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Scientific investigations of Stradivarius violins--an updated review article


Bruce Tai
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On ‎4‎/‎23‎/‎2021 at 2:49 PM, Bruce Tai said:

Surely many studies have found pigments in Stradivari's varnish. But they seem to be too sparse to give strong tinting strength.

From experience, I have to disagree on this. With an intense and reflective ground only a very small amount of pigments is needed to make a pretty intense color varnish. Substractive color blending plays a role too, because cocineal pigments as such are too blueish. Tested on a white ground it looks too purple.

 

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On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2021 at 3:24 AM, Bruce Tai said:

That experience motivated me to investigate the carrying power of Strads. But I could be a fool. 

Not foolish at all. to me a great part of violin research reveals things which are somehow interesting but don't go to the point. The thing I would like to know most is what exactly causes which overtones and sound projection. Right now I have only one hypothesis in mind.

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2 hours ago, JoeDeF said:

So how do we explain that the prize winners all dressed in concert attire?

So how do we explain that the prize winners all played the standard rep?

So how do we explain that the prize winners all showed up on time?

Umm, because it is expected of them?

None of those are "expected". They are REQUIRED.

And nobody has to explain those to you BECAUSE IT IS NOT WHAT IS BEING DISCUSSED HERE. 

 

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5 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

From experience, I have to disagree on this. With an intense and reflective ground only a very small amount of pigments is needed to make a pretty intense color varnish. Substractive color blending plays a role too, because cocineal pigments as such are too blueish. Tested on a white ground it looks too purple.

 

This is still a mystery. And it fascinates me. What colours were used? How much and how were they applied?

 

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On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2021 at 9:25 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I've made the bad mistake of making easy to play & sweet sounding instruments and hoping good players would like them.  This is similar to expecting mountain climbers to like Kansas.

I know a violinist who said to me repeatedly that my instruments lack 'resistance'.

For a long time I couldn't figure out what he meant by that. I knew only that the G string of his instrument was unplayable for my violin playing level.

Now little by little I learned to understand that there is 'something' which very skilled players sense in their bowarm through the contact of bow hair and strings. It has nothing to do with sound quality or overtones. And this 'contact impression' gives them a very precise idea how they can drive the instrument.

In those terms, if a professional player tells me 'oh this is easy to play' I take it most of the time as polite statement saying, 'this is nice but not suitable for professional playing'.

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I think you wrote something on this thread that you tried to eliminate stress from the top plate by lowering the string angle and attaching the tailpiece directly to the fingerboard.

What I never could really understand was the idea to attach the tailpiece to the fingerboard. Sure there is no tension from the end pin, but I look on this like the strings 'stretching' (not quite the right expression) the top membrane. So the contact point from the lower end is necessary. I think one of the 'secrets' is how to use forces from the strings most efficiently. Each time I change a major part on my experimental violin I fid myself thereafter recalibrating the sound or trying to find the point of highest efficiency.

 

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26 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

What I never could really understand was the idea to attach the tailpiece to the fingerboard. 

I think Marty's idea is a clever way to reduce the static loads on the plates, which are the causes of distortion.  I don't think that the static loads contribute much to the sound.  However, the added rod structure necessary to take the string load is very concerning.  With a normal tailpiece, it is possible to get most of the tailpiece resonances outside of the playing range, where they don't cause problems.  I don't think you could do the same for the long rod structure, although I have not built one or carefully tested one of Marty's.

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On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2021 at 11:39 AM, Bruce Tai said:

It implies that we may one day figure out the secrets of Cremonese and turn them into a repeatable formula

Then I would suggest rather than atomizing wood structures it would be time to elaborate on a scientific background concepts for designing the sound in a workshop using methods of the past as a basis. Science has a bit the frenzy to use last available technology to find something new, literally storming to the next 'media-spectacular' result. In the meantime testing what has been found so far gets largely neglected. We may ask ourselves too, why we need to use I-don't-know-what-sort-of sophisticated technology to find out what makers in Cremona did with no scientific knowledge just with their hands and mind. It reminds me ALWAYS of the search for the recipe of tyrenian purple. chemists were able to establish the molecular formula but failed to find the recipe how to do make it. Apparently even the last available lab technology failed to reproduce the molecule. Only after going into old procedures one scientist finally found the recipe by understanding the concept behind it.

