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kayjay

Vocabulary of tone descriptions?

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You don't really need to turn this into a graduate thesis. Just hang around the showroom of a violin shop for a while and you figure it out. I still trust human senses over poorly-designed double-blind fiascos, and think it's a shame that some people can't believe anything without a "scientific" study to tell them what they should believe.

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14 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Jacoby, haven't you and I talked sh**  back and forth a lot more than once? :lol:

Glad we can both get a kick out of it.

My respect is extended to you as well. :)

However, next time I see you, you might be due for an azz-kickin', if the staff at the old folks home don't restrain me. :P

I'm usually due for one:D

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53 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

You don't really need to turn this into a graduate thesis. Just hang around the showroom of a violin shop for a while and you figure it out. I still trust human senses over poorly-designed double-blind fiascos, and think it's a shame that some people can't believe anything without a "scientific" study to tell them what they should believe.

Maybe a big company like Yamaha might be interested in classifying their instruments according to agreed standards of tonal quality? I also wonder if, like dendro-dating, it might add something of value to the certification of top-end instruments?

But in everyday usage you're certainly right. The big flaw in my scheme is that tonal qualities change with setup, so the violin would have to go through the same procedure with another bunch of representative rodents each time it gets tweaked in some way. But I'm thinking it's good to have standards, even if it's impractical always to apply them.

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On 5/5/2020 at 9:10 PM, Fossil Ledges said:

It is brilliant, Dig that glossary! My 1 to 10 score seems so naive now, with 1 being a yowling cat, 5 being a caterwauling cat, and 10 being a full-on cat fight on top of the neighbor's fence.

I like to describe sound as a ball of some kind, being “throne” by the performer to the audience. Wiffleball has neither carry nor power. A golf ball has carry but is thin and pointed. Because I love baseball, the baseball is my perfect analog, although a softball would actually be better. Big and solid with weight, and won’t put your eye out when it hits you.

but now I can add in some concrete stuff.

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Matesic, something I've noticed from sales is that the things that we like to think of as absolutes, tone being one, don't have the effect that we think they should on the sales floor, for a very wide range of reasons.

I mentioned previously that I've been learning trumpet. The way trumpet players deal with this is enlightening: there aren't good or bad trumpets, there are only the trumpets you get along with and the ones you don't. Consequently, when people ask for recommendations, they get two types of answer, either "Go play some trumpets and find one you like", or "More people find they are comfortable enough with a Bach 37 than any other, but you really should go play some trumpets and find one you like." There's no description of playing qualities, tone, none of that, because they know how highly personal the choice is.

In my experience, violin buyers would be much  better off to take that attitude, and stop talking about tone, FFT results, competitions won, etc.

One extreme example: I once watched a player come in with a note-taker. The player went through all of the instruments one at a time, playing every note, and, with the notist, assigning a number value to the quality of each note. I am guessing that the final step at home would be to add up the numbers to find the instrument that sounded the "best"--the highest total. At no time did I hear anything played faster than a long whole note, at no time was ANY music played!

This is what happens when it's all about "tone".  You can call this case extreme, but I often have to remind people trying instruments to stop playing scales and short passages in various ranges, and just try making some music, to see if the whole thing comes together well, as in Will Logan's example in the thread mentioned above.

 

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Would it be possible to blame some parents or interested parties for wanting to record what they heard? Some players, not prepared to try a dozen instruments get confused. 

Instruments are very expensive for many families and for some, this is their form of calculating risk. The other thought is that this is a form of learning.  

Out here, it is pretty common, actually. The parents of some families are eager to learn. They are curious. And students know what they like, but more often than not, it is just a louder and brighter version of their existing instruments. Culturally, some Asians have preferred shiny new instruments. One sees how that has changed in the past 20 years.

As for risk, the more popular names are understood as being safer investments. I repeat what you say, often. It is not necessarily about any single factor, but becomes a good selling point later. 

