Jump to content

Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
 Share

Recommended Posts

7 minutes ago, Pylorius said:

Not the "same" exactly, more accurately, the inside arch of the belly should  be the mirror of the outer surface of the top, proportional, only slightly smaller, viewed from above where one can imagine that the inside arch of the bottom is curved upward, seen as a mirror. The outside arch of the belly should also correspond similarily as a mirror  image of the inside arch of the top. Then the Stradivari kink provides the extra longitudinal support, so the extra structure allows the top to be thinner, less wood fibers is taken since part of the height is from the kinked curve, instead of from the "carve". If makers try to go as thin without the extra "kinked" support, the arch will be prone to fail in my opinion without the underlying "formed" structure... and you only need a focusing of the eye to achieve this mirror imaging, like a laser that has two mirrors, one being 90%, this creates a "multiplicity", or coherency, incommensurability, the beam comes from a focusing lens, their is no "beam" of light created inside a laser... a violin also gains it's power of projection through the very same concept of coherency...so what is the mirror, and what is the  "focusing lens"?

Sorry, your idea about the violin arching mirrors may be a good observation or not ..... however your description of the laser-technique is partially wrong - at least in classical lasers ( I don´t know exactly the semiconductor-laser - technique, which could be different). The two mirrors of a classical laser create and amplify standing waves between the mirrors with coherency and parallelity and also monochromaticism. A lens is not needed unless you want to concentrate the beam.

I don´t think, that laser-technology has much similarities with violin-sound-"technology".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 2.8k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

3 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

Sorry, your idea about the violin arching mirrors may be a good observation or not ..... however your description of the laser-technique is partially wrong - at least in classical lasers ( I don´t know exactly the semiconductor-laser - technique, which could be different). The two mirrors of a classical laser create and amplify standing waves between the mirrors with coherency and parallelity and also monochromaticism. A lens is not needed unless you want to concentrate the beam.

I don´t think, that laser-technology has much similarities with violin-sound-"technology".

My comparison was as a focused beam, which corresponds to the focused sound and comb filtering in violins, everything involving a focusing of any type of energy is using the concept of coherency, so yes, exactly like a laser. The standing waves are just interference patterns, merely an "attribute", what the mirrors create is the multiplicity which leads to coherency of the"beam" by creating the delay in refraction of the two mirrors, when you shine light through a pinhole you also get a standing wave, but not a laser...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, David Burgess said:

To clarify, I do not do a constant radius all the way from block to block, but through about 3/4 of the total length. The portions near the ends still straighten out and re-curve. I agree that without this, we would have unusual bulging close to the very ends (if I'm interpreting what you wrote correctly).

One great wonder of the violin in my eyes is the often seen longitudinal spread-out of tops against the string tension ( at least in quite old instruments). According to string - tension the upper rib-ends at the neck-beginning should tilt towards top-center and the same should do the upper rib-ends at lower block. However normally they just do the opposite. 

Who can explain me, why ? Would this also happen, if a violin was never opened ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Danube Fiddler said:

One great wonder of the violin in my eyes is the often seen longitudinal spread-out of tops against the string tension ( at least in quite old instruments). According to string - tension the upper rib-ends at the neck-beginning should tilt towards top-center and the same should do the upper rib-ends at lower block.

They typically will, without restorer interventions.

How many restorer's hands has an instrument has passed through?  Difficult to sort out. Some interventions were well documented, and others were not documented at all.

So many people make the mistake of believing that the knowledge they have acquired so far, represents the entirety, when it's really a never-ending learning process, at least for the best in my business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, Pylorius said:

My comparison was as a focused beam, which corresponds to the focused sound and comb filtering in violins, everything involving a focusing of any type of energy is using the concept of coherency, so yes, exactly like a laser. The standing waves are just interference patterns, merely an "attribute", what the mirrors create is the multiplicity which leads to coherency of the"beam" by creating the delay in refraction of the two mirrors, when you shine light through a pinhole you also get a standing wave, but not a laser...

So far as I know, the sound-waves coming from violins are neither in any strong way direction-selected, nor monochromatic (single sinus-frequency) nor coherent. I don´t know, if these features are possible in sound-waves at all. 

