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Nagyvary has written a useful review of "Stradivari Varnish" by Brandmair, Greiner


Mike_Danielson
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'Magnum' if used as an adjective.

 

I have been very impressed by the thickness of the remaining varnish on some VSA exhibits.  There was a Balestieri that had lost a small area with the edges looking like cliff faces.

 

Also, if I recall correctly, I had a similar impression where the Cannone had lost varnish on the back where the seal was removed.  In that case the varnish edges were much more worn down.

I took this photo at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

post-24474-0-49215300-1433943963_thumb.jpg

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I'm no expert on varnish.  I did have the opportunity to browse the book for a few hours along side some more knowledgable folks.  One thing that I took away from the reading/discussion is that authors did not always agree on results.  I recall hearing that Brigitte may not have agreed about the finding of protein in one of the tests.  Apparently that particular test was very sensitive, and the protein could have been anything.  She did not conclude that protein was in the ground, nor did she dispute it (as I recall).  Peter did conclude that protein was involved.  That's hearsay coming from me, but perhaps someone more knowledgable can speak to this.  I don't know if differing opinions of the authors came up often, but I'm fairly certain there was some disagreement on the protein question.  I hope I didn't misrepresent anything there.  

 

The authors MAY not have agreed as is very normal when working in a team. For starters, there were problems with a few authentication issues as well as with the locations from which the sample where taken. Example, the sample taken from the rib (I may be mistaken) was close to what appeared to be a glue ghost and any reference to protein from said specific location could be interpreted as non intentional or relevant as it was apparently a mistake.

 

Disagreement on the results? Impossible. Machines, like hips, do not lie.

On Nagyvary saying that colophony and linseed oil have similar peaks when analyzed and therefore the lean oil varnish is not a certainty, I am glad to know that someone knows much better and so scientifically concludes it is all BS. It makes a lot more sense to assume he is purposefully lying or trying to stir up controversy, or that he doesn't understand something very basic that he explained in the review. Or you could admit that you can't meet him where he is and come up with a cogent rebuttal (newsflash: "machines are infallible" does not yet pass for one, although I admit things are getting pretty stupid in the USA). No wait--you need no other argument than to attack me for not making sense. I won't protest...after all, unlike some people I know that I don't know. Ideally the authors will come up with an answer, and they will address his points. Easy, if it's all bs. And we will all be more interested in coming up with the $1500 for the book then.

I'll admit some of the review info sounded stretchy even to me, but I definitely can't argue. Why would I? The review was pretty interesting though, that's all I know. It would be nice to hear from someone on this who knows what he's talking about.

 

The problem with Mr. Nagyvary's review is essentially that he is not reviewing anything or even following any sort of proper protocol or even using any viable data to back up his claims (claims which should not be even present in a review mind you!) . That's my main issue, he masks his intentions with colorful wording which tends to lead the reader into believing he is being rigorously scientific with his essay when in reality he not only injects personal theory into the fold but discredits the authors with fallacious remarks (the price of the book, the fact it is overly scientific, the fact the results are contaminated because of the french who removed all traces of plaster over night)....

 

Nagyvary has contradicted himself and back-tracked on his findings more than a few times. I question if he himself knows what he's talking about, let alone anyone else.

 

The final proof is in the end result. Besides, I believe he already claimed to have unraveled the Cremonese varnish puzzle. If so, why would he even bother to offer comment on this book?

 

There you go...

 

I think this is somewhat naive.

 

You are free to think as you like! I am after all nothing more than a patronizing wanker correct?

 

I don't think anyone has claimed that the machines lie. But wasn't it Bruce Tai (PhD in chemistry) who has talked about the varying capabilities of different tests when it comes to detecting certain substances? And that the presence some substances can mask the presence of others?

 

And isn't some human interpretation of the results required, many times? For instance, if they find silicon, does that tell  you whether it was deliberately added in mineral form, or could it be an artifact of some plant which was used? (I'm not a chemist, so maybe that particular example doesn't hold up, but I think you get the idea).

