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  1. It has been suggested to me, since I am only an interested layperson, that instead of repeating things I have read which, in some cases, may be fallacious, given that many of the participants in this group are highly able and knowledgeable professionals in lutherie, I should ask questions. Up to now, what I have been doing, even if it did not seem that way, was trying to learn in my own poor, fumbling way. Before I could ask a question that would be likely to give me the kind of answer I was looking for, I would have to know enough to be able to ask the right question. An example of a wrong question would be: "How would I go about making a violin that sounds as good as a Stradivarius?" - that would produce all kinds of answers, some unhelpful, and when it came to the ones that seemed helpful, I would have no idea which of them to believe. So here we are: (to frame my questiion, I am beginning with some backrgound material; please forgive me if it contains mistaken and false assumptions; but if you do not understand how I am thinking, you will not know what information I am really looking for) The violins of Antonio Stradivari have been praised for the beauty of their tone, and for how well they project. However, other makers of violins, both classical and modern, have been able to approach or even exceed his violins in those respects; I can mention Domenico Montagnana and Jacob Stainer for sweetness of tone, and Joseph Guarneri del Gesu for projection - but I don't have to resort to referring to makers whose violins go for high prices at auction. Many modern makers also achieve similar heights in these traits. On the other hand, at least some concert soloists, when speaking of Stradivarius violins, single out a third trait for praise, and they often appear to claim that this virtue is Stradivari's unique point of excellence. Any violin, even the cheapest student violin, will make different sounds when bowed, or plucked, or when the strings are struck with the wooden part of the bow. But a Stradivarius, they say, has a deep reservoir of tonal resources waiting for the dedicated performer who takes the time and effort to learn how to bring them out. Expressiveness is a very basic virtue of the violin, so I would presume that any violin that is of good quality has it to a degree. To have that trait par excellence, presumably a Stradivarius violin not only has several different "voices", but it has several different very good voices. So here is/are my question(s): This expressiveness, this versatility: - is it something that modern violin makers consciously strive for, in general? - are modern makers doing well enough in general at this that this characteristic of the violin gives no more substance to the "Stradivarius myth" than tone and projection? - are any modern makers particularly noted for the expressiveness/versatility of their violins? - what design features of a violin should be emphasized, or what design techniques should be utilized, to improve the expressiveness/versatility of a violin? There you are, finally: my question.
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