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Is the research on violin acoustics a viscious circle?


Andreas Preuss

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18 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. )

I tried for many years to make large violas lighter and easier to hold and attached is a photo of some of them in my viola morgue.

But recently I realized the wasted space taken up by a shoulder rest could be be added into the viola's cavity volume.  Thus a short but deep viola having the length of a violin (~14 1/4 in , 362mm) could sound like a much longer thin viola.

Last week I was at the Oberlin Acoustic Workshop for violin acoustic viscous circle research and I found young students as well as professional players liked their holding comfort, sound and playability.

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6 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I tried for many years to make large violas lighter and easier to hold and attached is a photo of some of them in my viola morgue.

But recently I realized the wasted space taken up by a shoulder rest could be be added into the viola's cavity volume.  Thus a short but deep viola having the length of a violin (~14 1/4 in , 362mm) could sound like a much longer thin viola.

Last week I was at the Oberlin Acoustic Workshop for violin acoustic viscous circle research and I found young students as well as professional players liked their holding comfort, sound and playability.

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wow some amazing ideas there!

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11 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I tried for many years to make large violas lighter and easier to hold and attached is a photo of some of them in my viola morgue.

But recently I realized the wasted space taken up by a shoulder rest could be be added into the viola's cavity volume.  Thus a short but deep viola having the length of a violin (~14 1/4 in , 362mm) could sound like a much longer thin viola.

Last week I was at the Oberlin Acoustic Workshop for violin acoustic viscous circle research and I found young students as well as professional players liked their holding comfort, sound and playability.

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39 top viewJPG.JPG

39 side view.JPG

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Hello Marty. I think these look great. Your violas look like they are roosting in their own viola cave/morgue.

I would love to know more about these, the bracing, the wood/material choice, why you chose not to have an overhang on the soundboard and back and the affect on their sound of some by the flattish non carved plates etc etc. I will now start trawling through your posts. Thanks most sincerely for posting these photos.

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16 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

"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.

My source was this

https://asianpianoopen.eu/artists-base/roman-kim.html

Kim plays an Alexander Hazin „Superior” violin (2015, Cologne). Kim resides in Cologne.’

 

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18 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I tried for many years to make large violas lighter and easier to hold and attached is a photo of some of them in my viola morgue.

But recently I realized the wasted space taken up by a shoulder rest could be be added into the viola's cavity volume.  Thus a short but deep viola having the length of a violin (~14 1/4 in , 362mm) could sound like a much longer thin viola.

Last week I was at the Oberlin Acoustic Workshop for violin acoustic viscous circle research and I found young students as well as professional players liked their holding comfort, sound and playability.

image.png

39 top viewJPG.JPG

39 side view.JPG

2022_06_01_0666.JPG

How helpful were acoustic research papers to develop your unique ideas?

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6 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

My source was this

https://asianpianoopen.eu/artists-base/roman-kim.html

Kim plays an Alexander Hazin „Superior” violin (2015, Cologne). Kim resides in Cologne.’

I read it on Wikipedia, but the original source of that citation is from his artist management page:

http://www.stretta-artists.com/artists/instrumentalists/violinists/kim-roman.html

"The Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben gives Kim the opportunity to play a violin by Joseph Guarneri (Cremona, 1695), property of the Deutsche Musikinstrumenten"

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20 hours ago, Dr. Mark said:

Do you have audio recordings of these instruments?

The only good recording was made back in 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vLrZswZxZY )with one of my earlier large violas.  Since then I've concentrated on making them smaller and smaller.  I estimate that in another 10 years they will completely disappear.

 

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A relevant item was presented at the Oberlin Acoustics Workshop last Thursday.  I didn't go, but it was available via zoom.  Sean Hardesty is working on a FEM project that maps string input all the way through to an acoustic output.  Not only that, but the model can attempt to reach an acoustic goal* by automatically modifying geometry (or, presumably any variable that is not fixed).

This is an extremely ambitious project, and at the moment it is not clear that things are working properly.  I'd want to see some verification tests, where some violins with known dimensions and acoustic spectra are modeled to see that the model comes anywhere close to reality.  So far, the one attempt of that (not by Sean) was not close, even on just the signature modes.

