Michael Darnton

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About Michael Darnton

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    http://darntonviolins.com
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    Check out my photos: http://flickr.com/photos/mdarnton

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  1. Michael Darnton

    Not Chinese Fake!

    The particular type of violin I am thinking of isn't something I learned as a Markneukirchen violin. Broad, flat edgework, wide grain top. Yellow varnish, speedy antiquing, very low archings. Roaring, responsive, plain sound. Jacob might correct me, if he cared about this stuff. :-)
  2. Michael Darnton

    Not Chinese Fake!

    >> I'm going by the sound and lack of wear. Brash with no character.<< That's not the way expertise works. ;-) Anyway, if you insist, that SOUNDS like a violin from Luby, too.
  3. Michael Darnton

    Not Chinese Fake!

    It looks like a Luby (Czech) violin from around 1900 to me. I can't imagine why anyone would think it was Chinese.
  4. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    On that general subject of pleasing many different players, some time ago I noticed that players mostly complain about the same things, regardless of their demographic, so I started to work to eliminate those. The interesting thing was that the more impediments I eliminated, the better the instruments sounded to everyone. I think this was like concentrating on making the road smoother and straighter rather than trying to build a faster car, ignoring the terrible roads it has to run on. Everyone wins, and recognizes the improvement, and everything seems better. I felt, also, that the instruments themselves really opened up when they were running smoothly, and became decidedly better and more exciting. It was like changing the heavy boots out for running shoes. Some of these are personal comfort issues, some of it is simply about string balance and consistency. When I started making the thick del Gesus, it took me a while to make them so they would respond to very light bowing, and that opened them up to a whole range of players that would have rejected thick violins in general because of response problems, and they became acceptable to a much wider range of players. Anyway, that kind of solution seems to cut across all players. Then you are just left with the genuinely personal quirks of taste of specific players, which turn out in most cases not to be all that important when they're confronted with an instrument that really WORKS. It's useful to watch players trying instruments; after a while you can see them tensing up when they know they are going to be confronted by a problem, or giving some other clue, especially when it's their own violin. I watched a public demonstration of four violins once where the player was playing the same passage over and over, switching violins. On one violin, only, she would repeat part of the passage several times when she got to it. That was her tell that something was wrong there, and with some careful listening to that couple of notes I quickly understood what her problem was. That kind of input is more useful than listening to what they might say, because it shows where the real impediments are that the player might not think to mention, but which do subconsciously damage their relationship with the instrument.
  5. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Make no mistake here: I am totally in sympathy with legitimate, good science, properly executed.
  6. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    The corrupt part isn't the lack of examination; the corrupt part is the ridicule.
  7. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    One thing I do when asking for criticism is to ask for the one, two, or three (depending on the situation) very specific things "you" would like me to do to improve this violin. That invites limited criticism in a way that encourages the giver to understand that he's not just trashing you completely, but simply fulfilling a simple request. I do the same when I am asked for criticism: I pick the two things I see that are both the most immediately obvious, yet are also easiest to correct the next time. If I can, I offer ideas about how to make the improvement, too. A player equivalent might be that someone's a terrible player overall, but it's pretty direct to point out that he's cutting the last measure of a phrase a beat short every time and moving on too quickly to the next phrase. That's concrete, and a simple counting job, and will fix something that's actually pretty irritating to a listener. You don't have to feel compelled to fix everything in one sitting!
  8. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Honestly, I think this is one of the advantages of having ears. Aside from impartiality, it isn't really the business or skill of a player to be verbally clear or mentally consistent. They play violin. Who do you like? What do you like about them? How do they achieve that? What tools are they using to do that? Then after you figure that out for yourself, check yourself against other's impressions. Eventually you can sort out why certain players are universally popular, why others are popular among only certain demographics; what the general criticisms and praises are; why some get nowhere at all. Then, if the subject is for you as a violin maker about violins, how do those people sort out as regards their tools? For instance, there's a particular player, relatively popular, about whom every single violinist I talk to says the same thing "I wish I had those fingers." Not one has mentioned "that sound". I think comments like that have some meaning in sorting these things out. Because there are many different opinions that appear as raw data not to be meaningful, it doesn't logically follow that there is no solid information to be had from that data---the trick is to try to sort the data into subsets that do provide useful information. When I was taking experimental psychology and statistics classes, a lot was made of designing studies properly to efficiently extract what was needed. It isn't just a matter of collecting a lot of random stuff and mashing it all together, then complaining that it's a mess.
  9. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Attachment and ego vs data would be another way to state it. I don't believe that the fields of higher knowledge are much into the sugar-coating. For instance, I had a hard time for a while resolving what I viewed as conflicts in Rudolph Steiner until I caught on that winning friends and influencing people--the worldly need to "be someone"-- has nothing at all to do with it. I think that most of the Eastern religions/philosophies/esoteric practices feel the same way about that topic.
  10. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Which is the lure of delusion. Thus the attractiveness of the seven deadly sins, for instance.
  11. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Which is a polite way of saying that the professed objectivity is basically a scam, when push comes to shove. When the biased contingent is able to shut down all opposition that is attempting to play by the rules of genuine objectivity, the whole system is by definition corrupt. This reminds me a lot of the fallacy that there are only a few bad cops: when a supposed vast majority of "good" cops can't police their own, they are all, by their choice of combined inaction, bad cops. No one wants to admit they are corrupt, right?
  12. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Dualism is OK as a philosophy, but I am not sure that it is effective as a lifestyle. I believe that the people who most effectively work the idealist side would say that in order for it to work, you can't just go through the motions, but you really have to fully open up and live the totality of the concept. I found this link yesterday when I was considering this aspect of things, and I think it gets to the core of the issue: https://www.drwaynedyer.com/press/power-intention/
  13. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    So in spite of the conciliatory words, you come down as a materialist at the end of it? For quite a long time I have been blaming the Industrial Revolution for the downfall of violin making. Thanks to the present discussion, I am realizing that the rise of attitudes derived from materialist philosophy had an equal part in it. I guess the two factors really did have to work hand-in-hand to change the world. Never made the connection before.
  14. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Yeah. I have a lot more to say about that, but it drives the materialists wild with self-righteous indignation.
  15. Michael Darnton

