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Ok guys lets set up another firestorm and let me take you on a trip to the belfry and please not bats in the belfry comments.I want to understand a statement and or concept that I cannot for the life of me understand and I believe it to be important.Also kindly attempt to make me "see" or visualize without using laws of physics etc Ive had my fill of science education learning mostly to go to the right book when something was "not learned" or unclear.If I get the answer to this "problem" I promise you I will post some info on one of my "accoustic heros" namely John Beams of Austrailia for his topic on grounds and sound that seems to have gone be the wayside with no one anylizing it that I know of etc.My other heros are Hutchinson, Curtin, and William Fulton the latter being the object of this quest, ie not him personaly but a comment which I praise him for getting me to think more.When questioned by Curtin in the VSA ref Q Fulton states "It takes longer to get a highQ mechanical system moving and more energy to stop it"A high Q peak is like a bell it just rings forever and it takes a real good clapper to get it started"We find ourselves beneath the belfry where the larger bell is above and someelse has a much smaller bell below. The monk begins pulling on the ropes.Two things come to mind as bothering me immediately1-The mention of the need for a good clapper and 2 my visuilization of the pulling one the ropes to start the bell by first overcoming the inertia of the mass. The "good clapper" for the time I put on the back burner. Let us also predicate this story by simply saying that we will measure Q by the ringing ie how loud it rings. I believe and correct me if Im wrong the longer something rings on impact the louder it will sound all things being equal.Intuitively we see that the monk with the small bell can in no way compare his ringing bell with the larger insofar as ringing or loudnes.Let us deviate for a moment to put things into perspective and see "The wood issue" Wood is similar to the bell that it can ring also.My brother tells me some wooden bells made with "good wood" have good ringing qualities and although our violin plates are not shaped into a bell they have mass and accompanying stifness if I may, the same as the smaller and larger bells.Note that Fulton mentions that carleen Hutchinson trims her bass bar till the Q peaks ie she gets the longest ring so to speak.Intuitively we know that the large bell has the higher Q relative to the wood that carleen is working on and higher than the smaller bell as mentioned. The reciprical of Q is damping so thatQ=1/Q thats simple to see even for me. Now the question why is the higher Q more difficult to move and harder to stop and how does it relate the Carleen trimming the bass bar?Good question at least dont you think' My understanding of Q and I could be wrong--Im not immune to that--but I want to visuilize. Incidently My daugter knows a physicist to whom I spoke to last night and although it seems that Fulton is correct I could have no problem whatsoever with that--but frankly I was somewhat caught short, with all due repect to "him" I was not able to go step by step like am doing now.As I once told a professer "science is easy but getting along with people is another story" He totaly agreed. Lets continue our travels destiny unknown presently. Incidently lest you think I am totaly ignorant I do realize that in dealing with this subject that there are internal considerations resistances or damping heat losses molecueles etc that are involved with that etc. I wasn to see the relationship with pushing a heavy box full of sand and presently not interested in the internal structure of the box itself. Is it difficult to get the highQ bell started because of it mass ie inertia? If this is the case, what if we decide to send our monk up to the belfry allowing him to wear earplug otherwise he will sue us quit his job or both. and we in stead let him ring the bell with a large hammer. Intuitively we see there is something differentl here.The mass of the bell is not being moved as before to allow the clapper to ring it and the need to syncronize the pulling of the ropes etc to put everything in phase. My notion is that when you set out to obtain a highQ you are makeing things easier in the sense that you want to get the most energy (ringing) for the least amount of input or driving force consistant with what you are going to drive it with or compelled to drive it with. The hammer or clapper is suitable for the bell and the bow for the violin and plate that Carleen is working at. Intuitively, at least in my mind is the idea that I must consider the driving force with the the notion of Q. A cave man decided he needed a way to signal his friends that dinner was ready so he began to cast an enormous bell larger than our former church bell and got a million men to hang it in the belfry. The bell was actually the same size or configuration as our former bell but it was like 3feet thick. The man tried to ring it with a large stone but what happened.Now since I have never been in a situation like this I can venture a guess and say that I dont think he got too long or loud of a ring. By the way he was using the same material I think bronze is what they use (smart cave man he at least got the material correct). Since this cave man has magical powers he magically thins out the thickness of the bell and tries again.Perhaps he sees some improvement but yet cant tell.He continues magically pealling or layers of thickness and low and behold he is able to call everyone to dinner. Carleen Hutchinson appears in my minds eye to have done the same--raising the question and what perplexes me "did the cave man make the bell easier to ring or not?" It should be noted that in comparison to the small bell and the wood Mrs Hutchinson is working on that the higher Q bell (Longer ring and intensity of sound) is more difficult to start in the sense (if this is the answer) that a larger force is needed to operate it or drive it.You get nothing for nothing--you need larger forces to drive large energy producing systems---but you try to get the maximun energy out of the system by using the "right" materials etc ie use as small an energy imput and obtain the largest amount of output you need or in the case of the wood I will quote Curtin who when I asked about Q (telephone conversation) said "theres not too much you can do about that" Although he did not elaborate further I later realized not incorectly I believe that you can only get so much energy orQ out of the wood and no more. I rest my case--I did want to mention something else to calm all yuou violin makers out there who may not aspire to Q but I promise you later if I can resolve this "problem"