Even if it eventually works accurately, I suspect we'd have the thorny issues of what the goal should be... and which of the physical variables we want to allow to vary.  This project is waaay harder than rocket science.

*At the moment, a "goal" is just a target amplitude of a single frequency.  Very limited, but better than nothing.

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46 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

The only good recording was made back in 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vLrZswZxZY )with one of my earlier large violas.  Since then I've concentrated on making them smaller and smaller.  I estimate that in another 10 years they will completely disappear.

 

That would be the absolute stroke of genius. Then a performer would be able to play without instrument.:D

Back to the topic. 
 

I’d say no one would pick your viola in a blind test as the ‘odd one’. And this a sort of proves that the typical viola sound has nothing to do with a particular shape. Trial and error experimentation seems to be the method to get there.

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5 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

A relevant item was presented at the Oberlin Acoustics Workshop last Thursday.  I didn't go, but it was available via zoom.  Sean Hardesty is working on a FEM project that maps string input all the way through to an acoustic output.  Not only that, but the model can attempt to reach an acoustic goal* by automatically modifying geometry (or, presumably any variable that is not fixed).

This is an extremely ambitious project, and at the moment it is not clear that things are working properly.  I'd want to see some verification tests, where some violins with known dimensions and acoustic spectra are modeled to see that the model comes anywhere close to reality.  So far, the one attempt of that (not by Sean) was not close, even on just the signature modes.

Even if it eventually works accurately, I suspect we'd have the thorny issues of what the goal should be... and which of the physical variables we want to allow to vary.  This project is waaay harder than rocket science.

*At the moment, a "goal" is just a target amplitude of a single frequency.  Very limited, but better than nothing.

One of the problems seem to be varying properties of wood. 
 

I found on another webpage which describes the idea behind his approach. If it is possible to calculate from the input everything through to the output using materials which can be used in a 3D printer, then all can apparently calculated backwards from the sound a musician imagines. Sounds pretty futuristic but might be possible to a certain degree.

However, the description of a very particular sound is for violins not alone a certain relatedness of frequency peaks, it is more about how to shift the relatedness of frequencies with bowing techniques and there I’d say we face a pretty big problem.

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2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

How helpful were acoustic research papers to develop your unique ideas?

I read the acoustic research papers but many of my ideas have come from instrument history research.  I try to find where the violin's evolution might have gone wrong and I experiment with some very ancient ideas.

There's a saying by wine makers "If you drink enough of your own stuff, eventually it starts to taste good".   Likewise for  old Italian violins--they've been used and copied so much that their sound character is believed to be perfect and any deviation from that is not desirable because it wouldn't sound like a traditional violin.

But players have always known that the first notes on a violin's G string are quite weak and different sounding because the note's fundamentals are so low in amplitude.  If you correct this deficiency by making a violin with a lower than the typical A0 resonance frequency (~270-290Hz) then your new violin doesn't sound familiar.  So by making it better you make it worse if you follow George Orwell.

So why were the original violins designed 500 years ago to produce weak notes on the G string?

Historian Stewart Pollens makes the case (see the attached paper) that the first violins were acoustically designed to use only three strings tuned EAD with the A0 resonance frequency supporting the open D string.

These very first violins were soon converted with new necks with an additional G string to extend their range.  The violin body should have been then redesigned 500 years ago to produce a lower A0 frequency (around 200 to 230Hz) to give better support the G string.  But subsequent makers at that time, and ever since, merely copied the early violin body shape without making any changes.

Other ancient ideas I've explored is the use of flat tops, "through the heart" sound posts, and paulownia wood. Some new ideas thrown in the mix are are the cantilevered tailpiece and shoulder rest shaped back plate made with bent Baltic plywood. 

Thanks for asking,

Abby Normal

 

Pollens 3 string violin.pdf

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3 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

So why were the original violins designed 500 years ago to produce weak notes on the G string?

It's only weak if you completely ignore the gobs of overtones and the A0 which is well withing the playing range of the G string.

The first few notes on the G string may have a weak fundamental, but it's no biggie.

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4 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

So why were the original violins designed 500 years ago to produce weak notes on the G string?

Like Don, I'm guessing that there were other considerations, like overall size, and that even if the fundamental on the lower notes of G string is barely present, it sounds like it is.

