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Are there any possible ways to measure the sound projection without testing an instrument in a hall?


Andreas Preuss
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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

This is one of the reasons why I believe that trying to evaluate projection by playing violins unaccompanied is a bit of a waste of time. Unless of course you're only going to play unaccompanied, in which case everyone will be able to hear you anyway.

Here I can’t really totally agree. Of course it is obvious that when a violin is played solo it will be the only instrument which can be heard. But still, there are in my experience violins which in such a setting sound like ‘far away’ while other better instruments give the listener the impression of more ‘presence’ as if the sound was ‘carried over’. This must be also the reason why people came up with the word ‘carrying power’ to describe the effect. 
 

No doubt, it is clear that combat situations to test an instrument are best. And not only once, but in different situations. 
 

However, I was trying to figure out any possible sound test setting to give me an idea about the projection. I am trying to look on the sound from as many angles as possible. It would be like running into a trap to isolate the projection and ignore the rest which certainly leads to misjudgments. 

While it is not so complicated to test overall balance, response, sound colors, it is a kind of difficult to get an idea about projection, because it has little to do with loudness.

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11 hours ago, christian bayon said:

I like to have a bit of metal in the middle of the sound, even if it’s not always pleasant to play.

That’s what I think, too. But I find it important that the ‘metal in the middle’ is paired with enough breathing from the lower end.

Not so long ago you posted a sound sample of your ‘political incorrect’ built violin played apparently in a hall. What was your motivation to do this? 

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(DB) Good orchestration means what you're talking about, plus the conductor can tone down anything competing...  I mean i don't immediately see anything that makes that situation different compared to carrying from one end of a field to the other.  I've heard of certain timbres carrying better, but it should carry better everywhere...

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It's also good to remember that physical measures and human perceptions can diverge.

Do we all care how loud something measure to a machine if that doesn't match up to how it's heard by real people in real settings?

So, not what you measure, what matters most are the perceived results for performers and audience in performance settings.   

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49 minutes ago, David Beard said:

It's also good to remember that physical measures and human perceptions can diverge.

Do we all care how loud something measure to a machine if that doesn't match up to how it's heard by real people in real settings?

So, not what you measure, what matters most are the perceived results for performers and audience in performance settings.   

That’s why I place subjective (human ear) evaluation first and only thereafter try to figure out if I can see it on the graph. 
 

Anyway, we can really ask ourselves how makers in the 18th century figured out the ‘carrying power’.

Or, if this was not the case, it is all about later readjustments mainly when the transformation from baroque neck to modern neck was done. 
 

But my initial question was aiming at valid test methods. 

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When I visit a top orchestra with a violin after rehearsals in a large concert hall the usual scenario is a group of top gun players remaining behind to try it and the first thing they all want to do is play it and then hear what it sounds like at the back of the hall. All often play as soloists in their own right and know a lot about fiddles.....I can only imagine telling them they are wasting their time!

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1 hour ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

When I visit a top orchestra with a violin after rehearsals in a large concert hall the usual scenario is a group of top gun players remaining behind to try it and the first thing they all want to do is play it and then hear what it sounds like at the back of the hall. All often play as soloists in their own right and know a lot about fiddles.....I can only imagine telling them they are wasting their time!

Apologies if I came across as arrogant.

I suggested that one-off unaccompanied shoot-outs in a hall may not be the best way of judging a given violin's projection and how that matches up to a particular player's requirements.

That's not quite the same as telling people engaged in such an exercise that they are wasting their time ...

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14 hours ago, martin swan said:

Apologies if I came across as arrogant.

I suggested that one-off unaccompanied shoot-outs in a hall may not be the best way of judging a given violin's projection and how that matches up to a particular player's requirements.

That's not quite the same as telling people engaged in such an exercise that they are wasting their time ...

You do come across as a little bit arrogant.

You also seem to have a misguided view of professional orchestral musicians.

Neither of these makes you a bad person.

Peace and Love. As Ringo would say.

