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How does a violin reproduce overtones? - Theorizing a model


Andreas Preuss

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8 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

1. I am interested in samples.

2. (I sometimes wonder what old man Strad would think if he would hear his creations today. The miracle is somehow that a high percentage of his instruments improved to the better during modernization of the setup. )

1. I'll PM some during today.

2. THAT is a very interesting question. I don't think he'll be that surprised but that's only my speculation. The general trend was for everything instrument to become brighter and less colorful - more predictable. Takes A LOT of effort ( and time ) to predict the next note on a good Strad. Less on a DG.

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12 hours ago, ctanzio said:

For a theoretical TRIANGULAR wave, the amplitude of each harmonic varies as 1/n^2. There are only odd harmonics.

So if we give the fundamental (n=1) a relative amplitude of 1 , then the third harmonic has an amplitude of 1/9, the fifth harmonic has an amplitude 1/25, and so forth.

A theoretical sawtooth wave has all the harmonics and the amplitudes decrease as 1/n. (Thank you Marty for the correction to my previous post.)

Since the shape of the actual wave traveling along the violin string is something akin to an asymmetric triangle, you would need to measure it experimentally. I participated in some studies with a forum member a few years back. He setup a test bed and measured the reaction force over time at one end of a bowed string.

I took the resulting data file performed a fourier analysis of it. Harmonic amplitude was not 1/n, nor  1/n^2, but some monotonically decreasing value. I used the amplitudes from the fourier analysis and mathematically created a tone by adding sine waves together. It sounded oboe-like. This would be the "input" into the bridge and violin.

A violin would not reproduce this oboe sound because of phase shifting, damping and variation in the strength of its response spectrum. So you get a "violin" sound. But interestingly, sound tests of recorded violins where the transient and noise sound was filtered out made it hard for people to distinguish between an real oboe and the violin. I am not saying most or even many people could not recognize it as a violin, only that the fundamental quality of the wave shape produced by the string remains strong even after transformed by the violin.

 

Thanks a lot! To get a flat played violin response curve up to a given frequency, say 4kHz, the highs needs to be amplified quite a bit, at least if one does the tests in one, and the lowest, playing position.

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It's the old "Strads are hard to play" hyperbole nonsense again isn't it?

What does that even mean "Strads are hard to play"?

How? Why? Compared to what exactly?

Does it make you feel you have superior knowledge and insight when you say it?

Or is it a compulsion to speak and write such absurdities posing as profunditites?

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1 hour ago, sospiri said:

It's the old "Strads are hard to play" hyperbole nonsense again isn't it?

What does that even mean "Strads are hard to play"?

How? Why? Compared to what exactly?

Does it make you feel you have superior knowledge and insight when you say it?

Or is it a compulsion to speak and write such absurdities posing as profunditites?

The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments. The player needs to adapt to a Strad in order to make it sound really good. And it is in this sense I understand 'hard to play' but once a player got the bowing into his/her system for a particular instrument it seems to be best thing ever. 

(I don't know if there are any Strad players here in this forum to ask...)

 

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47 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments.

Respectfully, unless you have some data to support this, I don't think this is at all true. In order for it to be true, a large group of "world class players" would have had to sample many different Strads and also be able to compare them to many many other violins that are defined as "normal" instruments.

Second, as @Ratcliffiddles discussed in another thread, dendrology analysis has shown that there are "Strads" out there that are not "Strads," so we know that the Strad sample set is contaminated.

I would suggest that the probability is high that this is true for all the famous and valuable violins made by Cremonese makers.

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Strads graduations are usually abnormally thin, which would suggest to me that bowing with less pressure but more bow speed would be appropriate.

I'm not a "Strad player", but have played a few Strads, and my impression is that "digging in" to get the fiddle to growl or sound aggressive is pointless... they don't growl.

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11 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

Strads graduations are usually abnormally thin, which would suggest to me that bowing with less pressure but more bow speed would be appropriate.

I'm not a "Strad player", but have played a few Strads, and my impression is that "digging in" to get the fiddle to growl or sound aggressive is pointless... they don't growl.

Well, when it comes to bowing technique I once got a short lesson about bow arm weight which showed me what a pro can do. When I tried it myself in front of the player I could only get maybe half of the sound volume. I was really 'how on earth can you do this???'

Good bowing is really difficult.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments. The player needs to adapt to a Strad in order to make it sound really good. And it is in this sense I understand 'hard to play' but once a player got the bowing into his/her system for a particular instrument it seems to be best thing ever.

 

How much might other fiddles benefit if a player invested that much time and effort into learning how to get the best out of them? How much of this improvement on the Strad is due to knowing it is a Strad?

If a player tried and tried on a Strad, and still thought it was crap, would they be willing to say so, or would they be worried that saying so would be perceived as inadequacy on their part? After all, they are playing on a fiddle with a name and legend bigger than their own.

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2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments. The player needs to adapt to a Strad in order to make it sound really good. And it is in this sense I understand 'hard to play' but once a player got the bowing into his/her system for a particular instrument it seems to be best thing ever. 

(I don't know if there are any Strad players here in this forum to ask...)

 

Adapting to a different instrument is something I can relate to. So in that sense, all instruments are hard to play.

47 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

 

Well, when it comes to bowing technique I once got a short lesson about bow arm weight which showed me what a pro can do. When I tried it myself in front of the player I could only get maybe half of the sound volume. I was really 'how on earth can you do this???'