 

Also, doesn't some of the interpretation rely on the database of samples they have (or choose) to compare to? Aren't some of their conclusions based on "a most likely fit", as opposed to being infallible? Do they have a sample for comparison of what is absolutely known to be 300-year-old linseed oil, prepared the way Stradivari did, and reacted with other ingredients the way he may have done? (Again, maybe that particular example won't hold up)

 

Mr David, I do not mean to sound like a droid worshiper, or a technology freak with images of electron microscopes by my bed side but...

The spectrometer used was very precise, as in it analyzes on a quantative (almost) molecular level with everything popping up including trace material and by products. Again the problem with said accuracy has less to do with the machine itself and more to do with tampering of samples and incomplete amounts tested. You would need an entire violin mapped and tested to fully understand every bit of varnish as well as possibly technique used, they're working with splinters and very small and varied types of splinters at most.

 

As hard as it may seem (and I am not being patronizing), violin varnish unless it contains some unknown compound from outer space or was indeed produced by supernatural beings unknown to science is not a terribly difficult subject to work with. The issue lies with the amount of sample material and it's varied nature. Essentially you are looking at a corpse from a crime scene under investigation and you only allow the forensic team to study minute fragments of certain and very remote areas, the problem is not with the equipment but with the material.

 

From what I've read, to understand Nagyvary is know a) he believes Stradivari instruments have a special tonal quality that exceeds all others and b that the reason this is so is largely because of the qualities of varnish that Stradivari applied. This is an unshakable article of faith with him, and the result is that all of his scientific conclusions support an a priori established belief. His review is best read in this context therefore.

 

He seems to be looking for what he wants to see and not to be looking at the complete picture. I personally was taught to be wary of conclusions based on personal preference and to always analyze problems with both an open mind and a clear technique which should never have biased theories based on very little evidence mixed in. I have a serious problem with his mixing of acoustic properties of varnish being correlated all at once with optical characteristics, it's way too much stuff being interlinked for my taste as no one has scratched the surface enough for any sort of correlation to be optained!

 

John,

 

What is the reference to Echard's 50:50 determination?

 

For those who are interested, Brandmair's 80:20 is explained on p. 74, f. 19.

 

Mike

 

There you go folks.

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The problem with Mr. Nagyvary's review is essentially that he is not reviewing anything or even following any sort of proper protocol or even using any viable data to back up his claims (claims which should not be even present in a review mind you!) . That's my main issue, he masks his intentions with colorful wording which tends to lead the reader into believing he is being rigorously scientific with his essay when in reality he not only injects personal theory into the fold but discredits the authors with fallacious remarks (the price of the book, the fact it is overly scientific, the fact the results are contaminated because of the french who removed all traces of plaster over night)....

 

.

 

 

Read the "review" properly instead of pursuing your *own* personal agenda. He actually strongly defends the price of the book and criticises those who baulk at paying it.

To the best of my knowledge, the book in question was not formally peer reviewed - as I see it Nagyvary's article is an attempt to provoke discussion on the work and not to slap it down.

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Read the "review" properly instead of pursuing your *own* personal agenda. He actually strongly defends the price of the book and criticises those who baulk at paying it.

To the best of my knowledge, the book in question was not formally peer reviewed - as I see it Nagyvary's article is an attempt to provoke discussion on the work and not to slap it down.

 

I have no personal agenda lol I continue to disagree with his "review" for all the reasons stated.

 

Have you actually read his review or are you choosing not to reference his injection of theory into it? He discusses the results and chooses to defend his personal theory various times when he isn't happy with the results they presented.

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I have no personal agenda lol I continue to disagree with his "review" for all the reasons stated.

 

Have you actually read his review or are you choosing not to reference his injection of theory into it? He discusses the results and chooses to defend his personal theory various times when he isn't happy with the results they presented.

But you just made a statement regarding his opinion of the price of the book that is demonstrably incorrect.

What is your opinion on his statement about the indistinguishability of various resins in FTIR spectroscopy?

