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How objective is projection?

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17 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Just thinking out loud again because I'm certainly not an expert in this field.  If you're talking about the projection of an instrument, then you are referring to that instruments projection, i.e., how far the sound travels.  Because blending or distinguishing your sound from an orchestra or ensemble is a moving target.  Higher frequencies decay faster than lower frequencies (from ornithological studies).  Therefore to quantify, projection you could record and graph open string bowing of each string at a close distance (e.g. 3rd row) and a far distance (back of the hall) and measure the rate of overtone decay over distance.  From here a qualitative ranking system could be developed.  An instrument that has a lower overtone decay rate would have greater projection, or carrying power, over an instrument of the same type that has a more rapid overtone decay rate.   Of course the decay rate would only apply to that venue, but it would be something for your records to compare to future instrument and something empirical to show potential clients.  Just my thoughts whether they're helpful or not, or even make sense.

-Jim

I very much agree that ornithological studies are helpful.

 

Birds want to be heard in their habitat.  The sound absorption characteristics of that environment determines the frequencies they use in their songs.  Some birds living in dense foliage use high frequency songs which decay quickly with distance. Their communication range to other birds is small.  

 

Other birds use lower frequency calls which aren’t absorbed as quickly in the foliage.  The projection is better and their range is larger.

 

Both bird species exist so both high and low frequency strategies can be successful.  If we consider mammal calls we see the same thing.  Chimpmunks use high pitch calls and have close by friends and elephants use tow pitch calls and their range is over twenty miles.  So projection distance is inversely related to frequency.  And obviously loudness helps.

 

But what I find fascinating is that these calls hardly ever have a constant frequency note.  There always seems to be a simultaneous slide in pitch, a vibrato, and change in loudness.  Variation seems to attract attention and gets noticed by a potential friend.

 

So switching back to violin projection I suspect that a large amount of spectrum change that happens during vibrato playing is helpful.  Loud is still good.  Having the right frequency output for the chosen environment is import. 

 

I don’t know how to do these.

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43 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I very much agree that ornithological studies are helpful.

 

Birds want to be heard in their habitat.  The sound absorption characteristics of that environment determines the frequencies they use in their songs.  Some birds living in dense foliage use high frequency songs which decay quickly with distance. Their communication range to other birds is small.  

 

Other birds use lower frequency calls which aren’t absorbed as quickly in the foliage.  The projection is better and their range is larger.

 

Both bird species exist so both high and low frequency strategies can be successful.  If we consider mammal calls we see the same thing.  Chimpmunks use high pitch calls and have close by friends and elephants use tow pitch calls and their range is over twenty miles.  So projection distance is inversely related to frequency.  And obviously loudness helps.

 

But what I find fascinating is that these calls hardly ever have a constant frequency note.  There always seems to be a simultaneous slide in pitch, a vibrato, and change in loudness.  Variation seems to attract attention and gets noticed by a potential friend.

 

So switching back to violin projection I suspect that a large amount of spectrum change that happens during vibrato playing is helpful.  Loud is still good.  Having the right frequency output for the chosen environment is import. 

 

I don’t know how to do these.

Wouldn't vibrato, and dynamics be part of the tools in the musicians tool box to improve performance.  However, I thought we were talking about how to objectively test the instrument not the player.  That's why I suggested open string bowings to keep things simple and limit variables. 

Birds came to mind with this topic because when I was mapping forest song bird territories I could tell the maximum distance a  bird could be by species.  The birds with the greatest projection (distance I could hear them) had either very high pitched songs (more overtones available to decay) or very low pitched songs (low decay rate).  The species between these two extremes had relatively short projection range.  BTW avian anatomy allows song birds to simultaneously sing in two different frequencies and modulate these frequencies independently.

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2 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Wouldn't vibrato, and dynamics be part of the tools in the musicians tool box to improve performance.  However, I thought we were talking about how to objectively test the instrument not the player.  That's why I suggested open string bowings to keep things simple and limit variables. 

