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skiingfiddler

The adventuresome scholar Roger Hargrave

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On another thread, posters were pulling Roger Hargrave's leg by recommending, good naturedly, of course, that he engage in parachuting and other similar activities that would push his already highly valued instruments even higher.

That got me thinking of all the adventuresome, challenging ideas Roger Hargrave has proposed in his writings. Here's a list (off the top of my head that needs some source citing and probably adjusting later):

-- At some point in the 18th century in Italy, Stainer was more popular and more influential than Amati.

-- The shop system in classical Cremona was more widely in place than is generally acknowledged, and that applies to Stradivari, too.

-- Related to the point above, there were many more makers active in classical Cremona than the half dozen everybody talks about. Their identities and their works have disappeared with relabeling, if such instruments ever carried the proper label.

-- Stradivari's Long Strad period might be regarded as his best period.

No doubt the list could be longer.

My apologies to Roger Hargrave if anything stated above is a misrepresentation. Maybe, with more time the misrepresentations can be cleared up. But I am grateful that Roger Hargrave seems very willing to challenge conventional thinking about classical Italian violin making. I've learned a lot from his writings, most of all that there's much more to be learned about classical Italian violin making that may not agree with current, popular notions.

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There's a wide (and very deep) gulf between "popular notions" and cold hard fact. When Hargrave said that the fiddle business was like the "stinking - carpet - trade" (or something to that effect) is when he came closest to stating a fact. Sacconi did his best to straighten out most of the "mystical" nonsense, but many people (luthiers) don't have enough sense to understand (or believe) what he was trying to say.

That's the really bad thing. How can someone (or anyone) blatantly attempt to refute the knowledge of a man who, during his lifetime, repaired / restored at least 300 of Stradivari's instruments, not to mention seeing / handling almost all of the known examples? I do not imply that Hargrave has attempted to refute Sacconi's knowledge, but I do think that he doesn't have the guts to take a firm stand on anything.

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I would be sorry to see this thread turn into a discussion about personalities. My hope was to evoke discussions about ideas, the four in the initial post serving as a starting point.

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I would be sorry to see this thread turn into a discussion about personalities. My hope was to evoke discussions about ideas.

Such as these (preposterious and theatrical) theories:

That del Gesu only used one mould?

That del Gesu had some kind of cockamaime device to configure his soundholes?

I call such as (the above) pure unadulterated ---------.

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There's a wide (and very deep) gulf between "popular notions" and cold hard fact. When Hargrave said that the fiddle business was like the "stinking - carpet - trade" (or something to that effect) is when he came closest to stating a fact. Sacconi did his best to straighten out most of the "mystical" nonsense, but many people (luthiers) don't have enough sense to understand (or believe) what he was trying to say.

That's the really bad thing. How can someone (or anyone) blatantly attempt to refute the knowledge of a man who, during his lifetime, repaired / restored at least 300 of Stradivari's instruments, not to mention seeing / handling almost all of the known examples? I do not imply that Hargrave has attempted to refute Sacconi's knowledge, but I do think that he doesn't have the guts to take a firm stand on anything.

Incoherent and self contradictory ranting. Have you been drinking?

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Oh boy, someone spouting generalizations, with no facts to back them up, complaining about someone else's generalizations, and taking a tone of voice that's obscene. Some people want to discuss and some just want to yell. The latter isn't helpful.

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I do not imply that Hargrave has attempted to refute Sacconi's knowledge, but I do think that he doesn't have the guts to take a firm stand on anything.

Does it take guts to take a firm stand on things, or does it take more guts not to?

I for one appreciate it when people share their observations, propose some hypotheses for what they observe, and don't go much beyond that.

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Does it take guts to take a firm stand on things, or does it take more guts not to?

I for one appreciate it when people share their observations, propose some hypotheses for what they observe, and don't go much beyond that.

What the flock are you talking about? Politics or Religion?

To the other dude: I don't drink or use drugs of any kind.

But I am sick and tired of all this pussy-footin' around over these stupid theories put out by people who should know better. Do you fiddle makers think people who aren't fiddle makers are THAT stupid?

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Oh boy, someone spouting generalizations, with no facts to back them up, complaining about someone else's generalizations, and taking a tone of voice that's obscene. Some people want to discuss and some just want to yell. The latter isn't helpful.

I could drown you with "facts", but you wouldn't know what to do with them. Pat yourself on the back instead of praising and worshiping someone who doesn't know any better than to propose such nonsense as what I've read in Hargrave's library.