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But you just made a statement regarding his opinion of the price of the book that is demonstrably incorrect.

What is your opinion on his statement about the indistinguishability of various resins in FTIR spectroscopy?

 

I believe this is the strongest statement.   I have been suspicious of this colophoney fad from the beginning.  If there is calcium or other metals in it.... that is ok.  It may indicate metal rosinates such as MIchelmann liked in the beginning.  (1947)  Except that he had the bad idea of not cooking them.

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But you just made a statement regarding his opinion of the price of the book that is demonstrably incorrect.

What is your opinion on his statement about the indistinguishability of various resins in FTIR spectroscopy?

 

When reviewing in a fashion that is suitable for a scientific journal one does not reference multiple times the "price" of said research...

 

My response - When FTIR results are not sufficiently clear when dealing with resins (or paint for that matter), microscopic analysis ensues, if you require less subjective means of ruling out errors, further instrumental analysis may be performed, example - elemental analysis by SEM/EDX.

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When reviewing in a fashion that is suitable for a scientific journal one does not reference multiple times the "price" of said research...

 

My response - When FTIR results are not sufficiently clear when dealing with resins (or paint for that matter), microscopic analysis ensues, if you require less subjective means of ruling out errors, further instrumental analysis may be performed, example - elemental analysis by SEM/EDX.

I won't bother with the first point (which is just silly) but regarding the second, was the follow-up work you suggest (or similar) carried out by the authors of the Strad book?

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That, and I thought he said it isn't scientifically rigorous enough. Unfortunately (acc. to N.), the methods used were not even explained in detail sufficient to know if the ratio of oil & colophony found is likely to be accurate...or even if they were looking at only colophony. What N. definitely did not say was that the book was too scientific. Lusitano, I understand English is not your first language, and please don't take this as a snipey comment. Just trying to clarify a small bit of what the piece actually suggested.

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I won't bother with the first point (which is just silly) but regarding the second, was the follow-up work you suggest (or similar) carried out by the authors of the Strad book?

 

Would you like specifics? I would ask Mr Joe Robson and Mr Hargrave what the researchers told them as I was not part of the team who did said research :)

 

Good that you decided not to bother with the first point!

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That, and I thought he said it isn't scientifically rigorous enough. Unfortunately, the methods used were not even explained in detail sufficient to know if the ratio of oil & colophony found is likely to be accurate...or even if they were looking at only colophony. What N. definitely did not say was that the book was too scientific. Lusitano, I understand English is not your first language, and please don't take this as a snipey comment. Just trying to clarify a small bit of what the piece actually suggested.

 

No problem whatsoever and thank you, I do hope you did not take my initial comment as patronizing as that was not my intention. I just really do not like people not being told the full story, it's extremely easy to fall pray to the "I have discovered the secret" sort of conversations, it's the plague contaminating everything violin related and I find it does a disservice to readers who really are interested and open minded.

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Would you like specifics? I would ask Mr Joe Robson and Mr Hargrave what the researchers told them as I was not part of the team who did said research :)

 

 

But you are happy to conclude that their findings are absolutely definitive and beyond question?

Presumably because "machines don't lie"?

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Read the "review" properly instead of pursuing your *own* personal agenda. He actually strongly defends the price of the book and criticises those who baulk at paying it.

To the best of my knowledge, the book in question was not formally peer reviewed - as I see it Nagyvary's article is an attempt to provoke discussion on the work and not to slap it down.

Books are not peer reviewed.  Book chapters in the form of journal articles may be peer reviewed or just reviewed by the editor.  Journal articles are of course peer reviewed.  Reports can have a review process that continues until all stake-holders are convinced that the findings of the report are valid.

 

What does peer reviewed mean?  To me, it is a way of saying that the information is believable.  However, just because a journal article is peer reviewed does not mean the information is either believable or meaningful.  If you are an expert in the subject matter you are able to judge for yourself.  Others will need some form of validation.