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On 11/25/2021 at 3:33 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

 

Anyway, we can really ask ourselves how makers in the 18th century figured out the ‘carrying power’.

 

Carrying power should surely be judged by listening to the instrument in a competing musical context ... probably if you see it that way, then the difference between a large court space or decent-sized recital room and a large concert hall isn't so significant.

If I'm interested to know how well an instrument carries, then I believe that hearing it against a piano or in a quartet setting in a medium sized space is a lot more informative than hearing it unaccompanied in a large space.

Perhaps the traditional way that orchestral players test projection (a macho post-rehearsal shoot-out in a large hall with some "top gun players" as Melvin calls them) has become the norm because it's do-able and convenient (and fun), not because it's the best way of getting information.

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

Perhaps the traditional way that orchestral players test projection (a macho post-rehearsal shoot-out in a large hall with some "top gun players" as Melvin calls them) has become the norm because it's do-able and convenient (and fun), not because it's the best way of getting information.

For the reasons highlighted, I think the shoot-out is the best way to get some information... although perhaps not the way to get the best information.

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20 hours ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

 

You also seem to have a misguided view of professional orchestral musicians.

 

I have been pondering over this statement and wondering if it's true.

I can only form a view based on my own experience, and while orchestral players aren't our main client base I do meet plenty ...

I would suspect that orchestral players (and soloists) interact very differently with new makers and with dealers. It seems to me that the rationale for buying or commissioning a new instrument is very different from the rationale for buying an antique or an older "name" violin.

Since you are a maker and I am a dealer, it may be that we have very different experiences and meet people with very different agendas.

But ultimately I want people to make good choices which fulfil them for a long time, and if you find error in my thinking about sound or about the musician's experience of choosing an instrument I would like you to point it out.

 

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In room acoustics and sources in it, there are nothing called «projection». There are directivity, room amplification (Strength G) and impulse responses giving the time history and energy drop including reflections arriving at different times. The sound level in a given position form a source can be measured or calculated, although the directivlty of a given violin may differ in the high frequencies, from insturment to instrument.  

The sound power of a source, like a violin is, the same in a large room and a small one. So tecnically the sound level and «projection» may me assessed in a smaller room. The difference between small and large rooms, like a concert hall, is the time between reflections and maybe the directivy play a larger role in a large room than a small.

There is a bit of masking going on for the player, I think. Less so for the right ear.

Comparing an instrument to an orchestra is not a reliable reference, as different orchestras do sound different, bacause the insturments, especially the bowed strings, are different, and the muisichians are too. I basically think that a layer can asess the insturment quality and «projection» on his own in a mid to small sized room.

Higher «projection» is simply an instrument with stronger output in all ranges, stronger fundamentals and stronger highs around the formants. The violin acoustics researchers knew this already in the 20 ties and more so in the 30ties and 40ties.      

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On 11/23/2021 at 11:26 AM, David Burgess said:

Oh, I've also found that averaging the decibel level of a passage, using an A weighting, correlated pretty well with perceptions of loudness and carrying power.

Loudness does correlate well with projection so testing in a big hall isn't necessary as Anders just mentioned.

I play a chromatic scale and measure the loudness with Audacity software on my computer (with its internal speaker) for each note and then add up all of the numbers to get a total loudness for the entire range of that instrument.  This is easy to do but it has the disadvantage of inadvertent bow variations affecting the measurements so averaging the results of several tests is helpful.

A plot of these (old fashioned Saunders loudness plot) points out the evenness of the note to note loudness which is also another important feature for player preference.  A flat line would be ideal.  Jaggedly plots are not good because a player would have a more difficult time controlling note to note loudness with his bowing.  If you like number crunching various statistical descriptors could be used for measuring evenness: max-min spread, standard deviation, variance etc.

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1 hour ago, Anders Buen said:

In room acoustics and sources in it, there are nothing called «projection». There are directivity, room amplification (Strength G) and impulse responses giving the time history and energy drop including reflections arriving at different times. The sound level in a given position form a source can be measured or calculated, although the directivlty of a given violin may differ in the high frequencies, from insturment to instrument.  

