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David Burgess

Followup to the Indianapolis blind study

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it is encourageing to see that they are at least trying to respond to a lot of the criticisms leveled at the first study, hopefully the old italians will be top playing instruments set up as well as the moderns also. it would also help a lot in the future study to reveal which group those that pick the old, vs the new belong to, players, engineers, shop owners, amateurs etc, it would reveal a lot to me at least.....

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Lyndon, I don't know if they're responding to criticisms as much as just moving forward with a planned series of tests, each designed to focus on specific things. Some of the details of this and other upcoming studies will be sorted out at the Oberlin Acoustics workshop this summer, and those who would like to have input or involvement are invited to attend. Or so it appeared from an email I got which looked like a general invitation.

Yes, it would have been interesting to have more of a breakdown on who chose what in the first test.

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I see. My tax money at work...

I wonder if this was not all done before and before and before...Somebody is out to force us to believe something.

And again, a familiar name in the middle of all these.

How is fellowship money tax dollars at work? Additionally, isn't what is being done the research the program was intended for?

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Can I have a serious answer? (Sorry I am a Violinmaker who is stubborn to the workbench)

What is the true reason to do this again and again?

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The issue of projection in a hall is precisely what I hoped this team would focus on next. It's the most common argument used to explain the superiority of stratospherically expensive violins. It has been used since time immemorial to explain the apparent weakness of some Strads and Guarneris in smaller acoustics (like violin shops). I've certainly been subjected to it in a couple of situations (a Strad and a Gagliano).

I think it should be pretty easy to establish whether a player's perception of projection (or a violin dealer's) adds up to anything - the more limited the test the more useful in my view.

I also think it's very sensible to test the carrying power of violins with piano and orchestral accompaniment.

This is not the same test - also, the research is in the field of psycho-acoustics, not pure acoustics.

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Can I have a serious answer? (Sorry I am a Violinmaker who is stubborn to the workbench)

What is the true reason to do this again and again?

Stupidity. These people can not understand despite overwhelming evidence that the only vote here belongs to The Soloist. Most sentient beings have figured it out by now : the audience does not factor in the decision. Never did, never will. You see, it is a working tool and the audience does not work with it.

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What is the true reason to do this again and again?

From the description, it doesn't sound like they're doing the same thing over again.

As it was explained to me, one of the stumbling blocks of violin acoustic research has been defining what an "excellent" violin is, why it's good, how people make that determination, and what conditions they need to do it.

If two rather different sounding violins are both considered excellent, can something measurable be found that they both have in common?

Some of this will probably need to explore psychological factors influencing perception of sound. For instance, it would be interesting if at some point, they had an audience and players score the same Strad in a lineup twice, once not knowing what it is, and again upon being informed it's a Strad.

What do you think? Would the scores be about the same, or would they change significantly?

Same thing could be done with a modern.

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Lyndon, I don't know if they're responding to criticisms as much as just moving forward with a planned series of tests, each designed to focus on specific things.

That would be "responding to criticism"... :D

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From the description, it doesn't sound like they're doing the same thing over again.

As it was explained to me, one of the stumbling blocks of violin acoustic research has been defining what an "excellent" violin is, why it's good, how people make that determination, and what conditions they need to do it.

If two rather different sounding violins are both considered excellent, can something measurable be found that they both have in common?

Some of this will probably need to explore psychological factors influencing perception of sound. For instance, it would be interesting if at some point, they had an audience and players score the same Strad in a lineup twice, once not knowing what it is, and again upon being informed it's a Strad. Same thing with a modern.

What do you think? Would the scores be about the same, or would they change significantly?

David yes this is a good explaination. But after this test we will still miss the explanation what makes a violin sound excellent and we can start again. Doesn`t it sounds like we sail around the oceans till we fall down from the edge of the earth-disc?

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one of the main criticism of the indianapolis study was it mistook under ear volume for projection, one of my main criticisms was that they needed trained ears, not just a random cross section of players who may or may not have trained "audiophile" ears, it appears to me at least that they are trying to respond to these two criticisms

i might add its time they think about having a control group, something were familiar with, like throw in a really good 20s EH Roth and maybe a good Colin Mezin just to determine if good but not exceptional 100 year old violins get some or many of the votes. i think the concept of comparing only cremonese 1700s violins and ultra hand picked top modern violins is very limited in scope and reliability if your not referencing it to other types of violins from other periods.

in other words, IMO you dont only have to demonstrate moderns beat strads, you need them to beat vuillaumes and lupots too, and you definetely need clear evidence that they beat EH Roths and other higher quality 100 year old instruments, otherwise youre simply demonstrating that stradivaris unique sound is not so in vogue with modern players accustomed to new things....

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David yes this is a good explaination. But after this test we will still miss the explanation what makes a violin sound excellent and we can start again.

Maybe, maybe not. What we have is a group of researchers and engineers chipping away at it from their perspective. Whether they come up with solid conclusions now, in two years, or never, they're the ones doing the work, and it's not really costing me anything. Glad somebody is at least trying it, and that it doesn't need to be me. :)

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Gee, I wonder if there's any chance the Curtin will win...

I wonder if there's any chance for Curtin to state his "vision" here on MN. You know, we're not quite a negligible qty...

