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Stradivarius


Rod
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What do we make of the report in today's 'The Daily Telegraph' newspaper that when a selection of ten renowned violin soloists were blindfolded and asked to play a range of twelve violins, (six modern instruments and six antique instruments), six of them preferred a new instrument and only three picked a Stradivarius ? They were asked to rate the instruments according to loudness, projection, playability, tonal quality, clarity and overall preference.

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I suppose it's a bit like different software packages that do the same thing (e.g.text processing or music notation). I'm sure most of us would get the best results with the software we use day in, day out, even if other products were objectively more intuitive, more powerful, faster or more widely compatible. I know I would! In my experience, it takes time to get really productive even on a far superior program.

 

Probably only three of the test violinists were accustomed to playing a Stradivari and were able to exploit its characteristics. Listening to 12 violins, each played by its owner, would be a better test, IMO.

 

Cheers,

John

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This reminds of the brilliant lager beer test conducted by Punch magazine many years ago. They invited all the top beer experts for a blind tasting of 5 or 6 lagers, all had different evaluations of each beer, only to be told afterwards that two were identical!

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What do we make of the report in today's 'The Daily Telegraph' newspaper that when a selection of ten renowned violin soloists were blindfolded and asked to play a range of twelve violins, (six modern instruments and six antique instruments), six of them preferred a new instrument and only three picked a Stradivarius ? They were asked to rate the instruments according to loudness, projection, playability, tonal quality, clarity and overall preference.

 

What I find strange is that people find that strange. We all have our individual tastes, even when we've been "taught" what our tastes "should" be. Anglo vs. English vs. duet? Maccann vs. Crane vs. Hayden? Metal ends vs. wooden? Ebony vs. rosewood vs. amboyna? Edeophone vs. New Model vs. Excelsior? Why should famous violin soloists be any different?

 

And Strads have a reputation; so do Jeffries; but not everyone prefers either.

 

But -- you might say -- these individuals were asked to judge the different instruments on particular characteristics, and shouldn't they agree at least on "loudness" and "projection"? No. Even when subjected to the same sound waves, we don't all "hear" the same thing. As I've mentioned before, I know one person who plays a baritone concertina because he literally can't hear the high treble notes, another who ignores the bass on her melodeon because she can't hear it, and a third who can hear and appreciate a good bass but also can (or at least could, when she was younger) hear the sonar squeaking of bats.

 

The example of the beer tasters? That highlights a separate issue, but one that's hardly new and shouldn't be surprising. Our perceptions are influenced by our expectations. And that will happen even -- maybe especially -- if we consciously try to avoid it, since we have expectations of how our attempted "objectivity" will affect our perception. B)

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Yes Jim. But I suppose the outcome of the exercise was more predictable than 'strange'. The Daily Telegraph tend to pad out their pages these days with endless results of strange research from most obscure sources. I guess they would tell us that such items boost circulation but I only buy their newspaper for the crossword puzzles and the Matt pocket cartoon, although I can enjoy a good obituary !

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"results of strange research from most obscure sources"

 

That's a strange thing to say in this case. The researchers are highly qualified and respected. They include Mr Curtin, a talented maker and MacArthur "genius" award winner.

 

In fact, similar results of blind tests of violins have been done many times over many decades. For those of us in the string instrument profession, this is no surprise at all. What it tells you is that some new instruments are really excellent, and they are bargains compared to the prices of vintage instruments. Many soloists know this and actually play an antiqued modern copy of their Old Italian Master instrument on stage. Many of the best makers have more work than they can do, making accurate new copies for high-powered players.

 

The sad thing is that the media won't cover these results they way they cover the "Strad's secrets" sort of stories that come out periodically.

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[What do we make of the report] Not a-tall surprised....people are crowd-followers and conventional-wisdom-followers....don't remember if it was the Prof or who, who noted the Jeffries Anglo fetish among Irish contest judges, to the detriment of young entrants....

 

this isn't exactly the same, but let's not forget the blind test somebody did of a Morse hybrid versus one of the top concertina-reeded examples to a bunch of listeners who hadn't been indoctrinated as to which they were "supposed" to prefer.......guess which was the unanimous or near-unanimous preference?

Edited by ceemonster
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"This is a very special instrument, a Stradivarius of the Anglo-German type of concertina. "

 

Unique C/G Anglo on eBay (seen many times before)

 

I thought about pointing at this one as well... :D

 

(at least it will be recognizable among other Anglos due to the drones...)

 

A "Stradivarius" with "drones"?

I didn't know old man Strad made hardanger fiddles. ;)

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"This is a very special instrument, a Stradivarius of the Anglo-German type of concertina. "

 

Unique C/G Anglo on eBay (seen many times before)

 

I thought about pointing at this one as well... :D

 

(at least it will be recognizable among other Anglos due to the drones...)

 

A "Stradivarius" with "drones"?

I didn't know old man Strad made hardanger fiddles. ;)

 

I'd certainly love to hear one of those... :)

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