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John_London

what determines the sound a luthier aims at?

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8 hours ago, curious1 said:

I disagree that the best violins do not have a ‘sound’. Violins are resonators and each violin has its own resonance profile. This is its ‘sound’. To argue that Szeryng’s ‘Le Duc’ and Perlman’s ‘Soil’ don’t each have a unique inherent voice and that their voice is not rejoiced in by their owners is absurd.

The neutrality that players value is in the response or behavior of the string. When the string behaves in a coherent and predictable manner the player is able to manipulate it according to their need. This manipulation changes the profile of the string’s energy (pitch, harmonic profile and amplitude). This neutral character of the string is highly prized by violin players. This quality is not what gives a violin its voice but instead tells it what to say.

To argue that Perlman or Szerying sounds they way they do because they are controlled by a violin is also absurd. 

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12 minutes ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

To argue that Perlman or Szerying sounds they way they do because they are controlled by a violin is also absurd. 

I don't think that the inherent sound or playing characteristics of a violin necessarily "control" the player, but these can certainly can be very important factors in what they choose to play (or purchase).

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I don't think that the inherent sound or playing characteristics of a violin necessarily "control" the player, but these can certainly can be very important factors in what they choose to play (or purchase).

Yes I agree

 

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Just now, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I realize the investment aspect is important for many players.  But my goal is to make instruments that will never be resold by their owners because they love them so much.

My impression is that one can expect to lose if reselling an instrument by all but the most celebrated makers, unless one can wait many decades. You only have to look at auction prices for many good contemporary makers, or try to sell one to a shop who deal in that maker, to discover that.

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1 hour ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

To argue that Perlman or Szerying sounds they way they do because they are controlled by a violin is also absurd. 

Perlman and Szeryng are not controlled by the violins they play. They control the vioiins they play. That is what I meant by ‘’telling it what to say’.

But they did choose those violins they play and I’m sure it was for very specific tonal reasons.

Violins are filters that cannot help but color the light that passes through them.

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24 minutes ago, curious1 said:

Perlman and Szeryng are not controlled by the violins they play. They control the vioiins they play. That is what I meant by ‘’telling it what to say’.

But they did choose those violins they play and I’m sure it was for very specific tonal reasons.

Violins are filters that cannot help but color the light that passes through them.

Szerying was not always a fan of the violin you mention and I wonder if you can tell when Perlman is playing which of his violins? .  

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13 minutes ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

Szerying was not always a fan of the violin you mention and I wonder if you can tell when Perlman is playing which of his violins? .  

Not sure which instrument that was? Szerying was maybe not the best example. He speaks briefly about the three violins he had not given away at

In German; the poster adds a translation in the comments.

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I think the fact that there are different camps of soloists, Guarneri vs Stradivari, is in itself indicative that great violins are not neutral canvases for players paint on.

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10 minutes ago, curious1 said:

My wife doesn’t always agree with me either yet there we are.

I’m not sure I could always say which but I’m sure Perlman can.

Yes...I think we are not far apart even tho we make different points

 

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Perlman owned another great G form Stradivari, the ‘General Kyd’, before he purchased the ‘Soil’. Obviously there is something of the color of these violins that appeals to him.

He tried the Soil once and told Menuhin to call him if he ever wanted to sell it. It was many years before he got a call and when he did it was at the moment he was literally about to sign the sales agreement for a NYC brownstone. Needless to say fiddle came before house.

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On 2/14/2018 at 5:35 PM, David Burgess said:

I have never managed to produce an exact sound copy, and I highly doubt that any other maker has managed to do so either, regardless of claims or marketing hype to the contrary.

Give a really good player any two violins, and he or she will perceive differences.

