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Is the research on violin acoustics a viscious circle?


Andreas Preuss

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I think that was the only one, made during what was sort of an "innovation summit" of makers. He can make a really nice conventional violin though.

I know his work well, great quality, he topped me at the 2003 Triennale taking both the gold and silver medals (at the time you could participate with two violins) leaving me only the bronze one.<_<:)

My point was just that, experimental or different violins may also have a place if one has the time to make them, but they will always be just a curiosity, or if you get a specific order from some fancy player.

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But what about the power of social influence as a conduit for change in regard to what is deemed acceptable or desirable when it comes to aesthetics or construction of instruments. If the next virtuoso Paganini type comes along, becomes world famous in and outside of the classical world (way above anyone that has come before) and then wants to play a blue violin by Spidlen with a cutaway (and it sounds good), I'm pretty sure there is a high possibility others may follow this trend. Not a guarantee, but the possibility is there. If enough people at a higher level get on board with a new design, there is always the potential to change what is considered the norm. What might be considered traditional or normal at the moment, could well change in the next 100 years.

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23 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

What might be considered traditional or normal at the moment, could well change in the next 100 years.

Could.  Hasn't changed much in the last couple of centuries, so I won't be holding my breath, nor will I be working too hard to force the change.  I will make a blue violin if someone orders it, but they'll have to pay in advance.  As of now, every client of mine has wanted traditional stuff.  Not even a 5-string.

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46 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

But what about the power of social influence as a conduit for change in regard to what is deemed acceptable or desirable when it comes to aesthetics or construction of instruments.

There was no shortage of "social influencing" applied to Carleen Hutchins instruments, and both Otto Erdesz and Tetsuo Matsuda made some "cutaway" violas, but you really don't see them around much.

Same with these:
spacer.png

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15 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

There was no shortage of "social influencing" applied to Carleen Hutchins instruments, and both Otto Erdesz and Tetsuo Matsuda made some "cutaway" violas, but you really don't see them around much.

Same with these:
spacer.png

A lot of skill has gone into making something look very unpleasant (to me), the angled scroll especially so.

Have you ever heard, or played, one of these? If so, what did you think?

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12 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

A lot of skill has gone into making something look very unpleasant (to me), the angled scroll especially so.

Have you ever heard, or played, one of these? If so, what did you think?

Not that I can recall. He and I worked in the same room for a little while, but I think his really weird stuff started after he left that shop.

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

A lot of skill has gone into making something look very unpleasant (to me), the angled scroll especially so.

Have you ever heard, or played, one of these? If so, what did you think?

A fellow in the Marin Symphony plays/played on a viola, I knew many in that troupe at one time, did not really know him, rarely heard it solo in any setting I could evaluate it, but from what I recall the few times I did hear it , it was pleasant, but I've been out of the loop so long I don't even know if he {do not know his name, might have at one time?} plays with them anymore, lot's of things changed during the covid thing. I was told he used it because it reduced pain for him.

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2 hours ago, Shelbow said:

But what about the power of social influence as a conduit for change in regard to what is deemed acceptable or desirable when it comes to aesthetics or construction of instruments. If the next virtuoso Paganini type comes along, becomes world famous in and outside of the classical world (way above anyone that has come before) and then wants to play a blue violin by Spidlen with a cutaway (and it sounds good), I'm pretty sure there is a high possibility others may follow this trend. Not a guarantee, but the possibility is there. If enough people at a higher level get on board with a new design, there is always the potential to change what is considered the norm. What might be considered traditional or normal at the moment, could well change in the next 100 years.

This...> My take on it is basically is what you have wrote, I would take it a step further and say that a single or group of influential violinist could change the course of history for the violin and could probably create a resurgence and or a "saving/prolonging/new era" of violin players.

We by now have heard the argument and the "that's just the way it is" for the pro side of tradition.

I have always been about the optimism of reaching new generations of players by establishing new norms with aesthetics.

I understand the argument for tradition, and would not argue against it but would certainly question the orthodoxy behind the seeming motivation to protect the instrument as a whole and not let new branches shoot out in the form of aesthetic design changes.

