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Modern violins - sound samples


Carl Stross

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..In comparison to Hilary's violin, Satu's Stradivarius has much more purer tone and at the same time much more colors as well - notice the tone color change when her bow moves around different sounding points (closer to bridge/fingerboard and in-between). Although the recording signal has got some digitally added reverbs, but still you can hear the differences very clearly between a Strad and a Vuillaume.

I agree.I dont know if it is the best of Vuillaume, except the brilliance in treble, especially E which dominates entire orchestra in youtube recordings, there is not much to be impressed comaparing to Strad I listen here.

Here's something old in a dead room.

This is interestingly nice recording giving a lot of nice clues on DG again.

I think not G, but D is dominant in his design.

It is so typical, booming notes on D and upper G. The empty G sounds normal, but when he starts to go up little bit or on D, even such an experienced player has hard time to keep the sound in control.

I think this is not what the pro players like much.

On the other hand Strad seems so consistent and easy to control.

Never played Strad, or DG.

I am just thinking,imaginin and experimeting, to develop a better understanding of good sound.

I have some understanding until I hear or play a better one. :)

May be we are out of the subject of the original post's title, apologies.

Very informative,

Thanks.

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I agree.I dont know if it is the best of Vuillaume, except the brilliance in treble, especially E which dominates entire orchestra in youtube recordings, there is not much to be impressed comaparing to Strad I listen here.

I would suggest you do not worry too much about violins played in very small rooms or in rooms with lots of echo. Both distort the sound to an incredible extend.

Sayaka Shoji on the Recamier Strad is an excellent example as the recording is done close enough but not exaggeratedly so, the violin is very good and she does a lot with it. Kavakos is another very nice example in the recordings with his long Strad but there you have a much heavier bow arm and left hand and that matters A LOT in tone production. Sayaka Shoji is small built and thin with small hands and that means twice the effort with half the result.

Vanessa Mae however is exceptionally well built. ;)

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Here's an example of close mic'ed Stradivarius in an acoustically dead room. In comparison to Hilary's violin, Satu's Stradivarius has much more purer tone and at the same time much more colors as well - notice the tone color change when her bow moves around different sounding points (closer to bridge/fingerboard and in-between). Although the recording signal has got some digitally added reverbs, but still you can hear the differences very clearly between a Strad and a Vuillaume. (You can add some reverbs to Hilary's video above if you think they were not a fair comparison)

Listen from 10:40 onwards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FuEDSyOD4U

That was beautiful! The violin wasn't bad either.

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As yet, I have not heard a recording of a modern instrument that sounds like the best Strads or Guarneris, to my ear. There are recordings of moderns that sound good; similarly there are recordings of Strads, Guarneris, etc. that sound good (but not quite great). It is the overtones or "colors" that make the difference to me. Perhaps there ARE such moderns out there, and hopefully a good player will make a good recording that we can post here some day. And hopefully it will be one of my fiddles :) .

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This is interestingly nice recording giving a lot of nice clues on DG again.

I think not G, but D is dominant in his design.

It is so typical, booming notes on D and upper G. The empty G sounds normal, but when he starts to go up little bit or on D, even such an experienced player has hard time to keep the sound in control.

I think this is not what the pro players like much.

On the other hand Strad seems so consistent and easy to control.

The "boom" is the result of a combination of crappy microphone and small room. The violin sounds superb and exactly as it should. There is a lot of extra noise which would vaporize in a larger room leaving behind only a luminous scintillation accentuated by his vibrato.

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....

Vanessa Mae however is exceptionally well built. ;)

After watching Dan's link, honestly not much listening, NO way to disagree.

For the sake of staying in the context, is it a Strad copy she is playing?

Recordings are my main source of information may be that is why I am so selective.

I think any echo component in the sound recording is illusional, because they don't belong to the source., whether they are digitally produced or created by physical constructions, such as big concert halls.

It sounds nice but hides most precious information that I need.

When it comes to muscle input, may be it is the question that has been asked and discussed here many times,

Is it possible to make a tone out of a violin beyond it's capacity, by simply strong, good bowing or leftbhand coordination?

