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Stradivari's secret was a concept?


Andreas Preuss
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On June 19, 30 Heisei at 9:25 AM, Danube Fiddler said:

What´s about you, Andreas ? 

Not any longer interested in concepts ? I know........

In my case, there kept one question about the directional experiment open.

Sorry for my absence. I was busy with bike rides and ice cream. 

Directional experiment? The thing with the 200 Mocs around the performer. 

Go ahead with your question.

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7 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I am asking myself more and more the question how it comes that within Italy completely unrelated violin makers from different schools and different background working in different periods get according to the Dunnwald study an astonishing similar tonal result?

My article 'Arching the divide' addresses this common concept among Italian makers. If we are looking for a concept, then we should also expect to re-evaluate our own conceptual ideas about how violins are made. 

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On June 19, 30 Heisei at 11:07 AM, Michael Darnton said:

It's not really about secrets, I think. It may be more about tradition. Spurred by one DB's comments some time ago, I've been making a real effort to follow American violin making, looking in particular at the judges, teachers, and winners. What I have seen (which I was aware of long before) is a German tradition which has permeated American making and seems to be hard to wash out. It appears to me, as an outsider, that when those early-learned ideas get challenged, there's been a strong wave of reinterpreting things in a way that doesn't negate that early teaching. I'm not saying that it's universal, but that it really does permeate what's going on, and influences what new ideas are considered "acceptable." This would be an interesting discussion, but not one I'm willing to have here because it would involve names of current makers, with very specific comments about their violins. I am sure that most of them would deny the German influence I can  easily point to--surprisingly easily in some details.  Of course there are exceptions, but there aren't nearly as many as would count themselves as exceptions.

Vuillaume, of course, wasn't in this tradition, didn't have it's problems to undo, and added to that he was a genuinely great expert with immense exposure to Cremonese instruments, AND total respect for them. In particular, his Cannone copies are commonly acknowledged to be among his very best work. It doesn't surprise me at all, especially since I have handled some great violins of his, that a great Vuillaume would beat most and perhaps all modern makers, in a general way. Of course, specifically, some Walter Dumpsch violin may beat some Antonio Stradivari violin in the hand of some particular player on some day, on some music in some hall. But I'm talking about the mass of evidence and preference here, since that IS what this discussion is about: overall concepts.

Ironically this thread was started by a German. :rolleyes:

Maybe it is time to organize a violin conference about concepts.

I started this mainly for 3 reasons: 

First, I realized that for the many things we do in practice it doesn't really matter which material we use. Thinking to the extreme we could as well carve plastic. 

Secondly I was called to make a monthly lecture at a violin making school and I didn't want to repeat existing prejudices knowing that students would politely listen to my talk and forget about it the next day. So I started to talk and work with them violin as a concept. The throughout positive response seems to be good enough to justify this new and unusual approach.

Thirdly, sitting here in Japan there are not many people where I could discuss this stuff, so I thought it might be interesting to put it on a public discussion board to hear what my peers elsewhere in the world think about it. 

I have to admit that I am far away to present any conclusive and practice oriented concept and therefore spinning thoughts on this thread might continue still a while.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Thinking to the extreme we could as well carve plastic.

Well, maybe not carve plastic.

One of the things some people think these days is: oh, gee, we have these wonderful 3D printers, why not print a violin with one of them?

The most obvious obstacle is, though, that wood has grain, while plastic is isotropic, the same in all directions.

But a 3D printer can let you give plastic different properties in different directions: make a hollow structure with ribs in one direction.

I think it will be very difficult to make a decent violin out of plastic for many reasons, but because of the control and repeatability available, the notion will be tempting.

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1 hour ago, Quadibloc said:

Well, maybe not carve plastic.

One of the things some people think these days is: oh, gee, we have these wonderful 3D printers, why not print a violin with one of them?

The most obvious obstacle is, though, that wood has grain, while plastic is isotropic, the same in all directions.

But a 3D printer can let you give plastic different properties in different directions: make a hollow structure with ribs in one direction.

I think it will be very difficult to make a decent violin out of plastic for many reasons, but because of the control and repeatability available, the notion will be tempting.

Sorry, I think you didn't understand what I was trying to explain. Of course because wood has a grain it is as a material different from plastic. This wasn't my point. 