I guess the thing that always nags me is what I call the "electric guitar thing". the psychology behind it, how it effects youths and how it effected me, how important it seemed at the time, and how I know it was a major part of the draw of sucking me and others into wanting to learn to play something that "looked cool" 

I think a simple  way to think about is, what if Leo Fender became Strad, and every electric guitar after that looked just like a stratocaster and no one ever dare do anything different, and so for the entire history of rock there is only the strat, nothing else, somehow that alternate universe seems "preposterous?" or silly in that most people view the electric guitar as a wide open book as far as ideas and design and I really don't see any reason other than "thats not the way we do it" as being the main reason held up as to why we don't in violin land.

I see nothing but a decline in both classical string music and rock guitar and can only hope this is a cultural eb in the eb and flow of artistic endeavor

I constantly feel outside forces subversively poisoning the well of creative expansion in the mass media that seems set on warping perceptions and diluting presence in order to allow its pre packaged 37 song writers per song pop crap to magically percolate to the perceived top, I see kids glued to their phones with spine injuries from never looking up, but there are bright spots out there, it's just very obscure and diluted.

I feel it is going to be up to pioneers who are willing to take chances and forego monetary gains in order to push things forward.

I do predict that anyone that does such things now won't be appreciated until their dead however

we live in very troubling times where globalist forces have moved and changed things where we very may well cling to the past in order to find some sanity, just look at spotify, it's either some low quality crap from now or stuff from 2005 and before, almost like the last 20 years never happened musically {in general}

So the way I see it one can cling to the past or one can create new paths forward, one  path probably will make more money than the other, but with out the new paths forward, the entire thing might "easter island" itself into obscurity if not virtual extinction

This is the era of screen wars....screens against reality, right now reality seems to be on the ropes

I just envision the world like a 12 year old kid glued to his phone, and I keep whipping out all this cool stuff, trying to see if there's anything I can put in front of him that will break his trance and make him put his phone down..."How about this cool bike?", nah, "well what about a motorcycle", nah "how about a vacation to Hawaii" um nah "I know a guitar?" nah..."what about Sally, look she's cute" um nah...I'm tellin' ya I think we're screwed :lol:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

A lot of skill has gone into making something look very unpleasant (to me), the angled scroll especially so.

Have you ever heard, or played, one of these? If so, what did you think?

Not trying to be unkind, but these designs were created to solve a problem. There is a general understanding that the violins/ violas are not the most comfortable instruments to play. The internal volume was given priority with a reduced string length. Due to the offset in body shape, the scroll was/ might have been an extension of a design?

As acquaintances evolve out of the industry, much of it is age. Their knowledge and skill are no less in demand, but playing Rheingold for a week can be devastating. Especially in wind sections, a blip is far more scrutinized than playing in an section.

I did know of a professor, player to have had one. The sound was certainly fine if not excellent as he played it incredibly well. The viola and it's musical role within music is complex. We were involved with the coaching of chamber music so was able to hear it reasonably close up for a few days. When performing in a symphony, it was far more difficult to make out the sound of the instrument ( as expected. )

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

There was no shortage of "social influencing" applied to Carleen Hutchins instruments, and both Otto Erdesz and Tetsuo Matsuda made some "cutaway" violas, but you really don't see them around much.

Same with these:
spacer.png

Quite audacious design….

 

 

…but what case has this viola to transport it?:mellow:

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4 hours ago, Shelbow said:

But what about the power of social influence as a conduit for change in regard to what is deemed acceptable or desirable when it comes to aesthetics or construction of instruments. If the next virtuoso Paganini type comes along, becomes world famous in and outside of the classical world (way above anyone that has come before) and then wants to play a blue violin by Spidlen with a cutaway (and it sounds good), I'm pretty sure there is a high possibility others may follow this trend. Not a guarantee, but the possibility is there. If enough people at a higher level get on board with a new design, there is always the potential to change what is considered the norm. What might be considered traditional or normal at the moment, could well change in the next 100 years.

Top players are always a promotion tool. The most ‘eccentric’ (in a positive sense) I have heard is Roman Kim. And actually it seems that he doesn’t play a famed fiddle. 
 

