Bruce Tai Posted May 6, 2018 Report Share Posted May 6, 2018 There have been many blind tests in which Strads or del Gesus did not better modern violins. Fritz et al. published theirs in a series of three papers in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Many take them as scientific proof that Strads do not possess superlative tonal qualities. I am delighted to see that some blind tests do show favorable results for Strads and del Gesus: (1) One organized by Strad Magazine https://www.thestrad.com/stradivarius-violin-tops-the-strads-blind-test-of-old-and-modern-instruments/5129.article (2) One conducted at the Joachim competition YouTube video below (go to 48:00) There are two major problems with blind tests, such as the ones mentioned above and those by Fritz et al. First, working memory for timbre only lasts from a few seconds to tens of seconds in humans, shorter than the time interval required for the player to switch instruments and play the same passage. The timbre memory of the previous instrument may have already decayed when the next violin is being played. Secondly, Fritz and coworkers did not measure or report the loudness of individual instruments, meaning that subjective evaluations about timbre and preference could have been confounded by differences in loudness. Even if loudness were measured, there would have been no simple method to normalize for inter-instrument differences during live listening tests. Louder violin tones usually sound fuller and more preferable in side-by-side comparisons. Hence, without loudness equalization, it would be difficult to properly assess timbre. Scientifically, timbre is defined as the character or quality of a musical sound distinct from its loudness, pitch, duration, and spaciousness. What kind of blind listening test is sufficient for differentiating violin timbre remains unclear. Do we need to pre-screen the listeners for those with string auditory working memory? How about pre-screening the Strads involved and only admit the truly great ones? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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