I do not - but if I would anything in a violin compare with a laser, then it would be the string. However I am afraid that it is a little bit similar only in frequency -selection but not in all other laser-typical properties.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, 70 pages, and we've advanced so far beyond some of our earlier attempts to slice through the tangled scholarship on these matters, e.g., https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/331310-human-sacrifice-with-italian-obsidian-blade-lauded-as-strads-ground-secret/&  :lol:

Congrats, everybody!  Continue to boldly go, and all that.  :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Maple and spruce are already managed resources, usually planted and harvested like so many vegetables, much like pine where I am.  The violin business is no danger to them.  BTW, I conserve my forest very well, thank you.  You really want to help conserve forests, move to a rural area, and buy one.

IMHO, the biggest dangers to wild forests are clearance for development, where all the trees are bulldozed, piled up, and burned, as well as the uncontrolled cutting of many tropical forests for cheap hardwood to make throwaway furniture and housewares. 

We need a like button!! :)

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

The old texts that I've read says to make the top and back the same. Time will do the rest.

Hmm...    I'm not aware of any text sources from within the Italian Classical tradition.  The nearest sources appear to be from a viewpoint outside trying to look in, but with a limited view and usually with modernizing influences beginning to show.

 

However, there's also the thing about 'do as I do, not as I say.'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few more images:

1717 Strad   San Lorenzo

1399041164_1717StradSan_Lorenzo_ribs_side_1.jpg.d16c9a0ddefd9a6c6705f539dc01adfc.jpg

Consider just how tall that top would be if you 'corrected' the elongated elevation out of it!!!     Also, note that this instrument does show actual collapse from the bridge.  Note how local the effect is.

 

And it isn't so strongly correlated with time as one would expect if it were a matter of deformation magically occurring just at the divide between older and modernization making styles.   It is in fact more strongly dependent on maker and school of influence.

We saw the old arching in Lupot, the new in Vuillaume.  And 50 years later again, we see the old arching still used by Enrico Rocca.

1894 Rocca:

1583550330_1894EnricoRoccasideview.thumb.jpg.40709f4417149e12cef553251edfc619.jpg

 

And the style applies to cellos:

Strad Pawle cello:

1281692943_1730ccello744StradPawle_side.thumb.jpg.2b8fb8ed3fda3c5203a666c38396e1c4.jpg

Montagnana 1742 cello:

776647578_1742Montagnanacello090427231178b289a732e24371.jpg.2f080c7fbe1d9473d6ac4ab7d27fec12.jpg

 

If we try to say that this elongation is primarily a matter of deformation, then we are saying the majority area of the top plate is either depressed or distended on the order of 1, 2, and even 3 multiples of the plate thickness, and yet accidentally results in such beautiful and conceptually consistent arching shapes.  It just doesn't ring true.

Some images of Strad's Harrison and Cipriano violins:

 

1252901283_1683violinsmalldecoratedStradCiprianoPotter(4).jpg.4a3ffb7f71ba0fd5d3b54ede2560d641.jpg

1005473520_1683violinsmalldecoratedStradCiprianoPotter(6).thumb.jpg.80a3555499e4764c61cbb62c1f92eb6b.jpg

812775201_1693violin362StradHarrisonbassside.thumb.jpg.e1756603fed4fe90380137d777ab7820.jpg

 

1773124677_1693violinStradHarrison(4).thumb.jpg.ffc01b22f38c2fbfc39d0af25f4eaac2.jpg

 

 

Lastly, this style of long arc for the top is seen quite broadly for old Italian work:

2003745342_1630cMagginin.thumb.jpg.20ef435d38086e6ac89da62aa962093c.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

1683 violin small decorated  Strad  Cipriano Potter  (12).jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great images, I think you have identified the beauty of old Cremonese arching and see the details that many miss.

From what I see this is a key element in how they differ from the vast majority of other millions of violins. They all have this distinct elegant beauty in arch work.

Some Contemporary makers are able to replicate, but some miss this

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the San Lorenzo is a particularly good illustration - thanks.

If we accept the premise that this type of arching works because it preserves more long fibres (a big premise to accept), then pulling down the top at the upper bouts would also help with this marginally.

