Bruce Tai

Secrets in the wood (Stradivari's maple)

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51 minutes ago, carl stross said:

3. Well, we did find that one. We keep finding it for 200 and some years. I don't think we should stop doing anything because we can't put a Voltmeter to it.

4. We have a "clear and widely accepted answer to this question". I've never heard anybody of consequence having a different opinion. This of course changes once the opinions come from people of no consequence. All experts agree on Cremonese instruments being as a group, superior.   

Not necessarily. Opinions which are expressed to friends and confidants can be quite different from what is expressed publicly. And some of the opinions will depend on how much "double-blind" testing one has been involved in. It can be quite an eye-opener.

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10 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Not necessarily. Opinions which are expressed to friends and confidants can be quite different from what is expressed publicly. And some of the opinions will depend on how much "double-blind" testing one has been involved in. It can be quite an eye-opener.

Well, I said "as a group". Mongrel to mongrel it's a different story. And it goes both ways... 

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1 hour ago, carl stross said:

All experts agree on Cremonese instruments being as a group, superior. What else is needed ???    

These experts, being largely dealers and appraisers, have been saying this since the time of Viotti and Vuillaume. 

There is more to violins than value, and there is more to violin tone than being able equally to bore both the front and back of the hall with a big, open tone, like with the Cannone.

 

the big hat.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Addie said:

These experts, being largely dealers and appraisers, have been saying this since the time of Viotti and Vuillaume. 

There is more to violins than value, and there is more to violin tone than being able equally to bore both the front and back of the hall with a big, open tone, like with the Cannone.

 

the big hat.jpg

BTW, the cartoon comes from the Accademia's file on Charles Reade...  ;)

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20 minutes ago, Addie said:

BTW, the cartoon comes from the Accademia's file on Charles Reade... 

Does the hat have to be red?

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45 minutes ago, Addie said:

1. These experts, being largely dealers and appraisers, have been saying this since the time of Viotti and Vuillaume. 

2. There is more to violins than value, and there is more to violin tone than being able equally to bore both the front and back of the hall with a big, open tone, like with the Cannone.

 

 

1. We can't blame them for recognizing a good thing - that's what made them experts. :lol:

2. I could not agree more. That's why when in doubt, get the Strad. :)

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FAKE WORLD!!!! :lol:

We can not dismiss the psychological influence of what is called "money" and perceived value has on an individuals "opinions" .

If we look at the history of these instruments, as most here know, and we look at the influence of Cozio's initial creation of the hype, all we see is an age old creation of scarcity and the creation of a aura of superiority. These are very old ways of creating financial opportunities that will benefit the few who get on board early and who are lucky enough to participate in the game

The group think snowball effect that sucks in the "experts/professionals/those who know" is proof enough of what we are really "dealing" with.

If you really want to see what you are dealing with, you take it to the unsophisticated, unknowing crowd who has no dog in the fight and you will see "reality"

Reality would be that it would be just another old looking violin, tell them its a Strad and worth millions, suddenly they perk up.

Again the influence of money and or what people think is worth lots of money, including players, has everything to do with conversations about Cremonese violins. It is a multi million dollars business from dealing/selling/collecting/playing/investing or whatever.

Again to have honest perspective, without being accusatory or trying to slight Bruce, it should be mentioned if it is not known, that the institute that funds these studies, that has a connection as the owner of the corporation he works for, owns one of the largest collection of Cremonese instruments in the world...And or quite simply, his boss owns  one of the most successful plastics corporations, who then used money generated from that fortune, to the go out and buy massive amounts of Cremonese instruments, which are now one of the largest personal collections, he houses all these instruments in a museum that he kindly allows people to go visit.  There is nothing wrong with any of that...

But, lets be honest with ourselves....It's not just his boss, but the collective of those who would profit in ANY way from the legend of Strad,to uphold, continue to talk about, argue over minutia, whatever , that these people VERY much have a dog in the fight.

I feel it is rare in the history of group think psychology as it pertains to human history,, that something will attain such a "holy" place in our society and then suddenly become valueless, like bennie babies,  so I don't think overnight anytime soon Strads will become valueless, but to deny that the entire "Cremonese thing" is in itself a creation and by product of value/money that very much relies on "mystery" "mystique" "exclusiveness" "rarity" and alike is just blowing smoke up yer backside.

Honestly, its one of the main reasons I stepped away from the violin. I found it to be another group of highly intelligent idiots who, like wanting debt based money in their lives, seem to like to shoot themselves in the foot for old times sake.

Or quite simply, the number one enemy of the modern violin maker is his love for holding Cremonese violins on a pedestal. 

