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Jeffrey Holmes

Followup to the Indianapolis blind study, continued

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Carl, is this addressed to Claudia Fritz? I hope not, since it's sarcastic and hectoring. I take particular offense on her behalf at the use of the "bullying upper case".

As I'm sure you would be the first to concede, the readership shouldn't influence the choice of research subject. The "supposed benefit" would be the enlightenment which comes from proper examination of fixed or received ideas. You may take issue with the protocol, fair enough. I suggested a while back that you design an experiment but you declined on the grounds that it wasn't your field.

If unimodular Hibbert subcones is your field, I would expect you to spend some of your time writing papers about your findings. I would not accuse you of having "nothing better to do".

Yes, it is addressed to Claudia Fritz. In the field of cognitive psychology a researcher knows by now to expect far more serious reactions. Common ones would include beatings, accusations of nazism, racism, idiocy, being banned from conferences or Univ campuses, arrest, prosecution, etc.

That's a HOT field.

I think you misunderstood my post and that might be my fault as I am not good at writing.

While the readership shouldn't influence the choice of research subjects it should influence the manner of presentation. My question was a valid and honest one : to whom does she speak ? I have to suppose she speaks to violin players firstly, to makers and lastly to all others interested. But then one should not expect the average violin player to dissect her study way beyond the abstract or the news people not to jump on it however they see fit. BEFORE this study was brought to our attention I read other papers by Mrs Fritz and those were solid and interesting and very efficaciously worded. This one is not. I am not "bullying upper case" Mrs Fritz but to the contrary I could make an argument that she bullies US by cladding fairly trivial FACTS known by any maker/dealer/player worth his salt in the pretentiousness of a "scientific study" and a badly put together one at that. Mrs Fritz could've gotten the same results by simply asking a fair number of MN members each with decades of experience behind. It irritates me ( I confess...) that we seem to need lately "scientific" studies for the most trivial of things. I see a moment, not far away, when no maker, dealer, restorer or player would be allowed opinions on violin tone because he's not a ...scientist and can't quote at length from trivial and long winded "papers".

Next time when YOU'll say a violin sounds good I'll ask if you've consulted the "violin tone scientists" and can supply the comparative FFTs...

The validation and valuation of violins was for some 200 years in the hands of major dealers and top players. Maybe not the best situation. Should we replace them with scientists ?

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Maybe everyone should take a chill pill ......?

It's 37 degrees and climbing here in Croatia, I have to play this evening on a violin (non-Strad non-modern) which will probably melt mid-performance, so that's what I'm going to do B)

Carl, you say "The validation and valuation of violins was for some 200 years in the hands of major dealers and top players. Maybe not the best situation." I agree with some of that, but I think the top players are in the hands of the major dealers, and will likely remain so whatever research is published .....

Personally I'm very keen to look at the issue of projection and see if there is a specific technical application in which certain violins excel.

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Jacob, I think you came into this late, but if you read the three different threads, I believe you'll find that I gave straight polite answers over and over and over.

I started getting impatient with a few people when they started mis-quoting or mis-paraphrasing the test repeatedly, or made erroneous conclusions about it without having ever read it, after it was freely available, and easy links had been furnished.

I had asked, for instance; what insights have you got, or conclusions drawn from this paper (http://www.lam.jussi...olis_paper.html) that you didn’t know already from everyday “listening around the corner” workshop practice? Perhaps you could be so kind, and direct me to (one of) your answers.

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Mrs Fritz could've gotten the same results by simply asking a fair number of MN members each with decades of experience behind.

I disagree. She certainly could have gotten a host of disparate opinions though. :D

As is explained in the paper, there have been lots of blind and double-blind tests involving assessments of listeners.

There's been next-to-nothing involving assessments by the players. In fact, that's been one of the major criticisms of the other tests.

So assessment by players is what this experiment focused on.

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I had asked, for instance; what insights have you got, or conclusions drawn from this paper (http://www.lam.jussi...olis_paper.html) that you didn’t know already from everyday “listening around the corner” workshop practice? Perhaps you could be so kind, and direct me to (one of) your answers.

