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Why some violins "carry" better than others


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1 hour ago, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

If this is of some help I can state that over more than 40 years of orchestra work I played with most of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, soloists. This question of projection was discussed often and there was consensus that it depends on the soloist and the violin each maybe about half. .......Maestro Menuhin in the Beethoven concerto in around 1974 when I listen from the back of the hall the first night and played in the orchestra in the second. At the back of the hall his violin sounded like a huge speaker over orchestra. Three meters on stage from him it was nothing and I could not believe people in the audience can hear it.............My impression is that it was mostly the violin but others were thinking the player to be about 40%.

 

Thanks much for posting this.  More raw data is always good.

IMHO, it's difficult enough to try to figure out what's going on with a steady power input being fed right into the "Kreisler Highway". 

Once you have the player modulating the oscillator (the strings) upstream of the filter network and the radiator assembly (the rest of the violin), with their bow (which is another odd little handmade thingy we don't understand), they're constantly changing the input waveform with different bowings and different injection points (with respect to the bridge) changing the impedance overall, meddling with the various tensions present simply by being there, and (I have no doubt) flirting with instabilities from feedback (wolf tone, and so forth).   And then, on the violin side, there's vibrato to consider.  I'm enough of a player myself to suspect that when you introduce a top soloist with their entire bag of tricks into the system, you're going from something that may just possibly be amenable to mathematical analysis, to absolute noncontinuous, nonlinear witchcraft on the edge of chaos, that no computer on earth could untangle.

I'd bet money that the player may have at least 50% influence on how the violin radiates, but don't currently have a way to prove it.  With this bunch, just having a valid observation isn't enough, you've got to rigorously justify your position, or they'll start grunting Sagan's bon mot about "extraordinary claims...".  So my vote is, to begin with, let's look for the keys under the streetlight (where our methods work, to some extent), while evidence like yours continues to pile up, suggesting that we need to look across the road as well, just as soon as the Sun rises.  :ph34r::lol:

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1 hour ago, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

 At the back of the hall his violin sounded like a huge speaker over orchestra. Three meters on stage from him it was nothing and I could not believe people in the audience can hear it.

At the back of the hall, you were at a relatively equal distance from all the instruments. When playing in the orchestra, the soloist would have been ~six times farther away than some of the more nearby instruments.

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interesting post!      Although these books have been condemned here, I still find them interesting.

Violin tone and violin makers by Moya, Hidalgo

https://archive.org/details/violintoneviolin00moyauoft/page/110

Violin tone-peculiarities by Castle, Frederick  

https://archive.org/details/violintonepeculi00castiala/page/44

https://archive.org/details/violintonepeculi00castiala/page/134

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15 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I can see both sides. Cheap and well-made instruments are hard to find,  and much more expensive instruments (into the multi-million category) can also have their weaknesses.

I would prefer that you wouldn't attempt to trash Don, since in my opinion, he has earned  a place among the most valuable contributors here.

There you go again, pandering to the elite :lol:

FWIW about the topic, I'm sorry but I really don't think this is mysterious and that there is a very simple answer that I mentioned before...

Again, I think if "we" think back to our experiences of these "moments of listener phenomenon" they never occur in small rooms, the "experience" only happens in large open rooms, I would go so far as to say the effect can not happen or does not occour in small rooms. 

Again I contribute this phenomenon to "room wind" or air flow that is very random and not consistent, always changing, and or the ability for the same violin in the same room to be able to seem to demonstrate the effect at one moment in time to a certain group of listeners and yet at another date with another group of people,not.

Factors like the HVAC systems that are present in most large modern rooms/buildings, open entrance doors, thermal temperature differentials in materials as well human created thermal loft generated when large groups of people congregate in the same location. along with the room shape creating 'whirlwinds and local venturi  effects in a random ever changing way as well as whatever air motions may be created by the orchestra itself in a performance via pressure waves.

