Sign in to follow this  
joerobson

2014 Inianapolis VSA Non-winners

Recommended Posts

http://www.vsa.to/general-rules

 

Playing function counts for 14 out of 100 points, and "Includes integration of camber, dimensions, height of head and frog, balance, and selection of wood." I think if we were to use similar criteria to instrument playing function, we might be judging based on patterning, archings, graduations, and wood. I think it would be interesting to see how bows fare based on playing function alone, just as we have a category for instrument tone alone. Certainly, playing function is the most important factor to me as a musician.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry dear Jerry but I absolutely disagree with the "party line" on this! Your statement could apply equally to the instruments. By your reckoning, great violin makers can tell whether an instrument plays simply by inspecting it. So why not eliminate the musician judges for the instruments and make the whole thing easier?

Regarding tone, a great violin bow may sound fantastic on one instrument, but terrible on another, this is true. The issue with bows is PLAYABILITY more than tone. A bow may be perfectly balanced, have the correct weight, have classic graduations, the stick be neither too strong nor too weak, be absolutely straight, have perfect camber, and still not play.

I do believe it is true that great makers can make an educated guess as to whether a bow will play or not, but all it is is an educated guess. I know it would represent a giant headache to add musicians to the judging of bows, but I believe it would go along way towards helping bow makers and the craft in general!

Love you man!!!!

Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good makers will be able to tell by looking and feeling a bow if it will play well . . .

  Some kind of a zen thing, that we mere mortals could not possibly understand?  Could you please be more specific?  Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some kind of a zen thing, that we mere mortals could not possibly understand? Could you please be more specific? Thanks!

Sure, how the camber looks, the proportions of the head and frog, the way the stick flexes in both directions, the planing of the stick, the way the hair is installed, the balance, the weight, etc. All the things good bow makers have learned to do in their own making. A good playing bow is built, not a zen thing accident.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay.  Those are the different parameters of a bow.  Hopefully there will be good bow makers participating in the new bow making thread, who will quantify and qualify those parameters relative to how each affects the playability of the bow.  What an optimal camber looks like and how it affects playability, how the head and frog should be sized and designed (and how that affects playability), what flex characteristics in each direction should be built into the stick and how that affects playability, where the stick should balance, etc.  I've seen good discussions on weight elsewhere, both absolute weight and perceived weight, and why that is important.  Why deviating from those characteristics would be detrimental to the bow's playability.  All of that would enable us to judge the quality of a bow while we are making it, so we can improve it during the building.  Hopefully, Jerry, you will participate in that thread.  Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  All the things good bow makers have learned to do in their own making. A good playing bow is built, not a zen thing accident.

 

Agreed.

 

But isn't it a fact that, even when all of the parameters are "correct" a REAL good playing, well made bow, is a rare thing to come by?

 

Hey listen Jerry, I believe that we've crossed paths before here, and had some difficulties. True, or is that not true?

But I'm asking out of a true belief that this is a fact, with regard to bow making.

I'm not simply looking for an argument - or an agreement. I want to know if this is the case?

Well made, to the correct proportion (and et-cetera) bows are fairly common, and well deserved credit to those that can make them. But when it comes to playing them, or playing a violin with them, is the match between bow and violin a necessary item to accomplish?, and don't some bows simply "work" better (generally) than others even when the "proportions and dimensions of both bows are very similar?

Much like with violins?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed.

But isn't it a fact that, even when all of the parameters are "correct" a REAL good playing, well made bow, is a rare thing to come by?

Well, "correct" is not what judges are looking for. The judges are looking past that, otherwise a machine could win.

A real good playing bow is not a rare thing if you look in the right places;

The shops of:

Espey

Samuels

Grandchamp

Thomachot

Malo

Wehling

And too many others to name.

The point being, these makers and many others can make a good playing bow EVERY time.

As to your other point, indeed some bows will work better for some players than others, and sound better for some players on given instruments. This is exactly why tone and playability is not judged by players. The best bows will be top of the list for some players and bottom of the list for other players. The not so top bows will be on the bottom for all players. So if we are looking to award consistent mediocrity, judging by players would be a good plan, otherwise there is just a lot of statistical noise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first time the entire spreadsheet of scores is available to VSA members and competitors, not just personal scores. I am curious if the competitors feel the extra figures give more insight towards their future making.

