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


Mike_Danielson
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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...

Yes, because whatever your opinion may be of his track record, he raises points in his article that I think are worthy of discussion. The outcome of these discussions may well show his reservations about the B/G work to be groundless, but if the discussion takes place we will hopefully have learned something. No-one will learn anything from ad hominem dismissal of any possibility that he may have a point. Or maybe even two  :).

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I enjoy and value reviews in which the author does not just catalogue the contents of the material, but injects opinions, especially when they relate to the continuum of methods ->data-> interpretation.

 

Hopefully, I would have enough neurones to contextualise the information presented.

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Nagy in a very early VSA  article was convinced  the Cremonese varnish was made from butterfly wings. His later articles had the same "this is it" mode. He knew who is readers are(?), and any decent writer would have used the standard used in scientific writing that you at least once describe anything of question for your level of readers. One good thing he did was having an associate analyze old varnish as just what could be found as elements and compounds, whatever was there as I recall.

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Nagy in a very early VSA  article was convinced  the Cremonese varnish was made from butterfly wings. His later articles had the same "this is it" mode. He knew who is readers are(?), and any decent writer would have used the standard used in scientific writing that you at least once describe anything of question for your level of readers. One good thing he did was having an associate analyze old varnish as just what could be found as elements and compounds, whatever was there as I recall.

 

That is my main issue with his review, he says he is reviewing the book with scientific rigor yet he follows none of the norms or guidelines, had he said he was giving an opinion things would have been different but apparently he doesn't like giving opinions, he likes eureka filled affirmations . Finally someone agrees!

 

Why do you have only two options?

Do you also see all colors as only black and white?

 

There are numerous "problems" and questions as well as aspects of composition and application methods in need of illumination, I am referring to 2 specific trains of thought coupled with evidence, both are specific yet contradictory to one another. Between them I choose to believe in the most recent analysis. 

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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...

Many seem to have misconstrued what a good scientific review should be.  One does not need to reference everything in citing possible errors.  Scientific reviews for many journals are frequently anonymous, and the issue for the original authors is to address at some level the criticisms, either via more experiements, rewording, citing additional studies, etc.

 

On first reading, I did not see Navygary's injection of a lot of bias, but, reviewers (usually 3 in a scientific article process) will always have some bias; that's what serves as a counterpoint to the article's authors.  I too have read hundreds of reviews, and perhaps thousands of articles...My experience in modern scientific research varies markedly from some of what has proffered here..

 

Finally, though the methods used may be state of the art, sample preparation, bias in selection of samples (or availability), and calibration all play a part in interpretation of the results. So "Yes," machines, even sophisticated, carefully set up machines, may "lie."  As someone who has done lots of spectroscopy - IR, UV, UV fluorescence, stopped flow, GC-MS, AA (flame ionization), and too much TEM, etc. the results are not always clear cut.  As pointed out, certain absorption spectra may overlap, partly because that's what related chemical groups do, and especially so because of contaminents (french polishing, touch-up, etc., never mind sample preparation).  One does not obtain a list of ingredients; you see peaks and troughs, and signatures that indicate presence of elements, chemical groups, etc.

 

What I think many are missing here, is that science looks at data one way, and MNers, and most violinists w/o scientific training (and some maestronetters with scientific training, but not spectroscopy experience) another.  I don't find the differences irreconcilable, as there is a gulf between what would answer the question and what is presented and sample obtainable, but the questioning of what seems to me to be good criticism, tainted with somewhat personal digs, has been unwarranted.  I understand the digs and personal criticism is based on past history, but reading only the book review, it seems like this book review is more than a step in the right direction.

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True enough, if read that way it is there, although I also see a genuine respect for the work that was done. The devil's in what he did not say...i.e., "what a massive organizational effort" rather than "what a powerhouse of good science and analysis". But if he is right the attitude would be warranted imo. When a real field day opportunity comes up I have often taken it in my own writing because it has to be done but also because it's enjoyable for both myself and any potential readers. Did anyone here not read what N. wrote, mutter some curse word and read it again immediately? I bet you did, regardless of your opinion of him. :)

Unfortunately most readers of N's analysis/review are not in a position to know if his criticisms are accurate. And yet everything else I have seen & heard on this book hails a cutting edge standard B & G brought to the fore of violin books. Everything seems to depend on whether the authors acknowledge the points N. made. It's not as though they don't know about this, is it...

