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Stradofear inspired epiphany and a question...


robedney
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The wierd thing with $5 plastic telephones is aesthetically-pleasing curves have nothing to do with delivering better sound [audio].

Jim

Yes, and thus the duality of making. It needs to sound good and be pleasing to look at -- most of the time. However, I love looking at the balsa wood violins that have achieved a high level of sound quality. There is something beautiful to me, utilitarian in nature with form totally in service to function. You can't get much more visually honest than that. I love a beautiful and freely drawn line, but I also find a triple expansion steam engine beautiful, housed in the hull of a Liberty Ship.

I would rather see a certain freedom in working based on experience, skill and comfort with tools than a forced/overworked effort at perfection. This "freedom" I'm talking about does not equate to sloppy -- they are different things entirely. Equally, I would rather listen to the aforementioned playing of Tommy Jarrell than I would a spot on "perfect" and mechanistic version of a Bach Sonata for violin. Jarrell is the epitome of authentic, whereas some very accurate renditions of Bach that I've hear are reminiscent of a computer generated and CNC carved violin. Each, however, has its own legitimate place in the scheme of things.

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So, Stradofear's remark got me to thinking and I realize that I very much fall into the camp of preferring instruments that reveal artful character -- but very well done. Perfectly made instruments, although I can appreciate the skill, leave me sort of cold.

What camp do you fall into?

Cool, a subject with no right and no wrong answers or opinions…

I'm not sure I agree that there is any particular camp to "fall into" that cannot easily become a trap of sorts, because to decide ahead of time that one prefers a specific "camp", as a sort of aesthetic ideal, then excludes anything outside of that camp from serious consideration - unless, by saying "camp" you are including ANYTHING that is well done... (another way of saying this would be that there really are no "camps" with regard to what works and what doesn't work in artistic execution)

Perfect meticulousness of execution can be a form of art in itself, and can pass from mere mechanical perfection or static execution, into its own sort of artistic achievement, depending on the vision of the maker, casual execution may be your style, or perfection of execution may be your style - either one might work or not.

I have seen, in particular, when closely examining spectacular and exactly made bows, which have been executed with the exactness of faceted jewelry - this mechanical exactness elevated into a form of art.

Any degree of antiquing, or no antiquing at all can work aesthetically - to consider this area a line of demarcation between artistic and non-artistic is to display and promote as fact, a personal preference only.

The highly formalized Cremonese aesthetic may or may not work.

The modern work of Guy Rabut and others of that ilk can and often does work for me as art.

Should any of these be excluded?

Art cannot be confined easily by putting it into categories of "better" or "worse" (camps) - it can only really be separated out into what becomes a personal choice or preference for or against a particular style.

The only real caveat I see here, is that, as has been mentioned before - clumsy, amateurish work cannot be considered artistic because then, any and everything becomes art and the idea (the distinction) becomes meaningless…

In my opinion, for all practical purposes, art is craft that has evolved to the point of mastering - to whatever extent - the skills involved to the point where an internal vision can be realized by the artist competently. Clumsy or amateur work can only really evolve into art by repetition of execution.

By hard work.

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Some folks are probably inclined to pre-judge sound quality based on first visual impression.

Often the rattiest-looking fiddles sound the best though ... DAMN YOU, Del Gesu!!! :)

I wonder if the converse would be even more enlightening though, i.e., blind listening tests whereby the challenge is to

describe differences in Violin "shape", based solely on what is heard.

Jim

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Often the rattiest-looking fiddles sound the best though ... DAMN YOU, Del Gesu!!! :)

Jim

I wonder why an international lutherie event is currently underway to celebrate and reproduce one of the rattiest violins of the top rat maker of all times (according to urban legend).

It must be to satisfy those who believe that the worse a violin looks, the better it sounds.

What's the "smiley" for "sarcasm"?

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To paraphrase the great mathematician John von Neumann: In violin appreciation (mathematics) you don't understand things. You just get used to them.

I for one am quite happy to not understand. It seems the less I analyze and the more I just "do", the more intuitive I become and the better results I get, especially in setups and getting sound out of an instrument, but in other things, too.

Sometimes its good not to let one's intellect get in the way of one's intelligence.

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I for one am quite happy to not understand. It seems the less I analyze and the more I just "do", the more intuitive I become and the better results I get, especially in setups and getting sound out of an instrument, but in other things, too.

Sometimes its good not to let one's intellect get in the way of one's intelligence.

Not everyone operates this way, but, I agree.

Simply getting down to it and doing it over and over, seems to generate the quickest improvement in skill and talent. You can talk, think, theorize and argue about setting up a violin for ever, but actually doing it many times gives a visceral understanding of what's required.

(Of course, common sense and deep and continual thought on the subject are not a bad thing either...)

When in doubt, build!

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To me that watch has an icredible amount of asymetry (and other diversity) and that is what makes it looks kind of interesting. The mechanism on inside the face is very asymetrical, there is a knob sticking out one side and what is even more interesting is the subtle variations of the leather watch band. It is all this in relationship to the circle of the rim that creates visual interest for me. The band in particular and all the textures, shadows and color variation is an importnat aspect. I gues with diversity, alittle can go a long way. if you are in to that kind of thing. LIke when one f-hole is slightly different then the other or canted just alittle differently, or one side of the scroll is just alittle different then the other because the maker is right handed or (left handed) and when he turns the scroll over to work on the other side or is forced to come at it from a different direction this difference becomes imprinted in his work.

-Peter

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A little more about how things "hang together", and theme, and overall impression:

Is this woman beautiful?

patricia.jpg

Yes, but I find the reverse scroll distracting...

In reality, I puzzled over this for a bit. I'm not sure that this is a good example in that it introduces something sexual. What I mean by that is that my mind -- at least -- began almost immediately to think in terms not just in appearance, but also in "how". In other words, if she happened to be a fiddle, how would I play this thing?

This is not just because I'm a male, but the result of introducing any clearly dysfunctional element.

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"Beauty therefore is a relation [of smooth and abrupt, of regular and irregular, of symmetry and asymmetry], and the apprehension of it a comparison."

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Contrast and texture are certainly part of the violin aesthetic, and are often consciously controlled by the maker. One example would be how the absorption of the grain is handled -- the difference between summer and winter growth. We can emphasize or deemphasize it depending on how the wood is finished (initial sealer, etc.). The outer ridge of the scroll is sometimes emphasized by leaving it lighter, a natural effect of wiping away stain. I've considered this in carbon fiber as the next instrument will have a peghead with scroll-work. I'm thinking that by laying a thin brass or silver wire into the female mold along the scroll ridge I can add visual interest to an otherwise monotone form. I've also considered using a bone nut to add contrast. Texture is certainly evident in older violins, particularly when the surface of the varnish has developed crackle. There are all sorts of possibilities here.

One intriguing thing to me is the guitar shape vs. the tradition shape in fiddles (the guitar shape eliminating the points in the body). I like both. It makes a great deal of sense to eliminate the points in carbon fiber, and I've done that.

The violin's hourglass-like figure is reminiscent of the female form. As a onetime photographer I have in mind a photo, with a -- black of course -- CF fiddle on it's side in the foreground, with the form of a pale female form in the background, matching the curve of the lower bouts to the hips, the C bout area to the waist, etc.

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