How objective is projection?


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The original question was, "How objective is projection?"   

Answer:  14%

The fact that you can't prove that silly answer to be wrong, and by the posts so far in this thread, both indicate it ain't very objective.  You can't measure it because you can't quantitatively define it... so you have to rely on personal judgement, which varies.

That said, I have heard enough violins in person to observe that some violins have more clarity and presence than others, and I'd have to believe that statistically that factor could be shown, to some degree, to be agreed upon with a large enough sampling of listeners.  And with people being people, I'm sure you could also show plenty of disagreement.

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We had a bad thunderstorm here last night.  I noticed the distant thunder had only a low frequency rumbling sound and wasn't very loud.  Close by thunder was louder and hard to ignore and also had an added high frequency cracking sound.

Which shows low frequency sounds can travel much further than high frequency ones.

This suggests that there might be two different definitions of "projection".  One is the ability to be heard from far away and this seems to stress the importance of having a low frequency sound.

The other definition of projection might mean the feeling of being close to the source.  This means that the sound should be loud and have a lot of high frequency content. I noticed a very  high pitch high sizzling sound just before a really close lightening strike. 

So when we discuss "projection" we may not reach much agreement because different people are using different definitions. 

My dogs were hiding.

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3 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

This suggests that there might be two different definitions of "projection".  One is the ability to be heard from far away and this seems to stress the importance of having a low frequency sound.

The other definition of projection might mean the feeling of being close to the source.  This means that the sound should be loud and have a lot of high frequency content. I noticed a very  high pitch high sizzling sound just before a really close lightening strike. 

So when we discuss "projection" we may not reach much agreement because different people are using different definitions. 

 

Absolutely.

The definition of projection also changes according to the context. Unfortunately this all happens at a subconscious level in all but the most heavily trained listeners.

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Neither logical or illogical, but having nothing to do with logic -- alogical. A phenomenon of some potential in nature normally inaccessible.

It is (to me, at least) amusing to note how the validity of direct perception is denied, categorically,  whenever this would threaten some firmly-entrenched belief (an easy example : There are no such things as UFOs.  All purported witnesses claiming otherwise have simply been hallucinating. Or lying. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now).

Curiously, such "saving the paradigm" by denying evidence contradicting it violates the very foundation of scientific procedure itself (theory must accord with evidence -- not vice versa) is advanced as "science," without anyone noticing. It's classic Doublethink run amok. 

To everyone's knowledge, there are experiences, common to all, which simply cannot be explained, or convincingly explained-away, by the reductionalist, dialectical materialism which purports to define -- and even impose boundaries on -- reality itself. Yet so deeply is this instilled in people by force of repetition (not the mother of learning, but the mother of operant conditioning) that, since it is the only procedure they have, anything incongruous with it it must be categorically rejected as somehow false.

In reality, it is the claim of the belief system involved that it is the only game in town, to which all perception and experience must be referred for validation, which is false. This is obvious enough in considering the sorry history of psychiatry in the Soviet Union, but not so self-evident to people enmeshed in a parallel example of it here.

If the ability of a few, elite stringed instruments (in the right hands) to communicate on a transcendental level was an illusion, then Eugene Ysaye, who was doing quite well with a Pietro Guarneri of Mantua, would not have indentured himself to a lengthy-and-grueling-but-most-lucrative tour of the USA to pay back the loan he took out to buy the 1740 Ysaye-Stern GdG, and marry his creditor's less-than-stunningly-beautiful daughter (or sister -- I forget which) afterward as a condition of the loan being advanced.

In a nutshell : disparage me if it amuses you, but consider that Ysaye may have known something you don't -- and through direct experience -- which he considered vital. Ditto Rosand with the Kochansky, Heifetz with the David, Szyring with the LeDuc and the rest of them.

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, A432 said:

"Objective" = perceptible by all.

"Objective" = capable of being weighed, measured or otherwise quantified.

As usual the problem is one of definitions - neither of these is in my view correct. Appealing to the ultimate arbiter, google gives "not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts".

11 hours ago, A432 said:

I seem to be talking over your head.

Stratospherically. I don't think anyone here would deny the "validity of direct perception"; perception simply occupies a different realm of experience from science. Science can't "explain" the colour red, but it can assemble evidence to prove that those who perceive red have a common experience which is denied to those who can't, so even the colour-blind can accept that red exists. A good scientist doesn't reject the existence of phenomena that are subjectively perceived and reported but objectively unsubstantiated - the phrase is "we find no evidence for...". Of course there are a myriad perceptual phenomena that science can't explain but that we must accept. The enhanced projection of some violins definitely seems to fall into this category.

