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Stradivari's Secret


Roger Hargrave

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I think that this will be virtually impossible to establish and as I said, the first repair would have destroyed all his hard work.

Not to mention that when this supposed tweaking was removed by the repairs the sound would go with it. Since the classic instruments are remarkable in that they seem to continue to sound good despite extensive restorations I think it more likely that basic architecture like model and arching are responsible for the sound just as they are in our own instruments.

As one of my first teachers told me "if you make one violin a month and try to get each one perfect at the end of the year you will have one or two great instruments, ten good ones and one dog. If you work twice as fast you will have one or two great ones, twenty good ones and one dog. But your kids will eat better"

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So, you guys are saying Vuillaume and the Hills are not only responsible for the Strad myth, but also the Strad sound? Then why didn't they make everything else sound good? Marketing ploy? Not buying it, sorry.

The question to me seems to be one of diminishing returns.

If you place 500 hours into a junker, you will make it better, but will you make it return on the investment?

 

I think every violin that goes through a dealer will benefit usually in some way if work that is beneficial to producing a selling sound is done to it.

What dealer does not want more for an instrumnet than what was initially paid?

 

So if an instrument with a high pedigree it will get more work done, and by the top person or persons, since it holds the best chances of returning a healthy profit on the work.

 

A cheap factory violin with a sunken arch is not going to have a chance.

 

Strad made violins for top clients, and so came to dealers such as Vuillaume and the Hills with a certain place in the market already.

As evidence of this work being done, this would explain why so many violins have been regraduated, to meet local tastes, so the instrument would sound better to local ears, and sell for a profit ... locally.   This all changed when music became more standardized, universal.

 

If there was a law that said violins had to always be sold for the same price, no work would ever be done to them, by 'temporary owners' sometimes known as investors.

 

I read about a violin that was lost at sea, found and then repaired, and it was claimed by the owner to be better than it was before the whole incident.   The credit was given to the repairer and rightly so, since it took a great deal of expertise and skill to do this.

My guess is that it probablt took longer to repair than it did to make originally.

 

So my hats off to all those highly skilled Violin Doctors.

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I read about a violin that was lost at sea, found and then repaired, and it was claimed by the owner to be better than it was before the whole incident.   The credit was given to the repairer and rightly so, since it took a great deal of expertise and skill to do this.

My guess is that it probablt took longer to repair than it did to make originally.

 

So my hats off to all those highly skilled Violin Doctors.

That was Sascha Jacobsen's Stradivari restored by Hans Weisshaar after it was washed to sea in a California flash flood.

 

Here's a link: http://www.cozio.com/instrument.aspx?id=1039

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Like any good luthier, they must also have finalized frequency tuning on the violin set up in the white, for sometimes, the back plate becomes deformed towards the exterior under pressure from the strings, raising the back plate’s frequency by as many as 15 Hz. This can be heard when the violin is played: the medium register is lost, the sound is cavernous and strident.

 

www.kreitpatrick.com

 

I'm sorry but this makes absolutely no sense to me.  Have you got any evidence for this "dream". Maybe some sound samples ?

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You see ...

"Stradivari" + "secret" = 20 pages no bother!

 

It was bed time and now I'm off to work. Maybe this thread will be alive for awhile so I can tell "The Secret" :)

 

And why don't you do it with the strings on and brought to pitch ?

 

I do that too

 

You can get a good idea of what the modes will be with strings if you have enough information about the difference all the added pieces make, and I can see that it's easier and faster with less in the way.

 

However, if you're going to tune, I think that playing the instrument, hearing and feeling what's going on, is far more important than just the frequencies.

 

 

I'm almost obsessed by playing, feeling and hearing violins and what's going on. Linking that feeling to the modes is "The Secret". Because when you go over the edge (B1+ >~ 560 without CR) The magic is gone and the violin is a stubborn fiddle.

 

However there are great solo violin on the hasch side, with all modes high (Ex Vieuxtemps & Il Cannone) for example, Titian is right on the edge. This is not what I'm looking for. I want them to be exactly right. Clear, pure, woody and little hoarse in upper positions on G and D strings, with a little edge. And it has to pop, the bow has to grip the strings in this certain way, with a micro delay when the sound pops out, that is hard to explain. Not many violins are like this. From what I hear many Cremonese are like that.

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Where do you think I got the suit?

 

Torbjörn I blame the media for the death of hitchhiking. They fill us up with so much fear. Every day we are swamped with it. Everything is sensationalized. There is death around every corner. A back packer gets killed thousands of miles away and everyone ----s themselves. When I won my gold medal in Cremona my wife and I hitch hiked to Milan with the cello. I have travelled hundreds of thousands of miles on my thumb.

Some time ago my neighbour was telling me a story about a poor policeman that had been shot. Its terrible he stammered. You can't trust yourself outside any more. He was so upset I thought that it had happened in our quiet village. It turned out the policeman had been shot in Australia. We live in Germany. We know what is happening as and when it happens, but because this information comes out of a box in the corner of our living room or on our lap, we somehow we believe that what is happening is happening to us, or at least to people we know personally.

Ct I don't know what it's like where you live, but it is pretty peaceful here and far less violent than Vietnam and miners strikes and Falklands wars and all that stuff I grew up with back then.

 

There is a good chance this may have been Strad's secret and it surely was Andrea Amati's secret --- lack of fear.