The sound power of a source, like a violin is, the same in a large room and a small one. So tecnically the sound level and «projection» may me assessed in a smaller room. The difference between small and large rooms, like a concert hall, is the time between reflections and maybe the directivy play a larger role in a large room than a small.

There is a bit of masking going on for the player, I think. Less so for the right ear.

Comparing an instrument to an orchestra is not a reliable reference, as different orchestras do sound different, bacause the insturments, especially the bowed strings, are different, and the muisichians are too. I basically think that a layer can asess the insturment quality and «projection» on his own in a mid to small sized room.

Higher «projection» is simply an instrument with stronger output in all ranges, stronger fundamentals and stronger highs around the formants. The violin acoustics researchers knew this already in the 20 ties and more so in the 30ties and 40ties.      

I agree with a lot of this ...

that loudness is loudness

that loudness is the same irrespective of the size of the room

that players don't need a hall to establish loudness ...

However, you give very little attention to your own crucial statements "the directivity of a given instrument may differ in the high frequencies" and "maybe the directivity plays a larger role in a large room or a hall".

Here, surely, is the reason why an instrument that isn't objectively "loud" can carry very well over an orchestra in a large hall. Of course loudness helps, but it's not sufficient.

So even if we don't call it "projection" there is definitely a phenomenon relating to the audibility of a given violin in a musical context which is not immediately, purely, or proportionately related to its objective loudness.

The fact that comparing to an orchestra is not a reliable reference doesn't mean that this is irrelevant. It just means that it's difficult to set up repeatable experiments.

I'm not pretending to know the answers here - I'm just observing that this is an extremely complex phenomenon that's still poorly understood. It's poorly understood by scientists who don't have tools to analyse it, and it's poorly understood by musicians who don't have a methodology for making reliable relative evaluations.

 

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

I agree with a lot of this ...

that loudness is loudness

that loudness is the same irrespective of the size of the room

that players don't need a hall to establish loudness ...

However, you give very little attention to your own crucial statements "the directivity of a given instrument may differ in the high frequencies" and "maybe the directivity plays a larger role in a large room or a hall".

Here, surely, is the reason why an instrument that isn't objectively "loud" can carry very well over an orchestra in a large hall. Of course loudness helps, but it's not sufficient.

So even if we don't call it "projection" there is definitely a phenomenon relating to the audibility of a given violin in a musical context which is not immediately, purely, or proportionately related to its objective loudness.

The fact that comparing to an orchestra is not a reliable reference doesn't mean that this is irrelevant. It just means that it's difficult to set up repeatable experiments.

I'm not pretending to know the answers here - I'm just observing that this is an extremely complex phenomenon that's still poorly understood. It's poorly understood by scientists who don't have tools to analyse it, and it's poorly understood by musicians who don't have a methodology for making reliable relative evaluations.

 

 

Gabriel Weinreich wrote a paper  (http://www.knutsacoustics.com/files/weinreich,-g.-directional-tone-color-jasa-1997.pdf ) which describes directional tone color and attached are the abstract and a section on "projection".

It is now well known that high frequency sounds come off of the violin's plates and ribs in narrow beams whose direction is frequency dependent and that these sound beams bounce off of the room's surfaces and then hit the listener from many different directions in addition to the ones coming directly from the violin to the listener.  So listener hears a stream of notes  from directions that are constantly changing.

The room's design (size, shape, surface materials) can enhance this high frequency beam bouncing effect and enhance "projection" so the room where the testing is being done is important.  But it's a mute (intended pun) point if the violin isn't  loud ennough in all of its frequency ranges to begin with.

Screen Shot 2021-11-26 at 7.57.07 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-11-26 at 7.55.19 PM.png

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4 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

Gabriel Weinreich wrote a paper  (http://www.knutsacoustics.com/files/weinreich,-g.-directional-tone-color-jasa-1997.pdf ) which describes directional tone color and attached are the abstract and a section on "projection".