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Pretty much everything I've been saying :

The first time I picked up Nathan Milstein’s violin, three years ago, all I could think about was my shoulder rest. I had been toying for the past few days with the idea of giving it up for good, and suddenly there I was holding Milstein's flawless 1716 Stradivarius in my hands. I imagined his spirit taking solid form and striking me down should I try to attach a piece of plastic to his beloved.

Thus distracted, I managed a restless program of Bach and Paganini. Mostly, I was terrified of dropping the ex-Milstein onto Jerry Kohl's plush carpet. But by the time I handed Jerry back his violin, I had learned the following things:

I could play in public without a shoulder rest

Gut strings actually could sound fantastic

As soon as I got back home, I put the rest on a shelf and ordered a set of Pirastro Passione strings. I also vowed to start using more bow. When I fed the ex-Milstein bow, she sang. But when I tried digging a trench into the string, she'd let out a chortle and shut down until I lightened up.

And that wasn't her only quirk. In fact The Milstein (I'll drop the "ex" for the remainder of the story), for that hour at least, played hard to get. My experience with other Strads (including the one I play at work) had taught me that not all of them dazzle “under the ear”: that is, from the player’s perspective. But great instruments, whether old or new, produce a series of overtones that please the listener from a distance.

But even with that knowledge, The Milstein puzzled me: the two middle strings had distinct personalities, but neither clamored for attention; the E string had the “wow” factor, to a degree I had never before experienced on any violin; and the G was frankly disappointing at first play! I had the feeling, trying to draw sound out of the low register, that I was rousing a sleeping animal, one that wasn't at all pleased at my intrusion . . .

Back in my studio the next day, I sat down to really get to know The Milstein. I fell in love all over again with that golden high register: how it shone, never giving over to that shrill, steely sound that sets a listener's teeth on edge. All I had to do was let the E string do its thing. In other words, a little vibrato and a little bow pressure went a long way!

The gut-core Pirastro Passione A and D behaved much as they did on the instrument I'm accustomed to, a Strad on loan from my orchestra. But on The Milstein, they took on more distinct characters rather than filling out a broad "middle range". I was reminded of an Aaron Rosand article I had read, in which he compares the four violin strings to four vocal types: baritone, alto, coloratura, and soprano.

Tuesday: the power of perspective

The more I played, the more inescapable it became: my baritone had laryngitis! Here was the same Passione G that I'd been playing on for years, but on The Milstein, it sounded under-powered, even muffled. Interesting to be sure, but not of a piece with the rest of the instrument. And just as I’d noticed years ago, with even a bit too much bow pressure, it shut down completely.

So at Disney Hall the next day, I asked my colleague Martin Chalifour to give The Milstein a play and a listen in his dressing room. He had spent quite a lot of time with the instrument over the years, and knew its potential. Perhaps all it needed was an adjustment?

First I played a few notes, and then I handed the violin over to Martin. As he played, I was astonished by the difference just a few feet made! Of course, any instrument changes once you give it a bit of breathing room, but rarely to that degree. That animal quality in the low register remained, but intensified and seemingly amplified.

“Yes, this is how it sounds,” Martin chuckled, turning the violin over and admiring it from all sides.

“Do you hear a buzz, or some weird grit in there, like I do?” I asked.

“Well, yes, there’s always been some noise in there,” he admitted. “Milstein’s spirit, maybe? I think he’s trying to tell you how to play it!” . . .

https://www.violinist.com/blog/ncole78/201711/22501/

 

 

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It's arguable that personal anecdotes are the last refuge of a boring old fart, but anyway:

As a freshman student I was astonished to hear the university orchestra blown away by David Oistrakh playing Brahms (came as some compensation for having failed the audition). That's how I remember it anyway, so I'm open to the idea that there may be something about Oistrakh's powers, his violin, my head or a combination of factors that we don't fully understand.

Many years later I did some research on how complex harmonic tones can be made to stand out from background noise by "co-modulation", e.g. vibrato. Not only is the effect very plain to hear, I was able to demonstrate a physiological correlate in responses recorded from the scalp using EEG electrodes. Not the complete explanation I'm sure but it encourages me to think there could be one.

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If one knows in advance what type of instrument is being played, and believes that this type of instrument sounds better, there's an excellent chance that it will. ;)

Fritz, Curtin, Tao etc. had not yet come across any examples of instruments which sounded quiet up close, but loud in a hall, last time I checked with them.

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41 minutes ago, A432 said:

Not loud, David. Clear, pure, distinct and defined. Although the concentrated  intensity of some of them can make them seem loud.

 

Then I'll rephrase it:  Violins which "projected" well, according to the assessments of listeners in a hall. That was the word I recall being used on the assessment sheets, filled out by the listeners.

