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chungviolins

'Graduation day ' in Strad, July issue

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2 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Peter Westerlund is a very successful maker. ... Every violin maker have their own way of doing things.

While it certainly makes sense to pay attention to the methods of successful makers, there is no guarantee that the method being described is a fundamental reason for the maker's success.  It could be just an incidental habit or belief, such as always wearing the lucky socks while setting the soundpost.  If there is some genuine physics or acoustic basis, or well thought-out tests to show effectiveness, then there is more reason to give the maker's methods a closer look.  If there's a tedious and unusual method that ends up with arching and graduations well within the norm, I think there are simpler, easier ways to get there and be just as effective (just look for a successful maker that's using a simpler method, and you'll probably find one).

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This discussion reminds me of a previous discussion here. https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/320134-plate-tuning-and-the-aye-aye/

 

One can easily do a test:

using Audacity software, hold the plate near the mic on your computer. Scratch the plate on the side of the plate opposite to the mic side. Record and analyze the scratch sound. Repeat all over the plate. The first plate measured should be one made by Westerlund. 

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2 hours ago, violins88 said:

This discussion reminds me of a previous discussion

Me too.  All "tuning" methods seem to have a common feature:  no theory or evidence that it does anything beneficial.

There are usually many critical details involved in making a violin that are likely extremely important (like choosing the wood).  Good makers can do all those other things well, add in a personal or abnormal tuning method that isn't too detrimental, and get consistently good results.  If you DON'T do all those other things well, no amount of tuning convert it into a masterwork.

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12 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

But I understand the disappointment of Glenn, obviously he had some bad experience here in Cremona, .....

 

 

 

Davide,

I spend very little time with this forum these days and I wouldn't have contributed to this thread if it weren't for the conjunction of two things:

1. A fascinating article in The Strad by Peter Westerlund describing a technique I hadn't previously heard of and

2 Your rather dismissive comment about it being of no interest to 'real luthiers'. 

Because the ancients had no access to oscilloscopes, microphones etc and yet they produced consistently fine violins, it's clear they had some simple technique(s) involving only hands, chisels, ears and compasses. The method was lost so it's anyone's guess what their tuning methods were. After all, the purpose of an apprenticeship is to disclose financially sensitive techniques to those deemed worthy of learning them. There is no reason to suppose that Italy is more likely to produce interesting insight than any other country. In fact, Sweden is a perfectly respectable country of origin for a credible idea. 

Coincidentally, I have a fine violin by Anders Halvarson (whom most people have never heard of) but he was 24 when he arrived to the USA from Sweden so it's a moot point whether the violin could be described as American or Swedish. It seems a Becker in disguise and competes favorably with modern Italian production in terms of performance characteristics. The guild of Swedish violin makers has 40 members.

So, I finally got the discussion I was hoping for and, in the process have almost talked myself into taking up Torbjorn's kind suggestion to visit Sweden again and learn a little more about its underappreciated  lutherie. Maybe another rabbit hole but, as Confucius said, 'Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance', or was it 'better to journey than to arrive'. ? Both seem appropriate.

Glenn

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On 7/16/2018 at 9:20 PM, Jim Bress said:

This is a depressing revelation to me.  I'm familiar with the journal article process which is the exact opposite.  The Editor may require me to make a change, but the article doesn't make it to publication until I sign the final copy.  Then I lose ownership of it.  I never get a check.  <_<  Is this the way of all magazine articles?

Yes. And it’s not depressing! just a revenue stream with a dam in it— it cuts what it wants out and uses it to spin the narrative best for its readership. Editors mean well, and I admire and appreciate my editors. They have a job, and get to steer content to accomplish that job.

confusing misunderstandings happen. The depression comes from worrying too much over the spin. 

But it’s a similar place to get to, as the feeling that an insurance check for a violin I’ve made would be okay, too. If the forklift forks go through the case, at least I’m around to make another, and the check will ease the realities past the ego’s needs!

My buddy Robert Wood had VICE TV follow him around for days in a block, discussing every aspect of his work, his Violins, his materials, and his hopes for the craft, and the producers kept pretty much only the family angle, and family sacrifices made, in the video VICE released. It was not the plot he thought he was sharing. 

Its good exercise. Publishing, and being interviewed, count as being tied into the hockey goal to learn to stop fearing the puck. You can always go down with your own ship, clawing for control of your narrative, and see others casting you in whatever roles they find most useful... they will do it ANYWAY.

you can always make a fool of yourself defending your own honor on a forum somewhere...

 

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3 hours ago, GlennYorkPA said:

Because the ancients had no access to oscilloscopes, microphones etc and yet they produced consistently fine violins, it's clear they had some simple technique(s) involving only hands, chisels, ears and compasses. The method was lost so it's anyone's guess what their tuning methods were.

I completely agree that the lack of audio equipment made them more rely on 'feel' than we are doing today. We are making a hype that E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g must be explainable with physics.