It is now well known that high frequency sounds come off of the violin's plates and ribs in narrow beams whose direction is frequency dependent and that these sound beams bounce off of the room's surfaces and then hit the listener from many different directions in addition to the ones coming directly from the violin to the listener.  So listener hears a stream of notes  from directions that are constantly changing.

The room's design (size, shape, surface materials) can enhance this high frequency beam bouncing effect and enhance "projection" so the room where the testing is being done is important.  But it's a mute (intended pun) point if the violin isn't  loud ennough in all of its frequency ranges to begin with.

 

 

Thank you greatly for posting this paper!!!  :)

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On 11/27/2021 at 1:22 AM, martin swan said:

I'm not pretending to know the answers here - I'm just observing that this is an extremely complex phenomenon that's still poorly understood. It's poorly understood by scientists who don't have tools to analyse it, and it's poorly understood by musicians who don't have a methodology for making reliable relative evaluations.

Not really complex. In room acoustics this is looked upon more in reation to the qualities of the hall rather than the instruments. Most scientiests or consultants do not care about the special traits of given instruments, but may look at them as being characteristic for given gropups of instruments.

There is another effect I did not mention in my former post. The air absorption. Air absorbs high frequencies more than the lows. It increases with propagation distance, and dry air absorbs more than humid air. The effects are large enough to be audible if the climate variation is large enough. Days at 15% RH and other summer and autumn climate at 60% would influence the brilliance of a concert hall, and quite possibly the perceived «projection». It will of course also affect the violins, as well.

I do not think the violins are all that different in the high frequencies either. Although one may expect the variation to be larger there, in small bands, than for the signature mode range. The ears bandwidth are about as the one third octave bands. At 3,15 kHz the band goes from halfway between 2,5kHz - 3,15 kHz up to halfway between 3,15 kHz - 4 kHz. A little less than 1 kHz bandwidth, for simplicity. Pretty hard averaging and simplificvation goes on there in the highs.

I think the playing and listening tests in concert halls and rehearsal rooms are more a learning experience for the participants than real scientific investigations. Listening to violins and evaluate them is different from playing them, although there is some correlation there. Maybe it is a good thing for a player to hear their own instrument being played, as a listener. Part of extending their knowledge of how «they» may sound at distance.

Projection over an orchestra is a bit simplified. The music is usually written so the soloist can be heard, although parts may be louder also with soloists playing I guess. In Oslo Concert house the soloist has been gently amplified for ages. I would assume a similar practice for other concert hoses as well. However, they will probaly not tell.

I like David Burgess observations, experiences and opinions in this thread.  

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This is a lot to digest, but basically it seems that the acoustician's perspective is that "projection" may be a genuine phenomenon, but if it is, it's so dependent on the hall, the orchestra, the repertoire, the relative humidity etc. that it can't be regarded as a physical phenomenon.

Reading this thread and thinking about it all, I begin to feel that there's a major misunderstanding here. I think that what many musicians are looking for is clarity and definition, not loudness. 

How about if we imagine "projection" as being like the sharpness filter on Photoshop? We are not making the image brighter or the colours more intense, we are just improving articulation, detail and intelligibility.

This has always been my impression of what makes a great violin (or bow) work, whether in a hall or not, that suddenly we can hear all the detail in the performance, and that we relate more directly to what the player is expressing.

I don't believe this is to do with loudness - it's perfectly possible to have a very loud violin where the musical content is smudged or blurry.

So what we are looking for is a quality that lends articulacy and intelligibility. This is most likely to do with a combination of strong transients in the upper-mid range and more importantly a lack of muddy sustain or overall midrange coloration. 

I know from my own experience that there is a real phenomenon which merits proper analysis - it's of fundamental concern to many musicians, but whether it can ever be measured scientifically is a different matter.

 

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23 minutes ago, Anders Buen said:

It is loudness. Why not be happy to get some knowledge on what does infleunce the sound in a hall, Martin? 

Then there is nothing for Andreas to worry about.

Make a loud violin - you can measure how loud it is in any space, no need for a hall or someone in another room.

Problem solved :lol:

 

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