Another consequence of this flat arching (apart from minimising runout) would be the way the soundwaves reflect off the inside of the box.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, David Beard said:

Consider just how tall that top would be if you 'corrected' the elongated elevation out of it!!!  

It doesn't need to go into increased height. It can go into increased length instead. Or some combination of the two, at the discretion of the restorer. ;)

Remember the "piece of paper on a table" experiment? That illustrated how  the height at the center didn't need to change. Only the length.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think anyone is disputing that the arching on the front should be longer than on the back, and most makers throughout history including very ordinary trade makers have made instruments this way. But it's remarkable how little wood needs to be removed from the areas between the upper and lower bouts, to turn a full, sausage shaped arch into a much rounder one. And conversely how little distortion is needed to make an arching much longer and flatter looking.

I feel that this shape is about achieving an area of the belly that rolls to and fro, with a stiffness rather like a half pipe -  imagine a piece of guttering. To bring the straightness too far can be dangerous. The grain becomes too short and yielding , and the angle of the arching too high at the ends, and the neck will fall too much before the belly stabilizes, if it ever does.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

It doesn't need to go into increased height. It can go into increased length instead. Or some combination of the two, at the discretion of the restorer. ;)

Remember the "piece of paper on a table" experiment? That illustrated how  the height at the center didn't need to change. Only the length.

Go ahead a justify anyway that pleases you.  We don't and likely won't find agreement on this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, David Beard said:

Go ahead a justify anyway that pleases you.  We don't and likely won't find agreement on this.

Nobody is disputing your photographic evidence. The question is how they got that way. By initial design, or from the normal effects of "wood creep"? Or possibly some combination of the two? Wood creep under string load, and restorer interventions cannot reasonably be ignored. Wood creep occurs, to a greater or lesser extent, on all violins.

At the Oberlin Restoration Workshops, I'd estimate that 5-10 plaster casts are made on average, during each five-day session. Does that start to give you an idea how common this is?

I understand. Most people have no idea what-all can be involved in keeping some of these old violins on the playing circuit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can say that arching does creep on mandolins as well and under tension of 8 metal strings it can be dramatic when top is thin or arching is too weak (bulbous). Typically the arch bulges between bridge and tailpiece but remains unchanged on the other end as arch is typically more straight towards neck . I've seen instruments (less than 30 years old) where bridge was leaning forward as the arch behind bridge bulged at least 1/8" out and even touched the tailpiece.

On many vintage Gibson F-5 mandolin drawings the long arch is drawn with highest point well behind the bridge which shows they were taken from instruments that suffered creep and instruments made to those archings result in extreme bulge and often top joint cracks open between bridge and tailpiece.

I 've had a chance to analyze CT scan of well preserved vintage Gibson mandolin with healthy thicknesses and with strings relaxed for some time, the long arch was quite nice symmetric with peak under the bridge. Since all those mandolins were made at factory on duplicating carvers it clearly shows how much the creep can do in 80 years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

From what I see this is a key element in how they differ from the vast majority of other millions of violins. 

Some Contemporary makers are able to replicate, but some miss this

In my experience this long - flattened middle section of long arch is not so extremly uncommon in other than  old-italian violins ( for example also in contemporary violins - I even observe, that mass production of violins has discovered this arching feature since a longer time ).

Apparently this long-arching feature probably is not by accident but for its alone doesn´t bring an old-italian sound.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

In my experience this long - flattened middle section of long arch is not so extremly uncommon in other than  old-italian violins ( for example also in contemporary violins - I even observe, that mass production of violins has discovered this arching feature since a longer time ).

Yes, many contemporary makers build some of this in, to varying extents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I assume, that the key areas in this game are the upper and lower bouts. If you don´t have a longer flat middlezone in the long-arch, then these upper and lower bout-areas will come out nearly table-like - probably resulting in a more "flat" sound ( that means lesser expressive/ lesser personal but eventually more volume ). 

There could be some similarity to the question of total arching - height. My general impression is, the more height, the more personality and charme of sound - the lesser height, the lesser personality of sound but more volume. Eventually the great art of the leading Cremonese masters was, to go flatter in archings ( and getting more volume) but in spite of this to keep charme and personality - possibly by a very suitable wood-choice or even a special wood-treatment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Nobody is disputing your photographic evidence. The question is how they got that way. By initial design, or from the normal effects of "wood creep"? Or possibly some combination of the two? Wood creep under string load, and restorer interventions cannot reasonably be ignored. Wood creep occurs, to a greater or lesser extent, on all violins.