Silence is acceptance, qui tacet consentit, etc.

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Many seem to have misconstrued what a good scientific review should be.  One does not need to reference everything in citing possible errors.  Scientific reviews for many journals are frequently anonymous, and the issue for the original authors is to address at some level the criticisms, either via more experiements, rewording, citing additional studies, etc.

 

On first reading, I did not see Navygary's injection of a lot of bias, but, reviewers (usually 3 in a scientific article process) will always have some bias; that's what serves as a counterpoint to the article's authors.  I too have read hundreds of reviews, and perhaps thousands of articles...My experience in modern scientific research varies markedly from some of what has proffered here..

 

Finally, though the methods used may be state of the art, sample preparation, bias in selection of samples (or availability), and calibration all play a part in interpretation of the results. So "Yes," machines, even sophisticated, carefully set up machines, may "lie."  As someone who has done lots of spectroscopy - IR, UV, UV fluorescence, stopped flow, GC-MS, AA (flame ionization), and too much TEM, etc. the results are not always clear cut.  As pointed out, certain absorption spectra may overlap, partly because that's what related chemical groups do, and especially so because of contaminents (french polishing, touch-up, etc., never mind sample preparation).  One does not obtain a list of ingredients; you see peaks and troughs, and signatures that indicate presence of elements, chemical groups, etc.

 

What I think many are missing here, is that science looks at data one way, and MNers, and most violinists w/o scientific training (and some maestronetters with scientific training, but not spectroscopy experience) another.  I don't find the differences irreconcilable, as there is a gulf between what would answer the question and what is presented and sample obtainable, but the questioning of what seems to me to be good criticism, tainted with somewhat personal digs, has been unwarranted.  I understand the digs and personal criticism is based on past history, but reading only the book review, it seems like this book review is more than a step in the right direction.

Those with the theories can rarely do anything themselves.  This isn't a shot at you I33, just seems the makers are doing their thing first and the materials being used are scientifically tested later by whomever.  If the answers are always the same, why?

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Those with the theories can rarely do anything themselves.  This isn't a shot at you I33, just seems the makers are doing their thing first and the materials being used are scientifically tested later by whomever.  If the answers are always the same, why?

 

The answers are lacking and no where near absolute. It's a start but at least light has been shed.

 

As Mr Hargrave often says "Give 10 violin makers a butterscotch recipe and see 10 different butterscotchs be made", the goal is not to get a clear cut imperial recipe but rather knowledge which can allow luthiers and the general community to benefit from said recipe.

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

 

He also has a PhD in chemistry of course,  Jusf as Dr. Lee has.   He ought to be able to make an accurate statement here after years of study.  (I expect that you agree with this.)  From previous graphs,  I see that there are di-terpenes and tri-terpenes (in lesser quantites) and so one may not be looking at an entire molecule in these cases.  Or even entire sub-molecules in a polymer.

 

I forget,  did the book find "driers" ?  I put in quotes because these metals may be bonded to the rosin.  Rosinates as I mentioned in another post...  In the past,  I found that lead oxide could be incorporated in the Fulton varnish as could zinc and calcium oxides.  The lead/fulton varnish was the only one that truely dried for me.  And clearly the lead was not present in metalic form. Any such metal ion could scoop up the COOH acid radical on rosin and perhaps this does not change a "finding" of rosin.   I am not a physical chemist.  In fact,  I am not a chemist at all.  I know just enough to ask these questions. So what about rosinates ?

 

All the coatings industry agrees that limed rosin is better than just plain rosin ..  Also the trigyliceride form of rosin,  which they call "ester gum."  Of course, what is an inferior resin to the semi-modern coatings industry my not be what violin makers want,  with the poor adhesion of the Strad varnish.

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Welcome 133, I'll stick to my point that there are very few MN members who understand much of  his abbreviated terminology, and MN readers would have gotten a lot more from it  with some brief explanations as you did describing your field of research. Nice to have you and Lusitano members with such expertise for you all will be busy when we finally receive the book. 

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JIM BRESS ::::::   """""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.

 

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.""""

 

Are there even enough workers to establish a "peer group?"  Most experimenters are amateur chemists and are not primarily focused on actual chemistry investigations.

