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[New Scientist]Pro violinists fail to spot Stradivarius in blind test

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25371-pro-violinists-fail-to-spot-stradivarius-in-blind-test.html#.U0TTW9KPKUk
Quote:
Claudia Fritz and colleagues at the Jean Le Rond d'Alembert Institute in Paris wanted to test whether Stradivariuses really are superior.

Asked to choose a violin to replace their own for a hypothetical concert tour, six of the musicians selected new ones. The whole group did no better than chance in picking out which violins were old and which new, but tended to rate newer ones as more playable.

The results build on a similar study a few years ago that took place in a hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana. This time around the musicians were top-level soloists and had more time to test a wider selection of violins, in more relevant settings.
post #2 of 67
Somehow I'm not surprised as even if Stradivarius instruments where the best ever made they are 300 frikking years old and even under the best conditions thous are going to have some millage on them and the sad fact is that instruments don't last forever.

There are a handful of Strads that have been played very little and being kept with exceptional care but even thous aren't as good now as they where in their prime and thous where most certainly not a part of this study.

Really I think if we could show a modern top of the line violin to Mr. Stradivarius he would be quite impressed.
Edited by Bit_reaper - 4/8/14 at 10:49pm
    
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post #3 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bit_reaper View Post

Really I think if we could show a modern top of the line violin to Mr. Stradivarius he would be quite impressed.

But the traders and owners come out to dispute these tests as soon as they hear about them. Knocking down the Stradivari would have wiped the mystique off of all antique instruments.

The musicians and labels also have a stake in this.
post #4 of 67
Surely, within its context, Stradivarius must (I have no real knowledge to judge for myself, I know the same "Anecdotal" stuff most of us do) have produced amazing instruments. But anything that has been so highly valued and studied - even if is of unprecedented "perfection" - will inform future design and craftsmanship till it is eventually at least matched, if not surpassed.

We tend to "infuse" things of the past with an aura of mystery, even with nearly "magical" properties, and for most people bogus, almost superstitious explanations are much more intriguing, thus eventually more believable than hard facts and double blind tests.
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post #5 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Popple View Post

But the traders and owners come out to dispute these tests as soon as they hear about them. Knocking down the Stradivari would have wiped the mystique off of all antique instruments.

The musicians and labels also have a stake in this.

That's true to some extent but then again nothing can ever wipe away the history of thous instruments. I mean just because we can make better guns today does not make an authentic 1873 Colt Peacemaker any less valuable.

Most of all I just think its sad that we give so little credit to the artisans of our own time.
    
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post #6 of 67
As a violinist myself and having the pleasure to hear a Stradivarius up close in person, there is a diffidence. Its a very subtle change that would of been easy to miss if I was not paying close attention. Figure most Violinists of this caliber have a violin that is at the top of the food chain. My violin ran me 5k a few years back and is only a upper mid tier. The professionals are playing on stuff that runs 25k and up around here.

With instruments of that tier, they are all master made, as is the Strad, as such have room to be unique in tone and as such opens the door for the ear to fail to hear the Strad.

TL;DR:

Not shocked they had a hard time telling. High end Violins are all made by Masters worthy of the title Master that produce true works of art.
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post #7 of 67
dahh! someones on the fiddle lachen.gif
post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by RussianJ View Post

As a violinist myself and having the pleasure to hear a Stradivarius up close in person, there is a diffidence. Its a very subtle change that would of been easy to miss if I was not paying close attention. Figure most Violinists of this caliber have a violin that is at the top of the food chain. My violin ran me 5k a few years back and is only a upper mid tier. The professionals are playing on stuff that runs 25k and up around here.

With instruments of that tier, they are all master made, as is the Strad, as such have room to be unique in tone and as such opens the door for the ear to fail to hear the Strad.

TL;DR:

Not shocked they had a hard time telling. High end Violins are all made by Masters worthy of the title Master that produce true works of art.

You heard one up close and knew what it was. That's in no way a blind test, not that you said it was. I bet if you took "the Pepsi challenge" with 9 master crafted violins and 1 pristine condition Strad you couldn't pick it out of the lineup based on audio alone.

You could hear a difference in two violins made at the same time by the same person. Much like a fingerprint no wood grain is the same in density or exact resonance. No 2 Strada will sound exactly alike

It's all moot really and entirely subjective. All that matters is if it sounds and plays good to you.
     
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post #9 of 67
tldr

violin nerds just the same as other nerds (headphone, computer, musician, et al)
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post #10 of 67
It's not big news that the whole realm of audio is very non-magical when you whip out the scientific equipment like blind testing. People believe and "hear" the weirdest stuff that magically disappears when you would have to prove yourself in a controlled environment. Better yet, these kind of people insist the fault is in the testing methodology (which do away with NON-auditory phenomenon like McGurk-effect, sighted bias and expectation bias) rolleyes.gif
Edited by seepra - 4/9/14 at 12:09am
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