I think there is nothing wrong in trying to produce instruments with self discovered techniques and put them up for discussion. Guys working with physics do the same. The difference is that they claim from the beginning that they are right. However often when I read some articles involving frequency analysis and stuff like that I am asking myself the next day in my shop 'and how shall I work with that?' Simple approaches don't have an explanation but they are usually very practical.

But in the end, there is the possibility that tap tone tuning and similar stuff didn't exist in the 18th century. I think David Beard said here on MN somehwere that he believes that plate tuning was first used by Savart.

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Maybe there is one thing I should add on this topic. Peter told me that he had the opportunity to check some strads for their tuning and there was a match.

we had some strad plastercasts to check the method in the Bilbao school. Funny, but it also worked. 

One comment on the scratching technique: Peter does not use his fingernails but fingertips for "scratching".

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Just a curious note:

Vitruvius mentions balancing the tension in the arms of a ballista by taping the tensioned arms and listening to make the pitches equal.   Quite a similar concept.

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2 hours ago, David Beard said:

Just a curious note:

Vitruvius mentions balancing the tension in the arms of a ballista by taping the tensioned arms and listening to make the pitches equal.   Quite a similar concept.

;)

Certainly they did not know the Chladni patterns, but  notes generated by percussion instruments by tapping are much more ancient than the violins, probably the oldest produced by man (apart from the grunts:))

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9 hours ago, GlennYorkPA said:

 

Davide,

I spend very little time with this forum these days and I wouldn't have contributed to this thread if it weren't for the conjunction of two things:

1. A fascinating article in The Strad by Peter Westerlund describing a technique I hadn't previously heard of and

2 Your rather dismissive comment about it being of no interest to 'real luthiers'. 

Because the ancients had no access to oscilloscopes, microphones etc and yet they produced consistently fine violins, it's clear they had some simple technique(s) involving only hands, chisels, ears and compasses. The method was lost so it's anyone's guess what their tuning methods were. After all, the purpose of an apprenticeship is to disclose financially sensitive techniques to those deemed worthy of learning them. There is no reason to suppose that Italy is more likely to produce interesting insight than any other country. In fact, Sweden is a perfectly respectable country of origin for a credible idea. 

Coincidentally, I have a fine violin by Anders Halvarson (whom most people have never heard of) but he was 24 when he arrived to the USA from Sweden so it's a moot point whether the violin could be described as American or Swedish. It seems a Becker in disguise and competes favorably with modern Italian production in terms of performance characteristics. The guild of Swedish violin makers has 40 members.

So, I finally got the discussion I was hoping for and, in the process have almost talked myself into taking up Torbjorn's kind suggestion to visit Sweden again and learn a little more about its underappreciated  lutherie. Maybe another rabbit hole but, as Confucius said, 'Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance', or was it 'better to journey than to arrive'. ? Both seem appropriate.

Glenn

Glenn,

I admit that probably my statement "not stuff for real makers" was a bit too lapidary and so easily misunderstood, however it was not related to the method or to the maker itself, but to the fact that with the information contained in the article a violinmaker would never have been able to test it in the practice of his real work.

However, if seen provocatively, at least it restarted the discussion that seemed destined to die:)

Good luck with the Swedish violin makers, I know that there are very good ones and certainly you will not find the confusion that here in Cremona often makes life difficult for buyers who do not know well the Cremonese making environment.

Davide

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

;)

 
Certainly they did not know the Chladni patterns, but  notes generated by percussion instruments by tapping are much more ancient than the violins, probably the oldest produced by man (apart from the grunts:))

The Vitruvius example though doesn't relate to modern tap tone tuning.   He shows no interest in what pitch.  Only in balancing tension by matching pitch from arm to arm.

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9 hours ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

 

My buddy Robert Wood had VICE TV follow him around for days in a block, discussing every aspect of his work, his Violins, his materials, and his hopes for the craft, and the producers kept pretty much only the family angle, and family sacrifices made, in the video VICE released. It was not the plot he thought he was sharing. 

 

Christopher,

My original comment was in relation to publishing in The Strad specifically.

My experiences of publishing with the VSA and The Scroll have been stellar. Great co-operation and no surprises when reading the final thing.

So this may be a case of generalisations being misleading and, in the context of this thread, kudos to Peter Westerlund for taking the trouble to publicise his method and live with the consequences which will inevitably be a mixture of the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Glenn

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2 hours ago, Davide Sora said:
 

Glenn,

I admit that probably my statement "not stuff for real makers" was a bit too lapidary and so easily misunderstood, 

However, if seen provocatively, at least it restarted the discussion that seemed destined to die:)

 

 

Davide,

No question that you brought to life a discussion that proved highly productive. For that I am grateful and it seems that others are too. :)

Thanks

Glenn

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3 hours ago, David Beard said:

The Vitruvius example though doesn't relate to modern tap tone tuning.   He shows no interest in what pitch.  Only in balancing tension by matching pitch from arm to arm.