Even a child can see through that crap.

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That got me thinking of all the adventuresome, challenging ideas Roger Hargrave has proposed in his writings. Here's a list (off the top of my head that needs some source citing and probably adjusting later):

"-- At some point in the 18th century in Italy, Stainer was more popular and more influential than Amati."

Jacob Stainer's popularity over Cremonese instruments is already referred to in the 1885 "Violin Making as it was and is" by Edward Heron-Allen p.76. Nothing new, just said perhaps in a different way or more forcefully?

"-- The shop system in classical Cremona was more widely in place than is generally acknowledged, and that applies to Stradivari, too."

This fact was known long before Roger Hargrave was born. Even in the Hill books on Stradivari (1902) and Guarneri (1931) there are census returns from church records mentioning the workers in the Amati shop. I suppose they were all standing around watching Niccolò and Antonio work? It is still clear who was running the shop.

"-- Related to the point above, there were many more makers active in classical Cremona than the half dozen everybody talks about. Their identities and their works have disappeared with relabeling, if such instruments ever carried the proper label."

What would make anyone think that every person working in a shop would eventually go out on their own and become an independent violinmaker?

"-- Stradivari's Long Strad period might be regarded as his best period."

The long patterns are a real break from what came before and was an independent step on the part of Stradivari. As far as workmanship and artistic flair he was at the very height of his powers.

In defense of Roger I have to say that I truly enjoy his "Devil's advocate" position which on more than one occasion has forced me to think instead of simply accepting convention.

Bruce

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I could drown you with "facts", but you wouldn't know what to do with them. Pat yourself on the back instead of praising and worshiping someone who doesn't know any better than to propose such nonsense as what I've read in Hargrave's library.

Even a child can see through that crap.

Go ahead, and present your facts. If I'm unable to appreciate them, then others might, but I bet you have none.

If you believe that no one, here, can appreciate your facts, then the question is, why do you bother posting here?

Speaking of children, they're very good at substituting boasting and yelling for sensible talking.

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What the flock are you talking about? Politics or Religion?

To the other dude: I don't drink or use drugs of any kind.

Maybe you should consider it? :)

I enjoy Roger's articles, and like Bruce, appreciate some of his thought-provoking ideas.

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"-- At some point in the 18th century in Italy, Stainer was more popular and more influential than Amati."

Jacob Stainer's popularity over Cremonese instruments is already referred to in the 1885 "Violin Making as it was and is" by Edward Heron-Allen p.76. Nothing new, just said perhaps in a different way or more forcefully?

"-- The shop system in classical Cremona was more widely in place than is generally acknowledged, and that applies to Stradivari, too."

This fact was known long before Roger Hargrave was born. Even in the Hill books on Stradivari (1902) and Guarneri (1931) there are census returns from church records mentioning the workers in the Amati shop. I suppose they were all standing around watching Niccolò and Antonio work? It is still clear who was running the shop.

"-- Related to the point above, there were many more makers active in classical Cremona than the half dozen everybody talks about. Their identities and their works have disappeared with relabeling, if such instruments ever carried the proper label."

What would make anyone think that every person working in a shop would eventually go out on their own and become an independent violinmaker?

"-- Stradivari's Long Strad period might be regarded as his best period."

The long patterns are a real break from what came before and was an independent step on the part of Stradivari. As far as workmanship and artistic flair he was at the very height of his powers.

In defense of Roger I have to say that I truly enjoy his "Devil's advocate" position which on more than one occasion has forced me to think instead of simply accepting convention.

Bruce

I, too, admire Roger Hargrave's ideas. I find his ideas grounded in a good balance of vast violin experience and common sense. I hope my original post didn't suggest anything else.

Concerning Stainer's influence, I was aware before reading Hargrave that Stainer had vast influence outside of Italy, but it was Hargrave that made me aware that Stainer's influence was very strong in Italy during the 18th century. I think he stated that Stainer actually eclipsed Amati's influence in Italy, but I need to look that up.

Concerning apprentices helping or maybe even totally doing the work in the master's name: I was aware, from the Hill books, that that kind of work occurred in the Amati shop and in Joseph filius Andrea Guarneri's shop. But, I think there's been a lot of resistance to believing that that kind of assistance occurred with Antonio Stradivari. Hargrave led me to re-thinking why the Stradivari shop should be any different from the other shops in Cremona.