Birds came to mind with this topic because when I was mapping forest song bird territories I could tell the maximum distance a  bird could be by species.  The birds with the greatest projection (distance I could hear them) had either very high pitched songs (more overtones available to decay) or very low pitched songs (low decay rate).  The species between these two extremes had relatively short projection range.  BTW avian anatomy allows song birds to simultaneously sing in two different frequencies and modulate these frequencies independently.

That's correct.  We want to test the instrument not the player.  I've noticed that some instruments seem to be respond differently to the same player vibrato finger movement.

Some instruments are sensitive and seem to have  large sound character changes with only a little movement and some players like this. They apparently like not having to put much effort into getting the amount of vibrato effect they want.

I'm  guessing that these differences in vibrato sensitives are caused by differences in their frequency response curves--the number, spacings, and amplitudes of resonance peaks and the depth of the valleys between them.  These in turn are dependent upon the geometry and material properties used and in particular I suspect the wood and varnish damping amount is important.

But I've never compared wet bird's song with a dry bird's song and maybe I'm all wet on this subject.

 

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

That's correct.  We want to test the instrument not the player.  I've noticed that some instruments seem to be respond differently to the same player vibrato finger movement.

Some instruments are sensitive and seem to have  large sound character changes with only a little movement and some players like this. They apparently like not having to put much effort into getting the amount of vibrato effect they want.

I'm  guessing that these differences in vibrato sensitives are caused by differences in their frequency response curves--the number, spacings, and amplitudes of resonance peaks and the depth of the valleys between them.  These in turn are dependent upon the geometry and material properties used and in particular I suspect the wood and varnish damping amount is important.

But I've never compared wet bird's song with a dry bird's song and maybe I'm all wet on this subject.

 

Lol, your trying to eat the entire elephant in one bite. :)  The violin (and family) is such a complicated beast and that's what makes it so interesting.  I don't have the experience or skill set to discuss what a good player can do.  

Wet birds are smart enough to wait until it stops raining to sing, while laughing at the poor Ecologist standing in the rain hoping the the weather will clear. <_<

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It is also tricky for the player,

On 3/8/2017 at 2:12 PM, gowan said:

I don't think anyone mentioned the bow, but I think some instruments can be heard in context with one bow and less with another.

totally agree, a great or different bow helps a lot.

I find my viola works different in different halls, so sometimes more bow is needed, sometimes more pressure, depending on the acoustics and reverb, sound coming back from the back of the hall etc.

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Perhaps the first steps to studying "Projection," if it were to be analyzed, would require a myriad of microphones in a lab setting and something resembling a rosin wheel and a plucking device. The output of the the plates should be independently measured near-field and an average output far-field. Clarity needs to be measured to the threshold of distortion ( a blooming of overtones ) at many frequencies.

Once each instrument's output signature is mapped, then the more subjective playing tests should be introduced. The human ear, though not always reliable, can be surprisingly sensitive to parsing out sounds compared to a piece of software. The difficulty is in filtering in the psycho-acoustic evaluations that can not be easily measured. Some reliable ears are needed to share insights on how an instrument sounds when played, from sweet through a range up to its limits. This pairing of data would be a start to establishing correlations between measurable data and discussions of what they might mean. A fledgling area of study.

Prioritizing the quality of sound can not be ignored. Of course being heard is important, but only being heard is simply a quantity issue. I heard a very very very famous cellist grinding away at chamber music in a large hall, not a concerto with a symphony or string orchestra. Tonally, an absolute disappointment, but witnessing the musical insights during a live interaction with the other players was memorable. The identical ground-out sound might have been more acceptable in a concerto, even pleasant, against the visual backdrop and noise of fifty+ players on stage. Same sound, different outcomes. The audience went to hear a celebrity player and heard that player. I ( and others ) paid $$$ to see someone perform, or attend a happening, but a third of the ensemble delivered sound resembling a cello for less than half the performance. This was an artist making an artistic mistake, not the fault of the instrument.