Can I make any violin sound like Shaham's long Strad?

Thanks for the input.

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As yet, I have not heard a recording of a modern instrument that sounds like the best Strads or Guarneris, to my ear. There are recordings of moderns that sound good; similarly there are recordings of Strads, Guarneris, etc. that sound good (but not quite great). It is the overtones or "colors" that make the difference to me. Perhaps there ARE such moderns out there, and hopefully a good player will make a good recording that we can post here some day. And hopefully it will be one of my fiddles :) .

I think you stand as good a chance as anybody else around at this very moment. It's a hard nut to crack - not all makers over the past 200 years were bad or stupid. Some were clever and superbly informed ( the Hills..). It worries me a bit it didn't work for them. You know, in the end it might've been some sort of secret. :huh:

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Perhaps there ARE such moderns out there, and hopefully a good player will make a good recording that we can post here some day. And hopefully it will be one of my fiddles :) .

I really have no doubt that there are so many violins made by amateurs or professionals, with different wood, different measurements, different relations between arching, graduations, etc... (we are talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of combinations) that statistically there must be one that sounds as good as any famous violin. Simply it could simply be in a cave, in a box, at the bottom of the sea, stuck behind a bee hive, so that nobody will ever hear it... :)

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The "boom" is the result of a combination of crappy microphone and small room. The violin sounds superb and exactly as it should. There is a lot of extra noise which would vaporize in a larger room leaving behind only a luminous scintillation accentuated by his vibrato.

Karl,

I think It is really booming and it is part of the design.

It is more even in il can none, but apparent in ole bull design.

I think, who was the host for Ole Bull project, he said the same thing.

Especially in Ole Bull design and copies, those boomy notes very apparent.

I have a couple of DG recordings with those booms in G and D.I don't know which year DGs these are.

I can post the links when I get back home.

Great discussions, thank you again for valuable inputs.

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After watching Dan's link, honestly not much listening, NO way to disagree.

For the sake of staying in the context, is it a Strad copy she is playing?

Recordings are my main source of information may be that is why I am so selective.

I think any echo component in the sound recording is illusional, because they don't belong to the source., whether they are digitally produced or created by physical constructions, such as big concert halls.

It sounds nice but hides most precious information that I need.

When it comes to muscle input, may be it is the question that has been asked and discussed here many times,

Is it possible to make a tone out of a violin beyond it's capacity, by simply strong, good bowing or leftbhand coordination?

Can I make any violin sound like Shaham's long Strad?

Thanks for the input.

We are kindred spirits - we both like Vanessa Mae :D

She's playing a Gagliano if I am not wrong and while a lot of her pop recordings are not technically quite there, she was in her teen years a very powerful player - on a par with anybody else if not better than most. At the moment, however, the greatest violin player is Andre Rieu - he made most money...

As to your last question, my ( humble and incompetent..) answer is NO. This often stated ideea that you give ( gave...) Menuhin an indifferent violin and he would make it sound GREAT is utter nonsense because innumerable things which would work efortlessly on the Soil or Kevenhuller would be an utter chore on another violin. ( and I did hear Menuhin testing indifferent violins alternating with his ).

There is however another take on things : some players like Enesco, Kreisler, Ferras, and even Stern to some extend shape the sound of a violin to such an extend that the original, natural tone has almost disappeared and is replaced with a certain "intensity". One needs large hands and bony, heavy fingers for this and it comes to no suprize that at least the first two were also very competent piano players. There is something here but I don't like talking about it.

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I really have no doubt that there are so many violins made by amateurs or professionals, with different wood, different measurements, different relations between arching, graduations, etc... (we are talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of combinations) that statistically there must be one that sounds as good as any famous violin. Simply it could simply be in a cave, in a box, at the bottom of the sea, stuck behind a bee hive, so that nobody will ever hear it... :)

Would that be the exception confirming the rule ? Doeasn't worry you somehow that with all these millions of combinations we're not quite "there" ??