It is important to know and understand what one is looking at with these data points. I do not attend every competition year, but I have friends in Cleveland and Pittsburgh so I go. It's nice to see and hear what others are doing. FFTs are interesting for engineer types. I use them but not so much for violins anymore. Many parents believe that their kids will out grow music. While most of my students continue to play and become living maker instrument buyers they generally do not care what they play if it does many things well. 

What you say requires a degree of transcending what gets discussed at this site.

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1 hour ago, GoPractice said:

Would it be possible to blame some parents or interested parties for wanting to record what they heard? Some players, not prepared to try a dozen instruments get confused. 

Instruments are very expensive for many families and for some, this is their form of calculating risk. The other thought is that this is a form of learning.  

Out here, it is pretty common, actually. The parents of some families are eager to learn. They are curious. And students know what they like, but more often than not, it is just a louder and brighter version of their existing instruments. Culturally, some Asians have preferred shiny new instruments. One sees how that has changed in the past 20 years.

As for risk, the more popular names are understood as being safer investments. I repeat what you say, often. It is not necessarily about any single factor, but becomes a good selling point later. 

It is important to know and understand what one is looking at with these data points. I do not attend every competition year, but I have friends in Cleveland and Pittsburgh so I go. It's nice to see and hear what others are doing. FFTs are interesting for engineer types. I use them but not so much for violins anymore. Many parents believe that their kids will out grow music. While most of my students continue to play and become living maker instrument buyers they generally do not care what they play if it does many things well. 

What you say requires a degree of transcending what gets discussed at this site.

Absolutely Agreed! I do work on a number of Cleveland Youth Orchestra instruments, and I see a range of parents' behavior! IMHO, I spend a lot of time trying to re-direct folks back to what a violin or cello sounds like.

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18 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

That's a good thread. Watching the player and reading his difficulties is an important part of the adjustment process. I remember watching a violin trial demonstration once where the player was playing the same passage on four different violins, in different orders. On one of the passages, every time she got to one violin she played the last measure or two, which was high on the E string, four times. When I saw that, I knew that something there was bothering her on that violin, and she was trying to find an approach that would make it work. 

Enjoyed your essay very much as putting names on things is the right strategy in my opinion and one can build from there on. The thread you mention I do not find that enlightening. Five people are not able to discern any tonal difference between an old and a new violin . In more than five decades of scratching violin I have never encountered two ( tonally ) identical violins. And I heard and played truckloads of violins. My opinion is that the people involved in the violin selection process mentioned in that thread were less than informed.   Then the more comfortable to play violin has been eventually selected. Strictly in my professional opinion that is most of the time a mistake. One needs some time to become familiar with a violin and many rewarding violins are not easy to play. Need work. And many violins are at the moment of being trialed not adjusted to the preference of the player. Same applies in my opinion to the example you have given . The fact that the player had to repeat a passage high on E a couple of times means absolutely nothing. It means something if the player keeps doing that after being accustomed to the violin for a few days and the violin has it's bits and pieces in proper and just relation. Especially for a small hand minuter differences in fingerboard and neck can throw off articulation high on E. As you say, something was bothering her on that violin but it does not mean the violin did not have a good tone possibly even better than others she could play with ease.

There is much much more to talk about but then short posts are best.

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15 hours ago, Violadamore said:

While many terms may not have much consensus,  most players and listeners seem to agree when they use "crappy", or some synonym.  :huh::lol: 

Not at all the case. "Players" are just not that good at selecting violins : they don't have a herd concept of "crappy".

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Eugen, if you are talking about the Fritz test with five people, I agree it was a joke and the players probably shouldn't have been there. I have maintained regularly that the first test for any study is to find participants who can tell one violin from another, which is not a given, even for fine players. I also think that if you are going to do it properly you must let the players live with the violins for some weeks first. And I agree with Ben H's suggestion in his thread that just because a player can make a violin sound the same it does not mean that it's equally fine.  There's more than that.

In my example, the 4th violin was definitely the worst, and that situation was not going to get better with time. What was interesting was that I am not sure that the player consciously realized that she was having trouble with it. 

