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The Harris Method


Ben Conover
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Nigel Harris has been working with Roger Sheldon for 12 years, who also has an interest in physics.

I was apprenticed to Nigel Harris, then trained at Newark.

Since then I have worked for myself as a full time violin maker.

My interests in violin making are not physics related, but I'd be happy to read other makers opinions on this "method approach" to making.

Has anyone else used this method or are Harris & Sheldon alone in using this way of making violins ?

Does the consistency of the Harris approach to violin making make it a better method ?

Many thanks.

The physics :

http://www.violin.uk.com/research.htm

The rest :

http://www.violin.uk.com

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There has been a strong interest in the physics of the violin among contemporary makers lately. Sam Zygmentovich, Gregg Alf, Joe Curtin, Peter and Wendy Moes, Terry Boreman, Tom Croen, Howard Needham, Martin Schleske are just a few that immediately come to mind. Almost all have been attending the Oberlin Acoustics Workshop. Of course there are many others who have an interest but are not attending any formal workshops.

I find it a fascinating field and have learned lots of things about our miraculous sense of hearing. Just the other day I read that people can discern whether a liquid being poured is hot or cold, just by listening to it!

Oded

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Seems most forum members are out enjoying the weekend, good thing too.

I noticed that Harris dropped the price list links from his website...........

John Dilworth is even more expensive, but he's professionally trained and makes violins that make me drool.

If no one else bites I'll bump this thread on Monday.

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John Cee,

I agree that Colin Gough is quite wonderful. He will be giving another talk at this year's Oberlin Acoustics Wrokshop. Another very formidable violinmaker/acoustician(PhD.) is Martin Schleske. He has an excellent web site.

I agree with you about Nigel Harris's work

Oded

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Missed the talk by Zygmuntovich at Newark this year, unfortunately.

I do like that kind of atmosphere, where makers, players, and sellers can all exchange ideas etc.

When working with Harris I'd thickness the plates down to something he could finish, then he'd do his calculations which usually meant that I' take off another 0.5 mm, to bring the plate up to the desired compromise between pitch, weight, and stifness, etc.

The methods of violin makers are very interesting to me, but I am a total idiot with maths and physics. So I really can't give an informed opinion on the Harris method.

:)

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  • 8 years later...

Veery old thread I know, however...

 

   I use Nigel Harris' methods.   When I was first making Violins ( not so long ago )  I did an awful lot of experimenting and reading, something about Nigel's approach and writings made a whole lot of sense and struck me as being a path of great value. 

  I am definitely having very good consistency of tone from one instrument to the next.

 

  A quite large test of the method's ability to cope with timber outside the usual range of properties was handed to me recently.   I was asked to make a violin for exhibition from timber that had fallen or been trimmed from within Sydney's Botanic gardens. Needless to say there was not a mention of Spruce or maple on the timber list!

   I ended up with some very lightweight, wide grained Japanese Cedar for the top, some nearly equally lightweight Monterrey Cypress for back and sides, African Wild Plum for the neck/scroll, bridge and purfling, African Olive wood fingerboard, tailpiece and chinrest, Tallow wood pegs.

  I really thought the chances of making a decent sounding instrument were small, however I set forth and simply applied Nigel's methods as I always do.  The violin sounds really quite lovely, a bit baroque in it's subtlety.  It was bought by a very accomplished professional musician who intends to use it for chamber performances.

  The clear finish was at the request of the Exhibition curators.

 

IMG_8297%20%28Large%29.jpg?dl=0

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  • 3 years later...
On 6/21/2008 at 1:52 PM, Ben Conover said:

Nigel Harris has been working with Roger Sheldon for 12 years, who also has an interest in physics.

I was apprenticed to Nigel Harris, then trained at Newark.

Since then I have worked for myself as a full time violin maker.

My interests in violin making are not physics related, but I'd be happy to read other makers opinions on this "method approach" to making.

Has anyone else used this method or are Harris & Sheldon alone in using this way of making violins ?

Does the consistency of the Harris approach to violin making make it a better method ?

Many thanks.

The physics :

http://www.violin.uk.com/research.htm

The rest :

http://www.violin.uk.com

Sadly, neither of these links works anymore.

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If you love 3-letter acronyms, then these papers are for you.  These papers do not resonate with my thinking on physics, so I have had no interest in trying to follow the prescriptions.  I don't know if these are the referenced papers, but I think there's a good chance they are.

Harris and Sheldon arching and tone1.pdf

Harris and Sheldon arching and tone2.pdf

Harris and Sheldon arching control.pdf

Harris and Sheldon graduation and tone.pdf

Harris and Sheldon tonal objectives.pdf

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  • 1 year later...

  If one can't imagine being superior English, then don't pursue the English method of making a violin.

option 2 - pester Mr. Curtin, if possible.

I'm still under the belief that most everyone else was chasing Ouvry's backside when it came to wanting to know how to make a violin.  Will the others admit it?  

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This might be a starting point for makers really wanting to understand physics.  "Calculus for Beginners and Artists", from MIT.  Strange title :)  I suspect what usually really goes on is something close to "follow the science".  But I'm not sure either would give much improvement in results in reality.  I mean I can easily picture artists beating scientists in violin making

https://klein.mit.edu/~djk/calculus_beginners/

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6 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

I think the "magic" is in the setup. It's only when the setup can't take you any farther that you can really understand what is lacking and have an idea of what to do about it. I have a lot to learn about setup.

For violin it starts with what was mentioned in the conference with Mr. Z, Mr. Ryan and the other two [forgive me for forgetting} and that was starting with a good foundation to work on.  Then on to set up.

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