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Tap tone test , top plate


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6 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Actually the presence of knots in the wood seems to indicate that other factors including tap tones were more important to the old builders than knot free perfection of appearance

One of the biggest factors was mere availability! Princes were often absolute autocrats in those days, and wars and pestilence were common, too. Extreme sumptuary laws were not uncommon. Makers sometimes had to make do with what they could get. They couldn't just take a prolonged sabbatical. They had to deliver product if they expected to eat and feed their families. When I first started looking at a lot of really old violins I couldn't help but think that sometimes makers must have used old fence posts for tonewood.

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On 5/25/2022 at 3:28 PM, Strad O Various Jr. said:

And yet the makers of those pictured historical violins most certainly relied on tap tones, and knocking on the wood. Makes some of these modern makers seem quite full of themselves if they prefer dead wood

I'd say it's pretty clear they didn't care what they used. You have absolutely no evidence for that comment. As has been repeatedly pointed out and ignored by people who want to believe mythology, old violins exist; when tapped they usually go thud, not ring. What exists now, in violins that work now to replicate what is working now and make good violins now is what's important here. Not baseless speculation.

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8 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Actually the presence of knots in the wood seems to indicate that other factors including tap tones were more important to the old builders than knot free perfection of appearance

Bad logic.   It indicates they weren't about knots either  visually or function.

It does not indicate what they were worried.  And it in no way supports tjay idea of their using tap tones.

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I'm absolutely sure you'll find lots of 19th century discussions of tapping on wood and even 18th century discussion on hammering on the tonewood trees to see if they ring, you guys are making a religion of ignorance about the history of the violin. I honestly think some would mock Stradivari if he were here telling us how to make violins.

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Tapping on a violin plate, and comparing it with the pitch of the local church bell could have been one way of assessing some of the properties of the wood, as well as an aid to configuring it.

Granted, this would not be foolproof by any means, but not all violins by the great makers are fabulous playing instruments.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Tapping on a violin plate, and comparing it with the pitch of the local church bell could have been one way of assessing some of the properties of the wood, as well as an aid to configuring it.

Granted, this would not be foolproof by any means, but not all violins by the great makers are fabulous playing instruments.

They 'could have', but there is no evidence the did.

Also, there's a big difference between tapping to hear the character of the ring versus tapping to hear specific church.

While they 'could have' compared to the local church bell or organ, they also would be well aware that in their time you had to retune to the local standard for each town.  There was not a fixed general standard of pitch.

Modern concepts of tapping tuning are modern.

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Tapping on a violin plate, and comparing it with the pitch of the local church bell could have been one way of assessing some of the properties of the wood, as well as an aid to configuring it.

Granted, this would not be foolproof by any means, but not all violins by the great makers are fabulous playing instruments.

Tapping on a violin plate is every makers right.

It is the only true Amendment!

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5 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I'd say it's pretty clear they didn't care what they used. You have absolutely no evidence for that comment. As has been repeatedly pointed out and ignored by people who want to believe mythology, old violins exist; when tapped they usually go thud, not ring. What exists now, in violins that work now to replicate what is working now and make good violins now is what's important here. Not baseless speculation.

...usually go thud, not ring... 

...well, great wood made well. will ring...

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4 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

I'm absolutely sure you'll find lots of 19th century discussions of tapping on wood and even 18th century discussion on hammering on the tonewood trees to see if they ring, you guys are making a religion of ignorance about the history of the violin. I honestly think some would mock Stradivari if he were here telling us how to make violins.

What's tonewood tree and what does it sound like?

I can tell you it's fun to do, but not really instructive. Lots of spruce trees make a nice sound when you knock on them, but only the ones that grow tall and straight with only very small branches in the first 30 or so feet of growth have the right characteristics for instrument making.

Even in the Alps this is 1 in 100 trees.

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19 minutes ago, sospiri said:

What's tonewood tree and what does it sound like?

I can tell you it's fun to do, but not really instructive. Lots of spruce trees make a nice sound when you knock on them, but only the ones that grow tall and straight with only very small branches in the first 30 or so feet of growth have the right characteristics for instrument making.

Even in the Alps this is 1 in 100 trees.

Or even 1 to 1 000 trees?
 

 i have cut 50.... to (100), so far and no tone wood!

...

23 minutes ago, sospiri said:

What's tonewood tree and what does it sound like?

I can tell you it's fun to do, but not really instructive. Lots of spruce trees make a nice sound when you knock on them, but only the ones that grow tall and straight with only very small branches in the first 30 or so feet of growth have the right characteristics for instrument making.

Even in the Alps this is 1 in 100 trees.

 

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55 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

They could be, but there is no evidence that they aren't also old. ;)

Except that pitches weren't even standardized until modern times.  That fact has plenty of evidence.    

Also, the idea that 'a' corresponds to 440 vibrations/sec is new.  That has plenty of evidence.

