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Violinists cannot differentiate between Stradivarius and new violins, was: "golden ears"
Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 01:20
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 00:42) *
Why can he not claim that an older instrument is harder to play?

Because experienced violinists in a controlled blind study fail to tell the difference between this supposedly «harder to play» old instrument and well-crafted replica.

If it were indeed more difficult, wouldn't they have felt and heard the difference?


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DVDdoug
post Jan 11 2012, 01:46
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jan 10 2012, 16:20) *
Because experienced violinists in a controlled blind study fail to tell the difference between this supposedly «harder to play» old instrument and well-crafted replica.

If it were indeed more difficult, wouldn't they have felt and heard the difference?
I don't believe they "failed to tell the difference". I believe there was a difference and they generally preferred the more modern insturment, and perhaps they thought the modern instrument was the Stradivarius. And, this was not an ABX test where they would know if A or B was the Strad. That would have been an easier test, and I doubt you could fool the owner of the instrument (assuming the owner is a violinist who regularly plays the instrument). And, I assume every Stradivarius sounds different! ...Although some may sound very similar too.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 11 2012, 01:48
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Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 02:11
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 11 2012, 01:46) *
QUOTE (Porcus @ Jan 10 2012, 16:20) *
Because experienced violinists in a controlled blind study fail to tell the difference between this supposedly «harder to play» old instrument and well-crafted replica.

If it were indeed more difficult, wouldn't they have felt and heard the difference?
I don't believe they "failed to tell the difference". I believe there was a difference and they generally preferred the more modern insturment,


Well, you are right, I mixed this up with another such test I was reading. There was one of the Strads that turned out less preferred (the one assumed to be one of Stradivari's early instruments, not the one from his recognized 'golden' age).

QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 11 2012, 01:46) *
And, this was not an ABX test where they would know if A or B was the Strad.


No, they did not, you are right that this would have been an easier test.
What they did (part of the test):
At 21 instances, a violinist evaluated the same pair twice, i.e. ABXY, but without knowing that X or Y were A or B. They were asked for preference among (A,B), and then for preference among (X,Y) without knowing that they were indeed the same pair.
Out of these 21 re-pairings, 11 kept their order of preference, and 10 reversed it. That is as close to a fifty/fifty as you can get on an odd number.


(I do not see this detail in the newspaper report linked to here -- I have access to the scientific article in http://www.pnas.org .)


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MichaelW
post Jan 11 2012, 02:11
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 11 2012, 13:46) *
I don't believe they "failed to tell the difference". I believe there was a difference and they generally preferred the more modern insturment

SNIP

And, I assume every Stradivarius sounds different! ...Although some may sound very similar too.


I was wondering a while back whether the test did indicate a preference for modern instruments, but I don't have the stats-fu to work it out for myself. IIRC, the least preferred instrument in the test was a Stradivarius.

Presumably, any instrument with "personality" will also have a different level of difficulty in playing, hence Zimmerman's instrument may well have marked and distinctive difficulties. To some people, of course, difficulty, and the rewards of overcoming difficulty, are of value in themselves. Hence the survival of Linux on the desktop.

There is, of course, nothing absurd in the claim that an artifact has personality: I have had a number of cars with personality, but now I can afford better.
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Takla
post Jan 11 2012, 02:30
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jan 11 2012, 00:20) *
QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 00:42) *
Why can he not claim that an older instrument is harder to play?

Because experienced violinists in a controlled blind study fail to tell the difference between this supposedly «harder to play» old instrument and well-crafted replica.

If it were indeed more difficult, wouldn't they have felt and heard the difference?


No, not "this" old instrument. This is not the same instrument as those in the blind study. These are not mass produced items and there is no reason to expect them to be identical when new, and even less after 300 years. These are not transistors rolling off a production line. When people with no experience of either the instrument in question, nor of the modern replicas, make assertions about how the instruments feel or play or sound, then they are being more irrational than anyone. Even if these were mass produced objects of known specification and condition then it would still be unreasonable for persons with no data of any kind(!) to pronounce on their qualities (or otherwise) based only on their expectation or bias.