At the Oberlin Restoration Workshops, I'd estimate that 5-10 plaster casts are made on average, during each five-day session. Does that start to give you an idea how common this is?

I understand. Most people have no idea what-all can be involved in keeping some of these old violins on the playing circuit.

What we're disputing is the primary cause.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

In my experience this long - flattened middle section of long arch is not so extremly uncommon in other than  old-italian violins ( for example also in contemporary violins - I even observe, that mass production of violins has discovered this arching feature since a longer time ).

Apparently this long-arching feature probably is not by accident but for its alone doesn´t bring an old-italian sound.

Indeed. In case anyone hasn't noticed, if one goes to order a violin, one of the first things one will encounter is the choice between a "Stradivari pattern" or "Guarneri pattern" violin. The former is usually, although not always, a copy of the "Salabue" or "Messiah" instrument.

Of course, just because arching is visible, and not "secret", is not a guarantee that modern makers won't get it wrong. There is a tendency toi abstract and simplify what one sees, particularly as, when one expends effort to shape a violin plate, one will concentrate on those aspects one thinks important.

Incidentally, a persistent category of claims about the "Secret of Stradivari" has been that he did something to reduce the difference between the along-grain and cross-grain strength of the wood. Using spirit varnish, treating the wood, and special climate variations have all been proposed as causes. But no attempt to imitate this has taken the world by storm.

It occurs to me that perhaps the experiments in that direction failed because they went too far. Perhaps Stradivari did add a little cross-grain strength to the plates of his violins, but he did so with a gentle and tasteful hand. How might he have done so?

Here is one possibility offered for consideration:

When applying the ground coat, leave tiny, hairline-width, gaps in the ground coat, running horizontally across the belly of the violin. (The back, being of maple, a wood so much harder, is unlikely to require any such secret manipulation.)

Then, the first thin coating of linseed oil will create little second-order bass bars of extra stiffness to transmit vibrations across the belly. (Remember to only leave the gaps in the area where the original bass bar of a baroque violin would have extended, as Stradivari could not have foreseen what changes would be made later in his violins.)

Here is a flexible technique that allows adding just a tiny little bit of extra stiffness across the grain to the belly, without the choice being between adding none and adding a whole lot, which is likely to be too much.

Here is a diagram, to more fully illustrate what I am thinking of: additional details are present, such as not going all the way to the edges, and following Dr. William Fry, paying special attention to the area between the f-holes:

secret3.jpg.10378acb4efb93e6dade14e7cfd7aef6.jpg

And the gaps in the ground coat perhaps should be more than a hairline in thickness. Of course, this is so variable that one can adjust it so as to do no harm - and have no benefit either, as being too slight to have any effect. But it is a way of gaining an additional degree of freedom in making a violin that has perhaps been overlooked.

Edited by Quadibloc
Adding diagram
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I only observe that there is a set of del Gesu instruments made towards the end that have archings that are virtually identical, front and back. These have mostly maintained that to the present, in spite of the forces of time. One of them has a defined point in the arch under the tip of the board, as if two half templates met there. Taken in context, I believe it is easy to explain how these came to be this way, as a group that is distinctly different from other del Gesus in many other ways.

I don't doubt that archings change over time, but I very much doubt that time can turn one type into the completely undistorted form of another type! 