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John, usually peer review is another way to say the paper was edited, I think. In Nagy's publication I look at it as a "review" of a published source, good or bad comments, and it doesn't have to be specific to the paper and could wander as far as the reviewer wants to go.

 

Re rosinates, I'm a believer in the use of umber as a drier and colorant with rosin, especially when you know the umbers that many artists desired came from Leghorn, Italy, so its presence was well known. Lead (litharge) is a slow drier, no color unless an organic stain is used. Copper colors, I think,  eventually goes to the black cupric oxide. Maybe like iron, if another metal isn't present (like manganese in umber) it will keep changing color. Don't know much about copper and would like to know personal experiences using it with cooking rosin. There are many advantages to added metals, reduced acidity, higher melting point, color, drier for the added oil, and others. I don't think MN members are aware how complex rosin is and it has to be prepared before it is used, low long heat, exposure to air, metals. Re liming, there really is no value for inst varnish for you are not taking advantage of its ablity to color. Limed rosin is sold as a low cost varnish called Gloss Oil, used where you don't want to spend much money.

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  Don't know much about copper and would like to know personal experiences using it with cooking rosin. There are many advantages to added metals, reduced acidity, higher melting point, color, drier for the added oil, and others. I don't think MN members are aware how complex rosin is and it has to be prepared before it is used, low long heat, exposure to air, metals. Re liming, there really is no value for inst varnish for you are not taking advantage of its ablity to color. Limed rosin is sold as a low cost varnish called Gloss Oil, used where you don't want to spend much money.

Copper produces a greenish color when cooked with un-neutralized rosin. You can see examples of this green on soldered copper pipes where a rosin flux (or some other type of acid flux) has been used.

 

Yes, limed rosin combined with oil has been sold as a cheap varnish, but without being neutralized somewhat, it's even a worse varnish.

If one wants to use rosin as an ingredient, I would highly recommend taking it in the direction of a more neutral ph by some means. Without that, the varnish film can go downhill very quickly, in a non-Cremonese and unattractive way, in my experience.

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Personally, in that review, between the words of polite geniality I detect an underlying tone of condescension and derision.

Amen. Nagyvay's PhD is in BIOchemistry, not analytical. As far as I know, he did none of the analytical work for his own publications, but that doesn't keep him from questioning others' work. I, too, have extensive experience with almost everything mentioned by 133tplaya plus HPLC, capillary electrophoresis, thermal analysis and others. I agree that there MAY have been better methods/interpretations/etc. for the job if there were no limitations on the samples. However, I was not involved (nor was Dr. N) and therefore do not feel qualified to critique the book. I also do not feel that the authors owe Dr. N any reply whatsoever.

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John, usually peer review is another way to say the paper was edited, I think. In Nagy's publication I look at it as a "review" of a published source, good or bad comments, and it doesn't have to be specific to the paper and could wander as far as the reviewer wants to go.

 

Re rosinates, I'm a believer in the use of umber as a drier and colorant with rosin, especially when you know the umbers that many artists desired came from Leghorn, Italy, so its presence was well known. Lead (litharge) is a slow drier, no color unless an organic stain is used. Copper colors, I think,  eventually goes to the black cupric oxide. Maybe like iron, if another metal isn't present (like manganese in umber) it will keep changing color. Don't know much about copper and would like to know personal experiences using it with cooking rosin. There are many advantages to added metals, reduced acidity, higher melting point, color, drier for the added oil, and others. I don't think MN members are aware how complex rosin is and it has to be prepared before it is used, low long heat, exposure to air, metals. Re liming, there really is no value for inst varnish for you are not taking advantage of its ablity to color. Limed rosin is sold as a low cost varnish called Gloss Oil, used where you don't want to spend much money.

Yes,  about rosinates.  i simply wanted to point out that a rosinate is suddenly different from rosin.  I think you are wrong about the color business.  I mean you are right about the color,  but still the calcium rosinate is superior to the rosin itself.  Otherwise they would use rosin pure,  and not calcium rosinate for gloss oil.

 

I know that color considerations dominate the varnish discussion.  That is why I separated the issues into film-building with thin glazes.  So far as film building goes,  Ace spar is a good medium-oil varnish.  But it may be too good for those who want chippy color coats.  So I think it is likely completely adequate for a couple clear coats over filler.  The total can be considered the "ground"..  And you don't want it to come off at all. 