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11 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Eugen, if you are talking about the Fritz test with five people, I agree it was a joke and the players probably shouldn't have been there. I have maintained regularly that the first test for any study is to find participants who can tell one violin from another, which is not a given, even for fine players. I also think that if you are going to do it properly you must let the players live with the violins for some weeks first. And I agree with Ben H's suggestion in his thread that just because a player can make a violin sound the same it does not mean that it's equally fine.  There's more than that.

In my example, the 4th violin was definitely the worst, and that situation was not going to get better with time. What was interesting was that I am not sure that the player consciously realized that she was having trouble with it. 

I think I ended up by creating confusion. What I meant to say after reading a post from a Mr. Will L is that yes, some violins fit like a glove, like a second skin but that does not mean they'll give us the right kind of tone. Many times we need to fight a real "dog" for that. Only the final result , what the public hears, matters. ( Only my opinion, not trying to convert anybody ! )

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3 hours ago, GoPractice said:

What you say requires a degree of transcending what gets discussed at this site.

That may be true lately. Were you here 5 or 10  or 15 years ago? I think one difference is that so much important research was dropped around that time, and there's been a bit of a dearth lately. People got pretty heated about the Claudia Fritz research for example. The Brandmair book rocked everyone's world. It was fun.  The search feature on this website could definitely be better, but it works well enough.

Unfortunately a lot of experts that used to grace these forums a lot are notably absent these days. A lot of it, and this is just my opinion, you see a lot of people who are especially presumptious and unqualified enthusiastically disagreeing with the experts. People used to argue with Roger Hargrave like he's not Roger effing Hargrave. Ha, if I were one of those experts I'd feel pretty under appreciated and more or less sick of  throwing pearls to the swine.  But you even see that today. Davide Sora patiently explaining why not to nail in the neck to someone who then tries to justify their...unique...idea of acoustic optimization again, and stuff like that. 

If we want to hear an elevated level of discussion, it is possible. People like me need to shut up. I've said my piece, and I really am just trying to listen. 

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1 hour ago, not telling said:

That may be true lately. Were you here 5 or 10  or 15 years ago? I think one difference is that so much important research was dropped around that time, and there's been a bit of a dearth lately. People got pretty heated about the Claudia Fritz research for example. The Brandmair book rocked everyone's world. It was fun.  The search feature on this website could definitely be better, but it works well enough.

Unfortunately a lot of experts that used to grace these forums a lot are notably absent these days. A lot of it, and this is just my opinion, you see a lot of people who are especially presumptious and unqualified enthusiastically disagreeing with the experts. People used to argue with Roger Hargrave like he's not Roger effing Hargrave. Ha, if I were one of those experts I'd feel pretty under appreciated and more or less sick of  throwing pearls to the swine.  But you even see that today. Davide Sora patiently explaining why not to nail in the neck to someone who then tries to justify their...unique...idea of acoustic optimization again, and stuff like that. 

If we want to hear an elevated level of discussion, it is possible. People like me need to shut up. I've said my piece, and I really am just trying to listen. 

I followed the site yes, about 15 years ago, maybe? There were other maker sites then which were far more specific than what's offered here and still probably are now. I used to work in a shop then and the owner thought there wasn't much for him to gain from the interaction. He thought it was a waste of time when i would browse while resting my ears. We went to the Conventions to purchase materials and meet up with friends to him, that was enough. The old timers did not care. I did not participate mostly because I would be using the shop's equipment. At home there wasn't time and mobile phones or SMS was far faster than e-mail.

I quit working for the shop. New work allowed me to travel and visiting shops was a possibility like in the past. When working in a shop I felt it was important to let the owner know. But without that obligation, it was easier to speak openly with others. Talking to players and shop guys and makers was more fun then spending time on the internet. Some ( like me ) are still trying to process other peoples research and there are pet projects like my vegan bow hair that go nowhere except for playing around the house and at rehearsals. I let people hang out but if they stay too long, they will have to work.

The better makers continue to make instruments. In someways, not much has changed in that the maker or dealer sphere in that higher end shops still show similar instruments. But makers sell directly, performing artists book their own gigs and there are way more string choices. And there is Amazon.

