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New violins just as preferable as Stradivarius, part deux
andy o
post Apr 8 2014, 04:23
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A better experiment has been done addressing some of the complaints of the first one discussed and linked here before.

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/20...ones-round-two/

QUOTE
The study was published in 2012, and Fritz says that the reactions ranged from delight to anger. Critics were quick to point out the experiment’s limitations—see the comments here for a sampling. The violinists only tested six instruments, and they played them for just 20 minutes in a dry hotel room. That wouldn’t do. To get the most out of the violins, the players needed hours—maybe weeks—of testing, and they needed to play in a concert hall. One distinguished violinist reportedly said, “You don’t test a Ferrari in a parking lot.”

Fair enough, thought Fritz. Let’s go to a concert hall.

“We couldn’t address all the issues in one study anyway,” she says. “We needed the first one to attract attention, so we could do a better one. This time people were really happy to loan me some instruments.”


And before the same discussion as the first time around arises: they "couldn't tell the difference" in the sense that they could not identify the old ones from the new ones. It was not a test to see if there was an actual difference in the sound.
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Kees de Visser
post Apr 8 2014, 08:53
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Thanks for posting. Very interesting (again). Just a pity that downloading the complete pdf "...requires a subscription to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
Well, I suppose the higher the price for a study, the higher its quality.
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Porcus
post Apr 8 2014, 09:44
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QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Apr 8 2014, 08:53) *
Well, I suppose the higher the price for a study, the higher its quality.


Support that claim with a blind test log or GTFO! laugh.gif


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markanini
post Apr 8 2014, 11:10
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You can't test mojo!

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2tec
post Apr 8 2014, 15:18
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"In the equivalent of a blind taste test, 10 "renowned" violinists tended to prefer new violins over Stradivarius violins after playing them without being able to see them, a new study has found." - CBC Canada


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krabapple
post Apr 8 2014, 18:35
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Sad. The musicians' comments were stunningly obtuse or recitations of mystical subjectivist babble.

one prefers older violins because they 'resonate with the sound of each player'

another says instruments 'change and develop', as if it was impossible to mimic that end-product of 'development'.

a third says older violins can sound 'tired' because of the 'sheer number of years they've been played'.

another -- the dude whose Strad was stolen and returned a month or so back -- trots out the standard audiophile goalpost-moving trope -- if only the subjects were allowed to live with the instruments for a few months, *THEN* the stunning differences would manifest themselves.

This post has been edited by greynol: Apr 8 2014, 21:56
Reason for edit: Removed irrelevant quotation.
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Porcus
post Apr 8 2014, 19:36
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 8 2014, 18:35) *
a third says older violins can sound 'tired' because of the 'sheer number of years they've been played'.


Of course wear can affect a musical instrument ... at least for the worse. Maybe the Strad should be retired, then?


QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 8 2014, 18:35) *
another -- the dude whose Strad was stolen and returned a month or so back -- trots out the standard audiophile goalpost-moving trope -- if only the subjects were allowed to live with the instruments for a few months, *THEN* the stunning differences would manifest themselves.


It isn't so farfetched for musical instruments, which the players need to get used to anyway.

But even so, who could tell it were not placebo - in a much stricter sense: knowing (or being tricked into believing) that someone gave you the opportunity to play really precious piece of instrument-making history, could very well affect your qualities as a musician.


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ktf
post Apr 8 2014, 22:08
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Apr 8 2014, 19:35) *
one prefers older violins because they 'resonate with the sound of each player'

As a musician myself, I've heard quite a lot of violin-players say that violins improve with age. Nobody could tell me why, but I'd think the viscoelasticity of the adhesive and the wood might have an influence. It might be a bogus claim too. However, I've always wondered why violins/violas and bows don't lose their value if handled with care, while wind instruments do. My clarinet was once (30 years ago) top of the line, but for some reason it's not worth a whole lot these days. Maybe it's the environment. If a violin player says he just bought a bow from 1885, that's business as usual. If a saxophone player says he bought a saxophone from 1885, he either has something special or is frowned upon.

Still, seeing the result of this test, no one can deny that Stradivarius', Guarneri's and similar violins are very well build, as they apparently keep up with today's top violins. Sure, perhaps they are overpriced, but aren't old paintings too? I still don't see why some people pay millions of dollar/euro/pound for certain old paintings. I can't understand why people pay that much money on a violin either.

QUOTE (Porcus @ Apr 8 2014, 20:36) *
knowing (or being tricked into believing) that someone gave you the opportunity to play really precious piece of instrument-making history, could very well affect your qualities as a musician.

Very true indeed.