IF this is not the cause of the effect I do have a feeling with a certain degree of certainty that with the proper environment and equipment I could create an environment in a large room that would make just about any violin "seem" to carry, or in the opposite way make it die out quicker than it would seem it should, all based on air flow direction ,sound pressure waves and thermal loft and of course much of it subject to the listeners location in the room as well as the quality of the listener. 

basically this principle happening inside of a room

http://www.hk-phy.org/iq/sound_wind/sound_wind_e.html

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I worked closely with a very good acoustician on the design of 2 opera houses and apart from learning that the design of concert halls is very complicated I picked up various other gems like exactly the best place to sit in one venue. He also told me about how the resident players in one new hall, which had received rave reviews for the acoustics, complained that the sound had "gone".  He found they were sitting quite far apart and worked at bringing them closer together until they agreed that the sound had "come back".  Upon visiting again for a concert some while later he found they had drifted apart again.

Apart from the shape of the hall, arrangement of reflecting surfaces, and the absorbence of surfaces the 2 main things we were concerned with were isolation from external noise and elimination of noise from ventilation systems. Ideally air comes in at very low velocity at floor level and just drifts up past the audience.  If you get extraneous noise down to almost nothing it transforms the listeners experience. Another key factor is the reverberation time, which was the fatal flaw of the Royal Festival Hall, opened 1951, where it was too low and the basses got lost.

There is indeed a lot more too it than the instrument and the player.

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Muswell said:

I worked closely with a very good acoustician on the design of 2 opera houses and apart from learning that the design of concert halls is very complicated I picked up various other gems like exactly the best place to sit in one venue. He also told me about how the resident players in one new hall, which had received rave reviews for the acoustics, complained that the sound had "gone".  He found they were sitting quite far apart and worked at bringing them closer together until they agreed that the sound had "come back".  Upon visiting again for a concert some while later he found they had drifted apart again.

Apart from the shape of the hall, arrangement of reflecting surfaces, and the absorbence of surfaces the 2 main things we were concerned with were isolation from external noise and elimination of noise from ventilation systems. Ideally air comes in at very low velocity at floor level and just drifts up past the audience.  If you get extraneous noise down to almost nothing it transforms the listeners experience. Another key factor is the reverberation time, which was the fatal flaw of the Royal Festival Hall, opened 1951, where it was too low and the basses got lost.

There is indeed a lot more too it than the instrument and the player.

 

 

Right, I forgot to mention reflective/absorbent surfaces, as well as stage elevation and seating elevations and rise in relation to the stage...if the stage where the players are seated is 5ft high and the ears of a seated person in the front row is at about the height of the players feet, are the front rows the best place to listen to the concert? it's a great place to see the concert, not to hear it. 

But the effect does not have to happen in a concert hall exclusively, any large room like a gymnasium, standing at ground level can start to play tricks.  

I actually consider this very subject to be the reason why for many years I thought the ex- Heberlein was a horrible sounding violin, it took me quite sometime to figure out it was not the violin that was the issue, it was the setting I was listening to it in that was killing it.

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19 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I can see both sides. Cheap and well-made instruments are hard to find,  and much more expensive instruments (into the multi-million category) can also have their weaknesses.

I would prefer that you wouldn't attempt to trash Don, since in my opinion, he has earned  a place among the most valuable contributors here.

I'm not trashing Don. I'm disagreeing with his World view. I don't subscribe to the Superior Violin mythology. I believe that a well made violin is a well made violin and there are millions of them. They aren't hard to find at all, they are very easy to find. I have six violins from the same Chinese workshop and they all sound different. The one made by the master luthier doesn't sound better than those made by his students.  All violins sound different. There is no standard of excellence that eludes highly skilled workers. And their skills are amazing. Why do I have to kowtow to the denial of these facts?

Your own skills, knowledge, experience, customer service etc set you apart from the humble workshop scenario, so people come to you for those reasons. The same applies to Don. These are different scenarios that don't have any impact on how I perceive the playing qualities of any instrument. Surely a blind test would reveal this?