Thanks for opening up the discussion.

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Go ahead, and present your facts. If I'm unable to appreciate them, then others might, but I bet you have none.

If you believe that no one, here, can appreciate your facts, then the question is, why do you bother posting here?

Speaking of children, they're very good at substituting boasting and yelling for sensible talking.

I post where-ever the air needs cleared, but this place can't be helped without being dis-infected of mythically fanciful (errant) thinking, first. You're a first class groupie, which is to be admired I suppose.

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I post where-ever the air needs cleared, but this place can't be helped without being dis-infected of mythically fanciful (errant) thinking, first. You're a first class groupie, which is to be admired I suppose.

This voice is beginning to sound a lot like one I've heard before, on other names...

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Really? I don't hear any voices - voices - voices.....

except for this - "that would push his already highly valued instruments even higher".

What's so "highly valued" in faked up copies? By any fiddle maker?

What has become of good old originality?

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This voice is beginning to sound a lot like one I've heard before, on other names...

Yes, I might be starting to recognize the opinions, the writing style, and the need for an "anger fix" too. :)

It's OK, jmannsback. You can still be Captain Of The Universe, and leave a small corner for Roger. thumbsup.gif

What's so "highly valued" in faked up copies? By any fiddle maker?

It doesn't happen to be my deal either, but I can appreciate things which are done well, and approaches other than my own.

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"No matter how much you jiggle and dance"? :)

Do you wash :) your hands?

Sure, once a year. Never heard of "spring cleaning"? B)

You might jiggle and dance, but I think a lot more than "the last drop" is going down your pants. :)

Check your shoes....

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Really? I don't hear any voices - voices - voices.....

except for this - "that would push his already highly valued instruments even higher".

What's so "highly valued" in faked up copies? By any fiddle maker?

What has become of good old originality?

OK, jmannsback, this thread's about you. Feel better? Most kids do when the adults are forced to pay attention.

I prefer straight varnished violins that are the maker's "personal model." When I commissioned my violin, for a sizable sum of money, from a well known professional maker, I asked for, and got the maker's personal model with straight varnish, even though that maker is well known for his tasteful antiquing. Talk is cheap, but that fiddle wasn't.

I like originality that looks new.

So, now tell me where I can find one of your violins so I can admire your sense of originality that looks new. If you're not a maker, why don't you relate how you are supporting your preferences in the violins you buy.

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Roger Hargrave's writings are essential reading. As far as I am aware he is humble and reflexive in his findings/observations and does not claim to be the fountain of all knowledge.

This thread had the makings of being a very good discussion.

Personally I am all in favour of iconoclasts.... But only if the iconoclast has the valour to make their identity as public as the person they criticise.

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The long patterns are a real break from what came before and was an independent step on the part of Stradivari. As far as workmanship and artistic flair he was at the very height of his powers.

Artistic, yes. Stradivari though seemed to really struggle mating corners & arching immediately following his Long Pattern era. Possibly, the so-called barrel-arch lead him astray. For example, The Betts has some of the wickedest Strad corners E-V-E-R!!! :)

BUT, in true artisan form, he 'changed' [back] to Amati's base design.

Jim

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Roger Hargrave's writings are essential reading. As far as I am aware he is humble and reflexive in his findings/observations and does not claim to be the fountain of all knowledge.

This thread had the makings of being a very good discussion.

Personally I am all in favour of iconoclasts.... But only if the iconoclast has the valour to make their identity as public as the person they criticise.

This "iconoclast" isn't criticising or attacking Roger Hargrave "personally", just the idiotic theories he and many other luthiers have come up with over time, which (in my opinion - and probably thousands of others - as well) exposes their ignorance of what seems to be a very simple subject). Either that, or the luthiers must think the reading public are a bunch of simpletons who hang on every word of theoritical nonsense, hoping to get glimpse of acuality from it - but never do.

And if Roger's Jos. fil. Andrea Guarneri copy really fooled "the experts" when it was about to be auctioned as an original, I truly feel sorry for the "professionals" in the trade, because they are a sorry lot indeed.

That's how I feel about it and until somebody can show me (and the thousands of other people who never log on but still lurk) something of real substance, will continue feeling the same way. And that's probably the main reason why Hargrave said what he said about the "trade" and seldom involves himself with public discussions.

Now if any other wiseacre isn't smart enough to "get it" keep on trying, someday you might succeed.

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