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Cremonese verus the rest


Argon55
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Interesting debate. Here is a link to a recent trial/poll/test/experiment/whateveryouwanttocallit; it may have been discussed here already. It seems to fulfill at least some of the criteria for testing mentioned earlier. Like any experiment, however, having a greater number of old and new instruments would lend greater power to the data in terms of trends (or lack thereof) in the comparisons. BTW, I'm not endorsing any particular maker here, alive or dead.

Blind testing of a nice mix of new and old Italian instruments turns into success for the modern ones.

On March 18th 2006 a blind test was held in Stockholm. Out of eight violins produces by members of SVSF (The Swedish Violin and Bow makers Association) three were chosen to be tested against three old Italian violins. The old instruments are part of the Järnåker foundation. They instruments were a Antonio Stradivari from 1709, a GB Guadagnini from 1772 and a Joseph Gagliano from 1766. All three are professionally used and absolute genuine.

The players were Bernt Lysell, concert master of the Swedish Radio Orchestra in Stockholm and Per Sandklef, principal of the second violin in the same orchestra. The violins were played two rounds by each player. Different excerpts were used each time (Bach, Bruch and Sibelius)

The jury was mainly consisting of string teachers who's annual meeting was held at the same occasion. These people can be said to be fragment concert listeners as well as having an university education on stringed instruments. The jury could not see the instruments when the played because the stage were held in darkness.

Out of 70 people listening, 55 votes were left. The question was simple: Which violin did you think sounded best, second best and third best? The chosen violins were rewarded 3, 2 and 1 point for each time they were chosen in one of the three categories.

The outcome was spectacular and a little bit surprising. We are proud though over the result.

1:a Peter Westerlund, Norberg 70 points

2:a Josef Gagliano 59 points

3:a Torbjörn Zethelius, Stockholm 54 points

4:a Jan Larsson, Lima 39 points

5:a GB Guadagnini 38 points

6:a A Stradivari 27 points

The reason for the test was to give the violin customer a concrete statement that the myth about the superiority of old instruments. The representative of the violin market have defended this statement which have brought, students as well as proffessional musicians, to belive that only old and expensive instruments can come into question for a successful career.

Our opinion is that a good sound can be obtained from as well made modern and reasonably priced instrument. Buying an old instrument brings much more focus on genuineness and preservation as does any antique object.

from: http://www.westerlunds.se/

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Interesting test & I'm sure the modern violins were very

nice.

What do we also see in this test when we look at the three old

Italian violins tested........we see  that their scores came

out almost in inverse proportion to their maket

values!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

.......ie the Galiano scored much higher than the Guad but even

higher by over twice as many points than the Strad!!!!!!

So this test bucked 'conventional wisdom' & the heirachy of

antique violin market values in one go......

I'm not sure what conclusions to draw ......

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A useful follow-up to any kind of play-off, IMO, would be to poll the players on how much effort it took to produce the sound they wanted on each instrument. I've heard some instruments demonstrated that I thought sounded good, only to be told by the player that it took too much work to make the instrument sound that way.

In the meantime, perhaps we could hold a cage match to decide the issue?

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Roderick_Quiros:

Personally I'm no surprised with the result. I assumed the test was

did on only the violins are playing, and one at a time. Any other

accompaniment? Piano, orchestra?

I had a similar experience before, 2 violins from a same maker.

Both are almost identical in sound and volume, except one is

brighter, and one is fuller and less bright.

WIth the violin playing alone, no doubt, the brighter one sounds

better, and the less bright one sounds obviously more dull and less

interesting. But when other instrument start playing (it was

in a church), the less bright one stands out, beautifully, I

repeat, beautifully. The bright one seems to be drowned a bit, left

the high and strident frequencies to be heard...

As for those instrument participated in the test, my wild guess is

that the stradivari has more dull sound when

playing alone, while the josef gagliano has much strident sound

thus making it more interesting to listen when playing alone (based

on what I heard form a video clip of a real gagliano, it was Nicolo

Gagliano, I guess they have similar character). Well, it's just my

wild guess after all...

