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Joe Curtin, MacArthur grant winner


andrew weinstein

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I guess you didn't see Crains:

"Curtin said he'd like to use a major part of the grant to finance his experimental work in creating innovative instruments rather than producing traditional violins, which is how he makes a living."

The grants are "no strings attached".

I don't consider violin making "art", but I agree that it is a very traditional craft and therefore difficult to find acceptance for innovation... The VSA begins a new program (Being coordinated by Fan Tao, in which Joe has been very supportive and involved) focusing on this area as of the November convention (that's the program just after Dean leaves Saturday).

I have first hand knowledge concerning the MacArthur screening process. Do you?

Sour grapes, my friends. Music and violin making got some recognition yesterday. Good for all of us, I think.


Yes.. I read the Crains. The excerpt was taken directly from Crain.

But I am Sorry.. I did not mean to sound like a sour grape. Perhaps I did not convey my ideas properly. I was marely questioning the logic in what was presented and the violin society in general. (I don't mean the VSA here. I mean for all those who are in love with the violins.) Joe Curtin winning this grant is as distance as Joe Black winning the Oscar to me. I don't have much personal feeling about this, certainly not sour at all.

I am happy that Music and violin making got some recognition and absolute congratulation to Joe's endeavor. But is this award for the right purpose? is this what everyone wants? Are we looking for innovations and creativity to the violin? To be more blunt... Do we really want to change the violin? Or are there some one suffering the "not invented in America syndrome" and trying to make changes?

Violin, by definition, is the ultimate conservation rather than innovation. If a maker deviates from the norm by the slightest bit, then the new creation is immediately deemed as a VSO. I read somewhere just few days ago that Ughi requested to replace one of the original Strad's Neck back in the 90s. He was immediately labelled as a "vandalist". There were many discussion about this in the forum in the past. I think the concensus is that no one is looking for innovation. Everyone wants conservation. Feel free to correct me on this issue if I am wrong. I think most people would probably prefer to see him winning the grant for conservation rather than innovation. It is probably a more fitting award as well for his forte in replica.

Do you see my point now? Don't you feel something is not quite fitting about this?

Maybe you can provide some insight into the logic for the award. Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
ispirati

I am happy that Music and violin making got some recognition and absolute congratulation to Joe's endeavor. But is this award for the right purpose? is this what everyone wants? Are we looking for innovations and creativity to the violin? To be more blunt... Do we really want to change the violin? Or are there some one suffering the "not invented in America syndrome" and trying to make changes?

Violin, by definition, is the ultimate conservation rather than innovation. If a maker deviates from the norm by the slightest bit, then the new creation is immediately deemed as a VSO. I read somewhere just few days ago that Ughi requested to replace one of the original Strad's Neck back in the 90s. He was immediately labelled as a "vandalist". There were many discussion about this in the forum in the past. I think the concensus is that no one is looking for innovation. Everyone wants conservation. Feel free to correct me on this issue if I am wrong. I think most people would probably prefer to see him winning the grant for conservation rather than innovation. It is probably a more fitting award as well for his forte in replica.


Actually, I am with you concerning "what we want" and the conservation issue, in terms of the violin in general... Things have changed a bit over time, but at a glacial pace. I, personally, don't want what I think of as a violin to change at all... and spend many enjoyable hours with the old ones.

That doesn't mean that I can't appreciate other's effort to innovate. After all, what is developed may not really be a "violin" in the end... but the process of innovation may open things up a bit and allow us to consider possibilities that following traditions will not.

Innovation may also provide a few tools or materials that will require replacement, or at least enhancement, over the next few decades. The supply of non-pourous ebony and decent bridge wood does not seem to be improving. Alternatives used within the "mass" market may stave off disaster for at least a little while and might even allow some careful re-growth of these resources.

I think what Joe does to "make a living" and "what Joe does" are two different things. He has been involved in research and innovation for at least a decade.... Acoustic testing, alternative materials, enhancements, etc. Like I said, I don't always agree with the direction he moves or what he says, but I'd almost worry if I did. Also, I think his traditional background adds and aids the "other side of things".

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"I know...but -

Sometimes restraint is better than venting. I'll let David Tseng do the talking if he realized what Curtin did to him.