Lets try in other words. The way modern makers carve the plates is to avoid under all circumstances that it deforms and this is just like working with a stable material like plastic. However as a matter of fact wood warps and reacts to humidity and if we want to work in a wood organic way we need to learn how to factor in the warping during the construction process. 

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On 6/29/2018 at 7:27 PM, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

That's what I'm saying.

I believe that when talking about "reflection" in historical terms, it literally means what you see reflected in actual light on a surface, not that something just looks as another. That is why I say the internal back arch is what appears as a reflection of the outer top arch, while the back inner arch is carved, and vise versa. This is a visual concept that requires no measurement or tools, other than to check progress. This accounts for differences in thickness, and variations in consistency as well, because the goal is to carve what you see, not what you measure...

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1 hour ago, Pylorius said:

I believe that when talking about "reflection" in historical terms, it literally means what you see reflected in actual light on a surface, not that something just looks as another. That is why I say the internal back arch is what appears as a reflection of the outer top arch, while the back inner arch is carved, and vise versa. This is a visual concept that requires no measurement or tools, other than to check progress. This accounts for differences in thickness, and variations in consistency as well, because the goal is to carve what you see, not what you measure...

I don't see it that way. How can you carve an inside back arch to look like the outside of the belly? It doesn't make sense to me.

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10 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Well, maybe not carve plastic.

One of the things some people think these days is: oh, gee, we have these wonderful 3D printers, why not print a violin with one of them?

The most obvious obstacle is, though, that wood has grain, while plastic is isotropic, the same in all directions.

But a 3D printer can let you give plastic different properties in different directions: make a hollow structure with ribs in one direction.

I think it will be very difficult to make a decent violin out of plastic for many reasons, but because of the control and repeatability available, the notion will be tempting.

Current 3D printers are capable of printing in all sorts of materials and in complex layers. The commercial limitations are machine cost, printing time, and the knowledge to properly direct the printer.

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2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Ok, then can you name me from the top of your head a maker in Markneukirchen who didn't?

As I recall, the violins sold under the name Antonio Curatoli were of decent quality, selling for $20 in the Sears catalog, and being of comparable quality to a $1000 violin these days.

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On 7/2/2018 at 8:29 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

Sorry for my absence. I was busy with bike rides and ice cream. 

Very good idea ! :)

 

On 7/2/2018 at 8:29 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

Directional experiment? The thing with the 200 Mocs around the performer. 

Go ahead with your question.

You told, that the old-italian / Cremonese violins had  more even total db radiation in all directions.

My question would be, if these fine instruments also had a more even responsive - curve in a normal measuring like this of Curtin.  Or one more point : The directionality of radiation is not equal for all frequencies. Do the fine instruments "invest" smaller amounts of energy in these frequency-ranges, known as particularly directional ? 

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While I think that the key to placing ourselves genuinely in an alchemical frame of thought has been far more thoroughly lost than the secret of Stradivari's varnish... I think it's useful to note that there may be one way in which putting ourselves in Stradivari's frame of mind, the starting premise of this thread, is both possible, and clearly has the possibility of being useful even from a coldly practical perspective.

Stradivari made Baroque violins. With a Baroque bass bar and a Baroque neck. And he had never seen a Tourte bow, as they hadn't been invented yet.

On the one hand, one might be inclined to say it's a miracle that his violins sound so good under modern conditions, since they weren't designed for them.

But what if some of the aspects of the design of Stradivari's violins that make them work so well under modern conditions... are more clearly visible, and hence easier to design towards, when the violin is in its Baroque form, played under Baroque conditions?

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11 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

As I recall, the violins sold under the name Antonio Curatoli were of decent quality, selling for $20 in the Sears catalog, and being of comparable quality to a $1000 violin these days.

Not the best price. Better new Chinese instruments can beat that.

As a matter of fact this must be a brand name and maybe 90 percent of  the markneukirchen makers who made their own name escaped from their home town.

For example Michael Dötsch and Paul Knorr. 

Searching in my memory for makers who stayed there  I can find only Oskar Erich Heinel, Ritter who designed a new big viola model ( Ritter Bratsche) maybe a few more but all almost unknown on the international market.

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On June 20, 30 Heisei at 9:32 PM, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

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

Torbjörn, 

I am still catching up with the conversations on this thread, so sorry that I ask so late.

which texts do you refer to?

