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Cremonese Violins - Which part of its beauty has been matched?


pigcat
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I've been revisiting old threads and had came about the big thread

which I think many fellow members here remember, it was the

"Cremonese versus the rest" thread with lots of precious

comments.

So here I have some questions for anyone who can answer:

1. In general, which aspect of the violin/secret has been matched,

discovered, or explainable?

2. Say, ease of playing, so only the old Cremonese instruments are

able to "almost play by them self"? Any other fine violins, old or

modern instruments are as easy to play as the old Cremonese

masters? Does it related to personal taste, player's skill, or the

playability will be developed with time?

3. So, basically the projection of old Cremonese masters are

unsurpassed. How about the tone palette? Is the old Cremonese

masters the only one can have the most colours and responses?

4. Varnish seems to be the one yet to be discovered, which gave the

old Cremonese masters a unique and beautiful look. But then, what's

the goal of achieving this? To re-create the beautiful look? To

re-create the tonal character?

5. Last but not least, do the Cremonese instruments always smaller

in size? Are they always lighter in weight? Why are they so light,

because the wood has been passing so many years so eventually it

got so dry and become so light?

Thanks all in advanced to answer my silly questions...Looking

forward to the resposes from you guys...

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1. In general, which aspect of the violin/secret has been matched, discovered, or explainable?

I'm not aware of any "secrets" that remain.

2. Say, ease of playing, so only the old Cremonese instruments are able to "almost play by them self"? No

Any other fine violins, old or modern instruments are as easy to play as the old Cremonese masters?

Yes

Does it related to personal taste, player's skill, or the playability will be developed with time?

Yes

3. So, basically the projection of old Cremonese masters are unsurpassed.

Not a fact

How about the tone palette? Is the old Cremonese masters the only one can have the most colours and responses?

No

4. Varnish seems to be the one yet to be discovered, which gave the old Cremonese masters a unique and beautiful look. But then, what's the goal of achieving this? To re-create the beautiful look? To re-create the tonal character?

to protect and serve

5. Last but not least, do the Cremonese instruments always smaller in size?

No

Are they always lighter in weight?

No

Why are they so light, because the wood has been passing so many years so eventually it got so dry and become so light?

No

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One thing that does separate Cremonese and modern is the aging of the wood itself. I do not think the changes that could occur in a periodically vibrating object that is subjected to thousands of environmental cycles are (or) can be well understood, because to do so one would really need to measure the initial physical properties at the time of creation, and then measure again at a much later point.

This is possible today, i.e. measuring parameters of the instrument and its wood such as frequency spectrum, dimensions, density, modulus of elasticity, acoustic impedance, velocity of sound in all planes, etc., and then measuring for comparison after say three hundred years or so, but I fear the original investigator will have likely have lost interest by that point.

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The biggest difference between fine 17th century Cremonese fiddles

and fine modern fiddles, is the amount of money Charles Beare can

make buying & selling them.

A secondary difference is the amount of status the former brings to

any soloist who performs with one.

I'd say that's about it.

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"The tone has not been matched in two regions: the low register of G-string and the very high register of E-string, as described in a paper in the 1st issue of the VSA Papers."

"Just an opinion as it is silly to assume that this conclusion could be proven."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I must respectfully disagree Dean. I think a conclusion acceptable to all rational thinking persons is well within the realm of experimental science. Mind you, whether existing studies are adequate and conclusive is another matter, and one which I am hardly familiar enough with to comment. One laments the dearth of central and easy access to violin research. Presumably, the interesting stuff is more readily available to those in the fold. It certainly does not end up here, yet.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Tseng

The tone has not been matched in two regions: the low register of G-string and the very high register of E-string, as described in a paper in the 1st issue of the VSA Papers.

I'll have more faith in conclusions such as these when the data base is larger.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Dean_Lapinel

"The tone has not been matched in two regions: the low register of G-string and the very high register of E-string, as described in a paper in the 1st issue of the VSA Papers."

Just an opinion as it is silly to assume that this conclusion could be proven.

I couldn't agree more, given this information as it is presented here here.

Such a proposition is absurd on the face of the argument - which would seem to propose that the Cremonese instruments in question would be tonally indistinguishable from "ordinary" instruments throughout most of the tonal range, only having a change in tonal properties at both extreme ends of the violins frequency response spectrum.

My argument with many such technical papers, is based on the fact that, while seeking to be - or at least to sound - knowledgeable and technically correct, they commonly defy common sense, actual experience, and commonly they, in thier very premiss, miss the actuality of the situation entirely.

Charts, graphs, spectra, and scientific or mathematical "proofs" notwithstanding.

I guess the upside of such arguments is, that one may sound intelligent when discussing the various "scientific" aspects of the proposition under consideration, (most often with other researchers, who very often appear to revel in the ability to banter about scientific nomenclature above all else.)

