The Study: Do Modern Violins Measure Up To Strads?The Study: Do Modern Violins Measure Up To Strads?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and taste is on the tongue of the gourmand, is the sound of the sweetest violin only in the ear of a melophile, or “music lover”?

Each of these begs the question on superlatives: is there a “best” for everything? And since the time of Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), luthier of the eponymous Stradivarius, it’s been a matter of conventional wisdom that his fine violins were in fact the best of the best. But are they? Two recent double-blind tests suggest that may not be the case after all.

First, a little background: Craftsmanship, woods available at the time (density differentials, perhaps due to colder weather conditions when the source trees were growing), varnishes made of egg white, honey, and gum arabic … all are thought to have contributed to the quality and mystique of the fine cellos, violas and violins Stradivari crafted. Most recent auctions of individual Strads have fetched in excess of $15 million. According to CMUSE, a music news and entertainment website, world-class violin soloists who play Stradivariuses include Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Salvatore Accardo, Edvin Marton, and Anne Akiko Meyers. Famed cellist Yo Yo Ma plays a Stradivarius cello.

Tests comparing Stradivarius violins with newer top-quality violins were conducted under the direction of musical acoustician Claudia Fritz (Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris), violinmaker Joseph Curtin of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and their colleagues. The first was with six violins, three Strads and three top-quality modern violins. It was conducted in a hotel room in Vincennes, the suburb of Paris, by two violinists who wore modified welding goggles to prevent them from knowing if they were playing old or new instruments. Fifty-five listeners rated each instruments, and the outcome favored the new violins.

The first study met criticism – too small a sample, too few listeners, in a hotel room and not a concert hall – so the researchers expanded their study with a second test in 300-seat auditorium in New York City before an audience of 82 listeners. The outcome was the same: new violins beat the Strads. This study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (“Listener evaluations of new and Old Italian violins,” Fritz, Curtin, et al, 2017).

One point made repeatedly by the listeners was about the instruments’ projection, the loudness of the sound. The newer violins won on that score, and the ratings for projection correlated with ratings for overall sound quality.

While this may tarnish (for some) the perception of Stradivariuses, it could be otherwise seen by the vast majority of violinists as a plus. Modern violins at modest prices might not be a compromise for virtuosos.

It also bears noting that double blind tests have debunked the differences between bargain-price wines and their $100-per-bottle cousins. And top chefs have been fooled with imitation crab, thinking it was the real thing.

The German violinist Christian Tetzlaff formerly played a Strad, but ditched it (well, not technically thrown in a ditch) for a violin made in 2002 by Stefan-Peter Greiner. Why? It doesn’t perform well for “big Romantic and 20th century concertos,” he says.

by Nathan Weiss
References and Bibliography
It’s been a matter of conventional wisdom that his fine violins were in fact the best of the best. Get more fine cellos, violas and violins Stradivari crafted at benning Violin.
Rated:NR/0 Votes
2 Views
Add To My Article Reading List
Add To My Article Reading List
Print Article
Print
More Article By Nathan Weiss
More Article by Nathan Weiss
Share
More Articles From Music
More Articles From Music
Related Articles and Readings
Buying a Violin By: Elan Chalford
"How do I buy a violin, (or fiddle)?"That question has risen to the top of the fiddle FAQ list, even above ?What's the difference between a violin and a fiddle??This is an account of how Richard Blackwell, my student, actually purchased a violin.He had been using a good quality student ...
Violinmaking: Why Bosnian Maple Wood is King By: Nathan Weiss
Legendary violins are made of Bosnian wood grown hundreds of years ago. But can modern luthiers replicate what Stradivari had available to him? ...
How to Start a Fine Art Photography Business By: Roy Barker
The definition of fine art, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is ?art concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects?. With such a ?wide? definition of ?beautiful objects?, the beauty is in the eyes of the photographer. Virtually anything can be fine art, a simple household item such as ...
Choosing Your Own Fine Art Giclee By: Arold Augustin
Some people can feel intimidated when first choosing fine art giclee They may feel that their taste will be judged and this puts them off approaching ...
Big Buts Sabotage Weight Loss Health and Fitness Part 2 of 12 By: Dr Leslie Van Romer
?Yeah, But I Feel Fine?You say to yourself, ?Maybe it's time to make changes in my eating and lifestyle habits. After all, I'm not getting any younger.??Yeah, but,? you say, ?I feel just fine. Why do I need to make any changes if I feel fine??If you are like most ...
The information provided in this article and/or the comments is the sole responsibility of their respective authors and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of ezinepost.com. ezinepost.com  does not endorse any article and/or comments published by our web users unless otherwise noted. 

Member Panel

login to submit articles and more

StatisticsEZINEPOST.COM

  • » Active Categories: 419
  • » Active Articles:251893
  • » Active Authors:32244
  • » Active Members: 31843
  • » Statistics Updated:
    - Sun Apr 1st, 2018 06:13PM EST