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I agree with David, if the instrument sounds "quiet" under the ear, the player would have having problems to listen to himself when playing with the orchestra, and also to control the dynamics.

"Quiet under the ear" would mean a too narrow dynamic range for the player. 

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For violin sound nothing is 'objective'. 

However if I can trust my ears I once experienced the difference in a masterclass of world famous violinist. 

Usually in concert situation you don't have a direct comparison which makes it a kind of impossible to have a clear judgement on the projection. In the masterclass situation I could hear the violin of the famous violinist against the students instrument and to me there was a clear difference. If this can be measured objectively is questionable. I think @martin swan suggested in another thread just to record the sound with an iphone posted in the last row of the hall. (Never had a chance to try it myself)

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16 hours ago, A432 said:

It is (to me, at least) amusing to note how the validity of direct perception is denied, categorically,  whenever this would threaten some firmly-entrenched belief...

To everyone's knowledge, there are experiences, common to all, which simply cannot be explained...

In reality, it is the claim of the belief system involved that it is the only game in town...

... Eugene Ysaye, who ... marry his creditor's less-than-stunningly-beautiful daughter (or sister ...

1. Mob mentality. Mass hysteria. Belongingness.

2. Would it have made a difference if said woman was beautiful?  Not to mention, Ysaye wasn't some male model of perfection himself.  Does his skill at playing a musical instrument compensate for his own lack of looks and entitle him to a "beautiful' woman?

And of course, we all know that beauty is totally objective.

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On 3/8/2017 at 9:52 AM, deans said:

If you're talking violas, fugetaboutit. If your favorite violist is in town get close seats.

Since Roberto Diaz was mentioned, I've played in the orchestra with him as a soloist.... Even with him facing the opposite direction, it was so clear he could blow us away. The guy has no problems playing concertos, I think. 

Obligatory viola joke... But seriously, watch people's contact points if you want to see projection. Cutting through an orchestra has to do with exactly where the soloist stands, and how well they can use their bow. Closer to the bridge means more high overtones, and core sound, is what Wilerstein says. 

It's also left hand articulation, and coordinating that with right hand, for being heard in fast passages that might sound good in a practice room, muddy in a concert. 

Sassmanshaus says one very important part of projection is the articulation. You can't hope to match the volume of 80 others, but a really harsh consonant articulation can grab people's ears, and their ears will be able to follow your individual sound. 

All that to say, as a player, violins definitely project better or worse, but the player matters much more. 

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3 minutes ago, Porteroso said:

Since Roberto Diaz was mentioned, I've played in the orchestra with him as a soloist.... Even with him facing the opposite direction, it was so clear he could blow us away. The guy has no problems playing concertos, I think. 

Obligatory viola joke... But seriously, watch people's contact points if you want to see projection. Cutting through an orchestra has to do with exactly where the soloist stands, and how well they can use their bow. Closer to the bridge means more high overtones, and core sound, is what Wilerstein says. 

It's also left hand articulation, and coordinating that with right hand, for being heard in fast passages that might sound good in a practice room, muddy in a concert. 

Sassmanshaus says one very important part of projection is the articulation. You can't hope to match the volume of 80 others, but a really harsh consonant articulation can grab people's ears, and their ears will be able to follow your individual sound. 

All that to say, as a player, violins definitely project better or worse, but the player matters much more. 

Roberto Diaz played many contemporary violas in a concert room during a Viola Congress some years ago, he imposed his ability to produce the sound he wants to all those violas, so that they sounded almost the same, and they were very different instruments. Zukerman can do that too.

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IMO, "projection" in terms of stringed instruments, and as opined by instrumentalists and luthiers, is indeed very subjective.

Perhaps, if we take out as many variables as possible, such as the person playing (obviously we can't compare a novice to Zuckerman or Perlman), or number of persons in the audience (because bodies dampen sound), we can maybe get a quantifiable result?  Maybe we can ask the Toyota-bot to play? (click link)

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=Awr9IMw9VHpddx4AiDhXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEycmkwaWk3BGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQTA2MDdfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=robot+playing+violin&fr=mcafee&turl=https%3A%2F%2Ftse2.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.a-qAMLVv27qhfncReeaBUAEsDh%26amp%3Bpid%3DApi%26w%3D144%26h%3D77%26c%3D7&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D-yInphJdick&tit=☆+TOYOTA+PARTNER+ROBOT+PLAYING+VIOLIN+☆&w=144&h=78&pos=2&vid=36cf2db67c981bf3e415341885dd85aa&sigr=11b4vqi96&sigt=11bjnuu47&sigi=12oagrrej

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