 

I wasn't going to say this,  but I am in a good mood after some successful plumbing.....  If you use emulsions (oil in water) you can mix silex (Colloidal silica)  into the water phase.  The film then will hold anything on.  Silicon bonds are very strong.  You can do lean over fat,  no problem.  Glazes can be spirit varnishes.  You may be able to put the silex directly into the oil varnish,  I have not tried that.

 

The iron compounds such as the ochres will darken and I think you should avoid the copper.  I never got any decent copper rosinates.  I think umber is a mix of something and iron.   I will look it up.

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John, umber, copper, tin calcium, lead all form resonates . Umbers have the advantage that they contain manganese, the top drier, so the iron that gives the varnish its reddish brown color is stabile. I have no evidence for this but believe this is why the color is stable. If you use lime,  you are getting the same results as metals, but no color. The metal is cooked with the rosin to make the resinate as you would with lime. For 10g of raw linseed oil, 15g of rosin, I squeeze out of a tube of umber anything from 1/4- 1 inch, cook it up to a foam, cool and add turp. Just want to comment, sodium, potassium, calcium with linseed oil all make a soap, calcium soap is not as soluble as the others.

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In general this discussion seems to mirror the internal tension in the Stradivari Varnish book.  M. Brandmair having done an excellent analysis is strong in her descriptions but always wanting to stick to the observations and avoid speculation.  M. Greiner as a maker has a different agenda and a different skill set as an observer. 

I want to thank Lusitano and several others [from the science side] who have helped me to understand the analysis and answered questions based on the behavior of the materials we are observing.  For a non-scientist like myself it is important to understand more than I can observe. However this does not negate the value of my trained observations.

Joe

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In general this discussion seems to mirror the internal tension in the Stradivari Varnish book.  M. Brandmair having done an excellent analysis is strong in her descriptions but always wanting to stick to the observations and avoid speculation.  M. Greiner as a maker has a different agenda and a different skill set as an observer. 

I want to thank Lusitano and several others [from the science side] who have helped me to understand the analysis and answered questions based on the behavior of the materials we are observing.  For a non-scientist like myself it is important to understand more than I can observe. However this does not negate the value of my trained observations.

Joe

 

 

To amplify Joe's comments, when I helped facilitate their trip to England to look at violins in the Ashmolean, it was extremely clear that the book was intended to come from both of these sides, with the risk of tension - because in the end, that seemed the best way of producing a book of universal value. I think it was a brave and very commendable decision.

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JIM BRESS ::::::   """""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.

 

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.""""

 

Are there even enough workers to establish a "peer group?"  Most experimenters are amateur chemists and are not primarily focused on actual chemistry investigations.

 

For journal articles the answer is no.  Most doctoral students in the sciences are required to have a number of published papers before they are allowed to defend their thesis.  Publication is also mandatory for University teachers trying to earn tenure and become Professors.  There is also a lot of pressure on those earning/earned their Masters degree to publish to bolster their CV to get work.  That's a lot of submitted papers.

 

Because of all these papers striving for publication there are an ever increasing number of journals.  I get two or three new journals a week asking if I would like to subscribe or publish an article through them (they all go to the spam folder).  Typically the editor screens the submitted articles for which ones will be reviewed.  Then the editor has to solicit reviewers to review it.  The reviewers (speaking for myself) are not paid, have a full load from their job, and are given a limited time (2 to 3 weeks) to critique and write up a review and send it back to the editor.  If I am asked to review a paper by the Journal of Ecology and the Journal of "too new to even have an impact factor score", I will choose the better journal.  It follows that the more obscure the journal is the less qualified the reviewers are that the editor is able to convince to review an the article.  It's also a lot more exciting reading a well written article, and a lot more likely to encounter that article in one of the better journals.

 

I give myself 10 hours to review a journal article, and I never take more than two articles at any given time.  At work I am paid to review scientific reports and I am given as much time as I say I need.  These reports are well reviewed on multiple levels.

 

Books are reviewed on MN and may actually have too many reviewers (Just kidding).  :lol:  

 

-Jim

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 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. 

We must realize that the old Cremonese varnish is no longer reproducible.

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