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OK... I'm ducking back in for just a moment to thank everyone, in advance, for keeping things within sane boundries from now on. I edited out a few posts on this thread... so let's keep things reasonable, OK?

It seems to be a subject that brings out passion in many...

So, while I'm at it:

quote:


Originally posted by:
Melving

So this test bucked 'conventional wisdom' & the heirachy of

antique violin market values in one go......


I'm sure this was a thrilling outcome for the makers... and just having a chance to compare their own work, head to head, with other makers (both living and dead) made the event worthwhile... BUT:

I think you already know that this did not buck the heirachy of antique violin market values at all. That's not how antique violins are appraised. It may have bucked the perception of how the market value is set... but that perception is incorrect. A Gagliano does not have to sound good to be "worth" X. Nor does an Amati, Strad or Guarneri... or a Darnton or a Burgess for that matter (as they are makers who have already established a place in the market based on their reputations and body of work). To be worth a mint, a van Gogh doesn't have to produce a sound at all.

For me, this still goes back to which modern instrument, which old instrument, what venue, what audience and what player. Also, we have no idea how the instruments (old or new) were selected. As I said before (maybe in a slightly different way), in order to make me stand up and pay attention, the concert instruments that makers are trying to emulate are the ones that will need to be selected for a trial. It is by the makers own addmissions that these are the instruments they feel are the best of the best. While results of a qualified listening group would be interesting, I won't need the jury's results for that one. I'm interested in what my own ears will "say".

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Jeffrey Holmes

I think you already know that this did not buck the heirachy of antique violin market values at all. That's not how antique violins are appraised. It may have bucked the perception of how the market value is set... but that perception is incorrect. A Gagliano does not have to sound good to be "worth" X. Nor does an Amati, Strad or Guarneri...

I'll concur with Jeffrey on that even though I have no involvement in old instrument appraisals.

It's been a long time since I attended an auction preview, but it used to be that dealers would bid on very expensive instruments without having ever heard or played them.

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The first flaw in this trial is that the players were not blindfolded.

Three other variables I would like to know: 1) how were these players chosen and 2) what instruments do they normally play and 3) by what criterion were 21 voters dismissed?

I tried a search on Google to see if Lystel and Sandklef have sites listing their intruments. No success. I did find that in addition to being Concert Master and First Second Violin in the same orchestra, they play together in the Lystell Quartet.

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Jeff Holmes writes...

'I think you already know that this did not buck the heirachy of

antique violin market values at all. That's not how antique violins

are appraised. It may have bucked the perception of how the market

value is set... but that perception is incorrect. A Gagliano does

not have to sound good to be "worth" X. Nor does an Amati, Strad or

Guarneri...'

Yes sure Jeff....sorry I was being a bit facetious there.....I

guess I was kinda saying 'does this test tell us that all

J.Gaglianos sound better than Strads? (probably

not)'....which does sort of tie in with your 'which old instrument

which modern' interest.....

And it did beg the question for me as to how good a Strad the strad

tested was?....However that kinda speculation by me is pretty mean.

I'm not sure this test or others like it provide a definative

answer to the original question of this thread, but the modern

instruments in this test did very well & that is a credit to

their makers and good publicity for modern making as a whole which

I am in favor of as it is the domain in which I make my

living!.....

In the end I can only say there are a lot of great makers making

great instruments at the moment......My own limited experience

is all I can go on that the absolute best instrument I have played

was a Strad....Perhaps the ultimate question is are the best

instruments by modern makers equal to the best examples of old

Cremonese ?????

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quote:


Originally posted by:
cozio

quote:


From Jeffrey: I think you may be mixing apples and oranges here in terms of value... and I would caution doing so. Evaluation of violins is complicated by sound issues, not simplified. As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, the fact that these pieces are rare works, art pieces if you like, has much to do with their value. I would assume that the Messiah would fetch an amazing price if it ever went up for sale... but few have ever heard it.

