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Johnmasters

Why some violins "carry" better than others

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On November 26, 31 Heisei at 11:52 PM, Don Noon said:

 For the violin question about carrying power, it is my opinion that fullness of the response spectrum, probably in the range of 1.2-4 kHz, has a lot to do with it.  The more overtones that you have, the easier it is for the brain to assemble a recognizable note from that particular instrument, and fullness of that part of the spectrum means that all of the notes played can be identified, not just a few of the notes that happen to line up with peaks in the response.  Of course, overall dB level can help too.

Isn't this the same effect as old wrist watches were making with their high frequency beeps? 

You could hear those beeps everywhere in a concert hall though I suppose the loudness measured in dB is not very loud.

From standpoint of making instruments my guess is that some 'components' must be adjusted to bring this effect out. Without any proof I would suspect the weight - stiffness factor for the top plate as a key element. 

However my experiment with the super light new concept violin has shown me that minimizing the weight of ribs and neck-fingerboard to the extreme takes away the fundament of the sound. (Top and back were just normal weight) Especially the lower strings lacked clarity and  'substance' (generally speaking) 

So if we regard all the maple parts of a violin as a sort of frame for the top, being the main source for sound, it might be the relation of both elements (neck-rib-back versus top) in terms of entire mass and stiffness which produces the carrying power. 

This would maybe somehow explain that only massive alteration of thicknesses can influence it and material selection for relative weight and stiffness is absolutely necessary (especially for the top) 

(I see Don shaking his head mumbling 'It's not that easy, it is complicated.)

In any case I am convinced that the old masters based their experience on simple concepts. In context what I said above, using the baroque way of construction the top is fitted to the rest of the instrument last to complete it. 

Edited by Andreas Preuss
Grammar

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Another post about projection! Love it!

I have changed my making a bit and now I am making trombones too.

In my latest one I tuned the bell to a C#, to match the mouthpiece, and I was considered crazy by other trombone makers. Since I am a viola maker, I was never well accepted in this small and picky group.  But the sound now reaches the back of the hall perfectly, even in the pianissimos,  no more projection problems!!!

No trombone player now say to me "it sounds nice and mellow, but I am curious about how is it going to sound in the concert hall, is it going to project well there?"

I just have now to figure out how to apply this to my viola making.

I am relieved!  

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51 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Isn't this the same effect as old wrist watches were making with their high frequency beeps? 

You could hear those beeps everywhere in a concert hall though I suppose the loudness measured in dB is not very loud.

From standpoint of making instruments my guess is that some 'components' must be adjusted to bring this effect out. Without any proof I would suspect the weight - stiffness factor for the top plate as a key element. 

However my experiment with the super light new concept violin has shown me that minimizing the weight of ribs and neck-fingerboard to the extreme takes away the fundament of the sound. (Top and back were just normal weight) Especially the lower strings lacked clarity and  'substance' (generally speaking) 

So if we regard all the maple parts of a violin as a sort of frame for the top, being the main source for sound, it might be the relation of both elements (neck-rib-back versus top) in terms of entire mass and stiffness which produces the carrying power. 

This would maybe somehow explain that only massive alteration of thicknesses can influence it and material selection for relative weight and stiffness is absolutely necessary (especially for the top) 

(I see Don shaking his head mumbling 'It's not that easy, it is complicated.)

In any case I am convinced that the old masters based their experience on simple concepts. In context what I said above, using the baroque way of construction the top is fitted to the rest of the instrument last to complete it. 

I also have been trying to make ultra light instruments.  Violists like a light weight instrument to reduce the muscle stresses of holding it but for the smaller violin the weigh is not as important.

I have begun to believe from conservation of momentum and energy principles that the non sound producing parts of a violin (fingerboard, neck, pegs, and tail piece all  take away vibrating energy from the top and back plates.  They act as vibration absorbers commonly used in machines and in wolf note suppressors.  The lighter these parts are the more energy they absorb and waste thus reducing the amount of sound produced.

Someday I'll make a really light and stiff graphite fiber fingerboard and then add weights to it to see if the violin's volume increases, decreases, or stays the same.

 

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58 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Someday I'll make a really light and stiff graphite fiber fingerboard and then add weights to it to see if the violin's volume increases, decreases, or stays the same.

I was thinking of Carbon fiber fingerboard as well. But in the end I wanted everything made of wood. 

