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Scientific investigations of Stradivarius violins--an updated review article


Bruce Tai
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Does anyone care to answer my question?

Are there harmonic components that we aren't aware of that we perceive as voice carrying power? Composite harmonics that we perceive as a given pitch in a similar way to how a ring modulator produces a signal from two different frequencies?

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28 minutes ago, Rue said:

:mellow:

...

...

:D

 

It's a physics question, not one of perception.

Two or more components making a sound we perceive as a different frequency.

Some clever men figured out radio signals 100+ years ago, so I was wondering if anyone here knows anything about how different harmonics are shaped by our communication skills into perceived sounds?

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5 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

I heard Pavarotti a couple of times claiming he only wants to sound like Pavarotti. I never thought he sounded like a cello. Pav. does a very specific thing with his voice and I heard nobody able to do that on a cello. I would appreciate if you could post a clip where this similarity you sense is reasonably obvious.

Making a joke, Carl. Because all this "X is good because it sounds like Y" is kind of an odd line of thinking, to me.

If I could do another pass, maybe it was his resemblance to a cello what was the cause of his greatness.

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On 4/27/2021 at 10:57 PM, sospiri said:

Does anyone care to answer my question?

Are there harmonic components that we aren't aware of that we perceive as voice carrying power? 

Microphones can record the soundwaves very well. Everything is in the recorded spectra. Do we understand how various spectral features are perceived? Obviously not. The throat singing and polyphonic singing examples shown above blow my mind away. It is very hard to explain the sensation/perception of these special singing voices. It is not easy for me to convey what I feel about polyphonic singing and compare to what you are feeling. We also do not understand how the ear-brain interface processes information and turn them into perceptions. 

Harmonics in the steady-state signal belongs to timbre. However, the violin also shows strong directivity in high frequencies. This could also affect carrying power. I am not so sure about the transients. That's even harder to analyze.  

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29 minutes ago, Bruce Tai said:

Microphones can record the soundwaves very well. Everything is in the recorded spectra. Do we understand how various spectral features are perceived? Obviously not. The throat singing and polyphonic singing examples shown above blow my mind away. It is very hard to explain the sensation/perception of these special singing voices. It is not easy for me to convey what I feel about polyphonic singing and compare to what you are feeling. We also do not understand how the ear-brain interface processes information and turn them into perceptions. 

Harmonics in the steady-state signal belongs to timbre. However, the violin also shows strong directivity in high frequencies. This could also affect carrying power. I am not so sure about the transients. That's even harder to analyze.  

Interesting, but...

 Please explain how we can use this to improve the tone of a violin.

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2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

Microphones can record the soundwaves very well. Everything is in the recorded spectra. 

That's good to know.

2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

Do we understand how various spectral features are perceived? Obviously not. The throat singing and polyphonic singing examples shown above blow my mind away. It is very hard to explain the sensation/perception of these special singing voices. 

We don't have to explain. It's singing and music it's wonderfu, it's unexplainable.

2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

 It is not easy for me to convey what I feel about polyphonic singing and compare to what you are feeling. 

Probably the same as me and jezzupe and millions of others if this video gathers algorithms sufficient to go Global?

Nice video too. Apart from 1:58- trying to break green sticks 2:20- trying to burn green sticks 2:30 -smoke gets in your eyes, why didn't we bring some dry wood?

Maybe they left that in for added comedy effect before the big finish?

2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

We also do not understand how the ear-brain interface processes information and turn them into perceptions.

Harmonics in the steady-state signal belongs to timbre. However the violin also shows strong directivity in high frequencies.

This could also affect carrying power. I am not so sure about the transients. That's even harder to analyze.  

 

1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Interesting, but...

 Please explain how we can use this to improve the tone of a violin.

That's the player's job isn't it? If you make a good enough instrument and set it up to the player's satisfaction...what more can you do? Just listen.

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2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

1. Microphones can record the soundwaves very well.

2. Everything is in the recorded spectra.

3. Do we understand how various spectral features are perceived? Obviously not.

4. The throat singing and polyphonic singing examples shown above blow my mind away. It is very hard to explain the sensation/perception of these special singing voices. It is not easy for me to convey what I feel about polyphonic singing and compare to what you are feeling. 

5. We also do not understand how the ear-brain interface processes information and turn them into perceptions. 

6. Harmonics in the steady-state signal belongs to timbre. However, the violin also shows strong directivity in high frequencies. This could also affect carrying power. I am not so sure about the transients. That's even harder to analyze.  

1. No, they do not. They do a good enough job though. 

2. No, it's not. 

3. Some progress has been made.

4. How is that relevant to violins ? 

6. True. They are still working on consciousness....

7. Look, for the past 100 and some years a lot of smart, very competent people tried to make violins better than a ( good ) Strad. In the opinion of the actual users, it didn't happen yet. Best is something which closes into a Guadagnini. And that's not easy to find. Given the  variability and size of this production one would expect to see some "flicker" i.e. here and there  happens a new violin on a par with the Soil.  But it is not happening.  That makes all this acoustics talk, interesting as it might be, to appear not very promising. It is much more probable that some sort of wood treatment + varnish system did the trick. That would be right in the middle of your professional expertise, I understand. 

