Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Loudness


jezzupe

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Well again I just think it's "curious" how cheap the decibel readers are now, I'm not sure if they are "standardized" enough to be able to say "my 100 db is the same that you would get on your different brand" but at this point I would think "we" would start including db readings for some of our finished products.

I'm not sure how "sciency" we would need to get, I think x marks the spot on the floor and then say 1 meter away facing the reader, then say 3 away, that sort of thing.

I just think it would be interesting as it's some "concrete" information about "your" violin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

48 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

My impression, upon playing a number of ultralight instruments, was that I was unable to focus on how they sounded, because I was too distracted by the lack of the normal tactile and audible feedback to the player which I am accustomed to getting from really good instruments. But I will also acknowledge that this might be my problem.

Wait till Mi Mu gloves take off, then you can play air violin and get no feedback at all !:lol:

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, David Burgess said:

My impression, upon playing a number of ultralight instruments, was that I was unable to focus on how they sounded, because I was too distracted by the lack of the normal tactile and audible feedback to the player which I am accustomed to getting from really good instruments. But I will also acknowledge that this might be my problem.

I find this really strange. 
 

Let’s take ANY other field, computers, cars, mountain gears, home appliances, etc. etc. and the majority of people will just go for change in ‘tactile’ (in a larger sense) things.
 

But still, many players do think in the pattern you presented and that’s a reality we have to live with. Reason enough for me to think rather about evolutionary alterations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Don,

What is the high school science explanation for "can't maintain a clean note"?

While different violins work differently I repeat that I have never found a violin which I could not play softly but sounded really good at higher volume. I have played plenty which were thin or strident at higher volumes and were similar when trying to whisper.

Not a maker/scientist here but...

9:18 A fine violinist expressing he couldn't make the violin to speak when playing with light bowing.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw this video ages ago when I was active on violinist.com. I found it fascinating for two reasons:

1. A master violinist talks about the sounds he wants and then proceeds to play in a way that creates the sound. He spent years practicing his craft and can evoke glorious tones with seemingly effortless ease.

2. A master violinist attempts to give scientific explanations for how a violin works after fiddling with a few parameters. It is a case study in post hoc fallacies.

For the player, it is filled with interesting ideas to try with bow and finger. Example: driving the string to get a bit of growl in the tone without muddling the sound.

For the luthier trying to setup and troubleshoot a violin, not so much. Examples: string afterlength adjustment and "playing in" the wood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

I have never really understood this.

At my best I played at an advanced student level but cannot really say that I have ever played a violin that could not be played softly by varying bow pressure, speed and placement. Perhaps someone playing more challenging music than I have might object to the effort required to modulate tone at low volumes but are there really instruments which sound loud regardless of bow control?

I do feel that dynamic options are extremely important in an instrument and expect that good instruments will have a certain resistance which has to be overcome by player effort or technique to get them to speak. I think it is easier for me to play louder when I want  rather than having to baby an over eager violin but with an instrument which starts to choke or squawk when pushed there just isn't much to be done.

It's feedback I get from time to time from players as a way of describing how their instruments are not working well and goes along with "not responding well", which I'll say with acknowledgment to prior comments regarding that aspect of sound production, is in my world lack of immediacy AND the difficulty in modulating and molding the sound of an instrument.

Yes one can still play softly when an instrument isn't working well this way, but it's not easy.  Among other things it complicates blending into orchestral sections.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re. “loudness”

I always used to go to orchestra rehearsal on Monday evenings. I remember once trying hard all day to get the best (and most) tone out of a customers cello. Nobody has ever asked me to get their cello too sound “quiet”. That evening we were rehearsing a Mozart violin concerto with Erich Schagerl from the Vienna Philharmonic. It took the conductor maximally 2 seconds to turn to the Celli and say shhhh! Quiet!!, and it went on like that most of the evening. At some point one thinks buggeration, what a stupid profession I have! Incidentally, for those who come looking for a violin that will “cut through and above an orchestra”. Even Mozart knows it doesn’t work like that. Where Mr. Schagerl has his solo, it says “Solo” on my cello score (i.e. shush!), and where he doesn’t have anything it says “Tutti”, which means one can get stuck in. Anyone who wants to “cut through and above” an orchestra would be better off with a piccalo flute

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/30/2023 at 8:38 PM, jezzupe said:

 ( ... )

Just wondering, anyone else own a decibel reader? and why aren't we posting those "numbers" they seem quite important....nice tone is nice, nice loud tone is better

or?

Measuring devices are cool. But it very much matters how things are measured.

Most inexpensive metrics in sound are truly one dimensional.

Someday, we will have meters that measure age, taste, and relative distance to the "middle" of other universes, just by pointing at it. Whether it matters or not. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Loudness is a psychoacoustic metric and term. However, in standard SPL meters with filters, the loudness is measured by the obective term SPL distributed in 1/3rd octave bands, about 16, and A weighting (filtering) the signal. A weighting is about the same filter as the modern Fletcher Munson equal loudness diagram at 60 Phon turned upside down, and is an early attempt at simuilating hearing sensitivity in normal loud sounds, like moderate speech levels.