Sorry for not answering that Jacob. I'm really hurtin' for time right now, but I'll try to get back to it. A lot was explained in the first thread. I'll need to dig it up.

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The validation and valuation of violins was for some 200 years in the hands of major dealers and top players. Maybe not the best situation. Should we replace them with scientists ?

Knowing a problem exists, should we not do, to the best of our ability, to fix it? No one's suggesting that we turn the reins of acoustic preference, over to scientists, but how about augmenting historical,emotional process with modern tools and critical thought process?

Just as CT scans show detail unavailable to the naked eye ,recording options can reveille details that the ear might know is there, but does not know why it is there or even where "there" is.I for one would feel a lot more convinced if such and such a violin had papers to show that it is acoustically comparable/related to such and such great instrument....certified so to speak ...compared to getting sucked into some D.M. type dealers line,(I know only stupid people fall for that junk,but still). Especially if one is looking for a specific quality,like projection, be it for solo work or what have you....One more tool.

IF I had any real critique of the test, it is that it was not recorded to test for clues as to why player might have made the choices they made..... Fat vs lean so to speak....But that was not your goal,now was it?

I believe the onus to disprove the study lies with the dissenter....as in, create another vetted study that demonstrates the converse ...or go home. Back to the lab again. It's been two years since the study was conducted and published, that should be enough time for anyone else to do just that...OH wait :huh: ...I see Claudia and crew are doing just that.... :blink: So what is every one grousing about? :unsure: Right now and here sounds like it could be a good time and place to have at least some input on the UPCOMMING study. B) I sure wish I could be in Paris at the event, to see for myself. :P

Granpa always said..." you can tell an engineer...but you can't tell em much." :lol:

he also said "anything worth doing...is worth doing poorly..." but that's another story.

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I like to think that good will and integrity always win over negativitysmile.gif

so negativity is fine if it supports a bogus study, but try to point out the flaws in the studies "logic" and were the bad guys, hogwash

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so negativity is fine if it supports a bogus study, but try to point out the flaws in the studies "logic" and were the bad guys, hogwash

No, lyndon. This group wants an open debate and hear all sides.

As I said in Post #48, I want to ban the nukes, not viewpoints. So, keep your ideas coming, not your emotions. :)

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I gather that the study in question demonstrates that professional violinists are generally unable to discern differences of performance suitability between old and new violins, in a hotel room.

I gather that some professionals who deal in quality violins feel that they are able to make a reasonable judgement on an instrument in such an acoustic environment, although this was not part of the study; merely anecdotal evidence elicited in these pages.

Insofar as the working venue of violins of quality is not usually a hotel room, the conclusion is not surprising. That said, it remains useful; it seems to demonstrate that an instrument trial cannot be relied on if conducted only in such an environment. Whiel this might seem obvious, it does beg the question of just how a professional dealer in fine violins can come to a judgement under conditions that their clientele have proven to be inadequate for the purpose.

I look forward to the continuing of the study in s space more suited to the purpose of the instruments in question. I am especially interested in the varied nature of the audience, incorporating a broad section of auditors from both sides of the pit.

I think it's a bold attempt at examining the impossible-to-examine, to quantify the unquantifiable, and to objectify the essence of subjectivity; and it may actually provide useful information. Or at least some entertainment.

I'm aware that my opinions on the subject are of little interest to anyone else. Still, emboldened by the fulsome prose found in above posts, I toss them into the pot.

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I gather that the study in question demonstrates that professional violinists are generally unable to discern differences of performance suitability between old and new violins, in a hotel room.

Maybe they were able to determine performance suitability. We don't know. To have an answer, the violins would need to have been taken through to the end of a selection process. This was just one step.

But one thing it showed, interestingly, is that participants were far from stellar at telling old from new. Most violinists I've talked to believed they could readily do that in any environment, even a hotel room.

Why does that matter? One reason is that researchers would like to know where to focus future efforts. How much effort should they spend trying to make new instruments sound like old, if they already do, or some do, or if musicians can't actually tell the difference?