In the meantime....no poker....no stout....Just the classic flavor of Moose Drool - The true Western beer!

I think Michael Darnton deserves an award for all the sharing he has done through the years.

Dean"

Please, this Moose Drool beer of which you speak - tell me more.

(Darnton, for all the hissing and angry vioces that can sometimes be heard, has been a voice of reason and experience here and elsewhere for longer than I have been making violins (cuz he's like, way old). I agree with you on this point, Dean - Hazah! Let's do give him an award and make him share it with us.)

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I would bet that Joe Curtin, way down deep, has the same love for traditional instruments we all seem to share. But there's a natural curiosity and need to continually strive for improvement in mankind, and sometimes the results of that can be threatening along the way. Even though it's there in all of us (that need to improve things), there's also a resentment or fear of losing the "old ways" or traditions. I bet Joe Curtin has some mixed feelings too. But now he has received a mandate, & he'll be expected to perform & produce on the side of innovation more than on the traditional making side which he does so well. I would guess that probably makes him a little uncomfortable too.

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I know it's supposedly not a mandate, but you can bet it isn't meant to be compensation for past accomplishments. I think the MacArthur Grant folks invest where they perceive (and expect) potential. I think the "no strings" thing is just meant to lessen the strain on the recipient.

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$500K!??

This just makes me remember how angry I was at having to pay $100 on return shipping (as per JC's explicit instructions) on the Jos. Curtain violin we looked at this summer.

Oh, maybe that $100 defrays the cost of all the PR that accompanied the violin (brochures, a CD we didn't want/need, fancy stationary, etc.etc.--yuck).

I don't understand copies. The violin was a slavish replication, down to the absent varnish on the ribs (which were covered with plastic tape in the fake-"wear" spots--egad!--That bothered me). As a player, I do not understand this. What good is the replication of defect?

Despite its superficial antiquity, the violin cried like an eight month old baby, IMHO!

J.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
crazy jane

I don't understand copies. The violin was a slavish replication, down to the absent varnish on the ribs (which were covered with plastic tape in the fake-"wear" spots--egad!--That bothered me). As a player, I do not understand this. What good is the replication of defect?


I'm told the Matsuda shop throws quarters at new instruments in order to create authentic-looking chips and dings. Maybe that's just urban legend, but we experimented and the edge of a coin does indeed fit into many of them. Antiquing doesn't bother me either way. I consider it the violin equivalent of stonewashed or pre-faded jeans. (Consider also the success of Pottery Barn!)

I'm happy to see the Sphinx competition get recognition.

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C. jane, Bravo, very good comment. I side with you 100%. But many die-hard violinists want that artificial antiquity, so makers have to do it to meet the demand.

"Despite its superficial antiquity, the violin cried like an eight month old baby, IMHO! "

IYHO, could you tell us any good things in that violin. If someone willing to pay 20k, it has to have some thing good in it.

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David,

This violin was close to 30K. It was very beautiful (in a fake antique way), very bright, and powerful.

It played easily. The sound was the problem: very bright, somewhat rough and (again IMHO) lacking depth. It was certainly nothing exceptional, soundwise.

My daughter's teacher plays on a very nice C&A--not antiqued. Its sound is quite refined. His wife has a Curtin (I think) cello--commissioned (I think), not antiqued and verrrry powerful. It might be a great instrument.

J.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
bean_fidhleir

quote:


Originally posted by:
Jeffrey Holmes

It's partially due to these individuals lack of, or tolerance of, the fear of falure that allow them to succeed, isn't it?

A thoroughly under-appreciated point for sure, Jeffrey. Thanks!

I had overlooked these words by Jeffrey. I do agree with them. In addition - perhaps some helpful words for those who may be concidering exploring further some of their own innovative ideas - be prepared for a great deal of criticism. I've recieved a lot of it coming from all kinds of directions both good and bad, for some of my innovative ideas. You can't just ignore it since some of it is very constructive. However some of it comes from places I'm not really qualified to comment on. Either way, don't be afraid to tell others about your ideas for the fear of criticism but rather just learn to take it all with a grain of salt or maybe even some of that... well, I guess this takes us back to the discussion further up this thread of "Moose Drool - The true Western beer! "

Tim

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