nekomatic wrote: ↑
Tue Nov 01, 2022 9:11 pm
proper article summary
In this paper, the CTs [combination tones] generated by a set of violins of different quality and age have been investigated when playing a selected set of dyads. CTs were found in all of the violins, and the strongest of them occurred at a frequency below the lower note of the dyad. Its amplitude was strongly dependent on violin and dyad played and was greatest in two old Italian violins and decreased down to a minimum in a factory-made violin. All of these findings are well explained by the boosting action of A0, the main air resonance of the violin that correlates well with the strongest CT. A listening test, performed using selected dyads and violins, showed that the differences between dyads with and without CTs were correctly recognized by a group of professional and amateur musicians, suggesting a possible musical significance of the main CT.
What that article shows is that they sound different, in one specific way. There was no attempt to assess which was "better".
It was already well established than they sound different. This article adds some precision to precisely what is different about their sound, in one particular, narrow, and arguably relatively unimportant, aspect.
I say narrow and unimportant, because they were testing the sound of dyads, ie, playing two notes at once. Most of the time, you play just one note at once on a violin. So this piece of research showed that old violins sound different when being played in a way that you don't do most of the time.
Other research indicates that people prefer the sound of modern violins
. There is also evidence that they are easier to play well. So modern violin makers are doing a good job. But not very well recognised for it, it would appear.
The leading classical violinist of the present day, Joshua Bell
, owns a famous Stradivarius. But what that article fails to mention, and even his own website
, is that he owns other violins, including modern ones. I have heard interviews with him saying that he doesn't only perform on his Strad, he chooses the most suitable violin for the repertoire. So from time to time, you might have heard him play a modern violin. But it is rarely mentioned, perhaps because these old violins are part of the mystique.
The practical reality of being a professional classical string player of any reputation is that you aren't taken seriously unless you own an old instrument. And paying half the price of a house - a typical violin for a many 2nd division professionals as found on lower desks of leading orchestras, etc - for an instrument in a badly-paid job is challenging. Unfortunately, it isn't rational.