I must say, this was the highest level of making I have ever seen in a competition by a large margin.

Many thanks, Jerry, for this lead.  I wouldn't have thought to look on the VSA website until I went there for some other purpose.  While the spreadsheets of course would be more illuminating had I not had to cancel my plans to attend, I can't wait to spend some time with them and glean what I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The quality of all the instruments in the exhibit room (hors display) was fantastic.  I went through there several times.  I hear about famous makers and see their adds and wonder how much better they are than my work.  Well this was a chance to see and hear, first hand, how good their work is.  This was the best exhibit the VSA has ever had of this type of new stuff.  This room and the competition instruments were of the highest quality. 

 

The disadvantage, especially for players, in having a really great exhibit room for non-competing, master makers, in addition to the competition instruments room, is that you can spend so much time in the master makers room that you don't get to the competition room.  That happened to me at the 2008 Portland, Oregon, competition.

 

The VSA should consider having these master makers displays in the odd years, 2013, 2015, etc, where there would be no competitions.

 

While we're wishing for changes at the VSA, let's hope the VSA comes to realize that it has neglected for the past 6 years to have a convention of any kind out West.  The last one out West was in 2008.

 

Steven Csik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To make things clear , it was not a ''Masters" room, although there were plenty there , it was a modern makers exhibit, anyone could show there work there, If they paid the fee. .  To the pleasure of all involved that scope was opened to a collection of fine old violins.   

  The thing I especially enjoyed about the modern makers exhibit was that it was available to us in the days prior to the opening of the competition room, and we were able to talk with and ask questions directly of the makers and curators/ experts that stopped in .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

..........and it is equally long distance for almost everyone.

 

.....except for those on the West Coast.

 

I don't mind too much, though... the Cleveland venue is fabulous, especially compared to the cramped meeting quarters in Indy.  The public train from the airport is also the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.....except for those on the West Coast.

 

I don't mind too much, though... the Cleveland venue is fabulous, especially compared to the cramped meeting quarters in Indy.  The public train from the airport is also the best.

Ah Don...the vendors on the West Coast still vote for Cleveland....a lovely city with good food centrally isolated....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry dear Jerry but I absolutely disagree with the "party line" on this! Your statement could apply equally to the instruments. By your reckoning, great violin makers can tell whether an instrument plays simply by inspecting it. So why not eliminate the musician judges for the instruments and make the whole thing easier?

The "party line" who the hell is the party?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just wanted to draw attention back to these three comments regarding bow judging at the VSA. Sorry for redirecting the flow of conversation, but I do strongly believe in the importance of this topic. Eric and I are both new members, and it takes time before moderators approve our posts.

 

http://www.vsa.to/general-rules

 

Playing function counts for 14 out of 100 points, and "Includes integration of camber, dimensions, height of head and frog, balance, and selection of wood." I think if we were to use similar criteria to instrument playing function, we might be judging based on patterning, archings, graduations, and wood. I think it would be interesting to see how bows fare based on playing function alone, just as we have a category for instrument tone alone. Certainly, playing function is the most important factor to me as a musician.

 

 

I'm sorry dear Jerry but I absolutely disagree with the "party line" on this! Your statement could apply equally to the instruments. By your reckoning, great violin makers can tell whether an instrument plays simply by inspecting it. So why not eliminate the musician judges for the instruments and make the whole thing easier?

Regarding tone, a great violin bow may sound fantastic on one instrument, but terrible on another, this is true. The issue with bows is PLAYABILITY more than tone. A bow may be perfectly balanced, have the correct weight, have classic graduations, the stick be neither too strong nor too weak, be absolutely straight, have perfect camber, and still not play.

I do believe it is true that great makers can make an educated guess as to whether a bow will play or not, but all it is is an educated guess. I know it would represent a giant headache to add musicians to the judging of bows, but I believe it would go along way towards helping bow makers and the craft in general!

Love you man!!!!