It was a club I very much wanted to be in prior to understanding it, just like making "money". But now that I understand it, it kinda makes me sick.

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1 hour ago, Addie said:

These experts, being largely dealers and appraisers, have been saying this since the time of Viotti and Vuillaume. 

There is more to violins than value, and there is more to violin tone than being able equally to bore both the front and back of the hall with a big, open tone, like with the Cannone.

 

the big hat.jpg

Hahaha!!! Brilliant!:lol:

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I think we are de-railing this thread a bit... I'll try to be short. My take on the whole is simple one. Cozio, Vuillaume or others cannot be blamed for creating hype, I believe back then the hype was well deserved as old Cremonese violins were clearly superior to rest of world production (as a group, individual instruments may stand out). We know that shortly after Strad, Guarneri and few later makers there was huge decline in violin production in Cremona that led to lower quality of production. Even during the golden era violins produced outside Cremona school were clearly of lesser quality. Cozio recognised that and his work was important even though it perhaps started the "snowball".  Villaume was businessman but I believe he was genuinely interested in the Cremonese instruments, not just as part of good business. It took many years till the best makers were able to create consistently violins of comparable quality but by that time the Strad hype was too strong and monetary value started taking over the whole business. If we take the money out of equation, like in blind testing, we can find out there is likely no significant difference between production of best modern makers and Strad. I'm not thinking they (Strads etc) are less valuable than they are - value these days is based upon offer and demand - but they became ordained to status that no one can equal them even in sound production and the secret theories just feed it. The best modern makers demand (and deserve) being evaluated (I'm not thinking of money here) by same standards as Cremonese.

I wil just add that my main field is in archtop mandolins and situation there is SO similar it's funny. The holy grail mandolins were made during a golden era of 1922-1924 and then the production declined for almost 50 years when Bill Monroe brought the instruments back to light with his bluegrass music. Demand grew but no one could produce mandolins of same quality as the originals (they were factory builds but built to high standards) so they got status of vastly superior instrument... These days we know almost all about their construction and methods and materials and makers build instruments that are clearly superior in visual and at least equal in sound quality but many folks just keep on repeating the old phrases of superiority of old ones because of lost art of tap tuning or perfect finish recipe etc... Of course prices of originals skyrocketted and that's what counts... Similar can be seen in market of old Fenders and many other instruments. It's all result of typical behavior of humans...

Even though I may sound sceptic and actually I'm not violin maker I love to read anything about Cremonese violins, especially when the research is thoughtfully and clearly carried. And I value every good bit of research that sheds light on any aspect of the first golden era of violin making just for the sake of gaining knowledge. I admit I am a violin nerd...

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6 hours ago, carl stross said:

All experts agree on Cremonese instruments being as a group, superior. What else is needed ???    

Apparently those who don't agree are therefore not experts, according to the book of Carl.  (Before jumping on this, see the continuation below).

36 minutes ago, HoGo said:

If we take the money out of equation, like in blind testing, we can find out there is likely no significant difference between production of best modern makers and Strad. 

Actually, I think we do have objective evidence that there is a measurable (on average) difference between Cremonese and modern master instruments, and it appears to be consistent in findings by Dunnwald (26 years ago), Buen, Curtin (my observation of his data), and my own limited measurements of Cremonese instruments.  I would add Bruce Tai to the list, except I can't make much sense out of his "formant" analysis (my brain doesn't work that way).

So I think we have different reasonably well established, at least for me.  Superior depends on what you are trying to do with it and who's listening, and is debatable. My one result is that my violin was deemed superior to a decent Strad by a soloist, conductor, and concertmaster.  However, if the situation was a recording session or quartet, the result may easily have been reversed.  They sounded different.

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17 minutes ago, HoGo said:

 1. It took many years till the best makers were able to create consistently violins of comparable quality but by that time the Strad hype was too strong and monetary value started taking over the whole business.

2. If we take the money out of equation, like in blind testing, we can find out there is likely no significant difference between production of best modern makers and Strad.

3.I'm not thinking they (Strads etc) are less valuable than they are - value these days is based upon offer and demand - but they became ordained to status that no one can equal them even in sound production and the secret theories just feed it.

4. The best modern makers demand (and deserve) being evaluated (I'm not thinking of money here) by same standards as Cremonese.

 

1. It's possible. This achievement must've happened quite recently. I'm not aware of it but then I'm not aware of a lot of things.  I'll ask a couple of people if they're contemplating dropping their Strad/DG in favor of a modern alternative and I'll get back to you.