 

When mixing, writing, arranging, etc. one thing that kills you is fear, it appears but once it is overcome work flows creatively. Creativity is a delicate, very easily scared wild animal. I imagine violin making may not be so different. My technique to overcome was always to think "it's only music" (yes it supported my family but still, only music).

 

Fear kills the wild spirit, the hitchhiker spirit.

 

Not part of the subject but maybe, a german sailor friend is a great free diver,he said 60 meters and such. I could never pass the 10 meter before, so I asked him - I have the physical preparation, what am I doing wrong? He said - fear. 

 

One starts to get into the unknown (I don't know if I'll be ok if I keep going) and fear pops up, so what does he do? - he said stop going down, look at the fish be calm and the air will last, than you keep going down further safely, and it works...

 

I believe this works with life in general. (although I may be a terrible judge, lack of fear made me abandon a decent career for life with no roots)

 

The other infallible manner to overcome fear is to do what Hernán Cortés did, "burn the ships", once in Mexico he burned his ships, so that fear would not overcome his crew and would make them escape scared. Once the ships are burned, no option for retreat.

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That was Sascha Jacobsen's Stradivari restored by Hans Weisshaar after it was washed to sea in a California flash flood.

 

Here's a link: http://www.cozio.com/instrument.aspx?id=1039

Thanks.

I have run across stories being repeated by people that there have been over the years Strads thet were ship-wrecked as well. 

I have to admit that the skill of being able to fix a wreck of a violin is totally amazing to me.

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Ya, and all the fear mongering media ruined unprotected sex too!

Your two examples do not quite amount to the same thing. Sure there are things that we need to be aware of, but statistically it makes sense to wear a helmet on a bike or to have safe sex if you are sleeping around. But would you by the same token ban all rough or dangerous sports. These sports kill many more people than hitch hiking ever did and when I was young many many thousands were hitchhiking every day. It is all about being sensible.

 

Carlo, well done! You managed to pull it around and what you say is absolutely correct.

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You can get a good idea of what the modes will be with strings if you have enough information about the difference all the added pieces make, and I can see that it's easier and faster with less in the way.

 

However, if you're going to tune, I think that playing the instrument, hearing and feeling what's going on, is far more important than just the frequencies.

 

Look Don I respect a lot of what you say, but surely all of these so called tuning methods count for zilch the first time anyone alters the status quo and I don't know of a single classical instrument that has not been altered; most of them seriously. The little Bros Am piccolo in South Dakota  is perhaps the only example.

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Thanks.

I have run across stories being repeated by people that there have been over the years Strads thet were ship-wrecked as well. 

I have to admit that the skill of being able to fix a wreck of a violin is totally amazing to me.

 

You are just not old enough like Bruce and me. We can even remember Noah's flood.

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Look Don I respect a lot of what you say, but surely all of these so called tuning methods count for zilch the first time anyone alters the status quo and I don't know of a single classical instrument that has not been altered; most of them seriously. The little Bros Am piccolo in South Dakota  is perhaps the only example.

 

Actually Don is against tuning (on your side here)  I'm for ;) Of coarse they have been altered, every violin gets stiffer 20 - 30 Hz at least and they need to be corrected; re tuned or re graduated if you like.

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Look Don I respect a lot of what you say, but surely all of these so called tuning methods count for zilch the first time anyone alters the status quo and I don't know of a single classical instrument that has not been altered; most of them seriously. The little Bros Am piccolo in South Dakota  is perhaps the only example.

 

Not to forget of the ones cut down ( and then up :)  ) or the "composites". :)

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Actually Don is against tuning (on your side here)  I'm for ;) Of coarse they have been altered, every violin gets stiffer 20 - 30 Hz at least and they need to be corrected; re tuned or re graduated if you like.

 

Are you saying they have been re-tuned ? Have you got any proof of that ? Can you point me to some SOUND SAMPLES of your violins. I'm all for learning...

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I just want to say before I go to bed here that I have hitchhiked and picked up hitchers and no one was murdered. However I must point out you should always hitchhike with condominums in your rucksack. 

 

That is no secret. 

 

I've learned so much- thank you Rodger for providing a place for all the crazy carp in the current to collect in one thread and keep the other fishing grounds clean.  Long live the bunny suit. 

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I've learned so much- thank you Rodger for providing a place for all the crazy carp in the current to collect in one thread and keep the other fishing grounds clean. 

 

??

(hmmm - other fishing grounds clean? There might be some argument here, Stephen - clean of what? That the crap may not as straight foreward, I'll go along with that perhaps... but, "crazy crap" not collect in other, more serious threads?       Nah! ...where have you been reading?)

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I'm sorry but this makes absolutely no sense to me.  Have you got any evidence for this "dream". Maybe some sound samples ?

Do you know what was done by clever violin makers like J-B. Vuillaume, the Hills and a few skilled contemporary ones that I know? They regraduated certain old instruments, not because of excess thickness (as believed by some ignorant makers who consequently ruined violins unconsciously), but because they knew –and a few still know, today– how to retune a varnished violin’s back and top plates on the inside. This allows the craftsman to obtain a fine old or new violin that sounds great and sells for a higher price. Beware: this is not always feasible when the frequencies are too high or when the delta between frequencies is too great; thus, it is not within the comptence of just any luthier.

 

www.kreitpatrick.com

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