Maybe one of the next steps will be to see if they can tell the difference in other environments, like the hall in Paris.

Jacob, maybe that's a shorthand answer to your previous question too. This experiment may have more value in terms of being a step in continuing research, than for providing information immediately useful to makers.

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Why does that matter? One reason is that researchers would like to know where to focus future efforts. How much effort should they spend trying to make new instruments sound like old, if they already do, or some do, or if musicians can't actually tell the difference?

Maybe one of the next steps will be to see if they can tell the difference in other environments, like the hall in Paris.

And they're going to know from this test ?

All they had to do was to REPEAT THE STUDY NEXT DAY. At least we would have known if the participants had a consistent opinion or if they were simply guessing.

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And they're going to know from this test ?

I suppose one can never truly know anything. You gather information, gather more information, and try to use it to make informed choices.

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they partially did a retest the same day on test 2 since the players were actually asked to try 10 sets of 2 violins (while there was only 9 sets possible), the 10th being a second assessment of each of the sets. And if I remember in half the case the choice of the player was different for this 10th set.

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But one thing it showed, interestingly, is that participants were far from stellar at telling old from new. Most violinists I've talked to believed they could readily do that in any environment, even a hotel room.

youve read the study 12 times, david, and it still hasnt dawned on you that this wasnt a new study of discerning old from new, but an oft repeated preference study, a persons preference for a new violin does not show they cant tell the difference between old and new, claudia denies that it was an old vs new test, but you keep MISQUOTING her........

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youve read the study 12 times, david, and it still hasnt dawned on you that this wasnt a new study of discerning old from new, but an oft repeated preference study, a persons preference for a new violin does not show they cant tell the difference between old and new, claudia denies that it was an old vs new test, but you keep MISQUOTING her........

An oft repeated study? Please read post #55, and also read the study again.

Information on preference, versus identifying old from new was pretty well separated in the study. Please read the study again.

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I think it's a bold attempt at examining the impossible-to-examine, to quantify the unquantifiable, and to objectify the essence of subjectivity; and it may actually provide useful information. Or at least some entertainment.

Oh boy did you ever hit the nail on the head.

Shortly after the wall came down (for those younger readers I mean the European [iron Curtain] wall) I went to see a concert by an orchestra from Chernobyl. It took place in the Town Hall of a small market town close to where I live in Northern Germany. Because of the difficulties this orchestra had had finding strings, for several years before the fall of the wall I had been collecting and sending good quality used strings to the orchestra via a friend. After a wonderfully atmospheric concert I was invited to meet the orchestra. With great ceremony the musicians showed me their instruments. The first was an almost white violin varnished with clear varnish. The neck was square and the board was made of some wood that I could not recognize. The bridge and tailpiece were very obviously self made. I smiled as I took it from the player, thinking that they were pulling a David Burgess stunt on me. But I managed to recover in time not to appear rude. Eventually all the instruments were shown to me and I remained polite throughout, however inside I was in turmoil. By my standards not a single instrument seemed to be playable. They were like props for some macabre play. Finally I was shown the prize piece of the orchestra. A Saxon violin with an unusual addition. Ebony rings were set into the back and belly at the sound-post position. They were about 15mm in diameter. Through the center of each ring a tiny brass screw went into the sound-post. I asked politely, and equally politely they explained that it was to stop the post from moving. This instrument belonged to the concert master.

One of my best friends is the concert master in our closest city. He also comes originally from the old east block. He is my age and a man of exceptional talent. For almost 20 years he has played every violin and viola that I made. But I constantly have to remind him not to compensate. This man could play a cigar box and make it sound good.

Now you might think that this is all irrelevant to the arguments that are raging on this site, but in my opinion it is not. Nevertheless, I am not sure of the conclusions that we can draw but...

