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  1. I thought conductors hadn't been invented yet in Bach's time?
  2. A pound of gold is lighter than a pound of feathers: Gold is measured in troy pounds (5760 grains ≈ 373.24g), but feathers are weighed in avoirdupois pounds (7000 grains ≈ 453.59g). Now an ounce of gold is heavier than an ounce of feathers...
  3. There's a difference between using a word to describe a particular sound, and using a word to describe an instrument (and its potential or variety or potential sounds) If we are using words to describe the sound then presumably a chocolatey sound being produced on a violin E string has something in common with a chocolatey sound being played by the kettledrums. Its not the drums themselves that are chocolatey (unless the timpanist has too many long rests and an addiction to sweeties). As David Beard says a good instrument should be usable to create a wide variety of different kinds of sounds. The only words I would mark down are "old" and "new". I don't have an idea what an "old sound" might sound like. Perhaps a bit faint and scratchy, like a shellac 78 played on an antique hand-cranked portable machine; and a new sound could be the same recording played on an iphone through slightly tinny bluetooth speakers?
  4. It wasn't until I got a strange "home-made" violin in its crude plywood home-made case that I realised there was a right and a wrong (left?) way round for violin cases. Unfortunately the violin is a bit wider than normal and I have yet to find a right-handed case it will fit into. Still confuses me every time I open the case...
  5. There's also rectified vs unrectified, the rectified ones have the surface ground down to make them smooth and even which "improves" the tone but makes them fray more. I once read a Victorian instructions for care of gut harp strings; you were to take oil (don't know what kind), add a drop of essential oil (lavendar or violet I think) and then apply it sparingly to the strings using a feather. I did wonder how much was actually for string care and how much for decadent aestheticism.
  6. I always think it is worthwhile to compare violin studies with other instruments. I first came across guqin from the work of John Thompson: http://www.silkqin.com/ He discusses changes in guqin setup connected to the switch from using silk strings to using metal-nylon composite strings - soundpost position changes or removal, possibly re-graduation. He includes questions about whether the denser higher tension synthetic strings cause more damage or degradation to the structure of the wood than the traditional organic strings. These would all have implications for the kind of questions being studied here.
  7. This is all very interesting and true, except that there is a big difference between studying music as an intellectual discipline (its history, psychology, structures, etc) and learning how to do it as a craft tradition. All different musics as performing arts are immersive craft traditions - I remember talking to Malian kora players, they talked about how they basically studied full time with their relatives from childhood (it was an uncle and nephew I met) in order to master their music and performance art. I don't see that as much difference from learning how to play the violin in a symphony orchestra; neither better nor worse, just different. The mistake is to think that Classical Western music is the "pinnacle" or the "standard" against which other music traditions can be compared, or into which they can be assimilated. We occasionally have friction here in discussions of top-level violin-making, and organological theoretical analysis of violins - two utterly different ways of studying "violin making", with different methodologies and different outcomes (the maker produces fine instruments, the analyst produces technical papers). I think there is a parallel with studying music.
  8. Did you never read / see Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected "Parson's Pleasure" about the Chippendale commode? The antiques dealer tells the owner that it is worthless, "firewood", but he would give them £20 because it had pretty legs. You can guess what happened when he turned up with his van to take it away...
  9. Thank you for this Marty, we have an old fiddle with a warped / twisted neck, I always wondered why it didn't seem to cause any problems with playability... perhaps this is one reason it is so nice to play!
  10. To protect the instrument of course!
  11. Rue, you can buy a USB floppy drive for £25 or so that might be able to read your disks and transfer them onto your computer. I looked up ForScore - looks lovely, but will the company still be supporting it in 10 years time? 20 years? Certainly your iPad won't still be working in 20 years, because Apple have a policy to continually upgrade their devices and systems. I think systems like this have very specific uses where they are unbeatable (going on tour with a huge library of scores, for example). But they don't replace paper libraries at all. The tricky bit is working out how to combine the two worlds
  12. I once was given £50 by an instrument seller, I didn't even know why, and I queried it with them. They explained that one of my students had bought an instrument (not violin family) from them, and it was their standard practice to give the bung to the teacher. I was very uneasy about this. The pupil had purchased this instrument off their own bat, I had advised them to go elsewhere and get a different instrument. But I saw at once there was a conflict of interest. As a tutor I would think less of any seller who did this. I would suspect that (as in this case) the product being offered was not up to standard and the "bung" was to give me an incentive to recommend them when I otherwise wouldn't. Its good to read other people's thoughts on this!
  13. One day someone will suggest glueing the tuning pegs so that they can't slip or be accidentally turned out of tune.
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