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Tap tone test , top plate


Arsalan

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There are three manuscripts which could give hints wether or not makers in the golden age were using tap tones as a measure for quality control for the final tonal result: 

1. I’ll manoscritto di Antonio Marchi

2. I segreti di Buttega by an unknown author. 

3. Notes taken by Count Cozio di Salabue

i don’t have really the time to scan through the texts once more, but to my memory none of those scriptures emphasizes the importance of tap tone pitch anywhere. And certainly none of those works deals with a larger scaled, complex tap tone theory of top and back.

I find it rather interesting that Marchi starts his treatise actually with 3 chapters dealing with what could be considered as ‘acoustic science’. In there we find a description of how he thought the violin produces sound. Marchi explains it in a completely incomprehensible way. (Therefore I can’t even reconstruct from memory how he argued. It was something like ‘the string vibration excites the surrounding air, creating a resonance in the cavity which causes the bridge to vibrate.’) I would assume that he’d had written in the chapters about acoustics at least one sentence referring to tap tones of the finished plates if they were of such major importance. (I can’t remember that he did)

When it comes to sound characteristics, March always argues from overall observations. High archings versus low archings, top plate thick in the center or not thick in the center, short versus long f holes etc etc. While it is clear that he favors the sound of Stainer above Stradivari and Guarneri, it doesn’t take anything away from how arguments related to sound were made in his days. 
 

We need to realize that our modern logic based on science didn’t exist. Modern makers try to predict from chosen parameters the final sound result. This is a purely scientific approach. 
 

Violin makers in the golden age tried to observe results by given (trigger) methods to arrive at an imagined sound result.  This is actually the reverse of the scientific approach, but seems to be more successful. I call it the alchemical approach. Because it does not need to know why and how certain things are related to each other, it can better focus in practical terms on the final result. For a scientist the violin is complex because of the multi relatedness of scientific comprehensible parameters. 
 

 

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26 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

A model that is wrong but works is far better than a model which is correct but doesn't work.

A model that doesn't work can not be correct (or at least, applied incorrectly). 

But who cares.  Talk to enough decent makers, and you'll hear all kinds of different concepts of how things work.  They can't all be correct... so the logical conclusion is that they don't matter. Tuning taptones, humming into F-holes, flexing plates, or praying to the ghost of Stradivari can all be incorporated, as long as the funamentals of a good violin aren't skewed too far off.  Good wood, good arching, reasonable graduations.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist... just pay attention to what works. (Trying what "should"  work is OK too... but sticking with it regarless of outcome is dumb.)

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

We need to realize that our modern logic based on science didn’t exist. Modern makers try to predict from chosen parameters the final sound result. This is a purely scientific approach. 

They built those impressive cathedrals without logic based on science?

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

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?

I'm not saying that.  I'm saying the modern tap tuning of plates seems very unlikely for them.

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31 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

They built those impressive cathedrals without logic based on science?

Yes!! Without science in the modern sense.  But with the tradition of craftsmen architects, which is rather similar.

Just as fine cheeses and cured meats were made by tradition even though modern chemistry didn't yet exist.

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I guess the thing I find funny is that it all most seems as if there is a "committee" or "organization" of watchers and it goes something like this..."Number 42, we seem to have someone interested in potentially making a violin, make sure in all their search results stuff about "tap tones"  comes up, yayayaya, give them the "Vordichik treatment", nonono of course everything about what they look up should be positive about "tap tones" , you know, that way we can send them down the wrong river for about a year  or two so they can waste a lot of time on some stupid theory that doesn't work"

Now of course that sounds crazy but it does seem to explain why virtually every new maker seems to start with this "thing they heard about called tap tones" Why I can remember sitting in Tom Croens shop asking him, "so what do you think about this tap tone stuff?"

So we all know that "theory" is "bonkers" but someone please tell why with ALL the info about making violins out there that for some reason over and over again we have people starting out getting exposed to this "idea" right out of the gate and every so often we then have these conversations. Why do search results about making constantly bring in this beat dead horse of an idea? Particularly to "new" makers? that to me is the real question.

Why if tap tones and "plate tuning" have basically been debunked{not saying you shouldn't "handle" your wood} is it that search results always come up with it and make it seem like its something you should be doing>?"

Is it simulation? starts to feel like it after awhile.