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So, what about "Q"?

Perhaps you have focused your attention on something that has relatively little significance in relation to the playing properties of the violin? If we can agree that anything that produces results is useful to us, and anything that produces no results can safely be dispensed with in favor of those things that do get results, then, why pursue this idea past the theoretical fact that Q is a property that exists in the physical universe and, apparently it is a property that helps determine the power and duration of sound emitted by a (probably) solid body as a result of an impact event whereby a specific amount of energy has been imparted to the body in question.

Larger, more massive bodies require a larger, more massive impact in order to be set in motion because real properties must be observed and laws of inertia must be overcome.

Hence, thicker more massive violins require more bowing pressure or energy input in order to respond. Not a difficult concept. So what that this event can be described by a complex set of equations and can be predicted by scientists in relatively simple examples? Its relation to the playing properties of the violin are almost incidental.

One of the problems with listening to the "scientists" talk about what makes a violin tick, is that they often prefer comparing the violin to the action of something much simpler (i.e. a bell, a xylophone bar, etc.) in order to study what makes it tick. I won't argue that studying the violin corpus in such a way will add to the list of scientific properties that you can attribute to the static body of the violin, and if you think that understanding a large list of scientific properties that can be attributed to the static violin body (but that have nothing to do with the ACTUAL way a violin is played) will help you understand how it works, or even why some violins have those elusive "superior qualities", then good luck to you. You'll need vast interpolative powers.

The violin is a dynamic system that is not reliant upon any type of impact event for its performance qualities - in other words, you do not play the violin with a hammer. Perhaps if we were talking about drums or even the piano...

Such a thing is akin to tapping your car with a hammer in order to attempt to determine why it corners well. Cornering is an interactive event requiring a driver and a car - and we can control it - but hitting your car with a hammer, or even studying how it rings when hit, may not be the best way of gathering information relating to the phenomenon, agreed?

The violin, as a dynamic system, is played by the bow and the continuous input of energy by the bow is controlled by a sort of "feedback loop" whereby the player is continually varying the speed and amount of pressure required to obtain the (continuous) sound that he or she wants from the violin. In a very real sense the system is "alive" because of its dependance on the player and its continuous interaction with the player. You don't strike the violin and then set it down so that you can hear it reverberate.

There are reasons why people aren't rushing out in droves to buy all of the available Hutchins violins (or, insert your favorite scientist/violin makers name here) before they all disappear. Like you, I have spoken with her and I agree, she was a brilliant theoretician in many ways and a sweetheart to deal with. Still, so what? She didn't have it right in my opinion. She focused on an incorrect interpretation of what the pertinent forces at work are. In a very real way she set the groundwork for what is still going on in the field today in the scientific community. Many of the unspoken agreements that the scientific community are operating from come from the basic incorrect premises set in motion by her and her contemporaries. They may be on the right track, and they may not. Judging by their collective results, the answers haven't really come in yet.

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(Side comment) If you hit return twice it will make a new paragraph and your writing will be much easier to read.

The Catgut Acoustical Society has a nice article by Carleen Hutchins (note it's not Hutchinson; that should make a google search easier) at http://www.catgutacoustical.or...ch/articles/modetune/

I also suggest http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/violin/ for an introduction to musical acoustics, and

http://www.speech.kth.se/music/acviguit4/index.html for a full online text.

You say "we will measure Q by the ringing ie how loud it rings. I believe and correct me if Im wrong the longer something rings on impact the louder it will sound all things being equal" -- I think you'll find that Q is not the same as amplitude, it's more like sustain. Think of a Tidetan singing bowl; it has wonderful sustain but can be very quiet.

Hope this helps.


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>Curtin who when I asked about Q (telephone conversation) said "theres not too much you can do about that" Although he did not elaborate <

I think he's saying that there's not much you can do about it because 'Q' is a property of the wood so the most you can do is choose ringing wood, which most violinmakers do anyway-it seems intuitive.