The listening system wirks with filters too called Critical bands of hearing. They are about ti width of a 1/3rd octave bands, except for the bass where the CBH is about 100 Hz wide. 

Loudness measured with such a SPL in 1/3rd octave band will give a 16 dimensional representation of loudness. They can of course also be summed to one. Loudness is maybe the most iomportant pearameter in descrition of sound. It comes out as a «measure of distance» to a source, as well as its power, and will always correlate with experiences in listening tests. Therefore if they want to test only timbre, the loudness has to be equalised. We do, of course, handle both and more at the same time as humans. Other mammals do too.

There is masking effects, making the signal in one CBH influence the perception in those next to it. More upwards than downwards. Zwicker made a loudness meter including the effect of masking. And there are examples of use in the violin acoustics literature from the late 60ties I think.

The instrument played under the ear and listening to it at distance os different due to masking effect (probably) and because we perceive bass loudness changes at a larger rate than in the midrange related to loudness. In the Fletcher Munson (modern versions) you will see that the equal looudness curves flattens as the loudness goes up. And you will see that the lines are denser in the bass than in the midrange. The curves are usually plotted with 10 Sone steps, about subjective doubling or halving of the perceived level.

Edited by Anders Buen
Corrections
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Anders Buen said:

Loudness is a psychoacoustic metric and term...

Thank you Mr. Buen, this was an interesting post. Although I'm not sure I understood all of it, what I did seems to make sense. Particularly the bass-proximity effect... it is well-known that microphones exhibit noticeable peaks in bass frequency response when the sound source is closer.

Respectively, if ears work similarly, it makes sense that an instrument which has relatively high amplitude in the lower frequency range would sound louder under the ear. In other words, a violin with more fundamentals in the harmonic spectrum of each note would sound louder at close range.

More mid- or upper-frequency harmonics however might translate to the effect that it wouldn't be so "loud" under the ear, but would have carrying power. Many soloist violinists look for that "sparkle", especially on the e-string, which I interpret as richness of upper harmonics.

As many have noted, the lowest notes on a G string consist of mostly harmonics, and very little fundamental, yet from a distance we all hear the root frequency. Could this work throughout the played frequency range of the violin, creating the illusion of the notes better at a distance?!

Celli of course are a somewhat different story. An excellent solo cellist who visits our shop was very satisfied when his cello sounded like an angle grinder ;-) He stated without doubt that "if you want it to cut through the orchestra, it needs to sound awful to the player!" I interpreted the sound at the time as having lots of harmonics.

I have often wondered about the phenomena of "carrying power" so often ascribed to the greatest violins (and violinists?!) Could this be a simplistic way of explaining it physically?

Am I translating your post correctly?

Then if so, a related question - how much is a good player capable of creating that sound from any instrument? Or is it always necessarily a characteristic of the instrument itself, which simply requires a player capable of "retrieving" that carrying sound?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, M Alpert said:

As many have noted, the lowest notes on a G string consist of mostly harmonics, and very little fundamental, yet from a distance we all hear the root frequency. Could this work throughout the played frequency range of the violin, creating the illusion of the notes better at a distance?!

This is also a psychoacoustic phenomenon, «hearing the missing fundamental». It is used in loudspeaker design.

23 hours ago, M Alpert said:

Celli of course are a somewhat different story. An excellent solo cellist who visits our shop was very satisfied when his cello sounded like an angle grinder ;-) He stated without doubt that "if you want it to cut through the orchestra, it needs to sound awful to the player!" I interpreted the sound at the time as having lots of harmonics.

I have learnt at VSA Oberlin workshop that a similar effect is true for violins. 

23 hours ago, M Alpert said:

I have often wondered about the phenomena of "carrying power" so often ascribed to the greatest violins (and violinists?!) Could this be a simplistic way of explaining it physically?

Am I translating your post correctly?

Then if so, a related question - how much is a good player capable of creating that sound from any instrument? Or is it always necessarily a characteristic of the instrument itself, which simply requires a player capable of "retrieving" that carrying sound?

I guess «carrying power» is a mixture of loudness, a suitable timbre of the violin, low background noise, a suitable room acoustics and a reasonably humid room. In addition the player can form the timbre by playing closer to the bridge or louder. 

In my former post I write about psychoacoustic phenomena, and not the sound transfer in a room, although that influences the perception. The sound becomes weaker at distance, it contain slightly less high frequency content. The «seat dip effect» may weaken some of the very lower frequencies of a violins. 

I think both the player and the instrument play a role. With an instrument with weak highs or fundamantals it is difficult to compensate. For a soloist both needs to be good.

Edited by Anders Buen
spelling corrections
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Anders Buen said:

The «seat dip effect» may weaken some of the very lower frequencies of a violins. 

I think both the player and the instrument play a role. With an instrument with weak highs or funemantals it is difficult to compensate. For a soloist both needs to be good.