Expecting me to compare these differences, is like asking me which restaurant I believe serves the best food?

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So to take a very crude example, how much experience do you have comparing one of your Chinese violins with a Strad in a concert hall, or even for example comparing a modern Strad copy with the original on which it was based? Or even comparing two expensive violins by the same maker played by a great soloist in a hall ...?

I think you'd have to have done at least all of these before dismissing the "Superior Violin mythology". 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, sospiri said:

I'm not trashing Don. I'm disagreeing with his World view. I don't subscribe to the Superior Violin mythology. I believe that a well made violin is a well made violin and there are millions of them. They aren't hard to find at all, they are very easy to find. I have six violins from the same Chinese workshop and they all sound different. The one made by the master luthier doesn't sound better than those made by his students.  All violins sound different. There is no standard of excellence that eludes highly skilled workers. And their skills are amazing. Why do I have to kowtow to the denial of these facts?

Your own skills, knowledge, experience, customer service etc set you apart from the humble workshop scenario, so people come to you for those reasons. The same applies to Don. These are different scenarios that don't have any impact on how I perceive the playing qualities of any instrument. Surely a blind test would reveal this?

Expecting me to compare these differences, is like asking me which restaurant I believe serves the best food?

 Try and selling those violins to an Orchestra playing  field see what others see it would be interesting.  I have 20 old violins from different makers and even threw 4 together, and none have the sound that speaks out and grabs you. so to me a Great violin is very hard to find. maybe my ears or color blind and I'm looking for the impossible?

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21 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I can see both sides. Cheap and well-made instruments are hard to find,  and much more expensive instruments (into the multi-million category) can also have their weaknesses.

I would prefer that you wouldn't attempt to trash Don, since in my opinion, he has earned  a place among the most valuable contributors here.

I would prefer that no-one would attempt to trash anyone.

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I do not feel trashed (at least, from any posts in this thread).  

2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

A group of really good players can generally reach some consensus on which are the better, and not-so-good instruments.

In the last VMAAI competition, I sat and scored all 29 violins on tone as they were played by Cristian Fatu.  It was a blind test, yet my top 10 picks matched 8 out of 10 of the picks by the judges.  I leave it for others to work out the statistics, but I think it's pretty good objective evidence.

Another curious result:  I scored 2 violins higher than all the rest.  They were ones I made (I didn't know they were mine when I scored them).  They were not the top picks of the judges (but still in the top 10).

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23 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Thanks much for posting this.  More raw data is always good.

IMHO, it's difficult enough to try to figure out what's going on with a steady power input being fed right into the "Kreisler Highway". 

A. ) Once you have the player modulating the oscillator (the strings) upstream of the filter network and the radiator assembly (the rest of the violin), with their bow (which is another odd little handmade thingy we don't understand), they're constantly changing the input waveform with different bowings and different injection points (with respect to the bridge) changing the impedance overall, meddling with the various tensions present simply by being there, and (I have no doubt) flirting with instabilities from feedback (wolf tone, and so forth).   And then, on the violin side, there's vibrato to consider.  I'm enough of a player myself to suspect that when you introduce a top soloist with their entire bag of tricks into the system, you're going from something that may just possibly be amenable to mathematical analysis, to absolute noncontinuous, nonlinear witchcraft on the edge of chaos, that no computer on earth could untangle.

I'd bet money that the player may have at least 50% influence on how the violin radiates, but don't currently have a way to prove it. 