Good bowing is really difficult.

They play many millions of notes every year. If you think about it, it's a freaky statistic. 

 

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19 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

If a player tried and tried on a Strad, and still thought it was crap, would they be willing to say so, or would they be worried that saying so would be perceived as inadequacy on their part? After all, they are playing on a fiddle with a name and legend bigger than their own.

You got certainly a point there. (Maybe mostly for violinists at the beginning of their career.)

Regardless, I don't think any longer that a really good instrument, old or new, must be easy to play. And it seems that the really good ones have rather a tendency to be 'not so easy to play'.

Would be interesting to start another thread about this with professional players participating.

 

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

1. Respectfully, unless you have some data to support this, I don't think this is at all true. In order for it to be true, a large group of "world class players" would have had to sample many different Strads and also be able to compare them to many many other violins that are defined as "normal" instruments.

Second, as @Ratcliffiddles discussed in another thread, dendrology analysis has shown that there are "Strads" out there that are not "Strads," so we know that the Strad sample set is contaminated.

I would suggest that the probability is high that this is true for all the famous and valuable violins made by Cremonese makers.

1. You may not like it but you can not "tell" if it's true or not.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. People in this game don't care. Lies can be true and one can steal one's own possesions.

2. That's perfectly possible. But nobody insists that only violins made by HIS hands sound great. There may be other violins around who exhibits Strad like qualities. 

3. All ??

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31 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

1. How much might other fiddles benefit if a player invested that much time and effort into learning how to get the best out of them?

2. How much of this improvement on the Strad is due to knowing it is a Strad?

3. If a player tried and tried on a Strad, and still thought it was crap, would they be willing to say so, or would they be worried that saying so would be perceived as inadequacy on their part? After all, they are playing on a fiddle with a name and legend bigger than their own.

1. The problem with "other fiddles" is that they fall short on early fundamentals.....  :)  :)  :)  

2. A lot. Players often drift towards violins they know to have been used successfully by other (great) players. Why would I spend a year learning to coax music out of plankie when I know exactly what is possible to do on the Soil ??????

3. Some did, some did not. They do change violins from time to time and that means they keep looking for better. But you knew this...  

And by the way, most top players nowadays own and use new violins, too. Quite a few RH's on YT doing big stuff...

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20 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

You got certainly a point there. (Maybe mostly for violinists at the beginning of their career.)

Regardless, I don't think any longer that a really good instrument, old or new, must be easy to play. And it seems that the really good ones have rather a tendency to be 'not so easy to play'.

I'll bet most people at a truck stop will have heard of a "Stradivarius" violin. Heifetz or Paganini, not so much.

I've run across a number of really good Strads which were quite easy to play.

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10 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I'll bet most people at a truck stop will have heard of a "Stradivarius" violin. Heifetz or Paganini, not so much.

I've run across a number of really good Strads which were quite easy to play.

:D

Each time I hear from a pro 'Your violin is easy to play!' I know it is the death sentence for my instruments.

:ph34r:I wouldn't however try to make impossible-to-play fiddles and tell players 'If you can't play this you must be a crappy player.' 

 

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19 minutes ago, uncle duke said:

Are Strad violins on the verge of crumbling away yet or are they still pretty sturdily built?

Well, the oldest instrument I regularly care for was made around 1580. Some restoration and alteration, but still going strong... I see plenty of 17th century fiddles on a regular basis that are still just fine... some with surprisingly little past restoration... so I think the Strads are safe for now.  :-)

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3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

:D

Each time I hear from a pro 'Your violin is easy to play!' I know it is the death sentence for my instruments.

 

In my experience, when a player makes a single nice comment, such as "This is easy to play", or "I really like the varnish color", it's because  they're trying to come up with something nice to say about a fiddle that they overall don't like. :(

After all, one doesn't want to be responsible for a bunch of violin makers committing suicide (except when one does). :o

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34 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Well, the oldest instrument I regularly care for was made around 1580. Some restoration and alteration, but still going strong... I see plenty of 17th century fiddles on a regular basis that are still just fine... some with surprisingly little past restoration... so I think the Strads are safe for now.  :-)

And their are Chinese stringed instruments in active use for over a 1000 years.

It is being cared about, or not, that makes wooden stringed instruments live or die.

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1 hour ago, Carl Stross said:

1. You may not like it but you can not "tell" if it's true or not.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. People in this game don't care. Lies can be true and one can steal one's own possesions.

2. That's perfectly possible. But nobody insists that only violins made by HIS hands sound great. There may be other violins around who exhibits Strad like qualities. 

3. All ??

1) Yes, I can tell that it is not true. It never happened and so it isn't true. 

2) Some do.

3) Yes, I believe that there are known fakes in circulation of all the well-known Cremonese makers that are considered authentic. 

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3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

The general consensus you hear from world class players is that Strads first of all play completely different to 'normal' instruments. The player needs to adapt to a Strad in order to make it sound really good. And it is in this sense I understand 'hard to play' but once a player got the bowing into his/her system for a particular instrument it seems to be best thing ever. 

(I don't know if there are any Strad players here in this forum to ask...)

 

My take on this is that better violins offer more range of voice to the player, but can at the same time and for related reasons can be more particular about how you draw a voice.   In other words, making then speak and the resulting colors are less automatic.

But better players will end up valuing this aspect greatly.

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