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Michael Darnton

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  1. This is why I initially asked for peoples' definitions of response. I have heard two things referred to this way. One is demonstrated when cellists have a C string that starts poorly, often with a nasty noise, the full tone catching somewhat late into the note, after a lot of trash, vs clean and fast. When you see a cellist flick the string with one of his extra left-hand fingers, that's his way of getting around this problem by initiating the note by plucking at the start of the bow attack. That would be poor response, the opposite being a note that starts cleanly and easily. This is most obviously demonstrated by asking how lightly, at the tip of the bow, on the edge of the hair, the player can play and still get notes that start well and whether that is OK, or if more response is needed there. It doesn't show up as obviously with loud, forceful playing as light and quiet. The other is when a violin does or does not have a clear and sudden impact to the note. The way I look for this is to ask the player to play their fastest rising slurred scale in first position on the middle strings. With good response by that definition each note will start with a clear snap, an impact, click, pop, whatever, in spite of the slurring bow. The scale sounds like the image of a string of pearls being pulled out of maybe a hole in a drum head. The opposite of this is a blurred scale where the notes don't separate but rather run into each other without definition. The overall effect is that the player sounds mushy, undefined. Players *usually* prefer the snap and will often refer to this a good articulation (the obvious opposite being bad articulation). You can fake this when playing slowly and there's a video in David Finckel's (Emerson Qt.) youtube series where he shows how to do this, recommending it as a habit, I think. But it can't be faked slurring at lightning speed, I don't think. Either test works on all instruments, but each situation is most obvious on the ones I named. I find that these are adjustable traits, not built in by construction, mostly. I'd call that second one complexity and variability, I guess. Usually I don't call it anything because I don't have an adjustment to fix it. :-) For me, the quick test is to play a note with vibrato and if the vibrato is just a simple change of pitch, bad; if it's a throbbing envelope of harmonics, good. The less movement to give this the better. A perhaps more obvious test is to bow successive strings sliding the bow down from over the board to near the bridge ***without making any attempt to change the tone***. If the tone changes a lot, from foggy to clear and harsh, that's good. If the tone doesn't change at all, that's bad. Variability in abundance is actually a very rare trait, in my experience, and the ones who want it look long and hard to get it, and then when they test an instrument it's the very first thing they test for. Cellists seem more clued in on this than other instruments' players. In my experience. Dynamic range is an odd one. I guess I think of it more as power curve. If low end response is set up well, you can play quietly; then you push. How soon you get to FFF is more about power curve and some like it fast, some slow. I'm under the impression that most good violins will put out about the same level on the high end, but exactly how much work it takes to get there is an issue for personal preference regarding whether one is constitutionally a pusher or a tickler. As with the case of extreme complexity, I think this is more about construction than adjustment.
  2. FWIW, all "real" instruments show instability, which as I said was a problem for the first generation of synthesizers. What you show there looks like bow noise (I might be wrong), and most players I deal with want that gone, if possible.
  3. Wow! As someone working with musicians daily, to me that's about the only issue there is. I can't even imagine you can have return customers with an attitude like that. They try to communicate those issues to me, and I try to understand to the fullest possible extent so that I can fix things. I'm absolutely relentless in getting the fullest descriptions I can, and trying to understand, and I treasure those players who have been as relentless in helping me to learn this aspect that I can't experience myself. I've also learned to appreciate that as good of a player as I could ever be (and which I definitely am not), I would never be able to replicate the experience of some specific other player, that they're all different, and that doing the job means seeing things from their individual perspectives, not my own. That's one reason I always discount statements like "You need to be a player to work on violins".
  4. Something that's always interested me is high-frequency interference effects which produce third (Tartini) tones. There are entire speaker systems that use this effect to image sound at a particular point in space using inaudible high-frequency projection from other locations, and I wonder if there isn't some of that going on in violin sound. I have certainly observed effects that could be attributed to that. This implies frequencies that normal sound equipment can't deal with, hear or reproduce. In that context, Marty's electronic instrument might replicate the sound of a recording of a violin better than a real one.
  5. Whenever this type of discussion comes up, I feel like it always falls short of explaining how violins behave over a period of time, and it's never made clear how a snapshot from a tap can explain that. For instance one characteristic of human-driven instruments over simple first-generation synthesizers was that the synthesizer tone was consistent and tonally flat, where real human-driven instruments had random micro-inconsistencies over time. I have noticed that some violins stifle that inconsistency where others encourage it. Perhaps Don or someone can explain how to see that in an FFT chart. The click or pop is one simple example of such a phenomenon, which is why I asked Anders the questions I did about v/F and notches. That's getting as close as I've seen to dealing with this issue. Thanks to Peter for his one-word answers. :-)
  6. OK, I have just one (two?) question: if you wanted to change this in an existing violin, could you? (Or is it inherent in the violin.) If you consider it adjustable, what adjustment parameter would you work with, if you will say? One word for each query is sufficient, since that's the mode you seem to be in. :-) Thanks.