I did read the article. The test made no attempt to investigate whether a player's ability to exploit any of the instruments was different over an extended period of time, and it definitely made no such comparison between the old and the new instruments. There is absolutely nothing in the tests or conclusions that either endorses or contradicts Zimmerman's report that with an antique instrument it can take a long time to learn to exploit it, but that a new instrument doesn't reward such familiarity in the same way. I don't know if this is the case or not, but given that these are objects that rely on tension and resonance and inevitably will not retain perfect original shape, form, mass, integrity over 300 years then it is hardly an outrageous claim. Because I don't know if it's the case or not I can only say that it's not impossible; more surprising is that people with exactly the same knowledge, experience and data (ZERO!) feel able to make an unembarrassed assertion to the contrary. I detect a bias.
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Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 02:58
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 02:30) *
When people with no experience of either the instrument in question, nor of the modern replicas, make assertions about how the instruments feel or play or sound, then they are being more irrational than anyone.


Well, the null hypothesis would be 'Strads are no better than anything else'. It is the $10 million instrument that has the burden of proof, just like the producer of $1000/meter 'audiophile' cables, or 'anti-ageing' snakeoil.

When people hold their assertions about how the instruments feel or play or sound until after they know the name and the price, that is when it becomes nonscientifical.


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mzil
post Jan 11 2012, 03:35
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 00:42) *
I did read the article.

Do you mean you paid the $10 (for two days access) to read the whole PNAS PDF article? Or you mean you read the abstract of it only, that Yong linked to?

This post has been edited by mzil: Jan 11 2012, 03:37
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Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 09:07
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QUOTE (mzil @ Jan 11 2012, 03:35) *
QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 00:42) *
I did read the article.

Do you mean you paid the $10 (for two days access) to read the whole PNAS PDF article? Or you mean you read the abstract of it only, that Yong linked to?


Probably rather that his/her institution (university or other) already has paid for access to the journal with all its contents, so the per-view cost is zero. That's the usual terms of subscription.

This post has been edited by Porcus: Jan 11 2012, 09:08


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Kees de Visser
post Jan 11 2012, 09:14
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QUOTE (mzil @ Jan 11 2012, 04:35) *
Do you mean you paid the $10 (for two days access) to read the whole PNAS PDF article?
There's quite some interesting information in the free supplemental document:
http://www.pnas.org/content/suppl/2012/01/...201114999SI.pdf
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Gumboot
post Jan 11 2012, 09:17
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It's how they make their money, isn't it. They just get someone to cite them in a blog post that makes contradictory inferences from the data so that people have no choice but to buy access to get the story straight.


In any case, it seems to me that as much as people have complained that nobody else is reading the citations, people haven't bothered to read those complaints, either; or the problem would surely have gone away long ago. And it hasn't.
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Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 10:43
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QUOTE (Gumboot @ Jan 11 2012, 09:17) *
It's how they make their money, isn't it. They just get someone to cite them in a blog post that makes contradictory inferences from the data so that people have no choice but to buy access to get the story straight.


If scientists or scientific publishers would ever need the mass media to publish oversimplified/dumbeddown/misleading coverage of the result of research, they already have their demand overfilled for ages to come.


The National Academy of Sciences has a subscription policy where you as a student can get full access for $40 a year, while a large corporate might pay more than $9000 every year -- for this single journal. Obviously, not to undermine that $9k/year subscription cost, they have to put some price on each single article. But most of those who need the PNAS journal, subscribe.

(Pricing of scientific journals is a very confusing matter. Academies of sciences often employ price differentiation as above. Many commercial publishers do as well. Then there are quite a few journals where the publisher charges an outrageous amount of money just to reap from those subscribers who do not question price. I've seen such journals cost twenty times what researchers would think of as the closest competition.)


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godrick
post Jan 11 2012, 15:26
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I am a bit surprised anyone took exception to my post that Zimmerman or those that believe him need double blind test proof to back up his assertions. Zimmerman made 4 claims regarding differences between Strads and newer violins, and per ToS #8, one needs to prove claims of differences. Also per ToS #8 neither I nor anyone else need to prove the lack of a difference.

