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Karin

carrying power

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Is there a way to estimate the carryig power of an istrument when having only a small room to test the instrument?

When making a violin what aspects are to consider when volume is most important?

 

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When making a violin what aspects are to consider when volume is most important?

 

I'd say use a large body size and really good wood (high stiffness, medium density or a bit less), and keeping things on the light side too.

This is more targeted to loudness/volume rather than carrying power and projection, which I don't consider to be the same thing.  A big-sounding, loud instrument might not be the best at creating a clear, well-defined, projecting sound.

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1.Is there a way to estimate the carryig power of an istrument when having only a small room to test the instrument?

2. When making a violin what aspects are to consider when volume is most important?

 

1. No

 

2. No idea.

 

You can always take the violin outdoors. It won't help much though.

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Has anyone ever really defined "carrying power?"  To me it is one of those terms we toss around without having an agreed-to definition.

 

Has anyone really ever been in a hall where a violin couldn't be heard in the back row if played by itself?  I doubt it.  But the same violin can be lost in the midst of 100 other instruments being blown and sawed and beaten by enthusiastic and well meaning associates.

 

I can understand a violin's tone having a character which distinguishes itself from the instruments around it. But does that same character also effect what we hear from the back row?  Or is it just a matter of decibels?

 

If we didn't know better we'd think that a loud violin would be heard farther away than a quieter one.  And MAYBE that's true;  have there been any tests?  But evidently loudness per se isn't the factor that we need.  Most people seem to agree that violins noticeably loud under the ear don't serve well as "concert violins."

 

Sacconi gives that great story of the 'cellist who brought his new instrument and his Strad for an empty hall test.  (Page 106, "The 'Secrets' of Stradivari")  From the back row the new 'cello sounded focused and fine but the Strad sounded as if the tone was coming from behind the listener.  It was like an "aural illusion."  The question of course arises:  What, if anything, does this prove? Sacconi implies it is a good thing.

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That is really an excellent question. I think it might be the instrument's ability to produce more output in the 1 to 3 Khz range when worked hard. This particular band of frequencies do not sound very pleasant on their own, but they will tend to cut through all the other riff raff.

 

The human brain has the ability to reconstruct weak or missing fundamentals as a sort of psycho-acoustic effect. An example is recorded bass guitar often has the fundamental suppressed to prevent muddying up the bottom end of the mix, but boosting the upper harmonics between 300 to 800 Hz can make the bass sound quite loud and provide definition. Our brain reconstitutes the missing low frequencies to provide the perception of a strong, solid bass.

 

I believe a similar thing is happening within the spectrum of a violin.

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There were some loudness and projection tests done at the 2016 Oberlin Acoustics Workshop.  A blind projection test was done in Warner Hall in which distant listeners in the Hall and the players ranked violins for loudness and it was found that the player's perception of loudness had only a 0.6 correlation with the distant listeners.

 

So the loudness to the player is indeed a poor predictor of a violin's distant projection ability as is often mentioned.

 

The test also included a group of listeners who were seated very close to the players (about 2 or 3 meters) behind an acoustically transparent screen.  In this case that close group had a 0.94 correlation with the distant listeners which is pretty good.

 

So the good news is that you don't have to have a large hall to do projection tests.  A relatively short distance to a listener is adequate.

 

 

Tests measuring the frequency response curves for the various violins were done but a report relating those curves to projection ability has not yet been published.  But my impression from the people doing the tests was that a violin should be loud over its entire frequency spectrum.

 

Or to be politically incorrect:   All frequencies matter.

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...So the good news is that you don't have to have a large hall to do projection tests.  A relatively short distance to a listener is adequate.

 

... my impression from the people doing the tests was that a violin should be loud over its entire frequency spectrum.

Or to be politically incorrect:   All frequencies matter.

 

I would question whether a short distance in a large hall is the same as a short distance in a small room.  I would guess it to be similar, but this one test is not conclusive on that aspect.

 

I too would guess that projection is more related to full-spectrum response rather than more amplitude, as there seems that there should be a physical limit to getting amplitude, but less limitation in getting amplitude from more frequencies.

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A small room is going to have more comb filtering in the frequencies of interest due to the smaller dimensions, close parallel walls and a low ceiling; this creates phase cancellations due to the reflected waves interfering with the direct propagated waves.

 

A large hall designed for acoustic quality has non-parallel walls and ceiling with dampening to minimize these problems.

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A large hall will have higher room modal density in the lower frequencies than a small room. A small room, however, will give denser reflections in the time domain due to smaller travelling distance for the sound waves between source and receiver.

Most pepole are able to recognize voices in different room environments. I think this carries over to musical sounds too, to some extent. The characteristivs of loudspeakers are usually by trained listeners heard through the room response, as shown by tests done at Harman.

Comb filter effects are heard easily using broadband noise if louspeakers are close to a reflecting surface, but will be much more difficult to perceive for steady state musical sounds, which are "comb shaped" by itself. Comb filtering matter for percussion due to its broadband character, but I think to a lesser degree for, say, violin music.

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I like the Heifetz recording of the cut version of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy on U-tube.   I think he could do anything of course,  and one thing he could do was play something "loudly" and energentically without it having the drama of "loud."   Is that a player's skill that could make a violin project better?

 

Of course,  with less noise in the hall,  an interesting player would carry better.   Also if they could play "undramatic loud"  as I have said.