B. ) With this bunch, just having a valid observation isn't enough, you've got to rigorously justify your position, or they'll start grunting Sagan's bon mot about "extraordinary claims...".  So my vote is, to begin with, let's look for the keys under the streetlight (where our methods work, to some extent), while evidence like yours continues to pile up, suggesting that we need to look across the road as well, just as soon as the Sun rises.  :ph34r::lol:

Sorry for delay in reply :

A.)  Not that much I can comment here but to say again that some believe the player matters the most and some believe the violin matters the most. I believe both sides are right and there is no contradiction. But we have ( I think ) two different things here. One is some particular timbre the violin has. This the player can manipulate a lot. The other thing is an effect where the violin "throws" the sound over the distance to the audience. This is a very uncommon effect and here the player can do little about it but he must do something right. The first case is how some so-so opera singers make sure they are being heard over all the other noise. It works but comes at a high price for musical expression.

B. ) All I contribute is to describe my experience, maybe some find it of use. I enjoy very much reading MN pages but I see how often things drop into arguments for no good reason and I do not like to argue.

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, David Burgess said:

At the back of the hall, you were at a relatively equal distance from all the instruments. When playing in the orchestra, the soloist would have been ~six times farther away than some of the more nearby instruments.

You are right but I do not understand why it matters. I heard same violin from close and from far away, how else ?

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On 12/6/2019 at 2:31 PM, sospiri said:

I have bought ebay violins from $100  old German/Bohmian or Czech. Recently a Czech 1920s to 30s violin for $150 this was a very nice instrument but still cheap in its day. All of them with no problems in the loudness department. $200 up to $1000 for new Chinese instruments, same thing, none varied from the norm in loudness.

 

I am proponent of "cheap" violins when they are of good making. Not too thick, not too thin, good strings and good bridge. Out there there are always "better" violins but they cost so much more it is not worth. With some effort and good musical thinking one can make good impression on cheap violin. I never had interest in "exceptional" violins because the experience on them I can not transfer to cheap violin. All this talk about Stradivari and Guarneri is nothing to me because one can get for cheap a lot of usable violins and new violins are almost as good as the old ones.

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7 minutes ago, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

You are right but I do not understand why it matters. I heard same violin from close and from far away, how else ?

Roughly stated, sound power diminishes four times, for every doubling of distance. So players in close proximity to you (including yourself) would be expected to drown out the sound of a soloist three meters away.

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Roughly stated, sound power diminishes four times, for every doubling of distance. So players in close proximity to you (including yourself) would be expected to drown out the sound of a soloist three meters away.

I do not understand the science here but I formed my impression when the orchestra was silent. I can add that was a narrow stage and I was right behind the CM. You may remember that right from start there is enough solo passage to understand the loudness of the violin. And many others later like the cadenzas. Maestro Menuhin played the Kreisler cadenzas that time.

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On ‎12‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 12:39 PM, carl1961 said:

 Try and selling those violins to an Orchestra playing  field see what others see it would be interesting.  I have 20 old violins from different makers and even threw 4 together, and none have the sound that speaks out and grabs you. so to me a Great violin is very hard to find. maybe my ears or color blind and I'm looking for the impossible?

That's what I think everyone is looking for, the impossible instead of hearing what is there. It happens because we are overawed by those with stunning technique and in a setting where we are paying to be overawed.

But what is impossible about the belief that a well made violin is all anyone needs?

On ‎12‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 1:26 PM, David Burgess said:

A group of really good players can generally reach some consensus on which are the better, and not-so-good instruments.

Based on what exactly? The desirability? If I was a famous soloist, do you think I wouldn't play a Strad? Of course I would, and I outlined the reasons why he the Boss just a few weeks ago, remember?

 

On ‎12‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 12:13 PM, martin swan said:

So to take a very crude example, how much experience do you have comparing one of your Chinese violins with a Strad in a concert hall, or even for example comparing a modern Strad copy with the original on which it was based? Or even comparing two expensive violins by the same maker played by a great soloist in a hall ...?

I think you'd have to have done at least all of these before dismissing the "Superior Violin mythology". 