I hope Zimmerman puts his Strad where his mouth is and allows his Strad to be used in future testing.
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godrick
post Jan 11 2012, 15:31
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QUOTE (Takla @ Jan 11 2012, 03:30) *
I did read the article. The test made no attempt to investigate whether a player's ability to exploit any of the instruments was different over an extended period of time, and it definitely made no such comparison between the old and the new instruments. There is absolutely nothing in the tests or conclusions that either endorses or contradicts Zimmerman's report that with an antique instrument it can take a long time to learn to exploit it, but that a new instrument doesn't reward such familiarity in the same way. I don't know if this is the case or not, but given that these are objects that rely on tension and resonance and inevitably will not retain perfect original shape, form, mass, integrity over 300 years then it is hardly an outrageous claim. Because I don't know if it's the case or not I can only say that it's not impossible; more surprising is that people with exactly the same knowledge, experience and data (ZERO!) feel able to make an unembarrassed assertion to the contrary. I detect a bias.



I don't object to Zimmerman's implication that it takes time to "learn" an intrument, but I object to his claim without proof that no such effect applies to newer violins. Again, per T0S #8, such a difference claim needs proof.
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Takla
post Jan 11 2012, 15:53
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QUOTE (godrick @ Jan 11 2012, 14:31) *
I don't object to Zimmerman's implication that it takes time to "learn" an intrument, but I object to his claim without proof that no such effect applies to newer violins. Again, per T0S #8, such a difference claim needs proof.


And when Mr Zimmerman signs up to HA you'll be able to let him know......... crying.gif
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mzil
post Jan 11 2012, 16:45
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Takla, I'm still curious to hear from you directly, as opposed to other people's conjectures of what they believe is probably the case, regarding if you meant you read the original paper in full, or rather just its abstract and notes. Also, do you still have access now on an unlimited basis, or did you buy a 48hr access period and that time window has now expired?

Thanks.

This post has been edited by mzil: Jan 11 2012, 16:52
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Porcus
post Jan 11 2012, 17:06
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QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Jan 11 2012, 09:14) *


Aha, that part is free access? Good.


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andy o
post Jan 11 2012, 17:25
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QUOTE (Gumboot @ Jan 11 2012, 00:17) *
It's how they make their money, isn't it. They just get someone to cite them in a blog post that makes contradictory inferences from the data so that people have no choice but to buy access to get the story straight.
It's a conspiracy!


QUOTE
In any case, it seems to me that as much as people have complained that nobody else is reading the citations, people haven't bothered to read those complaints, either; or the problem would surely have gone away long ago. And it hasn't.

Nobody had complained that they had to pay, as is the case with many other studies published. Someone who is used to reading studies should know that, shouldn't they? They had complained that the study and/or references were not available. And again, one of the violinists has commented there at least twice.

Don't you think it'd be more useful if you went and told Yong directly what you think of his conspiracy to hide the real data? If he doesn't admit it, others there might support you and something might actually be accomplished, at least as far as your concerns.
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Takla
post Jan 11 2012, 22:23
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QUOTE (mzil @ Jan 11 2012, 15:45) *
Takla, I'm still curious to hear from you directly, as opposed to other people's conjectures of what they believe is probably the case, regarding if you meant you read the original paper in full, or rather just its abstract and notes. Also, do you still have access now on an unlimited basis, or did you buy a 48hr access period and that time window has now expired?

Thanks.


No I didn't read the full, paid for paper. I read the linked article describing it. I too was impressed with the way that people who have absolutely no knowledge of me socially or professionally were able to speculate so plausibly while being completely wrong. It was entertaining, and also dovetailed quite nicely with various other comments in this thread which sounded plausible and authoritative, and had that warm, fuzzy *feel* of seeming rational, all the while being something else.
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mzil
post Jan 11 2012, 22:56
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^Oh, OK. Thanks. I had hoped you might be able to clarify (clear up) a question I had about their test, having read the original paper in full and hopefully still having access to it. Oh well.

Based on some responses, I think my question also might have been misinterpreted, by some, as being either judgmental of you or judgmental of the journal for charging money. I didn't intend either, at all. Sorry if I worded the post poorly so that it might be misconstrued in one or both of those two ways.
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Gumboot
post Jan 11 2012, 23:03
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QUOTE (godrick @ Jan 11 2012, 14:26) *
Zimmerman made 4 claims regarding differences between Strads and newer violins, and per ToS #8, one needs to prove claims of differences.


I claim that black is different from white, and I offer no evidence to back that up. So nyah!


Also, it is my understanding that Takla only read every third word of the article plus all of those words ending with a vowel. Takla also ran the test, participated in the test, and built nine of the voilins tested.

