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Original Sound of Stradivarius


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37 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

"Original condition" means different things to different people.

Since there was a reference to Stradivarius showing up today and being able to recognize the sound, I presume his frame of reference would be what they sounded like when he finished them, i.e. new.

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Also...if you wanted to hear an "original" sound, you'd have to repeat the venue...be it an upholstered drawing room, or a ballroom where a concert might have been held.

...and yes, I've visited enough old buildings to be fairly certain the instruments might sound different to the listener in them. The acoustics vary according to ceiling height, windows, amount of fabric in the room, types of walls (wood, stone, brick, plaster) etc. 

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I reckon the sound was smaller and more gentle. I think it makes sense that the focus of that time would have been on the quality of tone and not LOUD LOUD LOUD as it seems to be now. Music tended to happen in small salons and courts where volume was not a concern.

That said, they would have sounded more alike than they did different. I mean, we still use Strads with the body mostly unmodified because his design is still compatible with our modern tonal ideals. Neck length, angle, string length, string material, tailpiece, bridge shape, bass bar... these are really just little knicknacks hanging on to the main piece which is the plates. Obviously the sound would be noticeably different to a trained ear, but it would still be a violin. If you stick some baroque fittings on a modern violin and use a convex bow I think you'll get a decent approximation of the original sound.

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In this famous engraving of Corelli performing in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome in 1687 there are about 60 string players in th open air. Since string tensions seem to have been higher than today and it must have been required to hear the music above the sound of the crowd I imagine that loudness was very much a necessary quality of the instruments. Arcangelo_Corelli_regendo_uma_serenata_na_Piazza_di_Spagna.jpg

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11 hours ago, David Burgess said:

"Original condition" means different things to different people.

Neck length 10mm shorter.

Neck angle?

Vuillaume altered the instruments according to the developing trend for more downforce at the bridge.

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26 minutes ago, Mark Caudle said:

In this famous engraving of Corelli performing in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome in 1687 there are about 60 string players in th open air. Since string tensions seem to have been higher than today and it must have been required to hear the music above the sound of the crowd I imagine that loudness was very much a necessary quality of the instruments. 

Do we know what string tensions were preferedby diffrent makers at different times? 

Was it Tartini who measured string tensions in 17??

 

 

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23 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Isn't Stewart Pollens the guy that said the Messiah was a Vuillaume? Not sure but it was someone that worked for the Smithsonian, I believe.

It seems if you're going to look at baroque violins you would look at virtually unaltered originals of which there are no Strad examples, basing a whole history of baroque violins on Strad only seems ridiculous.

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43 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

1, Isn't Stewart Pollens the guy that said the Messiah was a Vuillaume? Not sure but it was someone that worked for the Smithsonian, I believe.

2, It seems if you're going to look at baroque violins you would look at virtually unaltered originals of which there are no Strad examples, basing a whole history of baroque violins on Strad only seems ridiculous.

1, I don't know.

2, This thread is about Strad, specifically the Messiah. If you want to give another example from a different maker, go ahead, I'm interested as I'm sure are many others.

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1 hour ago, sospiri said:

Do we know what string tensions were preferedby diffrent makers at different times? 

Was it Tartini who measured string tensions in 17??

 

 

Check out the documentation from Mimmo Peruffo  on the Aquila strings site. He knows far more than me! But we do have some strings from Stradivari. Not for violin though.

 

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400 years after Francis Bacon formalized the Scientific Method, and people still cannot utter the simple phrase, "I do not know." Or maybe I missed the Psychic Powers class during my misspent college years? >gd&r<

 

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2 hours ago, Mark Caudle said:

Check out the documentation from Mimmo Peruffo  on the Aquila strings site. He knows far more than me! But we do have some strings from Stradivari. Not for violin though.

 

Thanks Mark.

