nothing are the best alternative....I don;t think there is one regular here who can say that they have not learned many things from hanging out here. End. Ben and jezzupe, Duly noted, and your posts make clear the need to have realistic goals, such as a single course for string players at a university to help them maintain their instruments and navigate the violin market.
  11. That's just not true, and I have no idea how to convince you otherwise. My "personal agenda" is from my experience in the sciences and universities. I believe information is most reliable if it is presented publicly so that all interested parties can offer input. I also believe that by presenting information publicly, that information is passed on from one generation of reseachers to the next without any special favoritism in who gets the information. I believe the university does that job better than small groups of people who have a financial interest in the information. Personally, I haven't had a bad experience in relation to provenance. That's because I tend to buy my violins directly from the makers. I've chosen to do that because provenance strikes me as the most unsettled characteristic of an old violin. Yet, it is the major factor in determining price. Provenance is not what I want to spend my money on, because provenance, in the form of a certificate, doesn't produce a sound nor does it guarantee a good sound, and provenance can change. If the violin market were set up so that violins were priced primarily on the basis of materials, workmanship, and present condition, I'd be willing to buy older fiddles. Tone in such a market would play a role in pricing as would provenance, but provenance would not be the dominant attribute it is in the current market. I keep "scratching this particular itch" about wanting the university to play a larger role in violin knowledge because the issue of violin knowledge, where it resides and how it is disseminated, keeps coming up, and it is brought up by others, not me. This last time it came up because of some dissatisfaction by people, on another thread, who couldn't get into the Oberlin workshop. If the Oberlin workshop could be offered as part of a university program, availability to others than a selected few might increase. Does the Oberlin workshop present a publication of the work it did, what it found out, so that others who couldn't attend can get at least some of that information? I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you that if a university held a workshop with the demand and prestige of the Oberlin workshop, there would be such a publication, if for no other reason than the university organizers would want their names on it. But I do owe you and David and others a look at your websites and to think about whether that satisfies my need for violin information and knowledge.
  12. That's a valid point, but I think the kind of self discipline you're looking for in which someone pursues something they might not see the immediate value in is rather rare. It is part of the teacher's job to make clear the relevance of what's being taught and thus promote student interest in something the student didn't believe he is interested in.
  13. Rue, I think your post has some interesting ideas. I especially agree with your last paragraph (in bold).
  14. The introductory course would not be a listing of agreed upon expert knowledge. It would be an effort to give students the means to look at violins and the violin trade and make up their own minds about what's important to them and what's not.
  15. It would be helpful if the people in the trade would voice their support for such a course rather than their opposition. That doesn't cost them any time. But your point is well taken. Someone who sees the value in such a course needs to step up and implement it.
  16. I have nothing to add to what's in the post you've linked to. Maybe others do.
  17. You would definitely have to start small, one course directed at string players to satisfy the needs of string players. David, If this thread has caused people to think that the university idea is a good one but hard to implement, then that's a great improvement over treating the idea with the derision it once got.
  18. I don't believe that the best teaching is done by standing up in front of students and expressing one sentence "truths" that the teacher has concluded are absolutes. If the students don't participate in arriving at some understanding, then you will indeed need the electrodes shocking them to stay awake. How could a teacher engage students to think about the relationship between provenance and pricing? One revealing way would be to look at cases in which provenance has changed and consider the price effects. Recently, a post on Maestronet noted that a supposed Villaume was discovered to be a Strad. In another instance, we've had a whole Maestronet thread reporting that a supposed Hungarian violin turned out, through expert re-evaluation, to be a del Gesu. Farther in the past, we've had a whole set of violins, those of Lorenzo Guadagnini, needing rebranding because Lorenzo wasn't a maker. We've had a cello, which the trade had for considerable time regarded as a Joseph filius Andrea Guarneri be re-evaluated as a del Gesu. You have violins coming from the Guarneri shop in the late 1710s which the English view as filius Andrea Guarneris and the Americans view as del Gesus. Thus some instruments have changed provenance radically or they're viewed as having different provenances by different sides of the Atlantic. What happens to the price of those instruments? Maybe there are published prices on some of those instruments, although I doubt it. But one might arrive at the possible price change by looking at recent selling prices of the various groups. Having students look for recent prices of, say, Strads and Vuillaumes and concluding what happens to a violin's price when it changes from a Vuillaume to a Strad would be an excellent homework assignment. Incidentally, the whole effort might also show how fluid provenance can be. Don't business schools at universities have courses on banking practices and how they affect the public? I think that the qualities you want to look for in a violin shop would be entirely appropriate for a university course about the violin trade. One wouldn't have to name names, just talk about what the qualities are of a good shop. A discussion of the practice of commissions from dealers to teachers who send their students to the dealer needs to be in the course. I think it's worth revealing that it has occurred in the past, and maybe it's still going on. How can the student deal with that? You could name names if the information is in the public domain, as in instances of criminal prosecution. Your last point is: "Why don't you start your own "consumer blog", maybe on YouTube? This would be do-able and potentially effective - that's how people get consumer advice these days. If such a blog or internet-based article was rational and helpful to general understanding, I'm sure dealers who wish to encourage transparency and fair play would refer customers to it." That sounds like a great idea for someone with more knowledge of blogs, more energy and ambition than I have. I'm still working on losing weight.