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With all respect for your work and publications I think it is a bit like fighting the windmills when trying to find the universal Cremonese formula for violin sound. This would IMO basically require a good number of literally untouched instruments as if they were fresh from the shop.  What we do in the end is trying to find results on a number of equations with too many unknown factors coming from afterward alterations. If you take for example Vengerovs quote, it is pretty clear that it took two skilled violin makers to adjust his instrument the way it would work perfectly for his specific artistic needs. On this background can we really see the 'sound secret' as coming entirely from the maker 300 years ago?

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I don't think that the static loads contribute much to the sound. 

Here we are returning to a previous discussion. I really can't help to see stress or static load as one of the factors to bring out the entire sound spectrum on some instruments. I base this on the experience of one violin I made which didn't sound at all at the beginning (not the super light violin) and just keeping it under string tension for at least one year it started little by little to 'shine'.   I literally didn't change anything else except moving the soundpost around. If you find another explanation than static load which a kind of 'stretched in the structure'  I'll go for it. To me it is still a sort of mystery.

 

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8 hours ago, Carl Stross said:

None of those are "expected". They are REQUIRED.

And nobody has to explain those to you BECAUSE IT IS NOT WHAT IS BEING DISCUSSED HERE.

Uh oh, are allegory and metaphor outside of your comprehensional window?

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On ‎5‎/‎1‎/‎2021 at 5:24 PM, martin swan said:

Therefore, if we were to attribute some "specialness" to classical Cremonese instruments that was connected with hermicellulose degradation, it would have to be in combination with something else, for example the unique use of a preservative or unique properties in the wood at the time of making. I think this is where Don is headed and I like his unfussy experimental approach.

Hemicellulouse degradation is certainly not the universal recipe to 'specialness'. However, there are strong hints that the wood was treated from the beginning. Roger Hargrave interprets it  as a process with rabbit goo and pee, I myself got into a sort of soaking and steaming the wood for maybe the same result. Starting from the beginning with a sort of different material makes certainly a difference in everything that follows. From my own experience I can say that using steam treated maple makes a distinctive difference in sound timbre especially on the lower strings. This is based on some 20 instruments I have made with steamed wood so far.

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21 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Hemicellulouse degradation is certainly not the universal recipe to 'specialness'. However, there are strong hints that the wood was treated from the beginning. Roger Hargrave interprets it  as a process with rabbit goo and pee, I myself got into a sort of soaking and steaming the wood for maybe the same result. Starting from the beginning with a sort of different material makes certainly a difference in everything that follows. From my own experience I can say that using steam treated maple makes a distinctive difference in sound timbre especially on the lower strings. This is based on some 20 instruments I have made with steamed wood so far.

You could speculate thousands of treatment possibilities. I could ask why bother? Or why you even think any idea is a good one before you even attempt it?

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4 minutes ago, sospiri said:

In the very famous story by the very famous author that you pretend you have never heard of. 

 

That wouldn't be AndersEn by any chance ?

Now, go mind your business - I am not interested in any dialogue with you.

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11 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I presume you have a "search" function. Why would I want to be your Mamma?

I see then : you don't know.  Must've been the time you served in the Army, all those traumatic experiences etc .

I understand.

( You did serve in the Army , did you not ??? )

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

I don't think that the static loads contribute much to the sound. 

1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

 I really can't help to see stress or static load as one of the factors to bring out the entire sound spectrum on some instruments. I base this on the experience of one violin I made which didn't sound at all at the beginning (not the super light violin) and just keeping it under string tension for at least one year it started little by little to 'shine'.   I literally didn't change anything else except moving the soundpost around. If you find another explanation than static load which a kind of 'stretched in the structure'  I'll go for it. To me it is still a sort of mystery.

Sorry, I was a bit brief with my statment... I should have added, "after the initial well-known initial transients have settled in."  This has been mentioned many times, and objectively measured as damping reduction over time by Bucur*.  That's just for the bare wood.  In addition, varnish drying will have effects over however long it takes to stabilize (also discussed many times).

*no mechanism was given for this effect, but to give Bruce Tai the benefit of the doubt, it could perhaps involve bound water redistribution.  However, I think it is beyond reason to use the wet towel comparison, or think that the miniscule stress of vibration might have similar effects.

 

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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

Nope, wrong again.

 

You chickened out ! I.Q under 80 ??? Which one ?

By the way, I remember you did pick up some flack a while ago for commenting on ( Jewish ! ) people's dead mothers ? Are you an IMBECILE ? Some sort of IDIOT ? Leave my mother out of this you bloody cretin. 

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