  7. OK, I think I need some explanation of this to understand, sorry. 1/ What is v/F? I haven't heard that term before. I see it in your post about the cello tests. I guess you are referring to notches in the FFT chart. 2/ Does more v/F cause more "click" or "pop" at the note start, or is that an effect of less v/F? Do I understand that if the wolf is subdued the v/F goes down with it, or does it go up? 3/ How would you adjust this on a real violin to make the "pop" effect greater or less? If I read your last sentence right, there's an implication that there is some validity to the common belief that good violins have stronger wolfs? At least in this context? I guess that implies that more v/F is better for more pop, but I am not sure if that means you can get more pop by directing wolf energy into the pop, removing it from the wolf, or whether the two travel together and one needs to be present for the other to be present. I had some trouble formulating these questions properly. I hope they are clear enough. . . Thanks.
  8. It's not clear to me that the question is about a socket stuck in the endblock. Since it's from someone who sounds like a high school orchestra student I'm suspecting that either the metal pin won't move in the wood socket (a humidity issue) or the tip has fallen off and the pin is rattling around inside the instrument. If the problem is a socket stuck in the endblock, I usually find the easy cure is to put out the pin, have someone hold the cello down, hold the end of the pin, and crank it like a hurdygurdy. Eventually it will work itself loose. If that doesn't work, it's time for a strap clamp similar to an oil filter wrench, but small, with a rubber strap. Sometimes that and the hurdygurdy crank, together.
  9. Since I am able to adjust that quite easily on virtually any instrument, this implies that that particular characteristic is an effect of the adjuster and adjustment rather than being inherent in the instrument itself. That brings up the interesting question of how one would separate the effects of adjustment from the inherent qualities of the instrument. No one seems concerned about that in this discussion so far. Andreas still hasn't explained what HE means by response. I find that players call two separate things "response", and that the treatment for them is not the same, plus, he might have his own personal third definition, so HIS explanation is necessary here to have any discussion at all.
  10. Except that I believe that most of those older recordings were made with old ribbon mics which had their own response patterns similar to what I'm seeing here. So you have managed to replicate the filtering of a ribbon mic and possibly also some additional effects of the electronics of the time.
  11. What I see is a lot of tightly placed peaks up to 3K, then a quick drop too early than I would like (I'd rather see it start at 6K--here I'd expect a lack of cut or carrying power) followed by too much remaining out towards 10K. I'd expect a sound that was full and rich, but too dark and lacking sparkle, but perhaps still too bright in a bad way. I wonder if you aren't being seduced by the smoothness of the sound, which is probably a strong attribute here. Since any definition of response is 3D and your graph is 2D (pitch, dB, lacking the time dimension), I don't know how you'd expect to see response. And to know anything you need to come up with a definition of response that would be visible on a graph. I know two definitions of bow response and there may be more, so defining what it means to you, here, is certainly necessary.
  12. Quality control for a bridge is that it makes a violin work and sound better than another bridge. That is literally ALL there is to it. This is the result of MANY different aspects of the bridge, combined. If you get that 3000 Hz and everything else is wrong, the 3000 Hz isn't going to help a thing. The process you should be following is to learn to cut a normal bridge, get a violin where it makes a difference (cheap violins sound about the same regardless of what you do to them) and learn to tell good from bad. Then you can start playing with bridge parameters to find out what they do and construct a bridge which benefits that particular instrument. Without those skills you will not be able to do the job. There's no silver bullet.
  13. I've not been exposed enough to Mirecourt violins to know if this is a type of that, so I'll give it the benefit of doubt and say that it's probably a very low level French maker's violin from the late 1800s. If someone wants to place it as a better Mirecourt instrument, I won't protest. This video makes a good case for B&F's policy when I worked there of not hiring people who had any previous experience or training, preferring to work with a clean slate.
  14. No, that's me with the felt pen coloring over logos and planing off bridge brands. If you want me to advertise for you, give me the stuff. Don't charge me to use me as a billboard. I haven't used Aubert blanks for a couple of decades. They don't do what I need a bridge blank to do, that's all. If they work for you, great. I looked around and found something that worked better for me.
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