One final point that I would like to make concerns violin making competitions. Over the years I have judged dozens of them. About ten years ago I took the results of 15 competitions, and I drew graphs of the violin making scores and the sound evaluations. The violin making results were almost always very similar, with most judges coming to similar conclusions. There were of course some serious differences, but they were rare and could be put down to clashes of taste. In complete contrast, the tonal judging graphs, whether from makers or musicians, were everywhere. There were no discernible patterns. And almost no agreement. Of course in most cases these violins had already been pre-selected, but then so were the instruments being judged for violin making. Each competition has its own unique methods for judging tone, but non were able to come to any demonstratively clear conclusions. Again what this all means I do not really know, but stripped of peer pressure, dealer persuasion and the mythology that surrounds violins in general, can we really come to demonstrative conclusions or should we just accept that fiddles like people are simply different and that what matters is what the musician feels. Why are we so obsessed with proving this argument one way or another?

As for identifying instrument makers by their sound, be they Strad, Guarneri, or Joe Bloggs, forget it.

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With great ceremony the musicians showed me their instruments. The first was an almost white violin varnished with clear varnish. The neck was square and the board was made of some wood that I could not recognize. The bridge and tailpiece were very obviously self made. I smiled as I took it from the player, thinking that they were pulling a David Burgess stunt on me. But I managed to recover in time not to appear rude.

Ouch Roger, that sounds like it was probably one of my fiddles with my setup. ;)

Are you saying you didn't like it? :angry:

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Most violinists believe that instruments by Stradivari and Guarneri 'del Gesu' are tonally superior to other violins – and to new violin s in particular.

Look, I am sorry about picking out this particular sentence. But to me it seems to sum up this whole argument. Who is saying that most violinists believe this stuff? Most violinists, in fact ALMOST ALL violinists would not know a Stradivari if you hit them in the face with it. Although they might then be able to better identify one by its sound. And I have made enough copies for players that own fine Cremonese instruments to know that when they are touring, especially in countries were security is not a top priority, they often do not take their Cremonese masterpiece with them. Instead they play on copies. Only very occasionally do they announce this fact. Generally the audience, and usually also the orchestra, remain blissfully unaware. Consequently even an apparently innocuous statement like this is in fact contentious. And David I don't think that the violin was actually one of yours. My guess is that it was just inspired by one of yours. I noticed tool marks from that favorite electric saw of yours.

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good points, roger, its kinda of like trying to match peoples choice of favourite artists, with art auction prices, there is little correlation, half?? the people in america might pick this kincade fellow that just died, and hes not even considered a serious artist.

on the other hand there are art experts who "tell" us who the most accomplished artists are, coupled with the antique value of older artists being more valued

are there any such thing as violin sound experts who can predictably discern differences between old and new, good and bad, i know in the under 5000 range im asked to price some instruments on tone, is that just random guesswork, or is it a good thing to discern differences in tone

many shop owners refuse to speculate on tone at all and leave it all up to the customers opinion, i always thought that was crazy, but after reading all this whoohah, im starting to realize that theres no one right view on tone for everyones ears, including some tone deaf ones, everyones ears are different

so saying modern violins are better than antiques is equally ridiculous to saying antiques are better than moderns, thats the only true meaning i can get out of this study, and it certainly doesnt prove that experts cant tell, on average, the difference in tone between old and new violins, but it does prove a lot of people arent experts

and no it definetly doesnt prove that moderns are a bargain compared to the prices of antiques, that hasnt even begun to be tested, it just proves that modern top makers might be a bargain compared to the most expensive million dollar strad and del gesus, weve known that for years so i dont see what the big news is about this study. almost any good 30,000 violin old or new, represents something of a bargain compared to a strad, unfortunately the potential return on the investment pales in comparison

its kind of like a study that proves 500,000usd rolls royce no better at picking up groceries than fiat 500, and the average repair costs for the rolls are astronomically higher than the fiat

i wonder if diemar machold would be in jail today if he drove a fiat instead of a rolls royce!!!!

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And I have made enough copies for players that own fine Cremonese instruments to know that when they are touring, especially in countries were security is not a top priority, they often do not take their Cremonese masterpiece with them. Instead they play on copies. Only very occasionally do they announce this fact. Generally the audience, and usually also the orchestra, remain blissfully unaware.

Heh heh, I’ve used one of Roger’s copies a number of times for seeing how people react when they think they’re playing a Strad. :)

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