Thomas Coleman

Violin geometry references

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4 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Ahhh, there's the problem!  You've been confusing romanticism with narcissism.  Explains a lot............  :P

Explains nothing. It wasn't confusion, it was about economizing.

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2 hours ago, Kevin Kelly said:

Some thoughts about this thread, in no particular order -

 

The video that was linked to above was made by me some time in the last few years in response to an irritating discussion on MN, actually, and I think the point I was trying to make was that any discussion about this kind of thing is only relevant if it can produce a usable, useful result, in the real world, and that if you can’t prove that it works in real life, you should maybe not claim that it does. Since then I’ve tried to avoid the topic since it seems to antagonize some people (especially me).  Not that I have a problem with it, but the Strad did not ask me nor tell me about posting the video on their website. Actually, I thought that I deleted it shortly after posting it, and was surprised to see it still around.  If I’d known they were going to use it, I would have put a little more effort into it.

 

Marty has published some work on violin design, but for some reason he seems to have forgotten to include himself in his list earlier in the thread. 

 

I really hate the word “geometry” in this context, because its modern meaning is confusing to any discussion about violin design.  Any reasonable amount of reading on the subject would make it clear that Francois is correct when he says that in the age of Andrea Amati “geometry” was nothing other than measuring. Nothing mystical, and not really anything to argue about.  The fact that there have historically been so many bad hypotheses about a specific theory or system doesn’t mean there wasn’t one - there was. 

 

I disagree that theory doesn’t matter to modern makers.  It may not matter to all makers, but I think it’s exactly like saying that music theory doesn’t matter to musicians - they can learn to play by ear, so why do they have to bother with all that theoretical stuff?  

 

The way we all learned to make violins is like playing by ear.  “Here’s a thing - copy it. Why does it look like this? Well, that’s just the way it’s done.”   What I want is violin making theory, so that i can understand the forms I’m making and change them if I want, and still make something that’s traditional. I feel like it’s respectful to do that, and it gives me a feeling of freedom to make whatever I want. I like it when someone looks at an instrument I made and says - “Amati?” or “which del Gesù?”

 

Finally, here’s what I’m working on right now. I recently decided to make a “copy” of a del Gesù violin (not a real copy of, but based on, a really nice fiddle).  I took some measurements from said fiddle, plugged them into my little system (just like in the above-referenced video), and, using proportional dividers and a straightedge, drew a template for a mold (again, following the Andrea Amati recipe in the video - very simple).  Here’s a picture of a quick tracing of the template with and without a washer to draw the edge, laid over a photo of said fiddle. 

vd.thumb.jpeg.c87cc505b73b56301cfe4cbbf91464b8.jpeg

Now - does anyone here want to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about?  

 

 

Works for me.

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From Silvestro Ganassi's second book of Lessons, Lettione Secunda (Venice 1543) - I know it's just fretting, but there seems to be a fair obsession for compasseseseseseseseseseseses. - seems a shame not to use them if you have 'em for the instrument body!modellbundeinteilung.thumb.png.a58c3afbd7ff8ab25a3330f8d46cd0a3.png

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3 hours ago, Kevin Kelly said:

I disagree that theory doesn’t matter to modern makers.  It may not matter to all makers, but I think it’s exactly like saying that music theory doesn’t matter to musicians -

 

How much do you think that "music theory" matters to the top players? How often do you hear them bring it up in their master classes? Doesn't most of what they mention have to do with interpretation of the musical notation outline, aimed at making an emotional impression?

My mother was, among other things, a college music theory professor, so I don't mean to dis that. Still, I question how significant it is to real working musicians.

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I'd imagine it matters quite a bit. Music "theory" is really more like musical grammar, and music is truly like a language. It's difficult (perhaps impossible) to really maximize the rhetorical impact of a declamation if you don't understand the rules that govern the language.