But I think also that the violin design of the ‘next generation’ needs to have something unique to itself which is not only color. 

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3 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Could.  Hasn't changed much in the last couple of centuries, so I won't be holding my breath, nor will I be working too hard to force the change.  I will make a blue violin if someone orders it, but they'll have to pay in advance.  As of now, every client of mine has wanted traditional stuff.  Not even a 5-string.

Well, if you put the big word ‘traditional models used’ on your promotion flag, you certainly won’t attract customers who are looking for something different. -_-
 

And just looking in the statistics, in comparison to ‘usual’ violins, the very slim percentage of experimental violins has pretty much increased maybe in the last 30-40 years. There won’t be an abrupt change but a growing acceptance and in 100 years we will see more varieties of models or different concepts. The continuous selection by ‘survival if the fittest’ will filter out all mis-concepts.

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12 hours ago, jezzupe said:

A fellow in the Marin Symphony plays/played on a viola, I knew many in that troupe at one time, did not really know him, rarely heard it solo in any setting I could evaluate it, but from what I recall the few times I did hear it , it was pleasant, but I've been out of the loop so long I don't even know if he {do not know his name, might have at one time?} plays with them anymore, lot's of things changed during the covid thing. I was told he used it because it reduced pain for him.

Thanks for your views on these violas.

11 hours ago, GoPractice said:

Not trying to be unkind, but these designs were created to solve a problem. There is a general understanding that the violins/ violas are not the most comfortable instruments to play. The internal volume was given priority with a reduced string length. Due to the offset in body shape, the scroll was/ might have been an extension of a design?

As acquaintances evolve out of the industry, much of it is age. Their knowledge and skill are no less in demand, but playing Rheingold for a week can be devastating. Especially in wind sections, a blip is far more scrutinized than playing in an section.

I did know of a professor, player to have had one. The sound was certainly fine if not excellent as he played it incredibly well. The viola and it's musical role within music is complex. We were involved with the coaching of chamber music so was able to hear it reasonably close up for a few days. When performing in a symphony, it was far more difficult to make out the sound of the instrument ( as expected. )

Clearly there was a strong concept behind it, as I can see every aspect is different to the norm, and it looks to be very well-made. I would be interested to try one for the experience, but other than that, I'm afraid it does nothing for me.

I can't imagine it being easy to live with, hard to get a shoulder rest which would fit that span, and the case must be like a thin suitcase.

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11 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

And just looking in the statistics, in comparison to ‘usual’ violins, the very slim percentage of experimental violins has pretty much increased maybe in the last 30-40 years.

Should sufficient demand for such instruments develop, I'm sure that there will be no shortage of people willing to make them. It isn't the fault of makers that the demand isn't there.

I had a carbon fiber specialist approach me about collaborating in the making of carbon fiber violins. I told him that I thought that market was already pretty well saturated, and there wouldn't be much if any money in it.
Now, he runs a company that specializes in using carbon fiber to reinforce concrete structures. One of the big advantages is that it doesn't rust like steel rebar, eventually expanding and destroying the concrete from within. Much better idea than trying to market yet another unusual violin. :)

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Much better idea than trying to market yet another unusual violin. :)

Depends what you define as ‘unusual’.

Anything which is overthrowing the concept of symmetry is to most people already ‘unusual’. 
 

————————
 

btw I am not convinced that carbon fibre will one day replace wood in building violins at the top level.

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15 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Top players are always a promotion tool. The most ‘eccentric’ (in a positive sense) I have heard is Roman Kim. And actually it seems that he doesn’t play a famed fiddle. 

"Kim plays a violin by Giuseppe Guarneri (Cremona, 1695), owned by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben Foundation."

He has modified it with a carved fretted fingerboard.

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Didn't the violin family replace the viols?  There will always likely be a contingent that supports baroque and classical music, and add to that folk music, but also some things developed in a different context can be adapted to popular culture - the will has to be there.  We don't live in the 18th century and popular music has changed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBnsnkE

I used to play Hendrix on my violin - simple stuff for simple minds.

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