Yes,  of course, it's never simple ;-)

Can you explain what is the seat dip effect?

And could you possibly link to any of the studies you referred to in the previous post, about CBH and masking effects?

I wonder if @Don Noon , @David Burgess , @Marty Kasprzyk or any of you possibly reading this have any insights on the perception of carrying power vs. under-ear loudness, and why these don't always seem to correlate directly? Something I suppose I'm not alone in wondering about...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, M Alpert said:

Yes,  of course, it's never simple ;-)

Can you explain what is the seat dip effect?

And could you possibly link to any of the studies you referred to in the previous post, about CBH and masking effects?

I wonder if @Don Noon , @David Burgess , @Marty Kasprzyk or any of you possibly reading this have any insights on the perception of carrying power vs. under-ear loudness, and why these don't always seem to correlate directly? Something I suppose I'm not alone in wondering about...

There are literature on this on the web: https://research.cs.aalto.fi/acoustics/virtual-acoustics/research/room-acoustics-and-physics/74-seat-dip.html

In an informal listening test with Claudia Fritz and a group of violin makers at a meet at Cambridge a few years ago, the players tended to prefer the softer violin and the listeners preferred the stiffer ones. Jim Woodhouse and Claire Barlow have a set of six violins with a similar look, but with different building solutions inside, all made by David Rubio. The only apparent difference as seen from outside are different colored thin threads on the pegbox near the scroll for each of them. I think this observation is interesting. 

Edited by Anders Buen
spelling corrections
Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, M Alpert said:

I wonder if @Don Noon , @David Burgess , @Marty Kasprzyk or any of you possibly reading this have any insights on the perception of carrying power vs. under-ear loudness, and why these don't always seem to correlate directly? Something I suppose I'm not alone in wondering about...

Last time I talked to the Fritz et al team (which I believe has the most data on this), measured loudness close to the player correlated very well with perceived "carrying power" by the audience in auditoriums. At that time, they hadn't found any exceptions. So I don't know if the "soft under the ear, but powerful to the audience in an auditorium" is a myth, or what.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be careful to distinguish between "loudness", or raw dB's, and "clarity", the ability to distinguish a note.  

For a couple of Strads I've played, my under-ear impression was, "Yikes, this thing is dead."  Yet, when someone else played it, the notes were very clear and audible.  My hypothesis has two parts, neither of them proven as far as I know:

1.  Notes on a violin are distinguished on a violin mostly by a series of overtones, particularly on the lower notes, but to some extent on the high ones as well.  As long as the upper frequency band is strong, the note can be heard clearly, even if some of the lower range is weak.  Strads often have a weak response in the "Dunnwald dip" range, but very strong high frequency response.

2.  In conjunction with 1., high frequencies in a violin are most strongly generated in the upper bout, farthest from the player's ear, while midrange is often strongest in the lower bout, closer to the player.  So a violin with strong highs and weak midrange won't sound loud to the player (compared to listeners), and the opposite will be true for a string midrange and weaker highs.

I suspect these effects won't be a big deal for comparing decent modern instruments, but might show up comparing something like a Strad to a thick student fiddle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

The notes were very clear and audible, compared to what?

Compared to a couple of other fiddles we were trying out, and compared to what I thought it would sound like as a listener, based on what it sounded like under my ear.  Not a paper-worthy test, but good enough for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think of it as something like this, which doesn't seem inconsistent with consensus:  "The presence range is responsible for clarity and definition in most sound sources.  This is not because instruments generally play notation in this range (they rarely do). Rather it's because human hearing is particularly sensitive to this range".

Maybe something along these lines, where higher harmonics give definition to the edges:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3D1fPjWAnc

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

 ( ... ) So I don't know if the "soft under the ear, but powerful to the audience in an auditorium" is a myth, or what.

 

2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

 ( ... )

I suspect these effects won't be a big deal for comparing decent modern instruments, but might show up comparing something like a Strad to a thick student fiddle.

Myth is a strong word.

If a player gets more information from lower frequencies and the upper in the audience, the sound carried. The player is hearing the warmth while delivering the upper frequency information.

I have played at least three examples of these at length.

The distribution over the chinrest might matter, as the perception of the player changes with position.

Like the opportunity to play Strads, I have played with ( likely almost a hundred ) Vuillaumes including many fakes ( not included in the count ) Nikki and the "family." Having had one long term, mine spoke into my ear, while a friend's spoke to the audience. Our styles were different, but her's was better for creating chamber music. ( She has been a CM in a major market . )The one I played ( jb ) shouted to be heard and was good for that reason.

I do value whispering ( secrets? ) into another's ear. That intimacy is personal. In opera, the dying aria might reaveal a confession? That "stage" whisper matters between the singer and the pit matters. Shouting made me frustrated with my role, my needs? Did I sell to early ( financially? ) yes.

As much as my students ( and younger relatives ) hate me, shouting does not communicate as much as it might suggest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...