Something you should keep in mind is that the 'ring tone' is only a small group of notes it does not cover a very wide range so it's ability to radiate is limited. Damping (Q) is one of those qualities that are difficult to measure and difficult to asses their effect-as was already mentioned, most restorers have noted that old violin plates of even the greates sounding violins have almost no ringing (highQ) qualities. What do you think of that? You never responded to this in the past.

Oded Kishony

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Unless, of course, we're talking about the same object. The original post is unclear about that.

(Which would be akin to saying that the harder you hit something, the louder (and longer) it will ring... Which is probably true - in most cases - even this phenomen would start to break down at a point, given the design and materials used, and the amount of energy of the impact. Speaking in generalities without specifying exactly what we're talking about is only so useful.

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Oded--I have heard the same thing you have about violin plates from the masters not haing a ring.I implore you now without prejudice to listen carefully.First of all violin tops have been retrofitted with larger bass bars and I can tell you and I assure you that Mr curtin et al will tellyou that you can lose the ring by installing a large bass bar.Consider the fact that the "masters of old" were known to tap their plates and flex them. They used gut strings then and it could be imagined that one would try to find a method to enhance the energy from coming out of the plate. We are told that they listend for some kind of tome or ring. If lets say for argument sake that this is correct and they were going for high Q despite perhaps fully understanding the way we may today.In other words they made the plate ring to some degree more or less and then the installation of our modern larger bars caused the ring to disappear. It is not to difficult to see that despite this you could still get what we consider a good or great sounding violin.You should also know that sometimes A ring is only heard close to the ear and not at a distance so that our concept of not hearing it may be flawed.Also if you dont hold the plate on a node you will not hear it. I am not saying that the people who tested these dont know what they are doing but I can tell you sincerely that many many times in testing my plates I have been frustrated when it seemed that the ring disappeared and then Holding it in a different position slightly different than before I got the ring. This happened several days ago as it has in numerous occasions .The question becomes also are you holding it in the place which will activate or not oblitersate the 5th mod. .So far no one has told me if my presentation is correct or not.Im going to let it slide for now. and say the following . There are different people out there including me making violins some for selling and profit some for hobby etc. When I present something on this forum I am trying to reach those people who perhaps want to consitently make good sound violins. I believe that all or most of you are trying to do so and possibly become infuriated when I come along seemingly with an air of arrogance--I am not arrogant. Consider the "Maters" when they tapped and twisted the violin plates do you believe they were simply trying to make a good violin? They actually beat us out in a scientific sense because they were looking for consistency ie how do I make a good violin every time?Thats mainly what this is about anyway. Some people that I have met say to me "OH so and so sometimes makes a good violin its hit and miss" I realize also that many of you dont have equipment that could enhance in my opinion what you make. This is not a critisizim but a fact. Those of you who fit in this catagory may be better off than those who have for the simple reason that its a pain in the ass(hope Jeffrey Holems doesnt throw me out) to use such equitment to constantly moniter in latter stages of carving your work.Having said this and not knowing if I have resolved my understanding of Fultons statement I dont believe any of you would be interested in the topic Grounds and souonds that John Beames has in my opinion generously given us My critique of that article along with something that I thought important will have to wait for another time.

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Ctviolin---You said a lot of things some of which I believe agreed with "my presentation " I sincerely and for the life of me dont understand and I do get this feeling that there is some sort of resentment.In your stattement you seem to summarily dismiss the science of accoustics. I cant understand why. You seem to dismiss the notion of Q yet I am sure that your violins are probably made using some criteria for example weight as indicated by Harry Wake who gave us some sense when he stated that the maple should be 115 gms plus or minus 10 and the spruce should be 78 gms plus or minus 10. I am I shouldsure and you are sure that if you made plates that are excessively heavy you would not get too much sound out of them. Please keep an open mind--it doesnt hurt. Note that I have not come up with a lot of these ideas yet I embrace them because to me they make a lot of sense scientifically or "visually"and above all they seem to have worked for me---I truthfully believe that the last 6 or so violins have consistently sounded great-----I know the proof is in the pudding as they say.But I can see the differences in the higher registers the ease of extracting sound from them and projection. I have never had to change my post setting.Now you guys may say "this guy is nuts" But it is true all my four strings appear "equal tempered" I realize you must test each string to see "how loud" they sound and there differences like in all violins but when you play them "you" dont get the feeling that one string "is better' than another. Perhaps I will soon prove Im correct or be wrong. I should say that I have tested each open string in terms of decibles at a distance and I get in my opinion good results. I do not make any money spending my time just like you on this forum. But please tell me then what is it all about.And Michael, Darnton if you believe that presentation is everything I will only say that it was the best way I knew how at the spontaneous moment to express a notion about Q which I do believe to be important in violin making.