My apologies ahead of time for having such a cynical take on this.

Since we have not exactly named a specific paper yet, nor are we quoting it, nor are we including in the conversation the context within which this is proposed, (but are generalizing about an idea that is not referenced specifically but somewhat obliquely) I am going out on a limb a bit here with this opinion, because the paper itself may or may not actually say this.

So this IS NOT a slam regarding any specific paper or author. It is merely a response to the information proposed entirely within this thread.

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I think the one thing that can never be matched is the

unprecedented P.R. campaign launched on behalf of the cremonese

makers by every party involved in their interest, from makers to

dealers to players to museums to collectors and on and on for

the last few centuries. That's a thing of beauty in itself. As to

whether any other part of the instruments can be matched in terms

of beauty, I think that's not even under question any more by any

of the great modern crafts people. Alas, I doubt I will personally

come very close to matching many aspects of these iconic

instruments, but trying to come close is what gets me out of bed in

the morning.

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"I guess the upside of such arguments is, that one may sound intelligent when discussing the various "scientific" aspects of the proposition under consideration, (most often with other researchers, who very often appear to revel in the ability to banter about scientific nomenclature above all else.) "

Yes, but this nomenclature is the only thing that can increase the precision about what is under discussion. It is the very bedrock of all science.

I must confess to engaging in banter infused with scientific nomenclature from time to time, but my grade nine education precludes me from sharing in the revelry.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
GMM22
One thing that does

separate Cremonese and modern is the aging of the wood

itself.

The chemistry and physics of wood aging is poorly understood in

bowed instruments, so everything could be attributed to it, or

nothing could be attributed to it.  I am in the skeptics' camp

when it comes to wood aging, for no better reason than my own

intuition.  Despite their high prices due to market economics,

a lot of old Italian violins are not getting much praise when

compared to modern instruments.  This leads me to seriously

doubt the tonal benefit wood aging.  Of course this kind

of thinking has been floating around for 200 years.  The

newest twist is the emerging evidence that Cremonese wood was

chemically treated.  If that could be proven, then aging

becomes again the unknown X factor that needs to be carefully

examined and considered.  If one day enough scientific

evidence about Cremonese wood has accumulated, I would be very

interested in writing a review.  In fact, when I set out to

write a review, it had two parts: wood and varnish.  I had to

drop the wood part because there simply is not enough scientific

data out there and the varnish part is getting way too long.  

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I've been rather entertained by discussions of this sort over the years.

Sure, there have been tests where audiences have proven themselves unable to tell the difference between a modern fiddle and a Strad or Guarneri. There are modern violin makers who do complex spectrographical analyses, use alternative materials and constructional methods to duplicate response as much as possible. And then there are the quacks like Nagyvary who douse perfectly good instruments in various putrid concoctions based on questionable alchemic ideas.

I, personally, choose to ignore all of these people because they are wrong. Feel free to disagree with me here - but the idea that there is no difference in the sound of a modern violin and that of a fine old Cremonese, simply because one is unable to discern said difference, is a serious logical error. To me, the funniest thing about this is that some of the people making this error are or have been professional businessmen, scientists, physicians and the like - who otherwise would be unlikely to fall victim to this sort of fallacious thinking in a professional setting.

Over the years, I have played all sorts of violins and violas from great to bad, and everywhere in between. I have made violins, sold violins, and worked for violin dealers and an auction house. I have studied with some of the top American orchestral musicians and soloists. And while I certainly won't claim to be a great musician, I know violins AND I can tell you with absolute certainty right now that I (and quite a few other makers, players, and dealers) can hear the difference between a good old Cremonese and a top new fiddle.

If others are unable to do this, I am sorry - but the difference is not huge. Is it worth a few million? Perhaps, but once again, that depends EXCLUSIVELY on your personal frame of reference.

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Hi wmeng

Long time no hear - what are you up to these days?

"that depends EXCLUSIVELY on your personal frame of reference." That is a pretty solid argument, especially coming from somebody barely in his 20's (I think?). So, how would you characterize the "frame of reference" in which people like Giles Apap or Elmer D'Oliveira operate in their choice of instruments?

I myself am wondering about that. They do of course supply their own justifications, but I'm wondering what you might think of that. There are many possibilities - for instance, that the top 20 Cremonese are already taken, and that the rest have to compete on an equal footing with the best of the rest, etc, but still - what's your take on that?

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It is very easy to dismiss my comment because I have never played a true

"Cremonese violin" .

My comment holds some value only in this aspect.

There are good violins and bad violins. For good violins when you play them, you

don't want to put them down. If you ask me which one is "better" beside sound (or tone)

the feels play an important role that you like this one better than the other one.