Well, there may not be a direct one-to-one correlation between price and perceived acoustical properties, but the acoustics are still very important in determining the relative value of different makers and of specific instruments. And this is really the crux of the debate -- every dealer and anyone who has invested in an old Italian instrument (which includes most professionals) has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. And this has been true for centuries. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're wrong or are in cahoots to promulgate a myth, but it does make one wonder, especially since its so hard to show the superiority of old instruments in any kind of objective test. I agree with Allan and the others that it would be a great idea for the violin industry to try to set up some sort of acoustical rating system. We all know it won't be perfect, but that's not a good enough reason to throw in the towel and give up. To all those who keep throwing up obstacles to any kind of a test, you "do protest too much, methinks."


OK... I didn't see this until I was done editing the thread... Man, I just can't seem to stay away... so I'll give up. I'm back.

Phillip,

I know very well what is involved in determining relative values of instruments. I am an appraiser as well as a restorer (fiddle dinker, repairman, whatever) and dealer of contemporary, old, and rare instruments. The factor of sound concerning the value of instruments by a maker is determined by reputation earned over their work as a whole (or work of a period over the entire period), not based on a single opus. This reputation is earned by acceptance of the market (not just the dealers). The consumer end of the old violin market is made up of players (both amateur and pro) as well as collectors (as you know, your screen name was really one of the original violin collectors) some of which are dealers themselves (I believe Charles Beare is a very serious collector), and others who have profiles that make them look more like investors (banks, foundations, etc.) or philanthropists. In terms of personal taste, I don't always agree with the choices (like Cozio's championing of certain makers), but I work historically (and there was good reason certain makers were championed by the Count and others)... and the results of this history and demand puts us where we are concerning value. Sometimes it's like comparing a great big house in the middle of Iowa with a small ranch house in California.... Yes, the Iowa house might be "better", or grander, in one sense, but if you were to argue it was worth more, I'd suggest that you might need a reality check. Best not to mix value of a specific instrument with quality of sound either, if (as I assume) that (sound quality) is what is being debated here.

Since you were replying to me, I wondered... so I'll come right out and ask you. Are you suggesting I'm one of those who protests too much? If so, I challenge you to show your proof. All I've said is that I've been there and done that, suggested (strongly), that the instruments selected for all the "objective tests" I know of haven't been even close to appropriate (and I've defined what instruments would be appropriate), a venue should be selected that makes sense (and might include chamber and solo-against-orchestra), appropriate players are critical, and that (even then) I believe subjectivity will be hard to "remove" from the equation no matter what measures are taken. If you are simply saying that I'm not interested in seeing yet another "test" lacking what I feel are critical and important factors (as listed above), I plead guilty. If this was just a general comment... never mind.

Now, honestly, the logic of this whole situation escapes me. If we are to test how contemporary instruments "stand up" to the old concert instruments, why wouldn't those that makers emulate be the ones to share the stage, played by those who know how to work them? To go one step further, if the audience were to vote "blind", and were to select a modern instrument over one of the icons, would that prove superiority of the contemporary maker, or would it show that they actually missed the target (how can something that is based on the qualities of an original be "better" than that same original?)?

It would make more sense to me to have a "control". An instrument that can be accepted as one of the greatest by most, if not all, involved. An ideal. While I have little hope that all subjectivity could be eliminated as the test proceeded, at least in this case there would be something to compare each of the subsequent instruments to.

Indeed, there are makers who have been able to produce instruments that "passed" as originals (for a short time, or continue to). Maybe they are the ones who really did hit the target in some sense... at least for a while.

There may be another problem. It may certainly be possible that tastes of the listening public and the players has changed over time. This really wouldn't be a first... Stainers and Amatis were favored at one point above all. Maybe the sound of modern instruments is what audiences are starting to prefer? Maybe perception has changed? Maybe changes in technique and construction of orchestral wind instruments have pushed what is required of strings to a different level? Maybe this generation lost part of their hearing talking on cell phones during rock concerts?

If things have changed, I suppose we'll see the market reflect this in time. If not, well...