There are incredible people here. And I have been grateful for their contributions. But this is also a clearing house for information. It's free and it is what one makes it. The information is often incomplete for some. Buying knowledge ( as opposed to acquiring it through words ) is not so possible unless one attends a workshop ( Professor Robson's or Darnton's ) but still those events are just snapshots. It might take however long to learn how to sharpen blades and to read the wood and make the necessary cuts or start a fire. And then it's time to pack up. There's not the same excitement as before but most everyone's instruments are sounding better and not necessarily alike. That's good.  

Without the input of various level of users, a place can stagnate. The distilling or refinement of some information makes for better techniques later. 

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23 hours ago, not telling said:

 I certainly miss Will Logan and his wonderful posts.

I enjoyed him too and wondered where he was.

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On 5/6/2020 at 8:36 PM, Michael Darnton said:

To me, recorded violins don't resemble the real thing other than superficially, and many of the things I listen for in adjusting and that are available to live audiences are simply absent on recordings. 

i'm enjoying some of the home broadcasts lately.  though they're a lot less technically sophisticated, to me they can sound more like the real thing.  i think it's in part because it's a simple setup in a common room so the mind can tell what to fill in and leave out.  here's one for example:

https://www.facebook.com/rtltoday/videos/213278646642992/UzpfSTIxODU4MzI4MTUxOTg0MTozMTcxNzg3OTcyODY2MDA5/?hc_ref=ARTsahAelX5XCTCXccJ1VYFCOU1g8JMWNx4eaj2uHgQUOnC8Ud6TJkCEtsys0bmLSxw&__tn__=kC-R

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5 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I enjoyed him too and wondered where he was.

The last thread he posted in was an intellectual tire fire with occasional marvelous insights which forced me to keep up with all of it. I shudder to remember that infamous six month thread; you'll recognize it too. I know he's one of the posters who got kind of tired of things devolving. I think he is okay. Last I talked to him he insisted he had responsibilities other than keeping things interesting on Maestronet. I'm sure we all miss him though.

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ok, good.  just an "internet suicide".  I was thinking i missed the post saying he was no longer with us.  :)  i didn't notice the thread.  best not to take internet forum stuff so seriously

 

 

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22 hours ago, Eugen Modri said:

 "Players" are just not that good at selecting violins

Glad to hear you say it - I thought you felt that being a player, specifically a higher level classical player, was a pre-requisite for having valid opinions about violin tone.

 

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

Glad to hear you say it - I thought you felt that being a player, specifically a higher level classical player, was a pre-requisite for having valid opinions about violin tone.

 

I am tempted to say "quite the contrary" but I do not want to upset anybody. We had ( have ) seven weeks of "lockdown" here in RSA and I went trough a decent chunk of MN. I like your posts very much and I think you have things figured out pretty nicely. 'nough said.

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On 5/7/2020 at 11:47 PM, not telling said:

That may be true lately. Were you here 5 or 10  or 15 years ago? I think one difference is that so much important research was dropped around that time, and there's been a bit of a dearth lately. People got pretty heated about the Claudia Fritz research for example. The Brandmair book rocked everyone's world. It was fun.  The search feature on this website could definitely be better, but it works well enough.

Unfortunately a lot of experts that used to grace these forums a lot are notably absent these days. A lot of it, and this is just my opinion, you see a lot of people who are especially presumptious and unqualified enthusiastically disagreeing with the experts. People used to argue with Roger Hargrave like he's not Roger effing Hargrave. Ha, if I were one of those experts I'd feel pretty under appreciated and more or less sick of  throwing pearls to the swine.  But you even see that today. Davide Sora patiently explaining why not to nail in the neck to someone who then tries to justify their...unique...idea of acoustic optimization again, and stuff like that. 

If we want to hear an elevated level of discussion, it is possible. People like me need to shut up. I've said my piece, and I really am just trying to listen. 

Back in the day when I had my own area of "expertise" I'd be particularly careful to answer questions from relatively naive, even opinionated questioners because it would force me to consider what I actually know and distinguish it from what I may just be parrotting or subconsciously inventing, because I'm the expert and they wouldn't know the difference. Occasionally I might even learn something. I wouldn't want listeners to just listen.