Simply from practical standpoint, memorizing a concerto is significantly easier if the grammatical structure and relationships that exist in the the material are understood. Granted I've not met any of the leading soloists of the modern violin performance world, but I have been fortunate to talk music with a lot of really great players and they all understand music theory quite well and make use of that understanding in their craft. 

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How many people who don't know music theory do you think are admitted to master classes?  :P

I don't think the same is true for VM classes.  Even at the master level.  Good workmanship does not require drafting from scratch using anyone's reconstructed Cremonese secret... 

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Just now, Addie said:

How many people who don't know music theory do you think are admitted to master classes?  :P

I don't think the same is true for VM classes.  Even at the master level.  Good workmanship does not require drafting from scratch using anyone's reconstructed Cremonese secret... 

Absolutely true. 

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... but I'm just jealous because I couldn't even reconstruct a Cremonese model for a cardboard box...  :lol: 

 

 

... Can someone help me out of this box, please?  I glued myself in... :(

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39 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

How much do you think that "music theory" matters to the top players? How often do you hear them bring it up in their master classes? Doesn't most of what they mention have to do with interpretation of the musical notation outline, aimed at making an emotional impression?

It's difficult to get our modern heads around the medieval idea of "Harmonia" which was an obsession for abut 1000 years of Western thought, and gives understanding of why a theoretical, mathematical reasoning of music was important not to musicians and instrument makers so much as to the foundation of all scientific thought. 

Early philosophers recognised that the natural ratios appearing in music were the same ratios that described the cosmos, and the same ratios - as per Vitruvian man - that described the proportional nature of the human body, and as we are made in God's form, therefore, Divine form. That these ratios describe many other occurrences in God's Creation merely reinforced the concept of the divine nature, so easily demonstrable through the harmonics of a vibrating string - 2:1 Octave, 3:2 Perfect Fifth, 4:3 Major Third, 5:4 Minor Third... hence the study of Harmonia was the understanding of how God created the earth, of understanding nature, and hence to understand how to create new things in the same vein, which is what music itself constantly does. If you studied the quadrivium at a Medieval or Renaissance University - or even into the eighteenth century,  this was fundamental to how you progressed to learn other things: It was a mandatory part of education whether you were musical or not. If you didn't but were schooled to any level by people who had studied the Quadrivium, it was essentially a robust part of the European curriculum. Being a musician - at least an elevated musician - meant that you essentially had to be steeped in an understanding of this as a way of validating your performance or simply your claim to be musical. Hence Thomas Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, (1597) and after the 1650s, innumerable editions of John Playford's Introduction to the Skill of Musick

These attitudes are totally incompatible with our modern notions of musicianship. They seem utterly otherworldly, bizarre and unnecessary and yet they represent the bulk of musical thought as we know it throughout the 16/17/18th centuries... If musical instrument makers played a part within these communities they surely had to play to the same rules to one extent or another. If only conscious that former generations had done the footwork for them and they could be content simply copying forms, which perhaps accommodates David Burgess's view as entirely compatible with past attitudes as well - at least if many regional makers did apply rigid rules of geometry and proportion, they would have done a pretty dismal job, to judge by the relative ugliness of their work.

 

Morley's 1597 Plaine and Easie Introduction to the Skill of Music of 1597 is available here in its 1771 reprint. It's curious that a few violin makers are in the subscribers list for it... sowhatchathinkthattellsya? It's also worth a bottle or two of whisky whilst reading it... or scanning it just to understand the complexity of it.  In original form, it is purposefully by the same printer as Dee's Euclid's Elements, the same frontispiece and format and very definitely intended to be an associated work.

 

 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZvG6loTD7OsC&pg=PA31&dq=morley+musicke&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH3KK-4rLXAhWjLMAKHSR4AvIQ6AEIRjAF#v=onepage&q=morley musicke&f=false

 

Totally off subject, but here's a 1580s illustration by Mathew Baker, a royal shipwright in England. I like to think its pretty close to what I'd see in a violin maker's workshop of the same era...