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39 minutes ago, ctanzio said:

400 years after Francis Bacon formalized the Scientific Method, and people still cannot utter the simple phrase, "I do not know." Or maybe I missed the Psychic Powers class during my misspent college years? >gd&r<

 

A lot of what passes for Science is hyperbole filled Journalism or worse. And our lives are increasingly ruled by these charlatans. How can responsible Science win if the public don't know they are being duped?

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I wrote and article back in 2013 for the Stockholm Musical Acoustics Symposium on the acoustics of the hardanger fiddle. It is a comparsion of violins and hardanger fiddles using different acoustic testing techniques. One of the themes is the transition of a violin to a HF, documenting each step in detail. I have gone through this again and will present a talk at the Baltic Nordic Acoustics Meeting on that material tomorrow. It is a dense article, but probably one of my best. Some of the info there has been presented here on MN many years ago.  

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325392479_THE_ACOUSTICS_OF_THE_HARDANGER_FIDDLE

John McLennans PhD is on the transfer from a Baroque violin to a romantic violin. And there are sound examples given. The thesis: https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/people/mclennan/McLennanThesisComplete.pdf

Sound files:

https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/people/mclennanappendix.html

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On strings: Erik V Jansson describe how the string mass and tension influences the sound level from a played string in his course: Acoustics for guitar and violin makers, 2002. It is freely downloadable from the KTH in Stockholm, Speech and Hearing group. 

The theory is described in chapter four. 

I have used that theory and worked a little on it with two played string notes, the highest and lowest on the instruments with mittel strings on the violin and gauge 10,5 and 11 on the HF (mainly gut). I share one of my slides which had to be taken out of the talk due to the 15 minute limit. It basically explains the effect these strings has on the spectrum. 

Notes: 

  • The hardanger fiddle is usually tuned higher than a violin.
  • The sound level is determined by mass per length of string and the tension of it. The tension is dependant on string lengh, frequency and mass.
  • Change in Spesific Vibration Sensitivity % = -1/2* tension change % - ½ * mass change in %

 

Buen Hardangerfiddle BNAM21 210419.jpg

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On 5/1/2021 at 9:09 PM, Anders Buen said:

Maybe something from Sacconis book can be used?

There is a neck pattern amongst the Stradivari artefacts for a contralto viola, a tenor viola and cellos but no violin. I can't imagine it would be too different from the contralto viola except proportionately smaller.

Sacconi didn't delve too much into the original neck shapes or dimensions.

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On 5/1/2021 at 8:06 PM, sospiri said:

1. Nobody living has ever played it?

2. Because it's got a soundpost crack?

On hearsay, Natahan Milstein was to have played it once. Can't prove it.

The soundpost crack is microscopic and wouldn't have kept anyone from playing it. There were other reasons.

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21 hours ago, Rue said:

Also...if you wanted to hear an "original" sound, you'd have to repeat the venue...be it an upholstered drawing room, or a ballroom where a concert might have been held.

...and yes, I've visited enough old buildings to be fairly certain the instruments might sound different to the listener in them. The acoustics vary according to ceiling height, windows, amount of fabric in the room, types of walls (wood, stone, brick, plaster) etc. 

With all of the background noise we have to put up with on a daily basis our hearing is likely less sensitive than it would have been for someone living in that time.

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7 minutes ago, Bruce Carlson said:

Sacconi didn't delve too much into the original neck shapes or dimensions.

There is two pictures of the original grip of the Soil Strad in Sacconis book. Not easy to draw something from it. The shapes are actually similar to hardanger fiddle necks in the root and necklength. Maybe oiriginal violin playing was in one position too? I have never looked at this in the deail, though.
There are pictures of two violin bridge templates, also missing scaling.  

 

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9 hours ago, sospiri said:

Neck length 10mm shorter.

Neck angle?

Vuillaume altered the instruments according to the developing trend for more downforce at the bridge.

Sometimes up to 10mm shorter.

The overall neck angle including the fingerboard was about the same. Vuillaume was modifying mostly to make the neck more comfortable for current playing technique. This meant a longer neck and more slender, especially at the heel. The longer string length is what increased the tension and not so much the angle over the bridge which was very similar. 

 

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