Just listen very carefully to the Brahms recording I posted ( Sayaka Shoji ) and you'll hear the violin being a tinny bit raw in the begining, smooth, powerful and expressive after some 10 minutes, perfect in the Cadenza and a bit deflated, tired , in the 3rd Mov.

That worries me a lot.

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... statistically there must be one that sounds as good as any famous violin.

Not necessarily.

1. If it is just a combination of form, arching, graduation, varnish, and fundamental wood density/stiffness, I would agree.

2. However, if there are factors of age and playing that substantially modify some aspect of stiffness and damping, then modern builders might never have a chance (unless, of course, there is some way to accelerate aging and/or play-in effects).

3. And, there's the "secret"... some unmatched dipping sauce, or god-like powers of the Old Guys.

I'm leaning towards door #2 at the moment.

Regardless of the cause, the question is: what in the SOUND is different?

There's published papers on this, summarized:

-Strong response in the 2000 - 4000 Hz range (bridge/body hill)

-Relatively strong A0 (air mode ~275Hz) compared to the transition hill (region around 1000 Hz)

I don't have much of a database yet, but my independent observations are similar, with some slight differences:

- Strong bridge hill, with the hill shifted lower in frequency. Modern hill = 2000 - 5000 Hz, Old hill = 1600 - 4000 Hz or even lower.

- Bridge hill has fewer dips and peaks... more solid response.

- Relatively level "transition hill"... moderate level, possibly without excessive peaks.

- A0 and other signature modes don't seem all that much different (although very newly assembled instruments seem to have a slightly weak B1- resonance... around 440 Hz).

Again with a very limited database, and very short time period, I believe I see some spectral changes in my oldest (2yrs) fiddles that look like they match the old/modern direction:

- Bridge hill consolidation... less gaps, slightly stronger, and shifted slightly to lower frequencies

- Moderation of transition hill peaks

- General filling in of the response... less dips everywhere

- Strengthening of B1- response

If these kind of changes continue over time, there could be a good reason old instruments sound different.

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I agree that age could be a factor (or maybe not) but then we would need to know when a specific violin "was/became" good. Maybe the best Cremonese were good more or less at the beginning. If they become good (or rather let's say that their potential was fully reached) after 10-50 years of playing then we are still in the time. If it took 100 years then some Maestronet members can give some names... If it took 200-300 years then... :(:huh:

Of course if there is this "secret", then we'll have to wait for D. Brown next novel :D

I forgot to add the possibility for a maker to use a piece of wood that is actually already 200 years old.

Also the Cannone was relatively recent when Paganini became fond of it.

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Not necessarily.

1. If it is just a combination of form, arching, graduation, varnish, and fundamental wood density/stiffness, I would agree.

2. However, if there are factors of age and playing that substantially modify some aspect of stiffness and damping, then modern builders might never have a chance (unless, of course, there is some way to accelerate aging and/or play-in effects).

3. And, there's the "secret"... some unmatched dipping sauce, or god-like powers of the Old Guys.

I'm leaning towards door #2 at the moment.

Nice post, Don !

I'm leaning more to 3) and I see an entire conspiracy at work here.

We need the right handshakes...

Age matters a lot, for sure. But what about ALL the others made over the past 300 years which ended up as firewood ? Should at least some of them not develop into a Strad ?

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2. However, if there are factors of age and playing that substantially modify some aspect of stiffness and damping, then modern builders might never have a chance (unless, of course, there is some way to accelerate aging and/or play-in effects).

Is there any empirical research out there that examines what happens to the (acoustic) qualities of wood over time? From which reasonable inferences could be drawn?

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Some of them haven't? (aside from Strad's position in the marketplace)

I said it before : at a moment when the "who's who" in music was in France all the heavies backed Paul Kaul. Where is he now ? Nowhere. Now, we might say those heavies were incompetent but that's a difficult one to argue because they were ( amongst others ) Kreisler, Enesco, Casals, Thibaud, Issaye. But time seems to have sorted it out.