 

An example for reports (one of mine actually); if what I write is true the clean up costs will be very high and there may be liabilities (not my problem).  So the report was severely reviewed "in house" before going to the two main stakeholders.  The stakeholders then sent the report to their subject matter experts to validate the findings. If the "experts" are not satisfied, the report comes back to me, or if the "experts" validate the findings then decision makers decide what to do about it. 

 

For a peer reviewed article validation occurs on a couple of levels.  First what is the ranking or impact factor of the journal?  For example, the bar is pretty high to get published in top journals (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine) whereas some will publish complaete garbage (IMO).  Then articles are validated through time based on how often they are cited by other authors.

 

Books have a more fuzzy validation process.  Books are validated over time by the users of the book.  However, communication is often poor among users so the process is slow.  For example, how long did it take before users of Sacconni's book voice doubts on the validity of the varnish chapter.  Having a review article written about a book is a huge step for this book because it's being discussed and the information scrutinized. 

 

No book, report, or article is perfect.  If deficiencies are discovered great!  It gives direction for futher research.

 

Carry on :) ,

Jim

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Books are not peer reviewed.  Book chapters in the form of journal articles may be peer reviewed or just reviewed by the editor.  Journal articles are of course peer reviewed.  Reports can have a review process that continues until all stake-holders are convinced that the findings of the report are valid.

 

What does peer reviewed mean?  To me, it is a way of saying that the information is believable.  However, just because a journal article is peer reviewed does not mean the information is either believable or meaningful.  If you are an expert in the subject matter you are able to judge for yourself.  Others will need some form of validation.

 

An example for reports (one of mine actually); if what I write is true the clean up costs will be very high and there may be liabilities (not my problem).  So the report was severely reviewed "in house" before going to the two main stakeholders.  The stakeholders then sent the report to their subject matter experts to validate the findings. If the "experts" are not satisfied, the report comes back to me, or if the "experts" validate the findings then decision makers decide what to do about it. 

 

For a peer reviewed article validation occurs on a couple of levels.  First what is the ranking or impact factor of the journal?  For example, the bar is pretty high to get published in top journals (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine) whereas some will publish complaete garbage (IMO).  Then articles are validated through time based on how often they are cited by other authors.

 

Books have a more fuzzy validation process.  Books are validated over time by the users of the book.  However, communication is often poor among users so the process is slow.  For example, how long did it take before users of Sacconni's book voice doubts on the validity of the varnish chapter.  Having a review article written about a book is a huge step for this book because it's being discussed and the information scrutinized. 

 

No book, report, or article is perfect.  If deficiencies are discovered great!  It gives direction for futher research.

 

Carry on :) ,

Jim

 

Great post !

 

The issue I have with Mr Nagyvary is that he states he wrote his review with standards equivalent to those used in scientific publications while injecting his own theories and making reference to possible issues without actually having information to back up his claims. There was no counter experiment to verify his counter theories, some of which are in direct oposition to what has been reported as of late and is included in the book he is referencing...

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.  Having a review article written about a book is a huge step for this book because it's being discussed and the information scrutinized. 

 

No book, report, or article is perfect.  If deficiencies are discovered great!  It gives direction for futher research.

 

Carry on :) ,

Jim

My position exactly.

( i've reviewed countless papers and grant applications by the way, so you're preaching to the choir :) ).

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But you are happy to conclude that their findings are absolutely definitive and beyond question?

Presumably because "machines don't lie"?

 

I have 2 options, to believe in the book's contents or to believe the oposing theory presented by Mr. Nagyvary.

 

Seeing as the most recente research was conducted with an array of sample Mr N did not have access to and is much more recent... I am inclined to believe in what the spectrographic evidence tells me. Is it perfect? No, as I said before the lack of sample quantity and quality is evident but it's a lot firmer than what Mr N presented. Am I wrong in taking into account his past "revelations" and contradictions?!

 

One does not boast anything but what was found, another claimed to have solved the mystery of stradivarius varnish genius and included acoustical properties into the fold which did not hold water...

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