As an interpreter of music, i want to believe that the sound quality projected to the audience matters to the musician. Not necessarily to management. Frankly, there is only so much quality a musician or instrument could deliver in a large hall.

One of my favorite Vuillaumes has an amazing quality under the ear, where the sound is surprisingly compact, clearly defined and not loud, but out in the hall ( front and back ) is shimmery and boomy and big. A weird byproduct but as a concertmaster instrument, it blends beautifully into the section and yet is still audible in hue and color. It works great for the owner who never appears to work hard to be so sonorous, but strange to many, the actual tone of the instrument is not that great. The default sound is a little hollow and lacks a bit of "core" sound. Flanked by other instruments, it sounds silky and effortless.  

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Yep. A good Italian instrument (violin, bass, 'cello or viola), when the strings are plucked (pizz.) sound like undefined thuds. But the sound focuses and projects -- it's coherent (some Strads, both Pietros & GdGs supernaturally so). Instruments that sound like banjos when plucked, while loud up close, disappear with distance as a rule.

Unfocused and lacking volume up close is the ticket (at least in my experience, FWIW).

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On 9/9/2019 at 12:14 PM, A432 said:

 

Unfocused and lacking volume up close is the ticket (at least in my experience, FWIW).

The perennial myth of projection ...

The way that different frequencies travel over distance is very well understood, but the essential truth is that if it's loud close up it's loud at a distance. Sound doesn't get louder by travelling.

The higher the frequency the more we are able to pinpoint it directionally, but the faster the decay over distance.

This tells us that while higher frequencies are important in locating the source of the sound, they probably aren't important at the back of a concert hall if you have your eyes open.

A very powerful fundamental and set of lower harmonics will be essential if a violin is to be audible over distance, but these are not the frequencies that hurt the ears close up.

So while we must have a lot of fundamental in order that a violin sound carries, there is no reason why a violin with a lot of fundamental AND a lot of screeching ear-shredding content should not carry. 

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In my humble opinion, you are trying to make your considerable familiarity with the acoustics of recording fiddles  -- which you clearly do know and understand -- explain everything involved in the matter -- a part of which, you don't. Nobody does. If they did, Guadagninis and Pressendas and Gallianos would be curiosities of little value, because anybody who wanted an even better instrument -- one that channeled AS or GdG or Montagnana back into fresh, tangible reality -- could get one that did that from any one of thousands of makers, easily and cheaply.  Ordering a fiddle would be a matter of choosing from a menu of tonal/response characteristic recreations drawn from the best of the best. Cannone volume with Vieuxtemps tonal color range and 1727 Strad response ?  Just click the boxes, hit "enter,"  swipe your card, and wait a few months while the next available luthier in the local association made  it. (The 'cello possibilities are even more intoxicating to imagine).

Parapsychology eludes lab rat psychological study/explanation. Same with the instruments that still, even though we know a great deal about them (if we knew it all we wouldn't be talking about it) might as well have dropped in from the Twilight Zone.

YMMV, and undoubtedly does.

 

 

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

The perennial myth of projection ...

The way that different frequencies travel over distance is very well understood, but the essential truth is that if it's loud close up it's loud at a distance. Sound doesn't get louder by travelling.

The higher the frequency the more we are able to pinpoint it directionally, but the faster the decay over distance.

This tells us that while higher frequencies are important in locating the source of the sound, they probably aren't important at the back of a concert hall if you have your eyes open.

A very powerful fundamental and set of lower harmonics will be essential if a violin is to be audible over distance, but these are not the frequencies that hurt the ears close up.

So while we must have a lot of fundamental in order that a violin sound carries, there is no reason why a violin with a lot of fundamental AND a lot of screeching ear-shredding content should not carry. 

