Sign in to follow this  
JoeVenudie

Is humidity sapping my fiddle's responsiveness

Recommended Posts

I live in the Gulf Coast in a house with inadequate A/C, and I suspect that it may be why my fiddle has gone from having a rather intense and loud response from bowing to requiring quite a bit of pressure for half the volume and tone it used to have. I like that it's a mellower but I feel like I'm having to fight my instrument. I changed my strings - Kaplan Amos just a few months ago, so I can't rule that out, but those usually last me about 6 months. I haven't been able to find any open seams, also.

Any ideas about what might be causing this or what factors might be contributing to it other than heat and humidity?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience (living in Hawaii) it is both the bow and instrument. I would say it is more the violin. It tends to take away the brilliance and the responsiveness to make a broad generalization. It depends on the intrinsic characteristics of the violin. A naturally bright instrument might benefit from some (not a crazy amount of course) of humidity and visa versa.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Increased moisture content will made a wooden violin not only heavier, but also more flexible. Neither weight or flexibility are unimportant to sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not only that, an overly moist area is not good for you, let alone you violin. Get a dehumidifier, there are times here in No.Cal that I will be running mine almost 24/7. Mine has many settings, so I just set it for 50% and let it do its thing.

And yes a damp area can suck the life out of the sound by putting a wet blanket on it so to speak, effects guitars too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer bridges, winter bridges. Gut strings and cheap rosins...

The double negative is hurting my head: A truism, and with sincere respect, I hope this is quoted and credited to Professor Burgess - "Neither weight or ( nor? ) flexibility are unimportant to sound."

Changes or extremes in humidity present major problems if the sound truly matters. The tonal changes can also plays mental tricks. The frustration builds as the brain tells the hands that there is not enough attack, volume or sensitivity when everything feels and plays like it has new coat of varnish. Clarity is replaced with muddy and inaccurate. When i travel during the summer, i do take a brighter instrument. This is an over-simplified comment on the choice of instrument but when performing with locals, the sound or performance has to be stellar. I can try to mute or soften the edge on a crisp sounding violin, but a rich one is nearly impossible to brighten without painfully intense, sweat through shirts, focus.

Regardless of what other's think, I also travel with four different rosins, several bows and different strings. At home, i might use two different rosins and generally do not care what strings are on the instruments. I am only a $100 per service player but work is work and when you rely on calls coming in, the level of play is important. I try to avoid excuses at my age. It was easier to ask for forgiveness in my 20s and working most nights beats working once a week.

I can't tell you how many times the recording engineer or producer asked for me to use the composite bow because the sound was easier to fit into the mix. Not the best sound, but good enough, and predictable. Saves them time and money. Some studios and recording booths get super humid as there try to reduce HVAC ( ventilation ) noise. The longer it takes the more humid it gets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes! In the winter, when I use humidity control, I rewet the dampit every 2 days. I always make sure though, for a performance, that it is on the 2nd day, right away the humidity is too much. 

Too much humidity does feel sluggish, a bit muted in color and dynamic. Which only makes sense, as the violin is too wet... Anything too wet is like that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Increased moisture content will made a wooden violin not only heavier, but also more flexible. Neither weight or flexibility are unimportant to sound.

Increased moisture content will make your eardrum skin not only heavier, but also more flexible.  Your hearing has changed.  Stop blaming the violin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Increased moisture content will make your eardrum skin not only heavier, but also more flexible.  Your hearing has changed.  Stop blaming the violin.

<3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Increased moisture content will make your eardrum skin not only heavier, but also more flexible.  Your hearing has changed.  Stop blaming the violin.

Hmmmm. I can tell when my hearing has gone through a change. Not so much when it occurs, but when it is restoring.  

After a hot shower, maybe because the heat can be relaxing? when i sit down to listen to recordings they sound more detailed. Is that a humidity effect? It could also be that the ears have reset after a bit of rest.

I also notice during some exercise my hearing is heightened. But under full exertion, like running up a long steep hill, The broad frequencies tends to shut down. The brain being starved? Could it also be the blood circulation? or a combination of things?

For me, festivals during the late summer on the east coast and asia sound different than winters in Chicago or Michigan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny you mention Venice. The architecture of Venice was discussed with fellow violinists and cellists as to why the instruments that originated there tended to sound fuller or "richer" historically. Just worked on a Brahms Sextet. The role as a violist was just to support and strengthen the cellists but was very challenging as their sound was considerably darker on stage. Perhaps the instruments are set up that way? Certainly the Peter of Venice violin copies and Gofriller cellos have had more of a tilt in this direction. Large stone rooms? Seraphim copies have sounded great too. 70% humidity. Is this ideal?

In Aspen, though I have never played there at the festival, the sound is ok in the cloth tent. The sound in Denver metro and Boulder is definitely responsive, though i would not call it bright, this was in the spring. Heat was turned on in the halls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too many Moses on the Mountain categorical absolutes here.

When I moved to Alabama my violin (a nice Jos. Kloz) just went dead and stayed that way. It was frustrating. No zing, no sparkle, just sounded (and played) soggy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/6/2019 at 10:14 PM, JoeVenudie said:

I live in the Gulf Coast in a house with inadequate A/C, and I suspect that it may be why my fiddle has gone from having a rather intense and loud response from bowing to requiring quite a bit of pressure for half the volume and tone it used to have. I like that it's a mellower but I feel like I'm having to fight my instrument. I changed my strings - Kaplan Amos just a few months ago, so I can't rule that out, but those usually last me about 6 months. I haven't been able to find any open seams, also.

Any ideas about what might be causing this or what factors might be contributing to it other than heat and humidity?

Thanks!

Perhaps damp wood is more flabby,  and the stiffnesses involved have decreased.  Keep in mind that a resonant frequency of a mode is of the form of  square root of (k/m)  where k is some kind of stiffness,  and m is an effective mass involved with the resonance.   (I don't mean resonance of the entire violin,  I am thinking of the resonance of a particular mode.)

Mode frequencies and move downward with decreasing stiffness,  and perhaps even more important,  damping could increase.   Damping is a difficult property to measure and there are many ways to model it.

You might compare a bassbar blank dry with one soaked in water..  That would certainly suggest something to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, GoPractice said:

70% humidity. Is this ideal?

I don't know about ideal, but it is the reality of the situation and was during the golden age of Venetian making. Just food for thought - I have no agenda here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a hard time believing violins are made so perfectly that humidity change throws off their perfection...  Might make it perceptibly different, not necessarily bad. 

But, high humidity can throw off your hearing.  Similar effect to a large fan in the room...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sacconi had a hard time believing that repaired fiddles needed playing back in.

Par for the course, I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Increased moisture content will make your eardrum skin not only heavier, but also more flexible.  Your hearing has changed.  Stop blaming the violin.

I can usually tell when you’re joking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.