SSM

Do all Stradivarii sound the same?

Recommended Posts

I'm thinking not! As the various recordings in my collection by noted violinists using different Stradivarius models don't produce the exact same sound.

Listening to Menuhin's recording of the Bruch Violin Concerto. The tone he elicits is just brilliant. He is using the famous "Soil" on this one, is he? (I listen to FLACs and all the CD booklets are stored away).

I'd be damned if he's using a Guarneri.:doh:

cheerSS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All your recordings will be in different halls/studios with various mics and lots of other variables, so not very good reasoning, if I may say so.

Besides, a blind test was done with some top violinists a few years ago and they couldn't tell the difference between a Strad and a modern copy :dunno:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but they all measure differently, so they must all sound different too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but they all measure differently, so they must all sound different too.

That assumes the measured differences are audible though. All amps measure differently but frequently can't be told apart in blind tests.

Personally, I'm not too bothered. I just buy what I like now! :^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, a blind test was done with some top violinists a few years ago and they couldn't tell the difference between a Strad and a modern copy :dunno:

Shocking.

Did that dent trading prices on the Stradivarius classifieds?:P

All the great violinists prize their own Stradivarius and record using them. Perhaps that test wasn't comprehensive enough. I'll bet it used the general public. An audience of blindfolded professional violinists listening to one of their peers trying out various violin makes, might have been more telling. But such a test would be quite expensive to conduct.:P

SS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Wiki

Above all, these instruments are famous for the quality of sound they produce. However, the many blind tests from 1817[14][15] to the present (as of 2014[1][16]) have never found any difference in sound between Stradivari's violins and high-quality violins in comparable style of other makers and periods, nor has acoustic analysis.[17][18] In a particularly famous test on a BBC Radio 3 programme in 1977, the violinists Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zukerman and the violin expert and dealer Charles Beare tried to distinguish between the "Chaconne" Stradivarius, a 1739 Guarneri del Gesú, an 1846 Vuillaume, and a 1976 British violin played behind a screen by a professional soloist. The two violinists were allowed to play all the instruments first. None of the listeners identified more than two of the four instruments. Two of the listeners identified the 20th-century violin as the Stradivarius.[19] Violinists and others have criticized these tests on various grounds such as that they are not double-blind (in most cases), the judges are often not experts, and the sounds of violins are hard to evaluate objectively and reproducibly.[18][20]

In a test in 2009, the British violinist Matthew Trusler played his 1711 Stradivarius, said to be worth two million U.S. dollars, and four modern violins made by the Swiss violin-maker Michael Rhonheimer (de). One of Rhonheimer's violins, made with wood that the Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) researcher Francis Schwarze had treated with fungi, received 90 of the 180 votes for the best tone, while the Stradivarius came in second with just 39 votes. The majority (113) of the listeners misidentified the winning violin as the Stradivarius.[21][22][23]

In a double-blind test in 2012[24][25] published in the study "Player preferences among new and old violins",[16] expert players could not distinguish old from new instruments by playing them for a short time in a small room.[26] In an additional test, performed in a concert hall, one of the Stradivarius violins placed first, but one of the participants stated that "the audience in the concert hall were essentially equivocal on which instruments were better in each of the pair-wise instrument comparisons" and "I could tell slight differences in the instruments...but overall they were all great. None of them sounded substantially weaker than the others" [24]

While many world-class soloists play violins by Antonio Stradivari, there are notable exceptions. For example, Christian Tetzlaff formerly played "a quite famous Strad", but switched to a violin made in 2002 by Stefan-Peter Greiner. He states that the listener cannot tell that his instrument is modern, and he regards it as excellent for Bach and better than a Stradivarius for "the big Romantic and 20th-century concertos."[27]

I read an interview with Nicola Benedetti, and she had two Strads for a while and thought they were very different to each other

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2178708/Nicola-Benedetti-Big-money-jealousy-pressure--Violinist-triumphs-dangerous-world.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shocking.

Did that dent trading prices on the Stradivarius classifieds?:P

All the great violinists prize their own Stradivarius and record using them. Perhaps that test wasn't comprehensive enough. I'll bet it used the general public. An audience of blindfolded professional violinists listening to one of their peers trying out various violin makes, might have been more telling. But such a test would be quite expensive to conduct.:P

SS

I think I read it was actually top violinists who took part in the test. Oh well :zip:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but they all measure differently, so they must all sound different too.

Not sure how violins can be measured, but I do think several Stradivarii make better sounds than others. The sounds Menuhin pulled from his is just superior to the ones Perlman scratches from his (ref. Bach Violin Sonatas, EMI). The latter's Strad sound abrasive in comparison.

SS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a pal who restores old violins and makes new ones. He explained all the stuff about wood age and dryness, laquer thickness, grain density, curve tensions, glues and etc to me once.

I didn't understand any of it.

But he did say that even if he worked a year on making two 'identical' violins, they'd sound different to each other.

Woulkd measuring be as simple as recording the surface vibrations from say, ten different parts of the violin body under a variety of inputs from a bow?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IME my experience as an amateur recordist of 50+ years is that microphones, and where you put them relative to the instrument, make a considerable difference, so I don't think the actual difference between 2 Strads would necessarily be heard on any recording.

When it comes to playing the instrument the feel of the instrument alters the ease with which you can get the sound you want, which can not be negligible either.

My wife, who has no interest in hifi, studied violin (as third study behind singing and piano) at the royal college of music. I played a youtube clip of the Bach double to one of our grandchildren the other day on my laptop. My wife asked who was playing second violin because they were so much better than first violin. So she could hear a difference in playing over my lappy speakers but refuses to even comment on hifi (apart from hating all of it except the Anima speakers).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is certainly food for thought, Frank.

Esp, that part about the 'feel' of a particular violin helping the player to produce the sound he/she wants. Maybe the tactile quality of a particular varnish makes a difference!

Kudos to your missus who could differentiate quality playing through laptop speakers.:^:D

SS

- - - Updated - - -

I think this guy gets it right. Ten years to learn to make a violin, a lifetime leaning about varnish.

http://www.leroydouglasviolins.com/varnish.htm

Some people really take the egg basting process very seriously!:P

SS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think this guy gets it right. Ten years to learn to make a violin, a lifetime leaning about varnish.

http://www.leroydouglasviolins.com/varnish.htm

Some people really take the egg basting process very seriously!:P

SS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a pal who restores old violins and makes new ones. He explained all the stuff about wood age and dryness, laquer thickness, grain density, curve tensions, glues and etc to me once.

I didn't understand any of it.

But he did say that even if he worked a year on making two 'identical' violins, they'd sound different to each other.

Woulkd measuring be as simple as recording the surface vibrations from say, ten different parts of the violin body under a variety of inputs from a bow?

Even if past blind tests have been inconclusive in proving the superiority of Stradivarius instruments, people still believe in every violin having unique traits, like your friend. Its no wonder leading violinists ply their trade using celebrated Stradivarii or Guarnerii.

SS

Share this post


Link to post
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.

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.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.