  19. Thanks for that reply. It sounds like a conflict of interest would arise if the eventual receiver of the art work were also the authenticator/appraiser. That seems like a rather limited situation. Does it ever happen in the art world that the authenticator/appraiser is also the seller? When one of the big auction houses sells a mega-million dollar painting, who is the authenticator/appraiser for that painting? I've lumped authenticator and appraiser together out of ignorance of how the art market works. I'm looking for a term for the person who decides that some work of art is a genuine such and so (my "authenticator") vs the person who puts a price on the object once it's been labeled a genuine such and so (my "appraiser"). Can that be the same person? Also, just to repeat my question from above, in the art world, I assume that the person selling the object can be neither the authenticator nor the appraiser; is that right? Sorry for all the questions. Any answers would be appreciated. Stephen, The introductory course I have in mind, as outlined above some posts back, is not intended to give the student any great expertise. It is not intended as a replacement for finding a competent dealer. The introductory course, insofar as it deals with violin buying, would do the following: -- It would make clear that the main price determining feature of an old violin is provenance (where provenance includes origin as well ownership history). -- It would make clear that tonal qualities are of lesser importance, if of any importance at all, in determining the price of an old violin. -- If the student has as a primary interest other qualities than provenance, such as tone, then that student needs to keep that in mind in their violin search and what he's hearing from dealers, and indeed needs to share that information with the dealer so that the dealer can focus on tone rather than provenance. --It would give the student some guidelines in looking for a competent dealer. I don't disagree at all with Conor's statement in his last post: "Most of us [in the violin trade, including dealers] are as honest as we can be, give the best advice we can, and actually know what we're talking about. This is how we make our livings. Players need us." In advising the typical violin student about buying a violin, advice in that introductory course would include: --Stay away from buying violins in pawn shops, second hand stores, ebay and classified ads where the seller is an "I know nothing about violins and I'm selling this violin as is" person. If, as someone rather untrained in violins and the violin market, you do buy in any of those situations, don't spend more than fun money, money you are willing to throw away for the fun it brought you to throw it away. The value of your purchase is very likely zero. --Find a competent and trustworthy dealer for your purchase. A description of how to do that could go on for pages. Let me say, that if I were buying an instrument from anybody other than directly from the maker of an instrument I want, I'd buy from a trusted dealer.
  20. Martin, I doubt one could cover the topics I proposed in 4 printed pages, if one realizes that we may be dealing with a completely naive audience. I think you'd need 4 printed pages, maybe more, for just topic 1. More importantly, a classroom setting for these topics would allow for the students to participate in the learning process far more than printed pages or videos would allow. For example, let's take the issue of pricing high end instruments. If we accept the standards of the violin trade, one could in one sentence describe the role of tone in that price: Tone plays an unimportant role, if any, in the pricing of high end violins, because tone is too subjective to attribute a price to; one person's good tone is presumably another person's bad. In our class of a dozen or two string players, there may be doubts about the subjectivity of tone. (I rather doubt it, myself.) We could offer the class the chance to test the supposed subjectivity of tone by bringing in a handful of high end instruments similar in their provenances, having them played, and seeing how this audience with some musical skills rates the instruments in tone. If the audience can't agree or nearly agree which instruments sound better than others, then tone is subjective, and the violin trade is correct in relegating it to the less important. However if the audience can agree or nearly agree which instruments sound better than the others, then there's some objectivity to tone quality, and a violin buyer might want to place a higher value on tone than the violin trade does. Concerning promoting transparency in the retail arena, that's a great idea and in keeping with the spirit of this thread. You probably have more to contribute there than I do. Pleas feel free to do that.
  21. Ben, Concerning your first paragraph, I was not proposing anything different than what you seem willing to accept: the freedom "to put out a strong hypothesis only for it to be proven wrong by subsequent research." I'm not asking for anything different than that for violin research. I assume that serious researchers don't propose a hypothesis without some belief that there's a good chance it's true, and thus pursue support. Thus I was not suggesting that any kind of nonsense is worth considering as a hypothesis, if that's what you were concerned about. But I do believe that hypotheses should be allowed in any field, even if the hypotheses put a strain on traditional beliefs. I get the feeling that in the violin field, hypotheses that contradict traditional beliefs aren't readily accepted for consideration. A good example is one we've already discussed. In 1902 the Hills had everyone believing that Stradivari worked without substantial help. That belief was so firmly planted that only very recently has there been challenges. Concerning your second paragraph: I need to paraphrase what I think you are stating because I may be misunderstanding. It seems I am proposing that there would be benefits if authentication could be separated from selling, benefits like more trust in the authentication. Yes, that is what I was thinking. You point out, if I'm understanding correctly, that such a separation would mean that the dealer is no longer responsible to the customer if the attribution turns out to be wrong; the customers needs to go to the authentication entity to get their money back. Yes, you're right again. You also suggest, I think, that this independent authentication entity may feel no compulsion to return any money, since the authentication entity didn't sell the instrument. That may indeed be a problem for which I don't know the solution. Just to state the problem clearly, in a system in which violin authentication (and attribution) is separate from violin sales, how do we make the authentication entity responsible for its errors? How do customers get their money back in cases of authentication and attribution error? I believe the fine arts market is set up with separate entities of authentication and sales. How do they resolve this? Anybody know?
  22. David, You're right, Indiana University would be worth a look to see what's going on there and if that's successful. But what I'm proposing as an introductory course is one that could be implemented anywhere there is a music school with a fairly large number of string players. This introductory course would be offered for meeting the needs of those string players. And those needs are immediate ones of maintaining an instrument and understanding the violin market. The course is not designed to make a student who takes it more employable, it's designed to help, at the personal level, with the practical aspects of acquiring, owning a violin, and selling a violin. If a university did nothing more than implement such an introductory course and never went beyond that, that still would be a service to string majors and others at the university interested in violins.
  23. Yes, Stainer is left out of that introductory course. There would be very limited time in that course to devote to models. The idea in that course would be to get a very general idea of different models in terms of outline, maybe get students thinking about visual differences in models. Stainer is included in the proposed second course.
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