 

On 2/15/2018 at 6:57 PM, Melvin Goldsmith said:

If a maker's instrument has a certain sound that is probably a failure. In an ideal World the perfect instrument should enable the musician to make the sound they want. Luthiers should be humble. It is musicians not luthiers that make the music

 

 

13 hours ago, martin swan said:

[...]I'm much more familiar with the "soulmate" paradigm, where in addition to this utilitarian side, people are looking to be inspired or to fall in love. There are endless interviews with famous soloists speaking in exactly this way about their instrument[...]

 looking for an instrument which, at its least manipulated, had a complex and captivating voice.

[...]

 

 

11 hours ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

To argue that Perlman or Szerying sounds they way they do because they are controlled by a violin is also absurd. 

 

10 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I don't think that the inherent sound or playing characteristics of a violin necessarily "control" the player, but these can certainly can be very important factors in what they choose to play (or purchase).

 

8 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

[...]

as long as they work well, is the main Idea, I could love a blond or black or red as long as they were sweet and honest.

Not so simple!

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One trap some makers fall into, 'befriend a soloist then my ego and instruments will sound great, but never admit to anyone least of all myself it's a fallacy', 
There's more to music and instruments than that, but  it's also one of the reasons many 'soloists' or fine players steer clear of new instruments in the first place. 

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3 hours ago, ~ Ben Conover said:


One trap some makers fall into, 'befriend a soloist then my ego and instruments will sound great, but never admit to anyone least of all myself it's a fallacy

That's only if the soloist is willing to play a mediocre instrument as a favor to a friend.  I think most soloists (although I only know one) are first and foremost concerned with using an instrument that works for them, and if a friend/maker doesn't have one that is appropriate, too bad.  The soloist might buy one out of friendship and use it occasionally for practice, but the serious one is something else.

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I think a good analogy is two brands of paint.  One might be watery and the other thick and the colors of one might have some special quality that makes it better than the same color from the other brand.  Then the painter or player is superimposed on that.  He can do lots of things but he can't escape the fundamental quality of the paint, and he wants a really good paint (in his estimation).  Yawn.

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T

15 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I think a good analogy is two brands of paint...Yawn.

The analogy might not appeal to someone who is looking for their 'soulmate' violin.

Having started the thread, I tried to make clear it is not that I think all fine violins sound the same. I have felt lust at first sight for an instrument, more than once. It is more that with my related question--'what is a good violin?'--I suspect violinists like lovers are kidding themselves, and maybe missing treasures, if they think they can work out quickly which one's the keeper. And dealers, however well-intentioned, naturally want to sell the most profitable instruments, provided the client is also happy. Maybe luthiers actually do know the secret!

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3 minutes ago, John_London said:

--I suspect violinists like lovers are kidding themselves, and maybe missing treasures, if they think they can work out quickly which one's the keeper.

Good and experienced violinists often can. They've already played many different violins, and have already worked out approximately what they're looking for. They might not find exactly that, but will have a good idea when one comes closer than most they have tried, and which are not even close.

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42 minutes ago, John_London said:

T

The analogy might not appeal to someone who is looking for their 'soulmate' violin.

Having started the thread, I tried to make clear it is not that I think all fine violins sound the same. I have felt lust at first sight for an instrument, more than once. It is more that with my related question--'what is a good violin?'--I suspect violinists like lovers are kidding themselves, and maybe missing treasures, if they think they can work out quickly which one's the keeper. And dealers, however well-intentioned, naturally want to sell the most profitable instruments, provided the client is also happy. Maybe luthiers actually do know the secret!

The qualities that all good violins share, distinct from their ‘sound/tone color’, are what I would call mechanical attributes: an immediacy of response, a wide and usable dynamic range (not excessively stiff or loose), resiliency under the bow, harmonic purity (notes are well centered), and sufficient volume of sound.

 

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What does "harmonic purity (notes are well centered)"mean?

When I do a spectrum analysis of any note played the harmonics are whole integer multiples (2x, 3x, 4x etc.) of the fundamental frequency.  As an example, for an open string A note the harmonic sequence goes 440, 880, 1320...

Is there something else going on?

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