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Scientific investigations of Stradivarius violins--an updated review article


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1 hour ago, Rue said:

100%.

Even if we know a label is misleading, it will still influence our opinion.

100% of what though? Our preconceptions and perceptions and moods and emotions....it's a lot of judging going on.

I think we should define what we want from a musical instrument more clearly.

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I liked the paper and found only one correction. The optical effect is dichromatic, not dichroic.

That Table of detected materials would be useful if it cited the sources for the detections naming instruments, and most importantly, pointed to the layer where it was detected.

Otherwise, I agree a lot with the remarks on chemical and visual aspects of the varnish system. However, I leave the wood properties up to those who know better.

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19 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

>

Interestingly, wine tasters are easily fooled by wine color. Violin listeners can be easily fooled by louder instrument as well. In the 2017 Fritz paper, all three modern violins are louder than all three Cremonese violins in terms of sound power per unit force applied in mechanical measurements. We don't even know how much louder these modern violins were in live playing sessions. You can argue that wine tasters may eventually tell that the white wine doped with red colorant is actually a white wine in disguise over some time. But with a very quick tasting session he may be completely fooled. So it is also possible that louder violins will sound more impressive in a quick listening session. But over longer periods, the listener may hear the tone quality more clearly. Tone quality (timbre) is an attribute of sound independent of loudness. 

>

 

I don't agree with your point of view that "violin listeners can be easily fooled by louder instrument as well."  Fritz found that listeners preferred louder instruments--they're not fooled--they liked loudness.

It's also not a short term effect.  If I'm trying hard to hear a violin soloist playing a long piece I would prefer they were using a louder instrument or I should purchase tickets to the more expensive closer seats. 

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21 hours ago, David Burgess said:

What is your evidence for Menuhin having purchased hundreds of violins?

 

Dai-Ting Chung of Chimei Museum said that Menuhin was an avid trader of violins. Menuhin bought many modern violins and successfully sold them for considerable profit because of his status.  I don't how many passed through his hands. As others have pointed out, Sotheby's had an instrument auction for Menuhin's collection 1999. So it could have been sizable. Paganini was also a passionate collector of violins, so why not Menuhin. If Menuhin genuinely liked the violins that he bought, what he did actually helped the violin business by promoting talented modern makers. 

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19 minutes ago, Bruce Tai said:

Dai-Ting Chung of Chimei Museum said that Menuhin was an avid trader of violins. Menuhin bought many modern violins and successfully sold them for considerable profit because of his status.  I don't how many passed through his hands. As others have pointed out, Sotheby's had an instrument auction for Menuhin's collection 1999. So it could have been sizable. Paganini was also a passionate collector of violins, so why not Menuhin. If Menuhin genuinely liked the violins that he bought, what he did actually helped the violin business by promoting talented modern makers. 

Menuhin was definitely interested in modern instruments.  I remember going back stage at Orchestra Hall in Chicago in the late 70's and was standing next to Carl Becker, Jr.  When he got to the table where Menuhin was sitting and introduced himself, Menuhin quickly stood up to shake his hand and said how pleased he was to meet him, then asked CB, "Do you have any violins I might be interested in?"  I don't know if it went further than that, but he certainly had the curiosity and interest.

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2 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I don't agree with your point of view that "violin listeners can be easily fooled by louder instrument as well."  Fritz found that listeners preferred louder instruments--they're not fooled--they liked loudness.

It's also not a short term effect.  If I'm trying hard to hear a violin soloist playing a long piece I would prefer they were using a louder instrument or I should purchase tickets to the more expensive closer seats. 

Generally speaking, a sound has five attributes: loudness, pitch, timbre, spaciousness, and duration. 

The special quality of Stradivari violins is supposed to be in its timbre. At the same pitch, loudness, duration, a Strad is thought to sound more brilliant, fuller, more complex, or whatsoever. That's called better timbre or tone quality. Carrying power or projection may be related to timbre and even spaciousness (sound directivity). If we were to devise scientific tests, either subjective or objective, we should keep pitch, loudness, and duration constant. It is easier said than done. 

