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Are Violins Fake?


GeorgeH
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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

As the article notes, "tricking people just works really well in general." When somebody says that their $1,000 violin has a "$10,000 tone," you know they have been tricked into believing that tone quality is proportional to price just like wine makers want people to believe that the quality of a wine is proportional to its price when most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive. 

 

 

But this is inescapable.  The best most people can manage is to follow proxy guidance, since they don't perceive the quality directly for themselves.

You can call this 'tricked' if you like.  But it remains the best option for most.

Price is one of the proxy guides.  And of course it's imperfect.

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10 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I think we're overlooking one of the truisms of capitalism.

Things are expensive because people want them more // people want things more because they are more expensive.

That's inconvenient to the argument. It's more satisfying to believe that the whole Strad fad is due to the  diabolical machinations of Big Violin. Conspiracy theories? Violin makers were there first!

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

As the article notes, "tricking people just works really well in general." When somebody says that their $1,000 violin has a "$10,000 tone," you know they have been tricked into believing that tone quality is proportional to price just like wine makers want people to believe that the quality of a wine is proportional to its price when most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive. 

 

 

I wouldn't care much of opinion of "most people" or what they think since they just don't care about not even a detail, but something basically more than lowest level of knowledge in any terms.

Wine?

"Oh, look honey. This bottle consists vodka, that one beer and this finally is wine. Carlo Rossi. It's Italian of course."

More or less such a talk about wine I heard recently while looking for a really tasty, honestly made and fairly priced wines from Romania in my local market. Red blend with some autochtonic varieties. Tastes better than some 4-5 times more expensive crus.

Price isn't the one and only factor and we know it. Sometimes one can find something brutally satisfacting for a fraction of a value.

I will not forget a puristically clear honest and tasty cheap wines I've tried in my life such a Tokaj from a barrel in a random cellar next to the road there or some single variety reds from DO Somontano or Toro in Spain as well as those "big" ones like Bruno Giacosa or Yquem... or rieslings (not only GG) from Clemens Busch.

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This is a bit out of hand. Super easy to wash out to the best and the worst. Super Simple. Too simple.

I lived in a grape stressed region. Some of my friends are involved with "voicing" drinks. If a string player were willing to wait in line for a Pliny the Younger, I will be there, listening to Mahler into the night.

Aside from mediocre playing, I have owned cases of amazing Pin Oh's and Cabra neighs. They get drunk and so what? Violins exist. After Tetsuo his violins exist. I remember my first OpusOne simply because the work of art of that hung in the guy's house was unbelievable. That's it. Was it good. Sure. Was it great?

I love all crafted products. My families collected art and artifacts and they were all great. Strangely, the sweet varieties, stressed, yield amazing product. We can discuss elsewhere. There are fine players that have lives connected to drink.

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The point is to get educated. I spent thousands of hours behind a mic and a monitor. There were guys who could give the "dimensions" of a room by hearing 15secs of a mix. There are experts out there. No Sh^t.

All things desirable, especially now, are overpriced. Overpriced. I am due to meet up with a friend with a friend who works Front Of House for a multi star chef. We were both players, together, but his sense of smell was was much finer. Without picking up a fork, or an instrument, our lives are enriched, simply by talking.

My string shopping list tops $2k for this winter. Really?

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4 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

As the article notes, "tricking people just works really well in general." When somebody says that their $1,000 violin has a "$10,000 tone," you know they have been tricked into believing that tone quality is proportional to price just like wine makers want people to believe that the quality of a wine is proportional to its price when most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive. 

 

 

The problem with that is that too many people mistakenly believe that price is dictated by tone, or that a violin worth a certain amount will necessarily have a completely different sound character from something at a different price.

If you play a lot of the same model of cheap violin, assuming the workmanship and materials are reasonably good, they’ll generally be consistent, but there will typically be at least one that will sound better than  the rest, maybe better than something at a significantly higher price (to your ear). But even if it sounds great, the outstanding example is still only worth as much as the others.

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4 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

As the article notes, "tricking people just works really well in general." When somebody says that their $1,000 violin has a "$10,000 tone," you know they have been tricked into believing that tone quality is proportional to price just like wine makers want people to believe that the quality of a wine is proportional to its price when most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive. 

 

 

Inexpensive wines have been getting pretty good because modern wine making technology is readily available and is now widely spread worldwide.

It is similarly fortunate for players that the Chinese value violin acoustics research.

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20 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Inexpensive wines have been getting pretty good because modern wine making technology is readily available and is now widely spread worldwide.

It is similarly fortunate for players that the Chinese value violin acoustics research.

Did we all benefit from the creators overseas? Many of us do. All of us do. As a teacher, and generally a diabolical advocate, yes, there has been nothing that compares in my lifetime except for Dominant Strings. Newer, most recent strings are a byproduct.