Perception, at any given time, has been a problem with string instruments for over two centuries... maybe longer. I already mentioned Cozio. He believed in what he promoted, and influenced other makers of his time to follow a path he felt was the "right" one. At the time Vuillaume produced copies, they were hailed as "looking and sounding like the originals". It was a perception of the time. We're used to seeing Vuillaumes now... and with few exceptions, I think they look and sound like Vuillaumes.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
falstaff

The first flaw in this trial is that the players were not blindfolded.

Three other variables I would like to know: 1) how were these players chosen and 2) what instruments do they normally play and 3) by what criterion were 21 voters dismissed?

I tried a search on Google to see if Lystel and Sandklef have sites listing their intruments. No success. I did find that in addition to being Concert Master and First Second Violin in the same orchestra, they play together in the Lystell Quartet.

Hi Falstaff - I've already been in touch with Westerlund so I can answer some of those questions for you.

As you point out, the test was single blind, not double blind.

Bernt Lysell owns and uses the winning Westerlund violin and also plays the Guadagnini (he plays the new violin in the orchestra). He has the Guadagnini on loan from the Järnåker Foundation (of which he is a board member) and has been using it for 25 years.

Bernt and a colleague Per Sandklev were asked to be the violinists in the event and agreed to do so. I don't know what Sandklev normally plays.

The jury were the attending ESTA members at their annual meeting as well as a few other interested people. There were 70 in all. Some chose not to participate as they thought it too difficult, some forms were disqualified as they voted incorrectly (2 of the same number, etc). 55 votes were "legal". The point system used was 3 points for the violin sounding best, 2 for the next best and 1 for the third. Three violins were left without points by each juror.

So, as you can see... not a particularly valid test by the rigorous standards we have been talking about here.

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Jeffrey wrote,

quote:


To go one step further, if the audience were to vote "blind", and were to select a modern instrument over one of the icons, would that prove superiority of the contemporary maker, or would it show that they actually missed the target (how can something that is based on the qualities of an original be "better" than that same original?)?

This brings up the interesting question whether a "copy" or a "made in the style of" violin (or any product, in general) can be better than the original. If one automatically rated the original as perfect, with a score of 100, then the implication is that improvement on the original is impossible. Another approach would be to assume that there are degrees of perfection, but nothing is perfect; therefore everything can be improved upon...(If you asked Stradivari about his best violin, he could probably tell you ways to improve upon it).

And, because of the subjective nature of violin tone, I think it would be difficult to decide upon a "control" violin. In fact, there is so much subjectivity involved in "quantifying" violin tone, both on an individual and a societal level (with preferences even changing periodically, as Jeffery mentioned), that the suggested trial, as evidenced by the extensive proposed trial guidelines, is highly subject to errors and may qualify as a "subjectively subjective test" (how's that for redundancy?).

However, I can see benefits of the "trial" to modern makers and, therefore to the entire (or most?) violin world regardless of the outcome or of the "validity" and "repeatability" of the trials. This statement assumes that modern makers will benefit by seeing "subjectively" where they stand (and, hopefully, why) with the old Cremonese masters. Those old Cremonese violins in use are not going to last forever...or are they?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Oded Kishony

Hi Lisajames

you wrote:

> Those instruments produce a tonal palette that cannot (yet) be matched. A multi-directionality to the sound that is at times mysterious. It feels like it's coming from all over and it's even confusing. <

I'm interested in your experience of muti-directionality. What more can you say about this experience? Does it appear more at higher frequencies, does it seem 'under the ear' or does it seem to the player as if the sound is very distant? Does the directionality change on a held note, with vibrato etc?

Anyone whose noticed this phenomena is welcome to add their experience.

Oded Kishony

Hi Oded

The phenomena is real.Somebody called it here as a "cloud of sound" and is a good description also.

I don't think the player perceives it as a distant sound,its very much present but more....spatial.

In my opinion this has a relation with the broadness of the peaks in the spectrum.

Take a look at Nagyvary's website where he compares the spectrum of a Strad with his violin.In stead of comparing the hight of the peaks compare the width, from base to tip.You can easily tell which one has the broader peaks.

Gabriel.