 

 

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On 4/19/2021 at 1:24 PM, Carl Stross said:

1. Who said that ????  

2. What does that mean ??? Nothing. It was peanuts anyway. And maybe they just don't trust your selling skills. 

 

 

1. Didn't you write: "Not that say, Menuhin, just as ONE example did not try ( and sometimes even bought ) hundreds of new violins"?

If you intended to make a distinction between the number of violins Menuhin tried, and the number he bought, you failed to do so. I have tried thousands of violins, in my normal practice of trying most violins which came in for repair or maintenace, before they went out the door. Maybe add a few thousand more from my participation as a judge in various violin-making competitions.

2. 16 K is not peanuts to me. And if someone doesn't trust my "selling skills", I would consider that to be an affirmation. My goal has never been to be a sales-geek, but to reach a point where the quality sells itself. My goal has always been to make good enough instruments that they sell themselves, with no reliance on various sorts of kickbacks, or even giving a free violin to someone who would be in a position to do something for my reputation.

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21 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I liked the paper and found only one correction. The optical effect is dichromatic, not dichroic.

That Table of detected materials would be useful if it cited the sources for the detections naming instruments, and most importantly, pointed to the layer where it was detected.

Otherwise, I agree a lot with the remarks on chemical and visual aspects of the varnish system. However, I leave the wood properties up to those who know better.

Thank you, Michael. 

While violin makers often use dichromatic, I have used dichroic and chatoyant in my VSA Papers review. They all mean the same thing: As we rotate the varnished flame maple, the lighter and darker areas start to alternate because the underlying fibers reflect the light in different directions. Perhaps dichromatic is better with wood because we often associate dichroic with mirrors/filters and chatoyancy with gemstones. 

Wikipedia has a good explanation for dichroic/dichromatic:

The original meaning of dichroic, from the Greek dikhroos, two-coloured, refers to any optical device which can split a beam of light into two beams with differing wavelengths. Such devices include mirrors and filters, usually treated with optical coatings, which are designed to reflect light over a certain range of wavelengths, and transmit light which is outside that range. An example is the dichroic prism, used in some camcorders, which uses several coatings to split light into red, green and blue components for recording on separate CCD arrays, however it is now more common to have a Bayer filter to filter individual pixels on a single CCD array. This kind of dichroic device does not usually depend on the polarization of the light. The term dichromatic is also used in this sense.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

1. Didn't you write: "Not that say, Menuhin, just as ONE example did not try ( and sometimes even bought ) hundreds of new violins"?

If you intended to make a distinction between the number of violins Menuhin tried, and the number he bought, you failed to do so. I have tried thousands of violins, in my normal practice of trying most violins which came in for repair or maintenace, before they went out the door. Maybe add a few thousand more from my participation as a judge in various violin-making competitions.

2. 16 K is not peanuts to me. And if someone doesn't trust my "selling skills", I would consider that to be an affirmation. My goal has never been to be a sales-geek, but to reach a point where the quality sells itself. My goal has always been to make good enough instruments that they sell themselves, with no reliance on various sorts of kickbacks, or even giving a free violin to someone who would be in a position to do something for my reputation.

1. I missed one word while juggling amongst FOUR  languages reading and replying to emails. Get over it, it's not like I looked inside your cupboard....... 

But anyway, I apologize for confusing you - it is my fault entirely and I assume ALL responsibility. :) YOU WON !!! :)

The idea was that he did buy knew violins when he liked them. He did buy quite a few. 

And I trust you tried thousands of violins - you are in the end a violin maker ??  What was your point ?

2. Sorry to hear that. 

If that was your goal then one idea would be to sanitize your site of any useless innuendo and put a decent amount of pictures of your violins with some sound bits. I might be able to help with pictures should you need any...

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

Dai-Ting Chung of Chimei Museum said that Menuhin was an avid trader of violins. Menuhin bought many modern violins and successfully sold them for considerable profit because of his status.

Unfortunately that is true. But then EVERYBODY in that time did that on the side, he wasn't an exception. I also know that he gifted instruments to pupils/players in need. He was for the most part a very decent human being.

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2 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

If we were to devise scientific tests, either subjective or objective, we should keep pitch, loudness, and duration constant. It is easier said than done. 

 

If you guys ever get that far add the following, if possible.

Sweetness/delicacy - there are times when power, volume and penetrating tone just aren't the order of the day.