I am planning in this respect two modifications on my super light violin. First I make a new neck graft, this time using a rather heavy material with a Young modulus as high as possible. (This is fairly easy)

Secondly I am thinking to rebuild the ribs with better reinforcing across the grain. Maybe building on the exterior mould a 3 layer plywood from 0.3mm veneer is an option. 

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3 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I also have been trying to make ultra light instruments.  Violists like a light weight instrument to reduce the muscle stresses of holding it but for the smaller violin the weigh is not as important.

I have begun to believe from conservation of momentum and energy principles that the non sound producing parts of a violin (fingerboard, neck, pegs, and tail piece all  take away vibrating energy from the top and back plates.  They act as vibration absorbers commonly used in machines and in wolf note suppressors.  The lighter these parts are the more energy they absorb and waste thus reducing the amount of sound produced.

Someday I'll make a really light and stiff graphite fiber fingerboard and then add weights to it to see if the violin's volume increases, decreases, or stays the same.

 

There must be a material to convert the vibrational energy to heat.  Such as the rubber plug in the wolf note supressor.   Vibration is not "absorbed."  It must be dissipated into another form of energy such as heat  (your conservation of energy.)   Or into some vibration of the finberboard.  Any kind of conversion that does not just throw away the vibrational energy.   (Your conservation of Energy)   Friction forces make conservation of momentum difficult to discuss.

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14 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

However my experiment with the super light new concept violin has shown me that minimizing the weight of ribs and neck-fingerboard to the extreme takes away the fundament of the sound. (Top and back were just normal weight) Especially the lower strings lacked clarity and  'substance' (generally speaking) 

What would happen if the entire violin weighed nothing, yet still had some stiffness?  Answer:  the whole violin would move as a rigid body when vibrated by the string... there would be no plate deflection or volume change to produce sound, which is especially critical for the low frequencies.

My view of the violin has evolved from the "if lightness (or whatever) is good, then lightest (or the most extreme) must be the best" to more of a balance:  mass matters for tone and response, and the tricky part is finding how much and where to get the tone and response you want.

12 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I have begun to believe from conservation of momentum and energy principles that the non sound producing parts of a violin (fingerboard, neck, pegs, and tail piece all  take away vibrating energy from the top and back plates.  They act as vibration absorbers commonly used in machines and in wolf note suppressors.  

Most of these things are in the category of Non-Radiating Resonators.  Their primary action is NOT to absorb or dissipate energy, but to become energized by the vibration source and produce a force out of phase with the source, thus reducing the net vibration force that is seen by the machine or violin body.  This only happens if there is low damping of the NRR, and the effect is very narrow around the tuned frequency.  For completeness:  at slightly above or below the tuned frequency, there is a slight additive effect, increasing response.

Complicated, ain't it?

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7 hours ago, Johnmasters said:

There must be a material to convert the vibrational energy to heat.  Such as the rubber plug in the wolf note supressor.   Vibration is not "absorbed."  It must be dissipated into another form of energy such as heat  (your conservation of energy.)   Or into some vibration of the finberboard.  Any kind of conversion that does not just throw away the vibrational energy.   (Your conservation of Energy)   Friction forces make conservation of momentum difficult to discuss.

Vibration textbooks( a Google search will save you some money) usually have a chapter on "Vibration Absorbers" or "Vibration Suppression" devices .  They usually consist of some sort of light spring and mass assembly attached to the body and tuned to the same frequency that is the undesirable resonance vibration for the body. They suck (absorb)energy away from the vibrating body and the attached  light mass vibrates widely.  This diverted mechanical energy is not converted into heat its just moved from one place to another.  The original large resonance peak of the body gets split into two lower amplitude peaks.

Damping materials can be added to these devices.  These are then often called "vibration dampers" rather than "vibration absorbers".  They have the added benefit of removing unwanted vibration over a wider frequency band width.  The damping materials do convert some of the mechanical energy into heat. The mathematics of all this is well understood.

An example of a "vibration absorber" is when you attach a small metal weight onto the string after-length to suppress a wolf note.  An example of a "vibration damper" is when you use a little blob of sticky "Bluetac" for your weight.

In the case of the fingerboard, neck, and tailpiece we might want the reverse.  We want our body to vibrate more not less so it can produce more sound if that is desired.  This suggests that the violin plates should be light weight and the other parts should be heavy and not vibrate much. 

