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David Beard

A Vocabular for Violin Tone?

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I'd love to see a thread develop a vocabulary for common aspects of violin tone. 

 

Further, it would be great to start associating such terms with their acoustic description/profile, and to whatever extant possible to associate the terms with physical attributes of the instruments.

 

For instance, lots of us have thrown around a term like 'tubby'.   I'm not the acoustician guy, but to me 'tubby' sound seems to boom at the low end and have very high partials rolling around, yet the middle range seems hollow and gutted.    I also tend to associate this sound with an instrument/setup that are sort of flabby, not quit stiff enough or tensioned enough.   I'd love to hear other folks take on it.  Maybe the numbers and charts guys can actually identify tubby tone in their spectrums???

 

Similarly, plenty of fiddles present to me an overly tight and harsh tone that I tend to think of as 'boxy'.   These typically seem over built and/or over tensioned.

 

Then there are different aspects of excellent tone.   In a good instruments with a wide range of colors available, I hear a number of particular sorts of sounds available.  I'd love to see these discussed more specifically.  

 

For example, the middle strings when bowed with moderate strength and good bow speed, a bit far from the bridge, can go into a kind of tone that somehow seems very 'air' like, rather like a strong flute tone, or very clean organ tone.     Is this literally an 'air' sound dominated by resonances from the body cavity??

 

In contrast, going up high on the low strings and playing heavy and close to the bridge there is available a very thickened and intense kind of sound that somehow seems less transparent.

 

Then again, playing the upper strings with long string length (low positions) and quick bow speed firm and near the bridge a very bright almost trumpet like sort of sound comes available.

 

 

I'm hoping people will use this thread to share observations, pet terms, nerdy tech analysis, etc.

 

 

 

 

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One of the top country fiddle players uses the term chocolate-ie for the sound he likes in a fiddle.  Dark with lots of power and smooth.  When he says chocolate-ie I know what he's talking about.

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OK.  Here's another term: woody.  It isn't always negative as far as I have seen but also it isn't considered a positive attribute by everyone.

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Aha! I don't have to make my own thread!

 

I would like someone to explain to me what is supposedly meant by the term 'sparkle' in relation to violin sound. I've been off the forums for a while, and doing some catch-up I keep coming across the word, usually pared with 'cremonese sound', which of course I would also like someone to clarify. There are lots of cremonese instruments, and they don't all sound the same.  ;)

 

To me, when I use the word 'sparkle' in relation to a violin, it is usually referring to the glitter that has been caked into the varnish amongst various hand creams, moisturisers and make-up.

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Michael Darnton has written about understanding violin tone in his priliminary book on violinmag.com.  He has a whole host of adjectives to describe violin sounds.

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