And, the idea that an 'a' in Cremona would necessarily match an 'a' in Paris is new.   Regional pitch difference until modern times has plenty of evidence.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

I'm absolutely sure you'll find lots of 19th century discussions of tapping on wood and even 18th century discussion on hammering on the tonewood trees to see if they ring, you guys are making a religion of ignorance about the history of the violin. I honestly think some would mock Stradivari if he were here telling us how to make violins.

Honestly, anything that any violin maker living after 1750, after the dark ages of the Great Forgetting, did, thought, or said means absolutely nothing to me, but you haven't shown any of that either, have you? Still peddling myth.

If you want to make this point, make it by showing me a discussion from someone who matters. Find me definite words from Stradivari or other great Cremonese maker of the period about what they were doing and I am all ears.

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1 hour ago, David Beard said:

Except that pitches weren't even standardized until modern times.  That fact has plenty of evidence.    

Also, the idea that 'a' corresponds to 440 vibrations/sec is new.  That has plenty of evidence.

And, the idea that an 'a' in Cremona would necessarily match an 'a' in Paris is new.   Regional pitch difference until modern times has plenty of evidence.

 

 

All that is totally irrelevant, since Stradivari did his making in Cremona, not Paris or Leipzig. All one would need to use one of the local bells as a pitch reference is a sense of "relative pitch". Wouldn't even matter what frequency that bell was, or what name they used for that note.

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27 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

All that is totally irrelevant, since Stradivari did his making in Cremona, not Paris or Leipzig. All one would need to use one of the local bells as a pitch reference is "relative pitch". Wouldn't even matter what what frequency that bell was, or what name they used for that note.

Theoretically.  But all those things go against the notion of an old maker thinking in terms of pitch being either fixed or measureable.   Pitch was in that time 'tunable' and 'comparable by intervals'.

You made things 'tuneable' by making them adjustable.  You gave strings pegs to make them tunable.

 

Also, they didn't seem to have a super rigid concepts about body proportions for a given tuning of strings.    The made skinny pocket violins, and violas of many sizes.   If they had thought of fixed tunings of the wooden bodies of instruments as highly important I might expect them to be more constant about basic body sizes.

Yes. You can argue at the margins that they 'could have' been interested in tap tones in something like the modern sense.   But overall, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect or assume they actually did.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Theoretically.  But all those things go against the notion of an old maker thinking in terms of pitch being either fixed or measureable.   Pitch was in that time 'tunable' and 'comparable by intervals'.

You made things 'tuneable' by making them adjustable.  You gave strings pegs to make them tunable.

That's why Stradivari would have been more likely to use a bell as a repeatable pitch reference, than a violin string or a slide-whistle. ;)

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You're a good debater.   You take a position and hold on.     But rhetorical persistence doesn't make something true.

There is no evidence supporting or remotely suggesting the old makers used tap tuning.

Further, even in modern times it's not at all clear that there is any casual relation between using tap tuning and getting good results.

Yes. You can point to the past and say 'there's evidence they didn't tap tune'.  But that doesn't mean anything.

 

What you can't do is assume they tap tuned and use that to defend using tap tuning now.  

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18 minutes ago, David Beard said:

What you can't do is assume they tap tuned and use that to defend using tap tuning now.

LOL, I don't have a position on using tap tuning now. Some makers do (to one extent or another), and some don't.

One thing I noticed though, when we had about a half-dozen VSA Competition multiple tone award winners give presentations at Oberlin, was that most of them used some sort of tapping-and-listening strategy.

May we assume that Stradivari had ears? ;)

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

LOL, I don't have a position on using tap tuning now. Some makers do (to one extent or another), and some don't.

One thing I noticed though, when we had about a half-dozen VSA Competition multiple tone award winners give presentations at Oberlin, was that most of them used some sort of tapping-and-listening strategy.

May we assume that Stradivari had ears? ;)

I too tap and listen and flex.  I'm sure everyone does in one way or another.

My beef is with modern 'tap tuning' with it's focus on specific numeric pitch goals and its air of quasi science.

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References to bells puts me in mind of the bell museum in Innsbruck. The lesson is that at the same time violins were evolving, bell founders were thinking about the tonal effects of choice of material, arching and graduation. There was competition, because a town could support more than one foundry, and there was a gradual evolution, no doubt from empirical development of trade secrets. Bells remained expensive one-off objects and familiy businesses survived through centuries, so the knowledge was handed down privately but not lost. National variations may survive.

The extent to which knowledge in lutherie was really forgotten in late 18th and early 19th cent. would be interesting to expand on.

It is fair to assume that ideas about tonewood had a long and international history (just as bell technology developed in part in China), implying that ideas which are older than the famous Cremonese violins may provide interesting pointers.

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5 hours ago, David Beard said:

I too tap and listen and flex.  I'm sure everyone does in one way or another.

My beef is with modern 'tap tuning' with it's focus on specific numeric pitch goals and its air of quasi science.

If a violin works well, I can forgive the maker for either using it, or not using it. :)

Old tap tuning? It would have been a way of getting an idea about material properties and overall thicknesses which would have been well within a maker's grasp, even if they had little formal education. What would have been their incentive to ignore it?

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