 

"Undramatic loud"  is what you get when you turn up the radio in a quite passage... 

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I like the Heifetz recording of the cut version of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy on U-tube.

 

In following your tip, I also discovered "Violinmaker Hans Benning Remembers Violinist Jascha Heifetz". Hans describes his 15 years servicing Heifetz's dG. Charming and insightful.

The last bit on the memorial concert where others played the dG touches on the players role in projection.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LUv_Tq3MGU

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Is there a way to estimate the carryig power of an istrument when having only a small room to test the instrument?

When making a violin what aspects are to consider when volume is most important?

 

I do my testing in a small room open to my living room which is overly furnished and has carpets and would be considered acoustically dead.  The small room is lined with book shelves on all three sides and I believe the books of various sizes act as very good sound absorbers.  So I don't think I have any problems with sound reflections and room resonances affecting my violin loudness testing.

 

Some of my books are on physics, acoustics, and engineering but I have not noticed that they work any better than the gardening, art, wine or fiction books.  This proves science isn't all that helpful for violin making.

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In following your tip, I also discovered "Violinmaker Hans Benning Remembers Violinist Jascha Heifetz". Hans describes his 15 years servicing Heifetz's dG. Charming and insightful.

The last bit on the memorial concert where others played the dG touches on the players role in projection.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LUv_Tq3MGU

Thanks very much,  I loved it.  And yes,  I think the player can make it "different."  I don't think that anyone had Heifetz' dynamic range.  Too many people want a "Strad" or "del Gesu."   It won't MAKE them.

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I do my testing in a small room open to my living room which is overly furnished and has carpets and would be considered acoustically dead.  The small room is lined with book shelves on all three sides and I believe the books of various sizes act as very good sound absorbers.  So I don't think I have any problems with sound reflections and room resonances affecting my violin loudness testing.

 

Some of my books are on physics, acoustics, and engineering but I have not noticed that they work any better than the gardening, art, wine or fiction books.  This proves science isn't all that helpful for violin making.

Does not "prove."  depends on what you mean by "science" I suppose.   I know you have some science (physics?) background,  but you may not have considered ALL possible questions.  I have what I think is a GOOD question,  and I do not know that it is of the sort that has been looked into although it would have serious implications in architecture and civil engineering generally.

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Has anyone ever really defined "carrying power?"  To me it is one of those terms we toss around without having an agreed-to definition.

 

Has anyone really ever been in a hall where a violin couldn't be heard in the back row if played by itself?  I doubt it.  But the same violin can be lost in the midst of 100 other instruments being blown and sawed and beaten by enthusiastic and well meaning associates.

 

I can understand a violin's tone having a character which distinguishes itself from the instruments around it. But does that same character also effect what we hear from the back row?  Or is it just a matter of decibels?

 

If we didn't know better we'd think that a loud violin would be heard farther away than a quieter one.  And MAYBE that's true;  have there been any tests?  But evidently loudness per se isn't the factor that we need.  Most people seem to agree that violins noticeably loud under the ear don't serve well as "concert violins."

 

Sacconi gives that great story of the 'cellist who brought his new instrument and his Strad for an empty hall test.  (Page 106, "The 'Secrets' of Stradivari")  From the back row the new 'cello sounded focused and fine but the Strad sounded as if the tone was coming from behind the listener.  It was like an "aural illusion."  The question of course arises:  What, if anything, does this prove? Sacconi implies it is a good thing.

I'm sure we all have our favorite stories of projection. Mine was hearing Nigel Kennedy some years ago in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall (not famous, sadly, for its acoustics) playing with (in every sense) the SSO. We were up the back in the cheap seats and his del Gesu cut through and over everything. I had, and never have, heard anything like it. What particularly struck me was when he played the B double with the then leader of the SSO second violins - who was my youngest daughter's teacher at the time. Her instrument was a good one, and I was used to hearing it, but against Kennedy...

I figured at the time the fiddle was probably worth whatever it might cost. Of course, the person holding it is pretty important.

Regards,

Tim

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I do my testing in a small room open to my living room which is overly furnished and has carpets and would be considered acoustically dead.  The small room is lined with book shelves on all three sides and I believe the books of various sizes act as very good sound absorbers.  So I don't think I have any problems with sound reflections and room resonances affecting my violin loudness testing.

 

Some of my books are on physics, acoustics, and engineering but I have not noticed that they work any better than the gardening, art, wine or fiction books.  This proves science isn't all that helpful for violin making.

Hmm.. I don't know. Those fiction books may trick you.

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I do my testing in a small room open to my living room which is overly furnished and has carpets and would be considered acoustically dead.  The small room is lined with book shelves on all three sides and I believe the books of various sizes act as very good sound absorbers.  So I don't think I have any problems with sound reflections and room resonances affecting my violin loudness testing.

 

Some of my books are on physics, acoustics, and engineering but I have not noticed that they work any better than the gardening, art, wine or fiction books.  This proves science isn't all that helpful for violin making.

I forgot to mention that Oliver Rodgers used to do all his violin frequency analysis tests in his pick-up truck camper.  He had its interior lined with carpets and was very careful to have the violin played exactly in the same position and distance from his microphone for each test.

 

Once the microphone is moved about a meter away from the violin the near field sound cancellation effects have pretty much completed so you don't really need to get any farther away than that for loudness tests.

 

If the microphone is too close it is similar to what the player experiences--the violin might sound loud but it is uncertain whether or not the sound will carry far.

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