As the difference is not huge, our judgement is clouded by other factors.

Age for example, (old charm). There is not such thing such as completely objective test.

We look, we touch, suroundings are never identical.

ask yourself " do you think a meal taste better if a friendly, beautiful waitress

serves it?"

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Yuen

That is a good point that you make.

My experience as a maker is that there are two responses one can

have to a fiddle if you present it to a good player. They always

respond in code through behaviour and words.

If a player tries a fiddle and plays a few hasty passages then

hands it back saying it is a great fiddle they actually do not like

it at all but are being polite.

If a player takes a fiddle and plays all kinds of stuff for a very

long time and starts to look concerned ...then stops briefly to ask

about price of if they can borrow fiddle...then it is clear they

like it.

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Oh yes! All you players out there please note. Makers aren't really listening to what you say at all... they are actually just counting the notes. The greatest compliment is to play their instrument for 20 minutes. But don't play for more than that, otherwise the price might start going up.

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I once brought one of my violins to Dr. Norman Pickering

on Long Island and he ran a spectral analysis on it where he

excited the bridge through the whole audible sound spectrum and

then measured the volume of the instrument. This was recorded by a

computer and then he could show a graph of output at all of the

frequencies. He was very surprised at how closely it

matched the spectrum of a Strad that he had on record. He printed

up a graph of both and showed me how it matched in all areas. There

were a few peaks that he said were very important and that no

previous modern instrument that he tested ever came close to

these. He was surprised that mine did. I had finished this

instrument only days before the test. Norman also said that the

test is all well and good, but said that the proof is in how it

plays. He then played it and liked the sound very much.

I'm not telling this story to toot my own horn (ah, maybe a

little), but rather to point out that if the electronic tests are

any measure, that new instruments can compete. I have never been

able to convince myself completely one way or the

other if there is truth to the "old magic" or of the

value of electronic tests. It's too complicated a subject. I've

heard many nice modern instruments, a few bad sounding Cremonese

instruments and the other way around and back again. The owner of

the bad sounding cremonese was convinced that they were the

greatest sounding things on the planet and wouldn't allow Art to do

any sound adjusting on them even though he tried to convince him

that they really could use an adjustment. This speaks to the giant

p.r. campaign that Darren so rightfully mentions.

If there is one thing that I believe in - it's that talk

is cheap. For those people who say that there is no doubt in there

mind one way or another - put your money where your mouth is. I

propose the following challenges depending on your point of

view :

For those who say that the Cremonese instruments are undoubtedly

the holy grail of sound:

A blind test where you listen to 10 well set up and top notch

instruments played by the same player, Same Song/scales

etc. One of them is a Cremonese instrument. That player can

have no experience with any of them. That player will be

blindfolded so there is no influence to how it is played. You pick

the Cremonese out of the group and we all bow down to you and

you get some credibility to your ear. If you don't, you donate all

of your violin related tools materials and books to one of the

violin making schools (NBSS would be my choice).

For those who are adamant that there is no difference, you must put

your faith in the fact that 100 people from this list can not pick

out the Cremonese instrument better than 60 percent of the time. If

they can, they get to divide up your violin stuff between

themselves and then donate half of it to one of the schools.

If you have so little violin stuff that it's not a sacrifice on

your part you come to the next VSA convention dressed like a giant

ear plug from beginning to end.

Any Takers?

FWIW: That instrument that Norman tested sold instantly and has got

allot of praise for the sound.

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Thanks for all the responses guys! I enjoy reading them all.

It seems that many of us are talking about violins being played by

professional players when comparing the new and the old. No doubt,

a good player can bring out the most from the violin, and most

likely one cannot tell how far the difference between each.

There're certainly differences,in sound character, but what I

really interested in was, the projection quality. I believe it was

the projection quality that set apart from the new violins.

That lead to another question, if a violin truly will project, it

doesn't need a good player to draw a good tone to project, right?

Not too sure how the double blind test conducted, but it'll be

interesting to participate a concert like comparison rather than

just solo performances. Say, a few concertos movements with

different violins playing on each movements. I bet it'll bring out

the smallest difference between the projection quality, no? I've

heard real Strads in a great concert hall. At the same concert

there are also some symphony pieces in between too, and there's the

concert master solo part. Absolutely no comparison. I can see the

concert master is doing real hard to get himself heard. But yet it

was just sounded like a small sound trying to make a way to get out

from a crowd...Then the Strad came back and, you know, the Strad

just sounded so much bigger and doesn't give an impression of the

soloist playing really hard to get the full volume.

As for the spectrum analyzer, is it really that accurate to compare

things side by side? If you can make a violin that'll produce a

graph that looks very close to the Strads, does it means it really

project like a Strad/old Cremonese masters? It'll be the day to

celebrate, that modern violin has matched the old master?

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