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I've seen visual representations of sound radiation from instruments. As you up in frequency the beam of sound gets narrower until the violin looks like a porcupine with many spikes of sound radiating in many directions. I think that the Cremonese instruments have this phenomenon in greater abundance and it's likely that the frequencies being radiated the most fall into harmonic sequences (5th 3rd and 4th) Mostly, I'd like to have the player's perception of what it sounds and feels like. Although I've played a fair number of Cremonese instruments, including the Betts and the Kreisler Del Gesu, I have a hard time recalling that particular aspect of my experience.

Oded Kishony

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quote:


I know very well what is involved in determining relative values of instruments. I am an appraiser as well as a restorer (fiddle dinker, repairman, whatever) and dealer of contemporary, old, and rare instruments. The factor of sound concerning the value of instruments by a maker is determined by reputation earned over their work as a whole (or work of a period over the entire period), not based on a single opus. This reputation is earned by acceptance of the market (not just the dealers). The consumer end of the old violin market is made up of players (both amateur and pro) as well as collectors (as you know, your screen name was really one of the original violin collectors) some of which are dealers themselves (I believe Charles Beare is a very serious collector), and others who have profiles that make them look more like investors (banks, foundations, etc.) or philanthropists. In terms of personal taste, I don't always agree with the choices (like Cozio's championing of certain makers), but I work historically (and there was good reason certain makers were championed by the Count and others)... and the results of this history and demand puts us where we are concerning value. Sometimes it's like comparing a great big house in the middle of Iowa with a small ranch house in California.... Yes, the Iowa house might be "better", or grander, in one sense, but if you were to argue it was worth more, I'd suggest that you might need a reality check. Best not to mix value of a specific instrument with quality of sound either, if (as I assume) that (sound quality) is what is being debated here.

I absolutely agree so long as we are talking about specific instruments. But the original question was about whether Cremonese instruments are really better than the rest. The consensus -- historical and current -- is yes, and this has a very direct bearing on the price of these instruments taken as group. In fact, the whole hierarchy of values for different makers - from Strads and del Gesus right on down to the various members of the Gagliano family -- is based on their perceived sound quality. Again, I'm talking about groups and schools of instruments here, not specific instruments. And sure, there are exceptions such as the Messiah that are valued purely as collectibles. But musicians, who are the main buyers, are mostly interested in the acoustics. The professional musicians I know are not in a position to indulge in purchasing antiques just for the sake of collecting. They are investing their hard-earned money in a tool, and they're primarily interested in how that tool performs. Of course, they're also human and will be swayed by great brand names like Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari, but at the end of the day they're going to try to buy the instrument that gives them the most value for the money. So from their perspective (which may be different from the appraiser's), there's a very direct relationship between value and quality of sound.

Regarding your suggestion that any test should include only the very best solo instruments, I guess we're looking for different things. Let's say we tested 5 of the greatest solo instruments against 5 good modern instruments (we wouldn't even be able to pick the best 5 modern violins since none of them, by definition, has stood the test of time), and the Strads and del Gesus come out on top. What does that tell us? That the very best Strads and del Gesus are better than good modern instruments? To my mind, that's not a particularly interesting test. I would be much more interested in testing good old Italian instruments -- those that have been chosen for their tonal qualities by professional musicians -- against a good selection of modern instruments. The results of that test would be very interesting since they would either confirm the consensus that there is something special about Cremonese instruments that hasn't yet been reproduced, or conversely, that the sound quality of modern instruments is competitive with good old Italians.

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I think one needs to be careful comparing information obtained from spectral graphs. Unless the information is obtained on exactly the same equipment, in the same room, with the same FFT settings, the shape and height of the peaks and even the location can be quite different.

In the Nagavary case, we might assume that the testing environment was the same for all instruments. If so, I'd still be cautious about saying a broader peak is better. I have a little control over the shape of the peaks with adjustment and here's what I've found:

If an instrument comes in with broad peaks and adjustment is changed to make them slightly sharper, the musician almost always likes it. Sound and crispness under the ear are improved, and there is an improvement, somewhat less so, at a distance. If you make too great a change all at once, often the player won't like it. It's just too different. However, if you put things back the way they originally were, the player usually will prefer the newer adjustment over the old. Going back, response and sound get worse in their judgement.

