Quadibloc

How Do You Make a Violin More Responsive, More Expressive?

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

Do you have any actual evidence that this isn't happening already, with or without Kreit's book?

Why, that's the trouble. I lack evidence that it isn't, and I lack evidence that it is. There are just people who say the one thing, and other people who say the other.

It would take a great amount of expertise for me to gain such an ear as to form a direct opinion. So I am trying to ask well-chosen questions that lead to people having to respond with reasonably verifiable statements that indicate what the situation is.

So, while I can see there are reasons why a concert soloist might be unwilling to be seen as an eccentric by saying his violin from you, or Don Noon, or Sam Zygmuntowicz, is as good as the Stradivari violins he has encountered... for such a one to at least compliment his violin from a modern maker by saying it has, in at least some small measure, that virtue of responsiveness that seems to be cited as Stradivari's great strength... would seem possible. He or she ought to be able to say that much in public without torpedoing his or her chances of being lent a Stradivari, if it is felt that would be helpful from a career viewpoint.

Such evidence would be better than the testimony of my own ears, because it would be more useful, and less subject to dismissal, in a discussion on the question.

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45 minutes ago, Quadibloc said:

Why, that's the trouble. I lack evidence that it isn't, and I lack evidence that it is. There are just people who say the one thing, and other people who say the other.

Here's good evidence that it is, or isn't.  Don't know which.  If there was  a substantial difference, they wouldn't have to split hairs to show a difference.  It would be substantially obvious...

 

Using only good moderns for comparison, I mean.  Not like the bad one I linked to that I like better.

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13 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

I don't quite understand either, why you would have high hopes for any violin book if you don't play and you don't make,, and mamma don't play and she don't smoke,,

are you in need of a cause? and like the legend of the unreachable star ,,,,,,,,,,,,the echelon of perfection,,,,,,,,,,

Are you are just a seeker for seekers sake?   It's all along the journey that perfection is found, not the end. You are shown the perfection at the end.

So to be on the journey is of paramount importance, for where there is no journey, all is already lost.     Fair enough.

Looking over the legend of Stradiveri, Del Gesu, Bergonzi, Amati, and their long lost list of camaraderie?  Is it true? Sure, I think so.

You would like to see the information on how to make a strad every time,,, spread to the world so that everyone that played would have a good instrument to play,,,, that is a noble enough cause, it would boost music and the ease of the performance of it, and make it easier and more pleasurable for those that perform it.

Rolls Royce is not going to go to KIA and say let us give you all of our top technology because we believe that everyone deserves a good car,, not gonna happen, not in the current spiritual state of this planet. Cars are much easier to make than great fiddles, they can be easily mass produced by the millions, all the same, over and over.

Violins are like nature, everything is different, snowflakes are different, billions of leaves,, yet they are all a bit different.

Every violin is a bit different, and to make a great one, the bullseye is always moving a bit, never exactly the same, but you know that you're in the right city and the neighborhood is one more block on the right,, now just have to find the right address and we're home. The target is larger the further away from perfection that you get, some only get to the state, some to the city, some to the neighborhood, and some go all the way home. It's really not an abc cookbook solution.

Kreits book has some amazing research I am sure, and to learn it is not going to hinder you, it will provide you with the knowledge to learn to control the properties of the wood. That is a good thing, will it make a strad sound? I am the wrong one to answer that question.

Is carleen H right,,, of course she is, right as rain, without it you die, she showed the building blocks of the structure that we built, the stiffness's, the weights,,, and experimented a lot with the manipulation of these,,,,,, Does it make the strad sound,, no,, no way.

Why?

You can get to the numbers with a million and one different graduations and arching schemes,  and the graduations do a lot more than just getting to a certain number. Some work well, some don't, but all with the same stiffness numbers.

Is Dunnwald real? Yes in a way,, he did find what he believed was a significant measurable difference, indicating that the sound wasn't just your imagination. The bottom line is duplicating those numbers don't necessarily give a good violin at all,,, especially a strad. In fact,,, if the numbers are all you are shooting for,,, you'll probably build junk. The pattern of numbers  is the artifact of their method,, not the focal point.

Any violin can sound sweet and any violin can be rough and harsh and all of them burn about the same. That's why violas are a better investment, they are harder to light,,, no fire wants to get caught burning a viola.