This post has been edited by ktf: Apr 8 2014, 22:10


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DVDdoug
post Apr 9 2014, 00:26
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QUOTE
Still, seeing the result of this test, no one can deny that Stradivarius', Guarneri's and similar violins are very well build, as they apparently keep up with today's top violins. Sure, perhaps they are overpriced, but aren't old paintings too? I still don't see why some people pay millions of dollar/euro/pound for certain old paintings. I can't understand why people pay that much money on a violin either.


Exactly... It's value goes way beyond sound. A better-sounding modern violin is never going to have the value of a Stradivari, and the existance of a better sounding violin is not going to detract from the Stradivari's value.

I can understand the attraction... Personally, I would't collect expensive art or expensive violins if won the lottery... But I might collect classic cars, which are like art to me! And,I might hang a strat on the wall, but not a strad! biggrin.gif (But, I don't think I'd collect million-dollar cars.)

I'm sure most violin players would take the Stradivari over a better-sounding violin to play in concert if ever given the chance.

QUOTE
I've heard quite a lot of violin-players say that violins improve with age.
That could be true... There's no way of knowing if the sound is better now than it was 300 or 100 years ago. I've heard that about old concert halls too... The practical explanation is that old poor-sounding halls were torn-down while the great ones were maintained & preserved. I'm sure there are/were plenty of old violins that would never become great-sounding, no matter how long you age them. wink.gif

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Apr 9 2014, 00:30
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krabapple
post Apr 9 2014, 01:00
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Strads tend to be owned by rich people who aren't musicians by profession. They are collectible antiques/objets d'art on their own (though IMO the current price frenzy is wretched excess driven by people with way too much money, as it is for a lot of art these days). But the test wasn't about the motivations of collectors. It was about the musicianly claim that Strads *sound better* than fine modern instruments.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Apr 9 2014, 01:01
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Porcus
post Apr 9 2014, 08:27
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QUOTE (ktf @ Apr 8 2014, 22:08) *
However, I've always wondered why violins/violas and bows don't lose their value if handled with care, while wind instruments do. My clarinet was once (30 years ago) top of the line, but for some reason it's not worth a whole lot these days. Maybe it's the environment. If a violin player says he just bought a bow from 1885, that's business as usual. If a saxophone player says he bought a saxophone from 1885, he either has something special or is frowned upon.


You mean "value" and "worth" in the price tag sense, or that an old sax is actually inferior?

A sax has more moving parts though, and it could be that there has been quite a bit of improvement there - any players around who can tell? Back in the day when I tried to learn, I saw a few old clarinets with mechanics that were certainly not for novices like myself (and noisy they were!). Maybe a bit of oil would have done miracles though, and that these old instruments need not be outdated if maintained well. OTOH, if that would boil down to replacing most moving parts ...

For violins, there aren't valves and such, maybe the pegs have improved over the century, but apart from that ...?


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andy o
post Apr 9 2014, 15:52
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I've always been suspicious about the claim that some instruments sound better with time, because it always appears to be expensive high-brow "rich people" instruments. Why a violin, and not a classical guitar?
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Kees de Visser
post Apr 9 2014, 16:57
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QUOTE (andy o @ Apr 9 2014, 15:52) *
Why a violin, and not a classical guitar?
Stradivarius did make a few guitars actually. And investing in old guitars seems to be interesting too.
This 2005 article is a bit dated but gives you an idea:
http://www.forbes.com/forbes-life-magazine...5/0314/061.html
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ktf
post Apr 9 2014, 17:00
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QUOTE (andy o @ Apr 9 2014, 16:52) *
Why a violin, and not a classical guitar?

OTOH, a friend of mine recently bought a second hand banjo. I don't remember exactly, but it was made somewhere in the 1930s. Its new list price was $135, but he paid quite a lot more. Corrected for inflation he paid less than that new price, but still, there are very few 'things that are actually used' that devaluate that little.


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Wombat
post Apr 9 2014, 17:11
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QUOTE (andy o @ Apr 8 2014, 04:23) *
And before the same discussion as the first time around arises: they "couldn't tell the difference" in the sense that they could not identify the old ones from the new ones. It was not a test to see if there was an actual difference in the sound.

I wonder if Neil Young can?
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andy o
post Apr 9 2014, 18:02
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QUOTE (ktf @ Apr 9 2014, 09:00) *
QUOTE (andy o @ Apr 9 2014, 16:52) *
Why a violin, and not a classical guitar?

OTOH, a friend of mine recently bought a second hand banjo. I don't remember exactly, but it was made somewhere in the 1930s. Its new list price was $135, but he paid quite a lot more. Corrected for inflation he paid less than that new price, but still, there are very few 'things that are actually used' that devaluate that little.

Well I was talking specifically about the claim that they sound better.The monetary value I think it's mostly unrelated or people fooling themselves. I was cynically implying that the claims that these instruments sound better are rationizations from people who paid a lot of money for them. The more money you spend the higher the incentive.

This post has been edited by andy o: Apr 9 2014, 18:06
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