The safest thing is to do things incrementally on different visits.

Sharper peaks can do some interesting things with vibrato, making the sound really "jump" as the frequency is modulated.

There's some evidence that new violins have generated sharper, higher peaks compared to old. This may not always be the case. Where they have, I don't know how the old instruments used for the comparison sounded, or the new instrument either. The old may have been great, or they may have been instruments like a Strad we listened to which was near the bottom of the field of the fiddles tested on that occasion.

I've played some Strads and Guarneris that had a great sound under the ear, and had a great feel.....that of the bow really grabbing the string, and others that felt like mush. The "grab" fiddles were usually in the hands of better players. Most of the time, I didn't get a chance to hear these fiddles agains a "control" in a hall, so I can't speak to how well they did there.

Oded, it might be interesting if you could find a Bose engineer, get him drunk (they're secretive), and pick his brains.

I've spent a bit of time talking to an engineer who works for a high-end speaker manufacturer, and he had some interesting things to say about Bose.

One thing he said was that Bose products are considered junk when it comes to accurate sound reproduction. But he also expressed a fascination (maybe even admiration) for some tricks they've learned to play on the ear. Apparently Bose spends a lot of time doing subjective listening tests with groups of people, and they'll choose a sound that people like over sound which is accurate. For example, if they find that people generally prefer the sound 3 feet away from the speaker, to the sound 15 feet away, they'll try to change the spectral content of the sound 15 feet away to match that of the sound at 3 feet. Or something like that. They may have figured out a way to produce this "omni-source" sound people have spoken about.

Bose sells a music performance PA system on which they claim that the volume doesn't diminish over distance. Well, we all know that's physically impossible, (basic laws of physics apply here) so apparently they've come up with some way to give listeners that impression.

I've listened to one of these systems in a performance environment and didn't notice anything special, but I didn't have a chance to compare it back-to-back with any other PA system either.

This suggests some interesting things about people's questions regarding how good sound is defined.

With the tools at our disposal and the work done by Bose as an example, I have no doubt that we'll eventually be able to come up with violins that most listeners and players consider better than the best Strads. Maybe they exist right now, maybe not. Others will not consider them better, because they don't sound the same as a Strad.

So getting back to the spectral graph stuff, even if it turns out that we notice some differences between Stads and moderns when tested under the exact same conditions, I'd be careful about saying one can use the Strad data to make a better modern instrument. A lot depends on which Strad is used. If my instruments sounded like some of the Strads I've played and heard, I'd be pretty disappointed, and they'd be difficult to sell. (I don't have the "cachet" that the Strad name carries.)

I've spent quite a bit of time talking to one rather good player (associate concertmaster in a major symphony) who goes into shops to try things wherever he travels, has enough pull to be able to try the violins of visiting soloists, talks to them a lot about about what they play and why, and gets their opinions on other instruments they have tried. His conclusion from all is that only about a dozen Strads are truly great concert instruments.

So maybe be careful about copying spectral results or sound from old instruments. A sound that is sufficient to sell a Strad may not be adequate to sell a high-priced modern instrument.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
cozio

I absolutely agree so long as we are talking about specific instruments. But the original question was about whether Cremonese instruments are really better than the rest.


To be clear, concerning the response in question, I was commenting to Melvin about his post that the Stockholm trial, which was performed on specific instruments, bucked the heirarchy of value... not responding to the original subject of the thread.

quote:


But musicians, who are the main buyers, are mostly interested in the acoustics. The professional musicians I know are not in a position to indulge in purchasing antiques just for the sake of collecting. They are investing their hard-earned money in a tool, and they're primarily interested in how that tool performs. Of course, they're also human and will be swayed by great brand names like Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari, but at the end of the day they're going to try to buy the instrument that gives them the most value for the money. So from their perspective (which may be different from the appraiser's), there's a very direct relationship between value and quality of sound.