A tall arch does not equate sweet anymore than it always rains on Thursdays in the odd numbered months. A flat arched fiddle can be sweet,, I think that you mix up sweet and the actual frequency  make up.

How to improve the tone,,,

There are basic ways and information that is  available,,,but how will you prove them if you don't make?

Any way just rambling on about some of your questions,

Evan

Wow, you must not be very busy in the shop.

 

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4 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Why, that's the trouble. I lack evidence that it isn't, and I lack evidence that it is. There are just people who say the one thing, and other people who say the other.

It would take a great amount of expertise for me to gain such an ear as to form a direct opinion. So I am trying to ask well-chosen questions that lead to people having to respond with reasonably verifiable statements that indicate what the situation is.

So, while I can see there are reasons why a concert soloist might be unwilling to be seen as an eccentric by saying his violin from you, or Don Noon, or Sam Zygmuntowicz, is as good as the Stradivari violins he has encountered... for such a one to at least compliment his violin from a modern maker by saying it has, in at least some small measure, that virtue of responsiveness that seems to be cited as Stradivari's great strength... would seem possible. He or she ought to be able to say that much in public without torpedoing his or her chances of being lent a Stradivari, if it is felt that would be helpful from a career viewpoint.

Such evidence would be better than the testimony of my own ears, because it would be more useful, and less subject to dismissal, in a discussion on the question.

Give yourself a little excursion into the comments and stories from great players about their fovorite fiddles and finding them.  People like Perlman, Bell, Kavakos and many others have been rather publicly vocal about these things. These are artists with vast experience, and exposure to countless instruments.  Yet they coveting and acquiring very special instruments from the top of Cremona tradition.

That repeating scenario is the one thing that matters.

 (None of these stories envolves falling in love with numerically reworked factory trash. The little Dunnwald statisical coincidence is not determinant, the actual point, or very significant - just an interesting side curiosity).

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4 minutes ago, Dwight Shirley said:

Any violin can sound sweet and any violin can be rough and harsh and all of them burn about the same. That's why violas are a better investment, they are harder to light,,, no fire wants to get caught burning a viola.

:lol::P:lol:

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1 hour ago, David Beard said:

That repeating scenario is the one thing that matters.

An overarching repeating scenario is that rich people tend to own expensive not necessarily necessary stuff.   There are others.

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The 'rich people' scenario adds to the price tags, but isn't why the special instruments are special. The 'great players fall in love with them' scenario is the one that makes special instruments special.

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12 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I didn't see a compass being used.  Apparently this ceiling artist doesn't use or understand geometric constructions.

Maybe you're being ironic.

He doesn't need one.

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1 hour ago, David Beard said:

The 'great players fall in love with them' scenario is the one that makes special instruments special.

There's a great player I try to keep in touch with a little bit and she had the loan of a price record breaking Strad but resorted to her 20th cent Brit fiddle that she won her competitions with.  It was exciting to have it, but she gave it the dear John  pretty easily. The great players fall in love with them the same way regular rich guys fall in love with their 50 yr old cougar wives in leopard print dresses.  Doesn't make them special.

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14 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

There's a great player I try to keep in touch with a little bit and she had the loan of a price record breaking Strad but resorted to her 20th cent Brit fiddle that she won her competitions with.  It was exciting to have it, but she gave it the dear John  pretty easily. The great players fall in love with them the same way regular rich guys fall in love with their 50 yr old cougar wives in leopard print dresses.  Doesn't make them special.

 If this kind of choice begins to repeat many times with top artists, then the balance will change.

 

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11 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

Why, that's the trouble. I lack evidence that it isn't, and I lack evidence that it is. There are just people who say the one thing, and other people who say the other.

It would take a great amount of expertise for me to gain such an ear as to form a direct opinion. So I am trying to ask well-chosen questions that lead to people having to respond with reasonably verifiable statements that indicate what the situation is.

 

Without hands-on experience of modern and Classical Cremonese violins you will never be able to say anything authoritative about these issues, so I am struggling to se why you want to accumulate this information.

There are thousands of amateurs who present second-hand hearsay and sundry bullshit repackaged into vanity projects - I can't believe you want to just be another of these.

So unless you're a keen violinist, a keen maker or a serious appreciator of classical violin performance, this is not a field which should be taking up your time.