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26 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

7. Look, for the past 100 and some years a lot of smart, very competent people tried to make violins better than a ( good ) Strad. In the opinion of the actual users, it didn't happen yet.

Might there be some other things going on, like preservation or enhancement of investment value, or the automatic acclaim which comes from performing on a Strad? After all, if one performs on a Strad, they must be a pretty good player, right? :)

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12 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

Look, for the past 100 and some years a lot of smart, very competent people tried to make violins better than a ( good ) Strad. In the opinion of the actual users, it didn't happen yet. 

So are you agreeing with Bruce or disagreeing? 

13 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

Best is something which closes into a Guadagnini. And that's not easy to find. 

A Burgess? A Preuss?

14 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

 Given the  variability and size of this production one would expect to see some "flicker" i.e. here and there  happens a new violin on a par with the Soil.  But it is not happening.  That makes all this acoustics talk, interesting as it might be, to appear not very promising. It is much more probable that some sort of wood treatment + varnish system did the trick. That would be right in the middle of your professional expertise, I understand. 

So are you agreeing or disagreeing? Or what?

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2 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Might there be some other things going on, like preservation or enhancement of investment value, or the automatic acclaim which comes from performing on a Strad?

Yes, but why not? There are enough of them to go round aren't there?

Doesn't every ambitious and gifted luthier aspire to supply a few of the thousands of virtuosi who aren't top tier famous but might be soon?

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13 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Might there be some other things going on, like preservation or enhancement of investment value, or the automatic acclaim which comes from performing on a Strad?

I never heard that from any of the Strad ( DG ) players I know.  They all claim vastly superior tonal qualities. Also, the decision to use a Strad for one's career has been ( in a couple of occasions ) taken after extensive evaluation of both old and new violins with the final decision taken by the orchestra members listening in the audience. We've been through this a couple of times : it is pointless to argue that say, Kavakos does not know what he's doing or what he wants from a violin. And I could add easily 15 names.

I really do not understand what is the problem : we have decent recordings from many, MANY international competitions and we know how good new violins can sound. Maybe one day they'll be even better than the Soil. ( That's the wrong example in case you actually played that violin and developed an opinion... )

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2 minutes ago, sospiri said:

1. Yes, but why not? There are enough of them to go round aren't there?

2. Doesn't every ambitious and gifted luthier aspire to supply a few of the thousands of virtuosi who aren't top tier famous but might be soon?

1. No, not nearly enough. And the high prices are evidence of that. Collectors are in competition with other collectors, for a finite commodity.

2. Some do, and some don't.

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8 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

I never heard that from any of the Strad ( DG ) players I know.  They all claim vastly superior tonal qualities.

 

Sure, and there are guys who will claim that a gal with huge boobs is better in bed. Geez dude, get a grip between fantasy and reality. ;)

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28 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

... for the past 100 and some years a lot of smart, very competent people tried to make violins better than a ( good ) Strad. In the opinion of the actual users, it didn't happen yet.

That makes all this acoustics talk, interesting as it might be, to appear not very promising.

In the opinion of the users when they know what instrument they're playing, OK.  When they don't know what they're playing, I don't think their preferences are quite so definite.

I would semi-agree with the statement of trying to "make violins better than a (good) Strad, although I would object to "better" as being a subjective judgement and impossible to nail down so everyone agrees to the result.  What I would say is that attempts to duplicate the sound of a Strad haven't been very successful, at least from the spectra I have seen.

Some acoustics talk I think is absolutely crucial to understand what is happening acoustically, then from there attempt to figure out how the acoustics are produced by body vibrations, and from there figure out what might be different in the wood properties, and from there perhaps figure out what might have been done to the wood to make it that way.  Just looking at the chemicals in the wood won't do it, and treating wood with those chemicals and making a violin to see if it sounds like a Strad is a fool's errand.

My personal hypothesis is that there may have been some wood treatment... but it didn't make the wood better, it just prevented rot, fungus, and other extreme degradation so that the beneficial effects of 300 years could happen.  It's really hard to duplicate that... at least in one's lifetime.

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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

Sure, and there are guys who will claim that a gal with huge boobs is better in bed. Geez dude, get a grip between fantasy and reality. ;)

People can claim anything. What matters are opinions from people who actually play the instruments with the top symphonic orchestras. Opinions from unqualified amateurs are just noise.

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33 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

People can claim anything.

Yup.

How many gals have you played, and did you find that those with ginourmous boobs actually sounded or played better than others, or was it all in your mind? :P

But perhaps you aren't far enough along on the self-discovery path to differentiate between one or the other, yet.

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