 
Perhaps even the violinmakers were interested in something like this, or maybe not, we never know.....but possibilities are there.

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1 hour ago, GlennYorkPA said:

My experiences of publishing with the VSA and The Scroll have been stellar. Great co-operation and no surprises when reading the final thing. 

For the record, I have to say that also my experiences in publishing my articles with The Strad were excellent too.

All the reviews have been submitted to me and the final one has not been changed to a comma.

I think it's fair to report this.

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My first Strad article that I published in 2006 has a few minor editing mishaps, but since I've commented on this and requested that no changes be made unless I get to approve the final article, I've had good experiences. 

My first article was hurried to meet the printing deadline and maybe that was the reason for the small editing mistakes.

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On 7/18/2018 at 8:07 AM, David Beard said:

Just a curious note:

Vitruvius mentions balancing the tension in the arms of a ballista by taping the tensioned arms and listening to make the pitches equal.   Quite a similar concept.

This resembles the Segreti di Buttegha notion that when graduating the plates, one should find the balance point at about the 38-38.5 point of 72. It makes sense to me that they should get inspiration from Vitruvius rather than Felix Savart who came much later.

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6 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

This resembles the Segreti di Buttegha notion that when graduating the plates, one should find the balance point at about the 38-38.5 point of 72. 

If one is familiar with the 1700's Bagatella math method then the 38-38.5 placement would be in front of the bridge area if you work from tailblock towards the neck.

The math method is to take any wanted length for an instrument, scribe a line with the wanted length and then divide that line into 72 equal parts, not points.

Somewhere down the line someone changed parts to points, assuming Torbjorn didn't.  

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3 hours ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

My first article was hurried to meet the printing deadline and maybe that was the reason for the small editing mistakes.

I did that before too. I am very guilty of the belief that I work best under pressure, and it's easy to miss something. It may be the editors don't always look, or they can't recognize certain types of errors. Once I had an interview with an author who was dying of ALS and I felt like the editing job was pretty insensitive...and even in that case most of the interview as I submitted it was intact. But small(ish) editing misunderstandings are different from the idea that editors sit around, perhaps double fisting red pens and cackling as they remove all useful and incisive content.  Which, you know? Maybe they do in some cases. I never wrote for The Strad before to find out what can happen, and I mostly don't read it anymore either.  But you and nearly everyone else say it is not a bad experience. So I am glad to hear that. 

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On 7/17/2018 at 9:58 AM, Don Noon said:

While it certainly makes sense to pay attention to the methods of successful makers, there is no guarantee that the method being described is a fundamental reason for the maker's success.  It could be just an incidental habit or belief, such as always wearing the lucky socks while setting the soundpost.  If there is some genuine physics or acoustic basis, or well thought-out tests to show effectiveness, then there is more reason to give the maker's methods a closer look.

Agreed. However, when we brought ten (?) makers who had won multiple tone awards at VSA competitions to Oberlin one year to give presentations on their methods, I told them up front (since some of them had concerns about that), that their descriptions didn't need to be  technically or analytically correct.  Something about what they were doing seemed to be working, even if it didn't go beyond a a psychological orientation with a fiddle, so they were asked to simply explain their method and thought process, and maybe if needed, Individual participants would be able take that apart and reassemble in a way that more resembled their own thought paradigm, and they would find some useful things.

Rene Morel wasn't very good at providing accurate technical explanations either. Neither was Sacconi. However, some of the best people in our business came through those shops, and I don't know of any who regret it.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Rene Morel wasn't very good at providing accurate technical explanations either. Neither was Sacconi. However, some of the best people in our business came through those shops, and I don't know of any who regret it.

I see see that my post could be taken as an argument against paying attention to what a good maker does if they can't justify it on a technical basis, but I'm mostly reacting to a rather unusual technical-ish routine that is the topic of this thread.

I'd be perfectly happy to spend time in Westerlund's shop to take in ALL that he does, and what he ends up with as a result of his scratch routine.  No doubt there are some things of interest (such as where and how he finds his wood, and what he does for arching as a starting point).  It isn't clear exactly what stage the scratching comes in, but I assume it's not at the wedge stage.

Most "tuning" routines, and presumably this one, concentrate on getting the graduations perfect, regardless of what wood and arching already  exists.

A very experienced maker, from the thread on "Top plate dilemma", noted:

On 7/16/2018 at 4:51 PM, David Burgess said:

Granted, in theory,  but I've been underwhelmed by the outcomes of my own experiences with regraduating, adjusting rib height, etc.

They should have worked, but the outcomes were more of a mixed bag.

Which, in other words, means that graduations (within reason) are not a huge player in the outcome, and therefore tuning routines aren't much of a help (or a detriment).  Which is kinda what I'm trying to say.  It's the other stuff.

 

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To me, this a little different than most tapping approaches seen today.  The focus is on enhancing a balance, rather than on specific tuning.

Don't have an opinion on this yet.  Though my first instincts were highly dismissive, I'm now less sure after thinking about it some.

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