 

442_4.thumb.jpg.b40ed781525e681f7c2693ed077ebdff.jpg

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30 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I'd imagine it matters quite a bit. Music "theory" is really more like musical grammar, and music is truly like a language. It's difficult (perhaps impossible) to really maximize the rhetorical impact of a declamation if you don't understand the rules that govern the language.

 

I disagree. Millions of people manage to communicate quite effectively, with no training whatsoever in "grammar". They just picked up their communication skills through experience and exposure, and perhaps a little experimentation.

How useful is it, in the real world, to be able to define what a "past participle" is?

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Not really the same thing.  You've got a 200' LOA ship, with a 30' beam, you need to build a 225' ship, with a beam of... yeah, simple proportions.  You've got a violin, and you need to build a viola... 

But the real point is, if you need to build a viola in 2017, do you need to be able to draft it from scratch to make a great viola?  

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5 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I disagree. Millions of people manage to communicate quite effectively, with no training whatsoever in "grammar". They just picked up their communication skills through experience and exposure, and perhaps a little experimentation.

Millions of people communicate well, but few are masters of the English language, and few masters of the English language are illiterate. ;)

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9 minutes ago, Addie said:

Not really the same thing.  You've got a 200' LOA ship, with a 30' beam, you need to build a 225' ship, with a beam of... yeah, simple proportions.  You've got a violin, and you need to build a viola... 

But the real point is, if you need to build a viola in 2017, do you need to be able to draft it from scratch to make a great viola?  

... but the design process is at the same scale... 

As for the real point, of course not, and we don't know at what point there were enough prototypes to make empirical judgements about how to copy or adapt each one. In a way, things were easier before Francois and others gave us insights into geometry, because we could just excuse the fact we didn't know anything about it and work with the adaptations and repetitions of designs as the only real options to violin making. 

Lastly - I think it's really important to put this kind of discussion into context:

Maker X doesn't care about geometry, but his violins are as good and as compelling against Cremonese masters as any.

Maker X cares about geometry, is obsessed about a personal model, and doesn't respect or realise that Cremonese instruments were equally influenced by what each maker had made before, seen, and what influenced their decision. Their violins are precise, true to a geometric form, and that's the best you can say for them. How disappointing. 

Or somewhere between the two? I'm only a fan of personal models if they adopt the things that work.

 

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11 minutes ago, Addie said:

Millions of people communicate well, but few are masters of the English language, and few masters of the English language are illiterate. ;)

Sure, this might be important if one wants to be proficient at elitist-style speaking or writing, but does this really communicate more effectively?

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Sure, this might be important if one wants to be proficient had elitist-style speaking or writing, but does this really communicate more effectively?

That depends on what one is trying to convey, and how, and with whom. 

indubitably-smiley.gif?1292867625

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26 minutes ago, Addie said:

That depends on what one is trying to convey, and how, and with whom. 

Agreed. I was mostly raised in a formal speaking environment, but hardly ever use that speaking style any more. People who are not native English speakers can have difficulty understanding it. Those who are more formal speakers usually have no trouble understanding the less formal styles (unless they go heavily into uncommon dialects), while the opposite often does not apply.

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Hi Burgess,

Sure.  A great writer probably wouldn't credit the theory of spelling, grammar, rhetoric, or story structure with their creative success.   But would they argue for ignorance of these things?  Some might.  But certainly not all.

 

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4 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Hi Burgess,

Sure.  A great writer probably wouldn't credit the theory of spelling, grammar, rhetoric, or story structure with their creative success.   But would they argue for ignorance of these things?  Some might.  But certainly not all.

 

I am not arguing for ignorance. Just for weighing the choices, depending on what ones priorities are. ;)

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Sure, this might be important if one wants to be proficient at elitist-style speaking or writing, but does this really communicate more effectively?

