Spectrum Analysis For Bows


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I feel that a bow is a simpler piece of design than a violin, and that its tonal attributes should be easier to map and control.

That's not to say that the whole process of creating tone by bowing isn't extremely complex, as an initial dip into your various documents shows (I need to take a month off, not a few days, don't understand a word so far).

However, there seems to me to be a saturation point with bows where all the major objectives have been met - then you get into a kind of "law of diminishing returns" scenario where to get a bow that's 5% better than a good Pfretzchner you have to spend twice as much, 5% better than a good Thomassin you have to spend twice as much etc. etc, before you know it you've spent £35,000 on a Peccate that's 5.8% better than the Pfretzschner!

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And another one which may relate more to the topic. Sorry about the limited quality of the scan, but its the best I could manage with the rather thick proceedings paper book.

The reason why I haven't made much analyses into bow spectra focussing on different bows, is that I do not make bows, nor are particularly interested in the subject.

Guettler and Askenfeldt Relations between bow resonances and the spectrum of a bowed string ISMA 1995.pdf

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This is great - putting together something of a library here ...

Thanks Anders and Addie.

The immediate question which emerges is whether the tonal component of a particular bow is that relevant to the listener, although it's crucial to the player. The same question applies to violin tone of course!

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Here is Guettler and Askenfeldts article on listening tests on different bows. Guettler give a possible explanation for why the trained listeners were able to determine which was the best bow just from listening to the sound examples.

The bow sizes & 'weights' in the study varied dramatically. I wonder what effect that had on the Player's ability to play the music to the listening audience. I figure - at the very least - the Player's coordination would be affected by the bow differences.

Perhaps a better study could be done with identical bow size/weights AND the same rosin, but, with different grades of hair. Performed "double blind", of course.

Jim

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I've been thinking on this topic for a few days... it seems to me bow makers do a whole lot more work in wood selection, and spend very little time on aesthetics, beyond pattern and finish.

I'm guessing the wood selection is all about expected acoustic properties? You see violin wood sold as "highly flamed" but not "professional soloist." On the other hand, you do see bow blanks sold as "silver mount quality."

Just my slightly OT musings and observations... rolleyes.gif

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Perhaps a better study could be done with identical bow size/weights AND the same rosin, but, with different grades of hair. Performed "double blind", of course.

That would probably lead to an experiment where no effects would have been seen, but we never know before it is conducted. I think it is possible to copy the test by reading the paper carefully. Maybe a player test could be conducted too, if it is possible to do it double blind (neither the experimenter and the player know which bow is which during the experiment).

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That would probably lead to an experiment where no effects would have been seen, but we never know before it is conducted. I think it is possible to copy the test by reading the paper carefully. Maybe a player test could be conducted too, if it is possible to do it double blind (neither the experimenter and the player know which bow is which during the experiment).

Uh-oh, I mistakenly quoted the wrong study in my Post#30. My suggested experiment actually related to the other "Bows and Timbre - Myth or Reality?" study from your Post#27 [instead of Post#28]. My Bad!! :(

And it may be that only the Player would 'hear' significant bow timbre differences if only the bow hair is changed [with same bow-weight and rosin] and ALL bows are high-end pernambuco. Then again, IF the listening audience 'claims' they too hear significant timbre differences we may learn much more about what people actually are hearing [and/or NOT hearing].

Jim

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we may learn much more about what people actually are hearing [and/or NOT hearing].

There is a great video of a professor addressing students in a lecture theatre and asking them to put their hands up when they stop hearing a constant tone as he decreases the volume.

Hands rise progressively, but a few recalcitrant ones stay down. He then tells them that the tone had been switched off some time ago.

Some folks will hear Sibelius coming from artichokes as they cook.

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There is a great video of a professor addressing students in a lecture theatre and asking them to put their hands up when they stop hearing a constant tone as he decreases the volume.

Hands rise progressively, but a few recalcitrant ones stay down. He then tells them that the tone had been switched off some time ago.

That's an interesting point and quite understandable why the students' hearing would respond that way to a sustained tone [even after being switched off]. Presumably, the professor used low-frequency tones which travel further into the ear canal. No need to be concerned with sustain from bows or violins though.

Jim

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There is a great video of a professor addressing students in a lecture theatre and asking them to put their hands up when they stop hearing a constant tone as he decreases the volume.

Hands rise progressively, but a few recalcitrant ones stay down. He then tells them that the tone had been switched off some time ago.

Some folks will hear Sibelius coming from artichokes as they cook.

Well that was not a blind test, unless it was at the school for blind.. :blink:

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