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Ok, I can see that. When I knew even less than I do now that was when I OP'd some of the best topics...best...meaning lucky to be packed with so much valuable insight from all sorts of people. And experts. I also didn't realize how tired some topics get when they come up over and over between experts, and maybe I brought something unique- not new ideas, or new questions, maybe the approach. Whatever gets people talking. But I probably helped piss off experts too, mostly unintentionally. Granted, I can't take all the credit. The cake, in my silly little opinion, goes to those who come out of a four year school ready to spar with anyone at the top of the field like they're the same thing, but also still making rookie mistakes in technique. 

It may be a cultural problem. I can't think of anyone great in this field who was ready to be the big expert in charge of their own shop straight out of school. But--there's a seismic shift underway on the whole notion of expertise, and sometimes this stuff is fun to notice as someone waiting patiently on the outside, me, the gentle listener. I prefer that to "rabid bitch" or any of my other maestronet-bequeathed nicknames. Geewhiz...I don't want to get too political...oooh too late. "Submit Reply"

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I can only speak for myself, but the reason I stopped giving advice on the internet is because the responses became consistent: someone would ask a question, I would give a solid response, a simple answer based on, oh, 35 years of actual shop experience, and then four people would chime in suggesting four different ideas for a string that they'd heard *might* have an effect. The OP would say, "Oh, I guess the consensus is that I need to change strings". Some variety of that. Why waste my time when there's Dr Google handing out a constant flow of BS that people would prefer to listen to. Once in a while I'd PM someone to check in, and they'd say they'd tried all the strings, and nothing changed, so they guessed they were stuck. Why bother?

Somewhere in the last few years I realized that most people can't filter or interpret information. A substantial percentage can't parse a sentence properly and paraphrase what you said back at you. A mentor of mine once told me that as a general rule freely handing people esoteric information was a safe thing to do because most of them couldn't use it anyway, and I've come to believe he was right.

With the internet the process for learning/knowing things is becoming different, and I don't think this is a good thing. I have a topic I'm privately very interested in. I am rereading for the third time all of the best books in that field. Every time I go back, I discover that my base of knowledge has changed so much that the books read very differently to me now. None of this information is available in "specialist" internet forums because they are basically on the same level as "did you try this string?" from amateurs. This booking-up process is the same way I geeked on subjects from when I was a kid. If you checked books in the library you'd see I'd taken some out five or ten times over a couple of years. The internet encourages more people who'd have previously simply not had an opinion, privately, to become superficially and broadly misinformed, with opinions and an audience. Bad times ahead?

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Books, obviously.

I also have to say, there are some top players somewhere on the internet...getting older...maybe never had an apprentice. Some are sharing everything. It's not going to hurt their own bottom line. Even (especially) in the past three months, a ton of new YouTube channels.

I'm not going to name names...sorry, as much as I like it here I don't want to help anyone pay attention too much. 

But--if anyone is up for playing with words, OP's OP purpose, I'm also really hoping that happens. Michael Darnton said it himself: that's not a list of violin-exclusive words, they are techie words for acoustics engineers, which might often be transferable. You all have more words, if you're selling violins. 

What word do you use for a violin that gives the sense of moving the air around the room in a way that a sound system never will, or one that brings huge texture to the double stops that you feel extending far past the notes somehow...magic, but what other words?  Things that you can feel but not see (can't predict from construction clues), and if you can't feel it you won't hear it...

Come on, get esoteric! Please.

 

 

 

 

 

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bad time ahead only if people throw up their hands.  i can't imagine anyone thinking information coming from anyplace other than books has worked a net negative on them

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22 hours ago, Eugen Modri said:

I am tempted to say "quite the contrary" but I do not want to upset anybody. 

Some schools, in particular some East European schools did not pay attention to a violin's "tone". And did that in a very deliberate manner. What Michael Darnton said :

"The way trumpet players deal with this is enlightening: there aren't good or bad trumpets, there are only the trumpets you get along with and the ones you don't."

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