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21 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

It's only weak if you completely ignore the gobs of overtones and the A0 which is well withing the playing range of the G string.

The first few notes on the G string may have a weak fundamental, but it's no biggie.

I'd like to see a listener's blind test of music played on violin's G string vs. the same music played on a viola's G string before I would agree that the violin's poor loudness (see attachments of old research) on its lower G string notes is no biggie.

But maybe I'm wrong and it's no biggie because music composers have known this limitation for a long time and they very rarely use these low notes compared to all of the higher pitch ones. 

Screen Shot 2022-01-08 at 9.22.24 AM.png

Saunders, 1937.pdf

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I'd like to see a listener's blind test of music played on violin's G string vs. the same music played on a viola's G string before I would agree that the violin's poor loudness (see attachments of old research) on its lower G string notes is no biggie.

Martie, I and others have done experiments playing notes on the violin, and then completely removing the fundamental from the spectrum. Listeners still "heard" the fundamental, and identified the note by that name. The perceived difference was that the character or timbre of the note was not quite the same, but not that it had disappeared or reduced in loudness.

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11 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Like Don, I'm guessing that there were other considerations, like overall size, and that even if the fundamental on the lower notes of G string is barely present, it sounds like it is.

 

2 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Martie, I and others have done experiments playing notes on the violin, and then completely removing the fundamental from the spectrum. Listeners still "heard" the fundamental, and identified the note by that name. The perceived difference was that the character of the note was not quite the same.

"... the character of the note was not quite the same" or not quite as satisfying?   The question is which one is preferred.                             

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15 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

"... the character of the note was not quite the same" or not quite as satisfying?   The question is which one is preferred.                             

My opinion is that it was not quite as satisfying, but I needed to play them back-to-back in a continuous loop to form that opinion. Apparently, the way the brain processes them renders them that similar sounding, with the fundamental being implied or "furnished" by the rest of the harmonic series, or generated as a "Tartini" tone, possibly.

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59 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I'd like to see a listener's blind test of music played on violin's G string vs. the same music played on a viola's G string before I would agree that the violin's poor loudness (see attachments of old research) on its lower G string notes is no biggie.

That wouldn't be a good test, as a viola has some very strong response in areas where the violin is relatively weak, in the near overtones.  A larger soundboard with lower mode frequencies makes a lot of tonal difference in places other than the fundamental.  A big viola and a small viola sound quite different on the C string, even though both have zilch on the fundamental.

Please use "poor amplitde of the fundamental of the lower G string" rather than "poor loudness of the lower G string", as they are completely different things.

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29 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

>

Please use "poor amplitde of the fundamental of the lower G string" rather than "poor loudness of the lower G string", as they are completely different things.

The Saunders' "loudness curves" from his paper show a plot of the loudness of each individual note played. The lower G string notes on the 5 Strad violins he tested had very poor (weak) loudness compared to the higher notes.  

You can either believe me or your own eyes.

 

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The missing fundamental seems to occur in bass singers. 

Many predecessor instruments such as theorbo and rebec have long strings on small bodies which suggests missing fundamentals.

My impression (subject to evidence) is that the violin family and modern guitars exhibit much stronger "breathing" resonances than all previous "string on box" instruments.

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59 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

The Saunders' "loudness curves" from his paper show a plot of the loudness of each individual note played. The lower G string notes on the 5 Strad violins he tested had very poor (weak) loudness compared to the higher notes.  

You can either believe me or your own eyes.

My eyes can only find a "total intensity (loudness)" plot in the middle of Fig. 7, and that's a viola.  All the others are frequency response curves, not loudness of the fingered notes.

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Marty I notice some of your models have round sound ports drilled in the tops, some with 2, some with 4 and some with none.

Can you describe the effect that has? is there a volume difference, tone difference, better, worse one way or another?

One of the things I experiment with is doing graduations as I normally would, cut decorative holes in the top {usually in more "lung central" locations than your outer nodal areas at the edge} and then patch over the holes from the inside a dissimilar material such as thin epoxied balsa, or very thin hardwoods

I notice in many of these attempts an increase in over all amplitude as In many cases I will setup the violin without the top cut out , then pull the top and cut it out just to be able to see if what I do makes it better or worse, louder or not.

I would like to make some models with sliding sound port that can be opened or closed

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