Eric

 

 

I've got a huge blog post on this subject here if you wanna read it:

http://swansonbows.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/the-vsa-competition-and-judging-bows/

Peace and love, peace and love....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I understand then, it seems that playability is not an uncommon thing among contemporary bow makers, and what really sets them apart is workmanship. Even so, I do believe that musicians would place a higher value on playability than workmanship, and I think it would be productive if the bow making competition gave this more weight than the 14% allocated.

 

But perhaps all the bow makers score perfectly in playability already, and it is not worth holding a competition over this particular category of playability?

 

Good makers will be able to tell by looking and feeling a bow if it will play well, all of the judges are Great makers.  Tone will change depending on which player is playing and on which instrument.  If you take a half a dozen bows and chose which one sounds best, then change either the player or the instrument, more likely than not a different winner would be chosen.

 

 

Well, "correct" is not what judges are looking for. The judges are looking past that, otherwise a machine could win.

A real good playing bow is not a rare thing if you look in the right places;

The shops of:

Espey
Samuels
Grandchamp
Thomachot
Malo
Wehling
And too many others to name.

The point being, these makers and many others can make a good playing bow EVERY time.


As to your other point, indeed some bows will work better for some players than others, and sound better for some players on given instruments. This is exactly why tone and playability is not judged by players. The best bows will be top of the list for some players and bottom of the list for other players. The not so top bows will be on the bottom for all players. So if we are looking to award consistent mediocrity, judging by players would be a good plan, otherwise there is just a lot of statistical noise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, Franiel,

I appreciate what you are saying, I have been through this discussion on both sides and it has been tried in the past. The problem is the musicians will not have enough consensus to make the winning entries' margins significant. With workmanship, the judges scores show consensus. With instrument tone, the judges scores show consensus. When this was done with bows being played, the consensus was not there. This signals to me that there is not enough evidence of a bow or bows being above the others enough to deserve distinction, and awarding that distinction would make the award meaningless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry! Take my hand! Work across the aisle with me and let's change the world together!!!! I understand the difficulty associated with musicians judging instruments, even more so with bows. However, I believe that if a carefully constructed judging protocol were created, we could at least add musicans to the mix. What is there to loose? Don't you think including musicians in the bow judging would at the very least help us as bow makers by better exposing our work and creating dialog?

I think it's so cool that you have decided to agree with me on this! I look forward to working closely together on this revolutionary project!!!!!

Yr pal Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Don...the vendors on the West Coast still vote for Cleveland....a lovely city with good food centrally isolated....

 

It looks like the VSA has a decision to make: Should it locate conventions to please vendors or VSA members who aren't vendors?

 

The theoretical center for population of the US is, surprise, in Missouri, ie, west of the Mississippi and nowhere near the East Coast.

 

Steven Csik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, Franiel,

I appreciate what you are saying, I have been through this discussion on both sides and it has been tried in the past. The problem is the musicians will not have enough consensus to make the winning entries' margins significant. With workmanship, the judges scores show consensus. With instrument tone, the judges scores show consensus. When this was done with bows being played, the consensus was not there. This signals to me that there is not enough evidence of a bow or bows being above the others enough to deserve distinction, and awarding that distinction would make the award meaningless.

 

This raises an interesting point about bows.  They are far more personal to a player than are the instruments the bows are used for.  A very good sounding violin will probably sound good to a large number of players, but what one player likes as a bow, another player may not consider worth having.

 

Steven Csik

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that bows are immensely personal, but not more than instruments. People may have their preferences to be sure, but there is something magical about a wonderful playing bow that is hard to deny even if it may not be your preferred type of stick. I think the real challenge is that a very small number of musicians have sat down and considered what constitutes a good bow, not to mention a vast spectrum of technical abilities which color musicians understanding of such matters. We need a better dialog with musicians where they can help us understand their needs and we can help them think more clearly about how to evaluate bows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry! Take my hand! Work across the aisle with me and let's change the world together!!!!

I think it's so cool that you have decided to agree with me on this! I look forward to working closely together on this revolutionary project!!!!!

Yr pal Eric

Eric,

Even though I really enjoy slamming myself in the head with a large cast iron skillet, I am afraid after doing this for 8 yrs I am term limited off the board. I will be happy to give my opinions from afar. (I am thinking from the corner of the room with my feet up, bull horn in hand.)

Likewise, Jerry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.