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9 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

In the case of the fingerboard, neck, and tailpiece we might want the reverse.  We want our body to vibrate more not less so it can produce more sound if that is desired.  This suggests that the violin plates should be light weight and the other parts should be heavy and not vibrate much. 

In most cases, those parts ARE heavy... pointless mass of the scroll, ebony fingerboard, and (often) ebony tailpiece.  But I think it's not so much the mass as the frequency that matters, and most of these primary resonances are below the playing range, or (in the case of the fingerboard) sometimes tuned to a major resonance (A0) so that the attenuation effect serves to even out the response.  Making stuff heavier tends to lower the frequency.

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15 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Elephant calls project further than chipmunk calls.  I suspect it is because they are louder and lower pitch.  Violins might be a different animals but I'll bet the same thing happens.

The violin is a voice and we use it as such. How does the human voice vary in projection? In similar ways to the violin?

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57 minutes ago, sospiri said:

The violin is a voice and we use it as such. How does the human voice vary in projection? In similar ways to the violin?

My significant other is a classical singer (soprano).  Her singing voice is extremely powerful. She has been told she is not a good chorus singer because her voice is too loud so she doesn't blend in well.  I believe the same thing happens for violin projection for soloist--you want to be heard above the group.  Orchestra players may want something else.

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10 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

My significant other is a classical singer (soprano).  Her singing voice is extremely powerful. She has been told she is not a good chorus singer because her voice is too loud so she doesn't blend in well.  I believe the same thing happens for violin projection for soloist--you want to be heard above the group.  Orchestra players may want something else.

It's an ego thing I guess?

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6 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Here's an example of mismatched instruments...

 

Don, that is a great example using something other than violins.  Even without the mics, it's clear that Pavarotti is the superior instrument with regard to projection and quality.

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13 hours ago, David Beard said:

They just vanish against the presence of his voice.

Apart from Mel C who was probably the only one who did any practice. Not that I like the result though, she sounds like a shellac coated violin to me.

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Lucky Luciano does the Blues wail n moan wid BB King

 

Gets soulful wid James Brown

Duets with lots of celebrities, it's a long list.

I'm not sure if he was "crushing it" so much as cashing in?

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On 11/29/2019 at 1:42 PM, sospiri said:

Apart from Mel C who was probably the only one who did any practice. Not that I like the result though, she sounds like a shellac coated violin to me.

How is shellac coated violin sound ???

My violin is with shellac and sounds quite good.

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On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 2:42 PM, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

How is shellac coated violin sound ???

My violin is with shellac and sounds quite good.

Shellac dries hard and stiff and this makes the sound slightly brighter compared to oil/resin varnish. Brushed shellac is quite thick too. I agree it doesn't sound bad, just different. I think the best varnish should make the sound tonally richer, both dark and bright depending on the player's technique.

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On 12/2/2019 at 3:42 PM, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

How is shellac coated violin sound ???

My violin is with shellac and sounds quite good.

 

23 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Shellac dries hard and stiff and this makes the sound slightly brighter compared to oil/resin varnish. Brushed shellac is quite thick too. I agree it doesn't sound bad, just different. I think the best varnish should make the sound tonally richer, both dark and bright depending on the player's technique.

I don't think that the quality of a varnish lies in the individual components but in the combination of all the components, which are never just one. Shellac varnishes reach a condition of definitive dryness faster (months, unless too much essential oils are part of the mixture) while oil-based ones take longer to reach a definitive state of polymerization / oxidation remaining softer initially but becoming inexorably harder over the years, depending on the quantity of oil and essences used in the recipe.

Lot of variables, it's too simplistic to reduce everything to shellac vs oil (or alcohol vs oil if you like), I'm a little bored by these inappropriate clichés.

 

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On 11/28/2019 at 5:14 PM, Don Noon said:

Here's an example of mismatched instruments...

 

I heard John Tomlinson, bass, sing the title role of the Minotaur at the Royal Opera House in 2013.  It was the 35th anniversary of his debut at the ROH and there was a small celebration on stage.  Antonio Pappano and Tony Hall gave speeches and then handed the microphone to John Tom who, after a few words, said he would be better off without it and then completely filled the space with his speaking voice, which was a deep rumble which seemed to come from below his feet.

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