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David, I don't know what you're saying, but if you were really into cars, and you had money to literally burn, you'd buy the most expensive car, just because it was.  Like if Jay Leno was a violinist...  That is all that happens. 

A maker on this board is outfitting a player who could easily get the loan of a Strad.  Her teacher could have outfitted her with one when she used this maker's instead to win the most monied competition I know of.  No doubt there are a hundred other examples.  I think milliennials might be the generation that bursts the bubble.  But I don't think it will affect the price of anything, because there's so much romance involved, which is fine.

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Although I'd pedantically insist that an inanimate object can never be "expressive", I'm more prepared to accept that "responsive" violins make it possible for players to express themselves more fully.

As a case in point (let's talk about music, if that's allowed on this site!), last night I heard a string quartet concert given by a group of highly competent freelance professionals who play in various combinations, mainly for their own enjoyment (as evidenced by the size of the audience). Although their Beethoven felt in parts like a read-through I enjoyed the freshness and enthusiasm of their Ravel, without the tonal gloss and exaggerated gestures you sometimes get from more stellar groups.

My main reservation concerned the first violin, an excellent player who had all the notes but whose tone I unfortunately found rather insistent and "inexpressive". "Give that man a better violin" you might say, but would that have helped? There were times when a little less volume would have sufficed. I'm sure he'd have jumped at the offer of a Strad, but I doubt it would have made him any more expressive.

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

David, I don't know what you're saying, but if you were really into cars, and you had money to literally burn, you'd buy the most expensive car, just because it was.  Like if Jay Leno was a violinist...  That is all that happens. 

A maker on this board is outfitting a player who could easily get the loan of a Strad.  Her teacher could have outfitted her with one when she used this maker's instead to win the most monied competition I know of.  No doubt there are a hundred other examples.  I think milliennials might be the generation that bursts the bubble.  But I don't think it will affect the price of anything, because there's so much romance involved, which is fine.

I guess your focusing on the dynamics of the crazy high prices.   That is not what I'm talking about.  Nor is it truly interesting to me.  In a way, I think it's too bad that the prices are so wild.   And as you say, that is a money and history thing.  And it will continue even somehow the choice of the best performers moves away from these same fiddles.  Historical interest alone will suffice to keep driving the price for some instruments.    But for concert artist to keep choosing those instrument will require that such great players keep finding the fullest potential and greatest satisfaction in playing them.

What is interesting to me is the fact that for a few centuries a instruments from a rather limited range of makers as so powerfully dominated as the choice of the best artist performers.  That interests me.  And how to make instruments that might embody similar virtues, regardless of how they are received.   I do not believe that those centuries of artists were wrong or misguided.  Those instruments appealed to them.  Understanding that is interesting to me.  Denying it isn't. Avoiding it isn't. And talking about the money side also not so much.

Now, today there are some cracks in the picture.  Why???  I think partly it is the price that cause people to look very seriously at the alternatives.   Partly it's some very good making as been happening.  And partly the tastes maybe changing.   And partly that playing exposure to those historically favored instruments is more dilute than ever.

I certainly do believe in the possibility of modern makers creating satisfying alternatives for players.  That is after all exactly what I'm aiming at.

 

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

So unless you're a keen violinist, a keen maker or a serious appreciator of classical violin performance, this is not a field which should be taking up your time.

Although I can't claim to be even the third of those, it is from the viewpoint of someone in that position that I believe this is a serious real-world question.

In the PBS special "The Great Violin Mystery", which features the work of Dr. William "Jack" Fry, the violinist Joseph Silverstein expresses his dismay that, given the expense and rarity of the great Cremonese instruments, it becomes difficult for students of the violin to progress beyond a certain point. He supported the work of Dr. Fry - instead of the work of existing good luthiers - in hopes of resolving this issue.

If there is no lost "secret" of Stradivari that needs to be rediscovered to make a great violin - as we have plenty of modern makers who know how to pick out the right wood, and correctly apply a suitable varnish, and do whatever else that may be needed - that is good news that needs to be more widely known.

But how can that be done, when it goes against a widely-held popular belief - and the simple assertion would be met with skepticism because of the obvious potential involvement of self-interest? The recent blind test results will certainly raise a few doubs in people's minds.

Maxim Vengerov's recent piece in The Strad expounds at greater length on what I saw from Joseph Silverstein's comments in that video. The real strength of a Stradivarius isn't really claimed to be its tone or projection - but rather the interaction between the player and the instrument.