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39 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

If that was your goal then one idea would be to sanitize your site of any useless innuendo and put a decent amount of pictures of your violins with some sound bits. I might be able to help with pictures should you need any...

My web site it highly fact-based, and I have already explained many times why I don't post more photos of my violins. If your memory is failing you, it is because It assists the fakers of contemporary instruments. The fakers won't affect my financial bottom line much, if at all, but I do care about others getting scammed.

Please ask your mother to limit your living-in-mom's-basement internet privileges, for the benefit of everyone.

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20 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

My web site it highly fact-based, and I have already explained many times why I don't post more photos of my violins. If your memory is failing you, it is because It assists the fakers of contemporary instruments. The fakers won't affect my financial bottom line much, if at all, but I do care about others getting scammed.

Please ask your mother to limit your living-in-mom's-basement internet privileges, for the benefit of everyone.

I can't. My mother is dead.  Now, move on.

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10 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

I can't. My mother is dead.  Now, move on.

My mother is deceased, too, but she and I still have conversations, and I no longer live in her basement. :lol::P

Dang it, she kicked me out about 50 years ago. :)

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2 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

I'm sorry to hear that.

I take my pills diligently and in my case no no conversations.

 

My Mom would have wanted me to take birth-control pills too, but unfortunately, birth-control pills for men had not been invented yet. ;)

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5 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

My Mom would have wanted me to take birth-control pills too, but unfortunately, birth-control pills for men had not been invented yet. ;)

She was a clearly a kind woman.

But those activities do not usually result in pregnancy - there wasn't anything to worry.

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On 4/19/2021 at 1:49 PM, sospiri said:

100% of what though? Our preconceptions and perceptions and moods and emotions....it's a lot of judging going on.

I think we should define what we want from a musical instrument more clearly.

100% of pretty much everything we base our decisions on. ^_^

Even though I try rather hard to remain "neutral", I am as susceptible to "suggestion" as everyone else.

And it's very difficult to reverse a decision, once we've justified it (however "right or wrong" that decision may be).

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Example: I have an acquaintance with a valuable older instrument. They are convinced it's their retirement investment. I'm skeptical. Others are skeptical.

It's valuable, sure, but I doubt it will sell for 1/2 of what they think it will sell for.

But we will be happy to be wrong! 

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7 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

Thank you, Michael. 

While violin makers often use dichromatic, I have used dichroic and chatoyant in my VSA Papers review. They all mean the same thing: As we rotate the varnished flame maple, the lighter and darker areas start to alternate because the underlying fibers reflect the light in different directions. Perhaps dichromatic is better with wood because we often associate dichroic with mirrors/filters and chatoyancy with gemstones. 

Wikipedia has a good explanation for dichroic/dichromatic:

The original meaning of dichroic, from the Greek dikhroos, two-coloured, refers to any optical device which can split a beam of light into two beams with differing wavelengths. Such devices include mirrors and filters, usually treated with optical coatings, which are designed to reflect light over a certain range of wavelengths, and transmit light which is outside that range. An example is the dichroic prism, used in some camcorders, which uses several coatings to split light into red, green and blue components for recording on separate CCD arrays, however it is now more common to have a Bayer filter to filter individual pixels on a single CCD array. This kind of dichroic device does not usually depend on the polarization of the light. The term dichromatic is also used in this sense.

Different physics, Bruce. Dichroism is not dichromatism.  Period.

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This is thread is reminding me of a concert performed at Oberlin acoustics a few years ago.  The audience didn’t know which instruments were being used for the various pieces until the end, although everyone knew there were three old Italians in the mix, including a Strad and DG.  During one of the pieces a maker turned to me and said something to the affect of, ‘whenever I hear a Strad that sounds this good it makes me want to give up’. 

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4 hours ago, Advocatus Diaboli said:

This is thread is reminding me of a concert performed at Oberlin acoustics a few years ago.  The audience didn’t know which instruments were being used for the various pieces until the end, although everyone knew there were three old Italians in the mix, including a Strad and DG.  During one of the pieces a maker turned to me and said something to the affect of, ‘whenever I hear a Strad that sounds this good it makes me want to give up’. 

That would not be the time to give up, but to start copying, instead of making random good and great violins.

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