I hate to say it... but I have a pretty decent amount of experience with musicians purchasing instruments... It is my judgement that many (not all) are driven to own an antique, and demand a desirable investment (to put it kindly), with equal priority to sound quality... and make decisions based on a blend of these factors.

quote:


Regarding your suggestion that any test should include only the very best solo instruments, I guess we're looking for different things. Let's say we tested 5 of the greatest solo instruments against 5 good modern instruments (we wouldn't even be able to pick the best 5 modern violins since none of them, by definition, has stood the test of time), and the Strads and del Gesus come out on top. What does that tell us? That the very best Strads and del Gesus are better than good modern instruments? To my mind, that's not a particularly interesting test.

... but it is in keeping with the original question, I think... and it seems both players and contemporary makers state this comparison as their goal.

quote:


I would be much more interested in testing good old Italian instruments -- those that have been chosen for their tonal qualities by professional musicians -- against a good selection of modern instruments. The results of that test would be very interesting since they would either confirm the consensus that there is something special about Cremonese instruments that hasn't yet been reproduced, or conversely, that the sound quality of modern instruments is competitive with good old Italians.

Unfortunately, without a control, I don't see this as much more than a "poll"... Like "what's your favorite color", or "do you like chocolate or vanilla". Sure, there would be winners and losers, but so what? If you go to a paint store and look at the color chips to pick your favorite wall color, you may not be selecting one that will go in your livingroom. You probably need to take a pillow along to give you the context of the room.

I don't think any hall test will be reliable without a control. Having a control allows those who are being polled to have a defined target... Without that target, determining what's "good" or "better" is completely subjective. To my mind, in the case of the test you suggest, the control should still be an instrument that most, if not all, participants can agree is one of the great concert violins. Everything else can be judged compared to it. Subjectivity would still be present, but at least there would be a definition.... a target, if you prefer.

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Very interesting David. ( Great minds think alike ;-) I've contacted Bose and tried to get them interested in my work, but haven't had any luck. The founder of Bose started his business because of his frustration at the inadequacy of his hi-fi to reproduce the sound of a violin.

Have you heard any of Martin Schleske's tonal copies? He's the only maker I know that can credibly claim to reproduce specific instrument sound. I've never met anyone who's played a Schleske tonal copy next to the original.

Anyone on here have that pleasure?

Oded

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There was some sound testing like that (spectrum analysis) this past weekend at the event here in Indy, involving contemporary instruments against multiple Strads belonging to top artists in town for the competition. Same equipment, same room, same person doing the testing. Also some player comparisons, although nothing in a double-blind situation as proposed here. I don't know whether the person doing the testing intends to publish it or not -- it would make an interesting article, I'm sure.

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Originally posted by:
Jeffrey Holmes

I hate to say it... but I have a pretty decent amount of experience with musicians purchasing instruments... It is my judgement that many (not all) are driven to own an antique, and demand a desirable investment (to put it kindly), with equal priority to sound quality... and make decisions based on a blend of these factors.

We must move in different circles ;-)

quote:


I don't think any hall test will be reliable without a control. Having a control allows those who are being polled to have a defined target... Without that target, determining what's "good" or "better" is completely subjective. To my mind, in the case of the test you suggest, the control should still be an instrument that most, if not all, participants can agree is one of the great concert violins. Everything else can be judged compared to it. Subjectivity would still be present, but at least there would be a definition.... a target, if you prefer.

So you would have the judges listen to one of the great instruments and then rank the others based on how close they come to that sound? Or would the world-class instruments just be part of the mix in the double-blind test?

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Originally posted by:
Oded Kishony

Have you heard any of Martin Schleske's tonal copies? He's the only maker I know that can credibly claim to reproduce specific instrument sound. I've never met anyone who's played a Schleske tonal copy next to the original. Oded

No, I've only heard his instruments compared to the original when he played this over a speaker system.

My impression at the time was that they sounded similar, though not the same. It was hard to tell becuase long excerpts were played on each violin. I can tell a lot more when short excerpts are used and instruments switched repeatedly.

Oded;

Will you be my co-conspirator?

We can find a vulnerable Bose engineer, get him drunk, hire some woman to fawn all over him, and tag-team him with questions.

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