If good modern instruments were perhaps better known, this might help; but it seems that something as dramatic as a blind test isn't going to be available as a way to illustrate this point.

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Perhaps read through the last 10 years of Maestronet - you are very late to this particular party!

If you read through the discussion of the Fritz/Curtin Paris experiment, that will show you that the issues are infinitely more nuanced and incapable of resolution than you hope.

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

So unless you're a keen violinist, a keen maker or a serious appreciator of classical violin performance, this is not a field which should be taking up your time.

I could lay claim to at least one of those but the word on my gravestone will be "sceptic". I'm sceptical as to whether a violin's expressive qualities (above a certain price point but a pretty low one) reside anywhere but in the mind of the player, but I'm just as sceptical about the design and conduct of blind trials so I doubt there will be any satisfaction from that quarter.

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The only people fiddle quality actually matters to are the few who PLAY VERY WELL and are DEEPLY DISSATISFIED  by ALMOST EVERY FIDDLE they try.  If that isn't you, then you have no need or use for better quality violins.   If that is you, then the few fiddles that are a deep pleasure to play are going to seem very special to you.  No matter their provenance.

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David, it would be interesting to learn the details of what happened.  I don't think there's anything that's considered peerless and without competition except due to promotion.

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On 7/5/2018 at 7:10 PM, Dwight Shirley said:

Wow, you must not be very busy in the shop.

 

Actually Insanely busy, at that moment I was waiting for varnish to set for another coat,,,, and glue to dry,,and taking a break from a project that a friend had for an insane last minute, working all nite 4th of July float,, I ended up not feeling well at all and not eating anything for 5 days,,,,,,

,Wow I feel great now,, at least 30 years younger!

Joints are smooth again, all of that old man stiffness is GONE!

Not kidding one bit, if you have never done a water fast,, they are great,, I'm just too stupid to do it a bit more often,,, God knows I needed it and I was forced into it! After so many days of not eating I decided to go ahead,, the first two days are the hardest,, it really a science and needs to be studied a bit but it is fantastic,,the brain gets very sharp, you grow new neural networks the memory greatly improves ect,,, probably not if you are really unhealthy with lots of garbage clogging up the body,,, I'm not,,, so I have results fairly fast,,, pun intended,,,

Have a good one Dwight!

Evan very thankful!

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On 7/5/2018 at 8:49 AM, Michael Darnton said:

I guess I stand alone here in thinking that the idea that the whole of violin making is all a hopeless muck of conflicting factoids with no order or underlying system is somehow not very inspirational. or informative?

I'll join ye on that hill, Michael...

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On 7/5/2018 at 6:49 AM, Michael Darnton said:

I guess I stand alone here in thinking that the idea that the whole of violin making is all a hopeless muck of conflicting factoids with no order or underlying system is somehow not very inspirational. or informative?

I definitely agree that this is not a useful place to start from. And I don't believe that violin making itself is that.

But whatever violin making is, what people curently know about violin making is something else. That can be confused; there can be areas of disagreement, areas of confusion, with no general consensus.

The physical processes involved are complicated - and the results are assessed subjectively.

One can objectively test whether or not people can hear a soloist above the orchestra.

Blind tests also work reasonably well on sweetness of tone.

Diversity of tone could be blind tested if the violinist cooperates, but the ease of achieving that diversity, ah, that would be harder to test.

However, I don't think that settling the Stradivarius question through blind testing is essential for progress; doing so would be unlikely to satisfy everyone anyways, as many people's opinions are too solidly set.

That's not what I think is needed. What is needed, though, is for it to be well known that there are modern makers whose violins, even if they don't quite measure up to the same level as those from Stradivari, do have this critical characteristic of being able to produce nuances of tone as the performer learns the instrument, so that training violinists at the higher levels is not critically dependent on the limited supply of Cremonese instruments.

This was the concern expressed by Joseph Silverstein. If it's not a valid concern, it's still a real problem, because of the hold the Stradivarius myth has on people's imaginations. So the critical thing is not to disabuse people of the belief that even Guadagnini was better, but just either to let it be known that there is an adequate supply of modern makers who are good enough, or, if that is not the case, to make it so, whether by rediscovering the lost secret of Stradivari or of Cremona, or by just more widely disseminating the current knowledge of the best modern makers.

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