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Andreas, I will simply repeat this because it was once mentioned to me: There are Strads without their tops, and they sound like Strads; there are Strads with replacement backs, and they sound like Strads. The same person who said this to me commented that before he actually had owned a Strad cello, he had always considered that they were magical. When he finally did get one, he decided that they were just really good. Then after owning it for six months, he said that he switched back to believing in magic. There are certainly a lot of ways to look at it. When I began making guitars, the person who taught me said that I should just wait and see what I made, because all of my guitars would inevitably sound like mine. The person who taught me violin making said the same. Again, I just repeat this because it was said to me. Recently I have had the experience of getting very excited about a particular del Gesu that was in the shop for a day. That afternoon I cut a bridge for another instrument of no particular note, and it had exactly the qualities I admired in the del Gesu. Did something rub off on my fingers and end up on the bridge? Did I have the intent so vividly in my mind that I created that myself? I don't know. Supposedly, players are able to kill a good violin with their playing. I have always attributed that to literal bad vibrations, but it might work to consider it in the same context. One thing that we don't properly credit those old makers with was their genuine belief in magic, and the strength of their intent in what they did, as a magical practice. "To the glory of God" as they might have put it if asked, since that was their own context. God? Magic? Intent expressed through fingers by experience? Regarding the restoration: I know a restorer who manages to kill the spirit in a lot of his restorations. He himself is sort of a buzz-killer, as well, a man of no joy at all. I know a maker who's really a wild man, and makes cellos that sound that way too. It's an interesting problem.