2. Well, the money was not part of the equation for a long time. Up to around the late 70s. Successful Top Player wouldn't feel a Strad purchase. That aside, the question remaining is who's "we" ? ( who can find things... ). In general "we" are enthusiasts who couldn't see our way out of Vivaldi's A minor if "we" could play at all. Strads are tools for the elite of World's violin playing. Really not our problem. Beats me why "we" are so concerned with Strads.

3. Sure. But that should not stop anybody from trying to make better violins.

4. Absolutely.  

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3 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Apparently those who don't agree are therefore not experts, according to the book of Carl.  (Before jumping on this, see the continuation below).

Do you know anybody who does not think that Cremonese instruments are superior as a group ? Anybody of consequence I mean. Otherwise, sure. Them who don't agree are no experts in my book. 

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9 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Actually, I think we do have objective evidence that there is a measurable (on average) difference between Cremonese and modern master instruments, and it appears to be consistent in findings by Dunnwald (26 years ago), Buen, Curtin (my observation of his data), and my own limited measurements of Cremonese instruments.  I would add Bruce Tai to the list, except I can't make much sense out of his "formant" analysis (my brain doesn't work that way).

Well then, the above when combined with the Universal Preference for Strads should surely and logically put the matter to rest. :lol:

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2 hours ago, carl stross said:

Do you know anybody who does not think that Cremonese instruments are superior as a group ? Anybody of consequence I mean. Otherwise, sure. Them who don't agree are no experts in my book. 

I'm just being a stickler for word usage.  "Superior" implies an intrinsic, objective quality better than others, whereas it is really a preference... which can change depending on what sound is in vogue.  As Addie posted, other makers have been preferred at other times.  So, although I agree that currently the Cremonese sound is widely preferred, I disagree with the use of "superior".

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3 hours ago, Don Noon said:

 I can't make much sense out of his "formant" analysis (my brain doesn't work that way).

 

Yup, the term comes from speech studies, and voice physiology types seem to suffer from the mystification endemic to the "fuzzy subjects".  Let's take a different tack.

http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/formant.html

You can demonstrate formants on a spectrum analyzer.  Think of the formant as an emitter cluster affecting the shape of the spectral envelope. They affect voice transmission clarity, and similar broadband emissions can originate in stringed instruments, etc.  I'm aware of it because of its application to radio transmission and reception, particularly in our age of DSP, digital voice transmission, and such.  If you check out some of the articles on modern methods of audio processing published in "ham" magazines, which are both accessible as well as approaching the subject from a view of stressing quantification to facilitate design, you might get a better feel for the subject.  A couple examples:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/x0005009.pdf

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/x0103009.pdf

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Just now, Addie said:

Before Viotti, Vuillaume, etc., the experts were wetting themselves over Stainers... :P

 

 

Part of the market, for a time.

 

And before that,  Amati and then Strad works were favored as best -- during their lifetimes.

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I think we should concede that the heroes in any arena get a hyper/mythical aspect that is merely unsupportable fantasy.   But often there is extraordinary merit behind reaching that status.

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4 hours ago, carl stross said:

1. It's possible. This achievement must've happened quite recently. I'm not aware of it but then I'm not aware of a lot of things.  I'll ask a couple of people if they're contemplating dropping their Strad/DG in favor of a modern alternative and I'll get back to you.

2. Well, the money was not part of the equation for a long time. Up to around the late 70s. Successful Top Player wouldn't feel a Strad purchase.

 

1. Don't forget to ask them how investment value, and perceived audience and peer approval play into the equation. ;)

2. Largely untrue, but I wouldn't fault you for not knowing that, given what you have said about your background and experience, over several years of posting.

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21 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Does anybody have estimates how many Strads and DGs are still in good playing condition?

Any guesses of what the percentages of Strads and DGs are owned by:  players, museums, private collectors, foundations and societies, ex-wives, customs inspectors?

 

 

21 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If we are to draw any conclusions from minerals found in Stadivaris, we need to be quite sure that these minerals aren't also present in other early 18th century violins from Venice, Bozen, London, Amsterdam etc ...

Otherwise we can't possibly deduce anything.

The real test for me is not Strads vs moderns but Amati vs Kleynman, Stradivari vs Giovanni Tononi or Albani for instance.

I remember once being in a butchers shop in the Hebrides where an oppressed butcher was struggling to keep up with tourist demand for leg of lamb. "Gigots, gigots, everybody's wanting gigots. You would think there was nothing on a sheep but gigots."

Similarly, reading this thread or any of the headline grabbing research, you would think  that violins only came in 2 varieties, Cremonese circa 1700 or modern.

People should really get out more ...

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