There is still a large gap between engineering and craftsmanship. And also a gap between delivery and performance. On the performance end, there are more teenagers playing the Tchaikovsky than ever. Consequently, there are more makers making larger hall instruments. Which sadly many of the young will find hard to fill. 

As I see varied cultural arts disappear, the popular media can not be ignored. New and more interesting is like the dead squirrel that whirls by in a fast car.  

The soul of the arts ( if there is one ) is being examined. As for research, we battle on.

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On 11/24/2022 at 1:56 PM, MikeC said:

Violins don't exist when you're not looking at them.  That's the Copenhagen interpretation of violins.  

Giving rise to the famous Schrödinger's violin paradox in which the violin is playable and not playable at the same time.

On a more realistic note how many of us have been handed an oldish violin case and wondered, sometimes aloud, is this "the one" or is it just another of "the usual." How many decent instruments have been consigned to the scrap heap just because it doesn't look like what we want it to.

 

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24 minutes ago, Gary M said:

Giving rise to the famous Schrödinger's violin paradox in which the violin is playable and not playable at the same time.

Reminds me of a charity dinner in Philadelphia a few years back. Seems that they had some very very expensive magnums of old vintage wine that was going to be served as the highlight of the dinner. As part of the gourmet meal, the event sponsor had made special salads in anticipation of the possibility that the wine may have turned to vinegar, and would therefore be used as a salad dressing instead.

So the wine in the bottles was both wine and vinegar at the same time, and would not resolve into one or the other until it was opened.

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On 11/24/2022 at 5:29 PM, The Violin Beautiful said:

I do believe there are true experts in wine tasting and in fine violins. The number of them is extremely small, but that’s the nature of this kind of expertise. It takes a special kind of understanding and a thorough training to develop. I remember from watching Somm that the candidates for the exam would spend hours tasting wines as they worked to build up their knowledge. In addition to the physical act of tasting the wine, they were focusing on a mental picture of it and making mental notes about it. Violin experts also learn by repeated exposure to the subjects of their expertise as well as by carefully compiling information about them.

There is a lot of skepticism leveled against expertise, some founded, some unfounded. Experts are human, and some mistakes are bound to happen, especially toward the end of a career. That does not invalidate the correct assessments they have made. Also, there are a lot of fake experts who muddy the waters, and even more amateurs who are eager to make determinations.

Here’s another thought: I recall watching another wine-related documentary called Sour Grapes that told the story of a man who had fooled countless connoisseurs by recreating the taste of fine wines through blending wines together and by making good reproduction labels. He was actually quite knowledgeable about wine and was able to assess the fine wines well enough to make his blends and fool people. In order for his forgeries to be possible, there had to be something definable to copy, something that had a real market.

Compare this to forgeries in the violin world. Some are obvious fakes, but there are some done well enough to trick even the connoisseur. It takes a certain sense of the real instruments to know what to emulate, and a good forger knows how to reproduce the things people look for. 

There are experts. There are check lists. People have off days, their senses not firing their best. But their brains should work.

There are also those who are sensitive, in color, in hearing, in seeing and touch. Then there are those who have other skillsets.

So how do we, can we evaluate experts? The young ones have their computers, I had my books, some of the better old timers had the instruments.

I am not an expert, but I have my checklists.

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My understanding is that the Old Ones have been so beat up and rotted and repaired that whatever differentiating subtleties in construction and materials they might have had would have to have been swamped.  I've also heard the attention they get in setup is second to none.  I'm sure my own crusty VSO could benefit from a meticulous setup by a recognized master.  Or maybe setup is fake too

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On 11/24/2022 at 8:29 PM, The Violin Beautiful said:

I do believe there are true experts in wine tasting and in fine violins. The number of them is extremely small, but that’s the nature of this kind of expertise. It takes a special kind of understanding and a thorough training to develop. I remember from watching Somm that the candidates for the exam would spend hours tasting wines as they worked to build up their knowledge. In addition to the physical act of tasting the wine, they were focusing on a mental picture of it and making mental notes about it. Violin experts also learn by repeated exposure to the subjects of their expertise as well as by carefully compiling information about them.

While I think that's a good description for the visual attribution of violins to certain makers, who has managed to establish credible expertise at identifying the maker of a violin by the sound... enough so to write certificates that have any currency or following?

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

While I think that's a good description for the visual attribution of violins to certain makers, who has managed to establish credible expertise at identifying the maker of a violin by the sound... enough so to write certificates that have any currency or following?

My comment wasn’t intended to imply that sound is an identifier for expertise. By exposure to the subject I meant the process of studying the instrument in the hands. My last post before this about cheap violins and sound was focused on my point that price (and attribution) aren’t directly related. Sorry for any confusion. 

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