We took a hard look at del Gesu arches one year at the http://scvmw.com workshop, and discovered interesting enough similarities over decades of del Gesu instruments to point to the possibility of making a single set of long arch templates that would nearly fit all of them. The front and back turn out to have an "interesting" relation to each other that helps confirm the concept. This shouldn't be a foreign idea, since it's just an offshoot of something Roger Hargrave proposed several decades ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/20/2018 at 11:51 PM, Pylorius said:

Not the "same" exactly, more accurately, the inside arch of the belly should  be the mirror of the outer surface of the top, proportional, only slightly smaller, viewed from above where one can imagine that the inside arch of the bottom is curved upward, seen as a mirror. The outside arch of the belly should also correspond similarily as a mirror  image of the inside arch of the top. Then the Stradivari kink provides the extra longitudinal support, so the extra structure allows the top to be thinner, less wood fibers is taken since part of the height is from the kinked curve, instead of from the "carve". If makers try to go as thin without the extra "kinked" support, the arch will be prone to fail in my opinion without the underlying "formed" structure... and you only need a focusing of the eye to achieve this mirror imaging, like a laser that has two mirrors, one being 90%, this creates a "multiplicity", or coherency, incommensurbility, the beam comes from a focusing lens, their is no "beam" of light created inside a laser... a violin also gains it's power of projection through the very same concept of coherency...so what is the mirror, and what is the  "focusing lens"?

Is this from Euro Peluzzi's 1978 publication Tecnica Costruttiva Degli Antichi Liutai Italiani, or is it your own? 

On 6/21/2018 at 12:15 AM, Danube Fiddler said:

Sorry, your idea about the violin arching mirrors may be a good observation or not ..... however your description of the laser-technique is partially wrong - at least in classical lasers ( I don´t know exactly the semiconductor-laser - technique, which could be different). The two mirrors of a classical laser create and amplify standing waves between the mirrors with coherency and parallelity and also monochromaticism. A lens is not needed unless you want to concentrate the beam.

I don´t think, that laser-technology has much similarities with violin-sound-"technology".

How might the ancient philosophers have thought about it? You can't apply modern science to ancient techniques. Better to apply ancient philosophy.

On 6/21/2018 at 3:48 AM, David Beard said:

Hmm...    I'm not aware of any text sources from within the Italian Classical tradition.  The nearest sources appear to be from a viewpoint outside trying to look in, but with a limited view and usually with modernizing influences beginning to show.

 

However, there's also the thing about 'do as I do, not as I say.'

David,

Dizionario delle Arti e de Mestieri, by Francesco Griselini and Marco Fassadoni, published in Venice 1770

The principal point for the goodness of the instrument is to find good, old and sonorous spruce for the belly: the best is from Tyrol. The cavity shapes given to this belly in a vault shape more or less high, the diverse thicknesses to be observed, the way that the bassbar is placed inside, to the side of the cordone, which is the thickest string of the violin, the height of the ribs, and finally the excavating of the back which has to correspond perfectly to that of the belly; all this together with the true way of positioning the two holes in the shape of S which are carved in the violin belly, the placement of the soundpost and the bridge, contribute in an essential way to the goodness of the instrument. 

Translation Luca Primon.

Cozio di Salabue mentions the same thing. My article explains that also Antonio Stradivari may have followed the same principle. The key to understand it is twofold: that the inside is the focus, and David Burgess' explanation of the bulging of the long arch over time. Or you can ignore it and do your own thing.

The question remains: how do you prevent the long arch from creep?

 

Edited by Torbjörn Zethelius
Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

The principal point for the goodness of the instrument is to find good, old and sonorous spruce for the belly: the best is from Tyrol. 

Possibly this point is generally underrated. Fridolin and Walter Hamma wrote in their books quite often : "instruments of maker XY sound good, because he used fine tonewood " ! 

39 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

The question remains: how do you prevent the long arch from creep?

By an always good adjustment.  

I assume, that a very good split of spruce will help.

I could imagine, that good vertical archings are of advantage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/21/2018 at 5:06 AM, David Beard said:

Consider just how tall that top would be if you 'corrected' the elongated elevation out of it!!!     Also, note that this instrument does show actual collapse from the bridge.  Note how local the effect is.

 

Deformation  analysis  depends on the reference chosen  (plan or axis of symmetry in the case of an outline).
In the example of the Strad, rather than seeing a collapsed vault, we can consider that top and the bottom blocks have been pushed upwards and that the motion has been thwarted by the pressure of the bridge. The result is that the deformation is reflected in the long-arch under the fingerboard and under the tailpiece.

In this case the the long-arch original form reconstruction demands to
-lowered the plan of the top and bottom blocks
- lengthen the length of the table

(You can reproduce this experience of distorcion easly usind a simple strip of wood on a bench)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...