I bow to your sound tech background and kind of agree with what you say. One thing that has always had me thinking was a classical guitar maker who told me his theory that an audience would expand their ears to hear a quieter beautiful tone and withdraw their ears from an aggressive loud tone

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40 minutes ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

I bow to your sound tech background and kind of agree with what you say. One thing that has always had me thinking was a classical guitar maker who told me his theory that an audience would expand their ears to hear a quieter beautiful tone and withdraw their ears from an aggressive loud tone

I do agree with that - our ears always manage to pull out what we want to hear from the noise around ...

 

3 hours ago, A432 said:

In my humble opinion, you are trying to make your considerable familiarity with the acoustics of recording fiddles  -- which you clearly do know and understand -- explain everything involved in the matter -- a part of which, you don't.

 

 

I have some experience of recording - I also have some of experience of rigorous blind testing of great violins in halls. Bows even more so ...

But you're missing my point - I'm not talking about the acoustics of recording, I'm talking about human hearing.

There is no such thing as a powerfully projecting violin which doesn't also have a high volume output of its fundamental frequencies. Whether it sounds loud under the ear (or in your "pluck test") is probably irrelevant to that, but it's a logical fallacy to say that a projecting fiddle necessarily sounds muffled at close range.

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I know what you're talking about. The problem is that there's no room in your conceptual world for what I described what I heard, for one example, the Stanlein Strad doing. Your set of equations doesn't allow things like that to be real, so they can't be real. End of story. That's you in a nutshell.

But it is the reality of the can't-be-real that drives our (certainly including Greenhouse's) fascination with them.

Yes. They do what normal fiddles do. And probably about the same ways. But some of them do what normal fiddles cannot do, and never will in a million years. How they do that is not dependent on or explained by how normal (even very good) ones work.

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Part of it is that projection is NOT "powerful." It is a matter of being played mezzo forte on stage and being heard mezzo forte in the back of the hall, with nothing lost in transit. Clearly and distinctly. Not just the top edge of the voice, but all of it. Of little, trying-to-be-inconspicuous tunings at the tip between movements, pppp, being just as audible in the peanut gallery as they are three feet away.

Coherency, if you want (rhetorical statement) a one-word summation.

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it's a logical fallacy to say that a projecting fiddle necessarily sounds muffled at close range

Not muffled -- indistinct, and lacking a pitch-defining edge in comparison with later/other instruments.

And a matter of comprehension concurrent with direct perception of it. Neither logical or illogical, but having nothing to do with logic -- alogical. A phenomenon of some potential in nature normally inaccessible.

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11 hours ago, martin swan said:

The perennial myth of projection ...

The way that different frequencies travel over distance is very well understood, but the essential truth is that if it's loud close up it's loud at a distance. Sound doesn't get louder by travelling.

The higher the frequency the more we are able to pinpoint it directionally, but the faster the decay over distance.

This tells us that while higher frequencies are important in locating the source of the sound, they probably aren't important at the back of a concert hall if you have your eyes open.

 

 

7 hours ago, martin swan said:

I'm not talking about the acoustics of recording, I'm talking about human hearing.

Aye, there's the rub. With instruments we can measure the frequency spectrum of a sound and its intensity, but not its loudness which is a psychoacoustic phenomenon and subject to many influences. I'd like to see a psychoacoustic experiment confirm that violins which sound loudest close-to also sound loudest at a distance. Martin's argument also implies that the decay of higher frequencies should make it harder to locate the source of a violin heard at a distance with eyes closed. I'd like to see that proven too, maybe by getting a subject to point to a violin played at different distances in an acoustically insert space and measuring the mean and variance of their inaccuracy in degrees. 

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7 hours ago, A432 said:

I know what you're talking about. The problem is that there's no room in your conceptual world for what I described what I heard, for one example, the Stanlein Strad doing. Your set of equations doesn't allow things like that to be real, so they can't be real. End of story. That's you in a nutshell.