 

 

 

On ‎12‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 10:14 PM, A. Strelnikov-Resch said:

I am proponent of "cheap" violins when they are of good making. Not too thick, not too thin, good strings and good bridge. Out there there are always "better" violins but they cost so much more it is not worth. With some effort and good musical thinking one can make good impression on cheap violin. I never had interest in "exceptional" violins because the experience on them I can not transfer to cheap violin. All this talk about Stradivari and Guarneri is nothing to me because one can get for cheap a lot of usable violins and new violins are almost as good as the old ones.

 Everyone is searching for the better violin aren't they? What are they really searching for?

 

On ‎12‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 12:13 PM, martin swan said:

So to take a very crude example, how much experience do you have comparing one of your Chinese violins with a Strad in a concert hall, or even for example comparing a modern Strad copy with the original on which it was based? Or even comparing two expensive violins by the same maker played by a great soloist in a hall ...?

I think you'd have to have done at least all of these before dismissing the "Superior Violin mythology". 

 

Well, we're talking about the loudness aren't we? What physical attribute might I be missing? If I believed that there was one I would be hyper industrious making it happen. I don't believe it, there is no secret to projection apart from highly skilled luthiers, good set ups and strings and highly skilled players.

But this holy grail quest is never going to diminish is it?

 

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The holy grail can't go away.  There's too much money involved.  Collectors aren't just going to let their 'investments' become worthless.  All that money has to maintain its value.  The only way I can see it all becoming different is if society/societal values change.

Examples:  smoking used to be cool.  Doctors recommended smoking for good health.  Now, smoking is uncool.  People think they're going to die if they breath in a minute bit of second-hand smoke.  The tobacco industry took a huge hit.

More on topic:  Ivory used to be cool, fur coats used to be cool, tortoiseshell used to be cool.

If it becomes 'uncool' to own and/or play an antique instrument - all our established truisms will change and new ones will take their place.

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7 minutes ago, Rue said:

The holy grail can't go away.  There's too much money involved.  Collectors aren't just going to let their 'investments' become worthless.  All that money has to maintain its value.  The only way I can see it all becoming different is if society/societal values change.

Examples:  smoking used to be cool.  Doctors recommended smoking for good health.  Now, smoking is uncool.  People think they're going to die if they breath in a minute bit of second-hand smoke.  The tobacco industry took a huge hit.

More on topic:  Ivory used to be cool, fur coats used to be cool, tortoiseshell used to be cool.

If it becomes 'uncool' to own and/or play an antique instrument - all our established truisms will change and new ones will take their place.

I have no problem with how the market works, apart from the Art world. I saw an amazing painting in a local gallery yesterday and the artist only wanted £220 for it. I guess he's not famous? And I suppose there are thousand of amazing artists in the UK who are never going to be famous?

People love a mythologizing though. I think it's part of human nature. We can't help being in awe of certain things. Speaking of which, what are your favourite sounds of nature? One of mine is the drumming of the male woodpecker. They pick the most resonant tree and to me it just sounds amazing.

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13 minutes ago, sospiri said:

I have no problem with how the market works, apart from the Art world. I saw an amazing painting in a local gallery yesterday and the artist only wanted £220 for it. I guess he's not famous? And I suppose there are thousand of amazing artists in the UK who are never going to be famous?

People love a mythologizing though. I think it's part of human nature. We can't help being in awe of certain things. Speaking of which, what are your favourite sounds of nature? One of mine is the drumming of the male woodpecker. They pick the most resonant tree and to me it just sounds amazing.

FWIW...you should go and buy that painting for L220 because you really should support living artists - because they are trying to make a living at it.  I reside in a community where most people think it's a waste of money to buy original art and that you should either DIY or buy something 'really nice' from Walmart.

In the big picture, I'd rather support a living artist than support the often overpaid PTB behind the fine art market.

I think my favourite sound in nature is listening to my African Grey sing opera...

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13 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I like to hear a pack of coyotes howling at night.  The one or two way different voices seem to project well over the group.

Composers use this effect.  Soloist (voice and instrumentalist) produce different notes than the rest of the group.  Anything different stands out.

.  

There’s a wolf note joke in there somewhere...

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