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Ok, before my eyes go completely cock-eye'd I'd just like to throw in a couple of words, for what it's worth...

CTVIOLIN-"One of the problems with listening to the "scientists" talk about what makes a violin tick, is that they often prefer comparing the violin to the action of something much simpler (i.e. a bell, a xylophone bar, etc.) in order to study what makes it tick."

Just want to agree wholeheartedly with this and add that whilst I'm educated in the scientific proffession and most often rejoice in the investigative process, the boring grind of F=ma, Q's, torsional strains, F's with broken Q's and ffs with arms and legs, I find myself yawning prolongedly when the physics of a violin is explored in length.

I might be wrong, and more often than not, am but I would hesitate to suggest that yer man Strad didn't really bother about his Ps & Qs and even at that, managed to make something that was and still is more than suitable for the job.

Maybe Jeffery could fire up a new category for theoretical violin making?

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Restorers have plenty of access to plates without bars; they know what's going on.

It is far from a fact that "that the "masters of old" were known to tap their plates and flex them". Given that no one else has discovered anything first hand about the working methods of that time, I'd certainly like to know where that "fact" came from.

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Out of respect I slowly read and reread your comments. Respectfully again...I disagree...kinda that forest for the trees thing.

I considered your discussion and find I still agree with Michael & Craig's sentiments.

One advice I will hope you attempt to work on is your presentation. By this I mean (and I think the others meant) that you need to write these complex thoughts in a word file. Re-read them and edit so there is a rational flow and a break between concepts.

It is apparent that you are facinated by the acoustic field and that energy is delightful but it is a difficult process to read your free thinking style of writing.



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I would like ask a question about optimizing Q for a violin plate.

For any physical system Q is usually defined by the shape of the

amplitude vs frequency response curve. If you excite a violin plate

with a sound wave of varying frequency the curve you get will have

many peaks in amplitude. For each of these peaks you can define a Q

value given by f/(delta f), where delta f is the width in frequency

of the peak at half its maximum height (or 3 Db down point), and f

is the frequency at which the peak occurs. (This expression is

equivalent to the ratio of stored energy to power loss per

vibrational cycle.) The sharper the peak the higher the Q at that

frequency. The type of frequency response curve and the number and

relative heights of the peaks will depend on the material

parameters and how you have excited the plate. For each mode of

vibration there will be a Q defined. I am not sure how one defines

a Q that would encompass all the vibrational modes. Hence when one

talks of optimizing the Q. My question is which Q are you


The little experience I have had with making suggests that you

might be able to optimize Q for a given mode of vibration, but you

would wind up concentrating all the violins power in a small

frequency range. I don't believe this would give the most desirable

tonal properties. Maybe I'm missing something. If so someone can

straighten me out.



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As I understand it, the object is to optimize the so called 'ring mode' aka mode #5 which is easily detected by pinching the plate on the upper quadrant and knocking on it at the center.

BTW I believe that Strad was one of the worlds great scientists. There's clear evidence that he carried out experiments throughout his life.

There seems to be lots of heat but very little light in this discussion :-(


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"Ctviolin---You said a lot of things some of which I believe agreed with "my presentation " I sincerely and for the life of me dont understand and I do get this feeling that there is some sort of resentment."

A fairly typical reaction for me, and my arguments I must say. If you will notice I have not been dismissive of you at all, and I am presenting my ideas without rancor or even sarcasm. Why do you feel a strong argument against (some of) your opinions must be the result of resentment?

Your arguments are as strongly presented as my own, are they not? Why are you taking it personally?

"Please keep an open mind--it doesnt hurt."

If by that you mean I have to agree with you, how's that keeping an open mind?

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I have not read all the posts in this and the previous topic, so with that qualifier, let me say that there seems to be some sort of basic acceptance going in these threads that ring is desirable, which it is not.

Supposedly Heifetz once commented that he liked his violin to start when he started and stop when he stopped, and listening to his recordings will quickly confirm this. Ringy violins are attractive to a certain type of inexperienced buyer who thinks this is something good as some sort of easy test that the inexperienced buyer can use, but experienced players don't make that mistake.

Any shop owner will tell you of problems dealing with ringy violins, and how to get rid of that for frustrated customers. It's certainly no accident that great violins aren't ringy, and neither are their plates. However, this is one of those subjects where I will certainly encourage my competition to pursue this goal of violins that ring as far as they possibly can, so I hope this thread develops some really great ideas for them to try! Hop to it, boys!

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