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I said it before : at a moment when the "who's who" in music was in France all the heavies backed Paul Kaul. Where is he now ? Nowhere. Now, we might say those heavies were incompetent but that's a difficult one to argue because they were ( amongst others ) Kreisler, Enesco, Casals, Thibaud, Issaye. But time seems to have sorted it out.

Is the issue whether or not Kaul made fiddles which worked well and sounded well, or is it whether he attained long-term market recognition? If Paul Kaul was considered good by those players, I'd certainly like to try a few and decide for myself. Whether or not he made it in the marketplace doesn't tell me much of anything.

The collectibles market can assign value which is quite separate from utility, or even quality. Take a look at auction prices for Titanic relics. Very ordinary stuff, in many cases. What's special? The name "Titanic".

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Carl has a great line: "But time seems to have sorted it out."

Kaul was surely a good maker, based on the one I knew well and a couple of others I saw briefly. But he might be a good example of the theory that a living maker is often going to be known and respected more or less than his actual work deserves, based largely on his personality and ability or inability to market himself and his work. Guadagnini, it's pretty well known, was no easy fellow toward the public; by contrast, we all know some maker who is as charming and convincing as can be. Only time sorts things out truthfully.

Kaul must have been able to handle himself in the promotion department, since he wrote, "Italian Idolatry" in 1908 and "The Feud Between the Ancients and the Moderns" in 1928. And, "Paul Kaul and the Renaissance of Violin Making" 1934. I bet these would all make interesting reading.

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But what about ALL the others made over the past 300 years which ended up as firewood ? Should at least some of them not develop into a Strad ?

According to almost all blind testing, they have. According to what I hear (so far), it depends on which Strad you want to compare to. There are some Strads that I think are firewood... but very collectable, expensive firewood (like Titanic debris). You will have a really tough time finding a youtube clip of a great violinist playing one of these. There are also Strads that are OK... pleasant sounding, even, but missing the clarity and brilliance. I think a new fiddle can probably be made to sound like that.

The tough part is getting the clarity and brilliance without harshness, and low-end growl of the exceptional old fiddles.

I do have a pet theory, though: good wood, good construction, and a lot of age.

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Only time sorts things out truthfully.

What sort of truth? Truth relating to quality? Usefulness?

In that case, the $121,000 lunch menu (auction price) from the Titanic must have been quite an impressive work of hand-painted art, and I hope the kitchen is still open so the buyer can order some food. :lol:

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Is the issue whether or not Kaul made fiddles which worked well and sounded well, or is it whether he attained long-term market recognition? If Paul Kaul was considered good by those players, I'd certainly like to try a few and decide for myself. Whether or not he made it in the marketplace doesn't tell me much of anything.

The collectibles market can assign value which is quite separate from utility, or even quality. Take a look at auction prices for Titanic relics. Very ordinary stuff, in many cases. What's special? The name "Titanic".

I'd say it is both. I don't know to what extend you realize the weight of opinion those players held around 190x. Those were not the nowdays centerfolds going on tour with 2 concertos and 3 sonatas...

They saw something in Paul Kaul's instruments. Beats me what but that doesn't say much. My guess is that there was a certain readiness for a new tone aesthetic which unfortunately did not hold. Maybe something similar happened to Stainer or Amati ? As I said before, I am convinced that violins as good as Strad are made today - all we need is a new tone aesthetic to support the new makers and that can come ONLY from a new breed of player. But we ain't doing well there. The ones who can seem not interested and the ones who can't don't matter. It is pointless to compete tonally with Antonio, same as it would be useless to have a school making Casals-like sopranos. We need to move on and while modern makers do great, modern players do not. They fail to convince the public that their way is the only way, Paul Kaul and all, in the manner Kreisler and Enesco could effortlessly do.

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What sort of truth? Truth relating to quality? Usefulness?

In that case, the $121,000 lunch menu (auction price) from the Titanic must have been quite an impressive work of hand-painted art, and I hope the kitchen is still open so the buyer can order some food. :lol:

the titanics kitchen is still there, but its a seafood only menu, david!!!

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