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his vision seems to include selling his violins and trashing the competition, at least the older competition.....

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his vision seems to include selling his violins and trashing the competition, at least the older competition.....

You say that because.....

I know the guy a little bit. Can't totally rule out having an agenda, just like I couldn't totally rule out Ravatin posts being fake in the "Frank Ravatin Varnish" thread before asking him.

What's interesting is the objections to another "old versus new" test, when several objectives of the test were mentioned in the announcement, but nothing about comparing old with new. Is that the sore spot? Beliefs get challenged?

Still, I think it would be negligent if they didn't collect available data related to that, since it was collected in the last test, even if it isn't the primary objective of the new test.

Should Strads turn out to be better than Curtin's instruments, at 300 times the price, I don't think it would have a meaningful impact on his business.

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its kinda like comparing fiat 500s, brand new, with ford model Ts, mostly the fiat will come out on top, but your leaving out 1950s mercedes and 1960s ferraris from the test comparison, which might give you an opposite result.

imagine if we just did a random comparison of established modern makers, great and not so great against a random selection of 1700s italians in good condition, great and not so great, i predict on average the 1700s italians would slaughter the modern makers on tone quality, but perhaps lose on volume

what your test results indicate has so so much to do with what instruments you include and dont include in your test

fair is fair and curtin is not being fair, if your not only going to pick the best modern maker, but the best of the best instruments that maker made, then its only fair to pick the best of the best sounding strad there is, not just any old strad you can come up with for the test

i mean if i were running the test, all i would have to do to get the opposite results is use better sounding strads and worse sounding moderns, in other words whos picking the instruments and designing the tests says more about their preconceived ideas than it does about the reality of which sounds better, old or new.

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fair is fair and curtin is not being fair, if your not only going to pick the best modern maker, but the best of the best instruments that maker made, then its only fair to pick the best of the best sounding strad there is, not just any old strad you can come up with for the test

Now you're just engaging in unsupported wild conjecture.

Worse than that. It's highly unlikely that many pro makers have access to the best instrument they ever made, even if they could begin to figure out which one it was. I certainly can't. Most of mine go out the door, and I never see them again. How would I have any clue which is the best sounding, without getting them all together in their current state?

Rather than rehashing all the arguments which came up in the thread concerning the last test, how about just posting a link?

This is a different test.

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The issue of projection in a hall is precisely what I hoped this team would focus on next. It's the most common argument used to explain the superiority of stratospherically expensive violins. It has been used since time immemorial to explain the apparent weakness of some Strads and Guarneris in smaller acoustics (like violin shops). I've certainly been subjected to it in a couple of situations (a Strad and a Gagliano).

I think it should be pretty easy to establish whether a player's perception of projection (or a violin dealer's) adds up to anything - the more limited the test the more useful in my view.

I also think it's very sensible to test the carrying power of violins with piano and orchestral accompaniment.

This is not the same test - also, the research is in the field of psycho-acoustics, not pure acoustics.

Just speaking from my experience, older masterpieces are just as likely to project, or not project, as a modern fiddle. In my opinion, the further away you get, and the better the hall, the more indiscernible each violin becomes.

If anything, I would have thought that the player would hear the difference between old and new under their ear, but this was proved wrong.

I would be curious to see this experiment (and the Indianapolis one) done with violas and cellos. I wonder if certain old cellos would generally be more recognizable/preferable to modern, or not.

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Stupidity. These people can not understand despite overwhelming evidence that the only vote here belongs to The Soloist. Most sentient beings have figured it out by now : the audience does not factor in the decision. Never did, never will. You see, it is a working tool and the audience does not work with it.

If another great Eighteenth Century maestro, Giacomo Cassanova, did not consider the perception of his audience when using his "working tool", he would not have earned his reputation for those performances or had his illustrious career. Most of his amorous events would have been spent "practicing". :)

I really like David suggestion that the audience rate the instruments twice; once knowing the identity. I see nothing wrong with throwing in a couple of Vuillaumes other than audience fatigue. I can personally attest to the effects of audience fatigue in wine tasting. I guess that could be minimized by spitting out the wine though. Never seem to remember to do that.

I've known Joe C. for many years. He's always been a searcher for ways to make instruments sound better and trying to find out empirically why some do and some don't. I guess any luthier who pursues this journey and shares it with the public can be looked at in terms of the publicity it brings them. He is, however already considered one of the best. I don't think he really needs the exposure. We all have agendas, ideological or finacial, including the critics. Hard not to.

I'm sure all of these results will be perused intensely like fleas combed out of sacred cows.

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So much silly prejudice about this new experiment ...

If you read the small digest in the Strad, it's clear that the test will be designed to study the phenomenon of projection, not the qualities of particular violins.

Given that the test is still being designed, I think the useful debate would be about what "projection" might be and how we can test the way people perceive it. That a violin maker should be interested in this phenomenon seems an entirely good thing, rather than something to be ridiculed.

I don't think for one moment that the intention of this test is to undermine the tendency of important soloists to want to play violins that have been previously owned by other important soloists ..... that would of course be futile.

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I'm sure all of these results will be perused intensely like fleas combed out of sacred cows.

Is your use of the term "sacred cows" a reflection of what you think will be the outcome? One wonders why they should bother conducting the experiment at all.

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