Yes.  What we are actually debating here is the value of precision in what one does.  If you ever earned your keep through producing any kind of professional documentation that someone else had to follow to succeed in something (or in the cases of some manuals I've authored, survive), you'd understand that precision in language is as important as precision in applying other skills.  Writing and speaking in a way which admits of zero misinterpretation prevents errors and in some fields is important to save one's own posterior as well as other people's.  I'd estimate that more than half of the grief Humanity suffers, from wars to divorces, by way of trouble in the workplace, is due to imprecise communication.  Do you believe in making the best violin possible, or just good enough to sell?  Same thing, different material.  :P

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5 hours ago, Johnmasters said:

This very clever.  Is your starting angle exactly 60 degrees?  Are your marks uniform on the two axes?  And are the divsions the same on the two axes?  And how do you determine the spacings of these points?

I discovered this was just an ordinary drafting divider and straight edge "Triangle" method for making a parabola.  The attached PDF from the internet is a description of how it is done.  If you do a Google search you will find lots of examples. 

In the past I've mentioned that a bent rib(spline), hanging chain (cantenary), and a parabola all seem to very closely match the shapes of the upper and lower bouts.   I had originally used mathematical plots of Y = aX^2 to generate the the parabolas.  The constant a could be adjusted to match the bout curvatures but I thought it was highly unlikely that wood craftsmen would know how to do this so I didn't think the bout shapes were originally done this way.

However Thomas's MN topic "Geometric References" made me rethink this.  The "Triangle" drafting method is very easy and quick.  The angle and or the divider increments can be adjusted to give a wide variety of "pointedness" and I constructed a several paper drawings of them in 1 degree increments from 60 to 67 degrees and cut them out as patterns which I  have used for designing my own instruments.   That way I can join the group and say that I too use "geometric constructions".

But I still think the violin rib's bend shape is made by bending ribs.

 

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28 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Yes.  What we are actually debating here is the value of precision in what one does.  If you ever earned your keep through producing any kind of professional documentation that someone else had to follow to succeed in something (or in the cases of some manuals I've authored, survive), you'd understand that precision in language is as important as precision in applying other skills.  Writing and speaking in a way which admits of zero misinterpretation prevents errors and in some fields is important to save one's own posterior as well as other people's.  I'd estimate that more than half of the grief Humanity suffers, from wars to divorces, by way of trouble in the workplace, is due to imprecise communication.  Do you believe in making the best violin possible, or just good enough to sell?  Same thing, different material.  :P

Hmm, did you think I was making an attempt to equate scientific or engineering descriptions or terminology with elitist language? :P

"Elitist" language is not necessarily very precise in communication at all. And sometimes it can be a way of sounding eloquent or knowledgeable, without really saying or knowing anything. ;)

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33 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Hmm, did you think I was making an attempt to equate scientific or engineering descriptions or terminology with elitist language? :P

"Elitist" language is not necessarily very precise in communication at all. And sometimes it can be a way of sounding eloquent or knowledgeable, without really saying or knowing anything. ;)

What are we supposed to think?  I can read your text, but not your mind.  You began by deprecating grammar, then began using "elite" in a vague way which does not indicate which particular superior or difficult-to-join group you are attempting to show contempt for.  I'd say you're digging a good hole for your own argument.  :P:lol:

You might want to be cautious as well, because everyone who posts here regularly is pretty obviously a member of some elite group.  Including you:)

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2 hours ago, Addie said:

... but I'm just jealous because I couldn't even reconstruct a Cremonese model for a cardboard box...  :lol: 

 

 

... Can someone help me out of this box, please?  I glued myself in... :(

[Expertly slices the top off]  There.  You look darned funny in there, you know?  ;):lol:

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

I'd estimate that more than half of the grief Humanity suffers, from wars to divorces, by way of trouble in the workplace, is due to imprecise communication. 

The other half being an inflated sense of self worth, and an inability to compromise. :ph34r: 

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4 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

[Expertly slices the top off]  There.  You look darned funny in there, you know?  ;):lol:

I know, I know, if I had used hide glue, this never would have happened.  You said that last time, too.  Nice katana,  BTW.  :lol:

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