 

I don't think you know me at all - I'm more into applying rigour to my own perceptions and other peoples' arguments

So you have played the Stanlein and found it quiet under the ear?

 

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9 hours ago, A432 said:

Part of it is that projection is NOT "powerful." It is a matter of being played mezzo forte on stage and being heard mezzo forte in the back of the hall, with nothing lost in transit. Clearly and distinctly. Not just the top edge of the voice, but all of it. Of little, trying-to-be-inconspicuous tunings at the tip between movements, pppp, being just as audible in the peanut gallery as they are three feet away.

Coherency, if you want (rhetorical statement) a one-word summation.

A highly skilled and experienced orchestral player, whether soloist or not, knows by that skill experience and intuition how to project. The romance of the famous violins is a separate issue, something which you are projecting onto the instrument.

Anyway, it's unrealistic of you to be expected to be taken seriously when you post under the name A432. If it's meant to be an ironic joke, then please say so.

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You have a very simplistic conception of what this involves -- one which lacks information necessary to comprehend what I am talking about.

One example : Gregor Piatigorsky was a highly skilled orchestral player (principal and solo 'cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic) before coming to the USA and launching a purely soloist career.

When he acquired the Batta Stradivari 'cello, he kept it at home for a year, learning how to play it while continuing to perform with his Montagnana. Only after exploring every aspect of the Stradivari, and mastering the adaptions in his technique necessary to play it did he take it out in public.

It would be better, IMO, if you got over yourself. No one here answers to you.

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4 minutes ago, A432 said:

 

One example : Gregor Piatigorsky was a highly skilled orchestral player (principal and solo 'cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic) before coming to the USA and launching a purely soloist career.

 

Stephen Isserlis is one of the primary exponents of the "luminous and supernatural projection of Strads" argument. In fact he led the online war against the Fritz-Curtin experiments into projection. Bizarrely when I went to see him in recital (playing his Strad) he was pretty much inaudible against a mere piano. Talking about this with colleagues who know his instrument, this seems to be quite widely acknowledged ...

And yet he has absolute belief in his instrument, perhaps because he has never found a way of subjecting it to rigorous testing - or never had the desire to try.

 

 

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So you have played the Stanlein and found it quiet under the ear?

I described my experience of it in a previous thread.

What would be a rigorously analytical approach if you were talking about a non-/post great Cremonese instrument is trying to insist that the characteristics of instruments that transcend those parameters can nevertheless be accounted for by them. This is not the case.

I've offered you this example before but I'll repeat it. Go to the you tube video of Yehudi Menuhin playing Beethoven Op. 96 (Sonata no. 10) with Glenn Gould and study the way he plays. No left hand finger pressure (as he explains in the book he wrote, I believe. If not there, elsewhere), and the bow floating in his hand -- not clutching it for easier control, but loose and free. His middle and ring fingers aren't even touching the frog. This is NOT a formula for producing a full-bodied sound that projects with an ordinary violin. But the Khevenhuller Strad just blossoms in his hands. I've seen him do that live (in the Brahms and Beethoven concerti) -- I expect you have too, although maybe not fixating on his right hand.

If you can credit the evidence of your own eyes and ears, we're good. If not, it appears we're stuck in the realm of Belief. Which is impervious to fact, reason and even experience.

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Mister Isserlis is not familiar to me. Mister Menuhin (see post) was.

As, for that matter, was my last teacher, who demonstrated any number of things on the 1719 he had the use of during lessons.

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What I see is that soloists will never have doubts about the projection.

And also, in many tests, a bad instrument projected as well as a good one, but it was a hell to play the bad instrument.

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23 minutes ago, A432 said:

 

If you can credit the evidence of your own eyes and ears, we're good. If not, it appears we're stuck in the realm of Belief. Which is impervious to fact, reason and even experience.

Why does the moon look so much bigger when it's close to the horizon or in certain atmospheric conditions ....? Must be because it's really bigger!

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