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Scientific investigations of Stradivarius violins--an updated review article


Bruce Tai
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6 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I1. n 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.

2. 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. 

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

1. This is the interesting bit none of the "experts" :)  payed attention to when either myself or somebody else mentioned it : top players TEST A LOT. In most cases the final decision is not theirs. May take a while to figure out amongst a couple of close sounding violins. This reminds me of the old "Which was the best plane in WWII ?". Well, it was the one the aces were using, of course

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_flying_aces

2. True. But there are certain characteristics where there is reasonable agreement. 

3. I think in some sense a lot of progress has been made. Some German makers make violins which definitely capture some characteristics of a Strad. What is still objectionable ( from a listener's perspective ) is the lack of tonal color. Violins are definitely getting better. Something one can not say about pianos...

4. Some, yes. A lot of it, like it was done, might be counterproductive. You don't design an IC engine starting with the chemical composition of the fuel and after years of Quantum Mechanics it's still crappy. You use some elementary thermodynamics to geta grip on things and copy good desings.

5. That is quite plausible. Maybe in the end the HIlls were right and it is the varnish. I did a fair amount of experiments with various "treatments" and I can't say there was anything even mildly exciting. :)  

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

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.

IT would be interesting to understand how much their tone might've changed and in which direction. For many reasons I think they have become slightly brighter. That keeps with the general tendency - most symph orch instruments are brighter than they used to be and in the 80s it was already recognized this is causing problems in the repertoire. Pianos have become MUCH brighter to the point it's irritating. Also, on pianos there was huge loss of tonal color and it was intentional. Maybe violins will move in the same direction ? Who knows ? I remember being at a large piano trade exhibition in the mid 80s and they all sounded like crap. Very bright and short. This has become the norm. 

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6 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

The why are you still seduced by fiddle myths(?)? Why are you unable to cross-reference?

 

 

I can do this like A LOT :  

( you on the other hand....  :) :) :)  )

 

"I played three notes and I thought I was going to die" - how Itzhak Perlman found his Stradivarius

By the way, how do YOU know those are "fiddle myths" ?

Do you think Perlman is a lying incompetent ? 

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Lets not forget the musicians are also people and can be fooled just like the rest. In our country we have saying that "A lie, thousand times repeated, becomes truth." Folks have been hearing (reading) from all directions that old violins and especially Cremonese are the finest and incomparable etc. right from the childhood. Whenever I talk to someone and they find out I make instruments they start pulling the common Stradivari stories they heard on radio or read on internet. Even non musicians. Don't you think this leaves really DEEP impression on one's subconscious. It's like drug addiction after some time. It takes lots of work and personality to overcome it and open eyes for unbiased decisions on such highly subjective evaluations. I think the best players may be very strong addicts in this sense as they spend all their life surrounded by folks suggesting to get the old italian violin to make career... Human psychology is sometimes weird.

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5 minutes ago, HoGo said:

It takes lots of work and personality to overcome it and open eyes for unbiased decisions on such highly subjective evaluations. I think the best players may be very strong addicts in this sense as they spend all their life surrounded by folks suggesting to get the old italian violin to make career... Human psychology is sometimes weird.

Indeed, decades of indoctrination can be difficult to overcome.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

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

Not enough Strads to go around the top players? There are hundreds. But most of them never get played. Isn't that the (humidity controlled) case?

 

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I think Perlman is human. What do you think your level of vulnerability is to "human-ness"?

Not in recording of Wienawski concerto no. 1, then he was a super human and he didn't even have the Soil then.

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5 minutes ago, Peter K-G said:

Not in recording of Wienawski concerto no. 1, then he was a super human and he didn't even have the Soil then.

Then I reckon Hilary Hahn is super-human too? Why doesn't she play a Strad? I doubt very much that it's because she can't afford one.

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2 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Then I reckon Hilary Hahn is super-human too? Why doesn't she play a Strad? I doubt very much that it's because she can't afford one.

She is and has a great Vuillaume (gosh that's difficult to spell, had to look it up)

People won't agree here on her violin being great...

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25 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Indeed, decades of indoctrination can be difficult to overcome.

I live in a 300 year old house. I'm sure many modern houses are better...insulated. But I don't want to move. Except maybe to a 400 year old house. 

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2 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

She is and has a great Vuillaume (gosh that's difficult to spell, had to look it up)

People won't agree here on her violin being great...

I don't know if it's "great" or not.  But I know I don't like it very much.

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6 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I don't know if it's "great" or not.  But I know I don't like it very much.

I know, we have discussed this.

I also posted a powerful clip from cadenza in Paganini concerto no. 5. Some thought it was bad. It was played on Il Cannone

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3 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

I know, we have discussed this.

I also posted a powerful clip from cadenza in Paganini concerto no. 5. Some thought it was bad. It was played on Il Cannone

Some people have been unimpressed by Il Cannone.

Vuillaume is to blame again. Paganini  himself would have sounded amazing on any violin.

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Hilary Hahn liked her Vuillaume so much she bought another one. Kavakos has played and owned a number of Stradivari violins, same for Joshua Bell. Apparently not any Stradivari is a definitive instrument since soloists like to swap them that much.

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