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

A model that doesn't work can not be correct (or at least, applied incorrectly). 

 

I was just about to say the same when I found your reply.

By the way, I was interested to see your comments on Facebook regarding Andrew Ryan's current small viola build. Seems like a pretty good example of how scientific thinking can aid design (essentially making the body cavity similar to a bass reflex speaker to boost the amplitude of the first harmonic of the C string - using the f-hole size/shape as the port tuning....hope I got that right?). I my (very) humble opinion, that's how science can be valuable in our field, rather than as a magic bullet/secret of Strad kinda thing. Even if it doesn't make headline news in the New York Times. 

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40 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

Why if tap tones and "plate tuning" have basically been debunked...

1) You can't bunk or debunk a process when you can't prove the quality of the end result.

2) When there are infinite variations of a claim, you can't debunk them all (if you do, then there will be another variation)... UFO's, ghosts, bigfoot, massive voter fraud, etc.

3) Even if something can be positively debunked, there are still those who either don't understand the debunking, didn't hear about it, or would rather continue believing the debunked thing anyway.

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58 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

guess the thing I find funny is that it all most seems as if there is a "committee" or "organization" of watchers and it goes something like this..."Number 42, we seem to have someone interested in potentially making a violin, make sure in all their search results stuff about "tap tones"  comes up, yayayaya, give them the "Vordichik treatment", nonono of course everything about what they look up should be positive about "tap tones" , you know, that way we can send them down the wrong river for about a year  or two so they can waste a lot of time on some stupid theory that doesn't work"

Now of course that sounds crazy but it does seem to explain why virtually every new maker seems to start with this "thing they heard about called tap tones" Why I can remember sitting in Tom Croens shop asking him, "so what do you think about this tap tone stuff?"

At one time, Tom Croen was heavily into the Vigdorcic tuning stuff. I don't know whether or not he still is.

Regarding those who are just getting into fiddlemaking, I can understand how a proposed formula for success would be more appealing than just slogging it out, and waiting for your one-hundredth fiddle to achieve any modicum of success. I'll mostly put the blame on Carleen Hutchins for that. A rabid self-promoter, who in my opinion, contributed very little of applicational value to the fiddle profession. I attended one or more of her live lectures, and was offended by claims like, "People routinely accuse me of hiding electronic amplifiers in my violas, because they are so powerful".

Well maybe, if she paid them to say that. :lol:

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14 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

1) You can't bunk or debunk a process when you can't prove the quality of the end result.

2) When there are infinite variations of a claim, you can't debunk them all (if you do, then there will be another variation)... UFO's, ghosts, bigfoot, massive voter fraud, etc.

3) Even if something can be positively debunked, there are still those who either don't understand the debunking, didn't hear about it, or would rather continue believing the debunked thing anyway.

Hard to disagree with that logic, but I will say that there is a certain amount of "proof" in cumulative wasted time , so in this case the end result is not the subjective "how do you think it sounds" as much as the "I spent x amount of years" mapping and tapping, charting and farting about and even though I kept all my "science" the same they all sound different, blah, I wasted xamount of time"

you may not be able to prove the quality of the results but I do think you could add up hours spent and declare it a basic waste of time, definitively, but as you say, people will believe what they want to believe

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6 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

At one time, Tom Croen was heavily into the Vigdorcic tuning stuff. I don't know whether or not he still is.

Regarding those who are just getting into fiddlemaking, I can understand how a proposed formula for success would be more appealing than just slogging it out, and waiting for your one-hundredth fiddle to achieve any modicum of success. I'll mostly put the blame on Carleen Hutchins for that. A rabid self-promoter, who in my opinion, contributed very little of applicational value to the fiddle profession.

When I had this conversation with him and brought up "V" there was a certain "one side of the mouth grin/chuckle" and a "Ya I used to be into that stuff but I don't do it anymore"...that was 05-06?

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32 minutes ago, David Beard said:

It wasn't fft or numeric frequency based.

Actually, notes and intervals have a strong basis on fairly simple numeric frequency ratios, whether makers centuries ago were aware of that or not. Even today, most pro musicians do not choose their interval relationships on the basis of real-time electronic frequency measurements, since a "good ear" will compare these frequencies much more quickly and efficiently, while also allowing some "fudging" to alter the mood.

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