To my knowledge there are only 3 valid manyscripts

count cozios notes

i Segreti di bottega 

Antonio Marchis manual

is the information in there?

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He shows the text a few entries later.

It's a little descriptive bit, almost like an encyclopedia or methods listing book description.    A bit later in the period.  No reason to assume it reflects a Cremona practice, or even a direct first hand account.  

It's certainly interesting, but no reason to believe it any closer to the center of interest than the other sources you list.

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From my quick reading of the book it appears to be one of those books that also tells you how to make bread, build a brick wall, make soap, etc., like one of those popular formula books from the 1940s. The problem with old violin making books is always that they've been written by people who aren't immersed in the craft. Even Count Salabue was just repeating rumors and making observations about things in his collection. Marchi, of course, had no connection with Cremona at all.

When I started at Bein and Fushi, I had read just about everything about violins that was available in English or in translation, and quickly went through the remainder in the B&F library. People there just laughed at me, because what had been written down, with the notable exception of Sacconi and Hill, was essentially the blathering of amateurs, and all off the real meat of violin making is oral. That's one reason that after 4 years there and halfway through four more years at WH Lee making violins in a production shop, that I started writing the 40+ articles on violins that I wrote for the Guild of American Luthiers--because I believed that there was a real need for access to shop techniques as really happened in a good shop. And my co-workers thought I was being a traitor!

Now we have the web, where everyone and his dog has a platform to blather and try to look like an expert, with no apparent experience or a real name :-)

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31 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Now we have the web, where everyone and his dog has a platform to blather and try to look like an expert, with no apparent experience or a real name :-)

I could not agree more, although to be fair this phenomenon started decades ago in the print media.

 

jP

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50 minutes ago, Ron MacDonald said:

  Often those with least experience and expertise produce lengthy and verbose (and annoying) dissertations. 

I'm guilty of some of that - what I've found out over time is that I'll go through old posts and run across something I typed, wonder some why I posted then and still wonder some to why I do things differently today as compared to past years. 

  And I haven't been here at Maestronet very long.  I have more or less sifted through the unneeded chaf for making a fiddle - there was a lot of bad info. here and elsewhere.  It is better now these days as compared to four years ago.  I guess that just means I know who to trust and who to disregard when it pertains to violin making.  I do enjoy reading all though.  

  I can count easily on one hand who I'd trust with the reading and learning of violin sheet music and technique though -  a lost art here at Maestronet apparently, assuming it was here to be had in the first place.

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7 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

I could not agree more, although to be fair this phenomenon started decades ago in the print media.

 

jP

Please let us a little pleasure ! 

Many instrumental teachers report, they had learned the most things while teaching students. One of my Math- teachers formulated : "You yourself only have understood, when you can explain it to another person." But this person could ask uncomfortable questions ! 

B.t.w.  :  What turned out in Oberlin about Anima nova - posts ? They should have been validated there in this summer-workshop.

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On 7/4/2018 at 4:04 PM, Danube Fiddler said:

 

B.t.w.  :  What turned out in Oberlin about Anima nova - posts ? They should have been validated there in this summer-workshop.

Expecting them to be validated is wholly, and overly optimistic, fantasy.  

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On 7/3/2018 at 7:07 PM, Danube Fiddler said:

Very good idea ! :)

 

You told, that the old-italian / Cremonese violins had  more even total db radiation in all directions.

My question would be, if these fine instruments also had a more even responsive - curve in a normal measuring like this of Curtin.  Or one more point : The directionality of radiation is not equal for all frequencies. Do the fine instruments "invest" smaller amounts of energy in these frequency-ranges, known as particularly directional ? 

Unfortunately I didn't participate in the testing. I saw it on NHK TV so I can't say if the reponsive curve was more even. However the radiation in all directions did not depend on the frequency as much as on the more modern instruments.

I was  bit upset about this program because it was promoting the work of an amateur maker as the man who discovered 'THE SECRET'.  In reality I have the strong suspicion that he just thins down white factory fiddles with a tapping technique similar to Vigdorchik, varnishes them with a strange, brown, non-Cremonese looking varnish and sells his stuff as the biggest achievement since the invention of the wheel. :angry:

 

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