This post has been edited by Gumboot: Jan 11 2012, 23:07
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db1989
post Jan 11 2012, 23:08
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Totally legitimate analogy, A+++, would read again.
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Gumboot
post Jan 11 2012, 23:14
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Jan 11 2012, 22:08) *
Totally legitimate analogy, A+++, would read again.


Well, I was about to pop back in and make that a little less sarcastic, but maybe I should just take my A+++ and be done with it.

But I won't.

Is there anything that can be posted on the internet which is not subject to TOS#8? Surely the plausibility of some claims is sufficiently obvious that it's not really worth challenging them.

Moreover, without some notion of how they can be tested in a scientifically valid way, what exactly is the point of demanding such a test?
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Takla
post Jan 11 2012, 23:48
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QUOTE (Gumboot @ Jan 11 2012, 22:14) *
Is there anything that can be posted on the internet which is not subject to TOS#8?


Yes, anything which is not originally posted on HA. TOS refers to Terms Of Service, and that these TOS are specific to HA, and are meaningless to anyone who has not explicitly signed up to HA and thus accepted them. TOS is an acronym, not a talisman or holy writ.

I don't know if it's true that a 300 year old instrument takes longer to master than a new instrument, but I can see that this is not an outrageous claim, nor does it deserve derision, ridicule or unqualified dismissal. If an acknowleged virtuoso violin player says that this is the case then he is free to do so as he likes, without reference to the TOS of a board of which he is not a member and likely totally unaware! If the same person had claimed that capacitors or transistors or PCBs from different production runs caused different sounds, or were harder to solder, then that could be easily dismissed. But he didn't. He made the claim that an insrtument which is by definition a unique object has idiosyncratic qualities. This may or may not be true but it is certainly not an intrinsically absurd claim. He is not subject to TOS#8, nor is he obliged or required to prove his claim, because he is not making that claim at HA and has not signed up to those Terms Of Service. I have registered here so I have accepted those TOS. But I have not made that claim. What I have done is point out that the claim is not absurd or ridiculous and may be reasonable, given the peculiarities of a unique instrument, manufactured of changeable materials, of considerable age. That noting something so simple and unambiguous as this leads to me also being ridiculed and insulted doesn't say a lot for the people claiming to be rational actors.
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godrick
post Jan 12 2012, 05:07
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Takla, you continue to miss my point, so I take it you do so deliberately. I am quite willing to agree that it takes time to gain familiarity with an instrument. I am quite unwilling to agree that this only applies to old instruments, much less that such selective familiarity will allow an old instrument to eventually sound better than new ones as Zimmerman implies. Read and read these simple sentences over and over again until this sinks in. If you post again defending how it takes time to learn how to play an old instrument I'll have to conclude that reading comprehension is something you've rejected on principle.

And Takla, do you realize that ToS #8 is hardly an invention of HA? Does anyone here get that there is something called the scientific method and something called peer-reviewed published studies that strictly follow ToS #8 and many other requirements to establish validity of claims? I get the impression that many of you think that ToS #8 exists for snobbish purposes. In short, no, no one should suspend their need for ToS #8 while reading anything anywhere, nor suspend the need for reading comprehension or many other critical thinking skills. Just because someone can post anything elsewhere doesn't mean one should suspend all forms of reasonable judgement while reading it.
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Gumboot
post Jan 12 2012, 09:14
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QUOTE (godrick @ Jan 12 2012, 04:07) *
I am quite willing to agree that it takes time to gain familiarity with an instrument. I am quite unwilling to agree that this only applies to old instruments,


It makes sense. If there is no objective difference in the ease of playing an old or new instrument, but they are not the same, then it's reasonable to expect that if you learnt to play on a new instrument then the old one would be subjectively more difficult, and if you learnt to play on an old instrument then the new one would be subjectively more difficult.

Who learns on a Strad?

However, if an instrument can be made objectively easier to play, such that it inevitably sounded better sooner in the hands of a n00b, then you would expect that after centuries of development (centuries, FFS!) it would be the norm for new instruments.


QUOTE (godrick @ Jan 12 2012, 04:07) *
much less that such selective familiarity will allow an old instrument to eventually sound better than new ones as Zimmerman implies.


Whether it sounded better or worse would simply be a matter of opinion.
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