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Fungivarius Beats $2 Million Stradivarius Violin

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the dinner-and-a-song dept.

Music 210

Fluffeh writes "Violins made by the Italian master Antonio Giacomo Stradivarius are regarded as being of unparalleled quality even today, with enthusiasts being prepared to pay millions for a single example. Stradivarius himself knew nothing of fungi which attack wood, but he received inadvertent help from the Little Ice Age which occurred from 1645 to 1715. During this period Central Europe suffered long winters and cool summers which caused trees to grow slowly and uniformly ideal conditions in fact for producing wood with excellent acoustic qualities. Now scientists are turning to fungi to recreate some of these amazing sounding instruments."

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210 comments

Violins (5, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441827)

Any time I see someone playing a violin I ask if they can play "Devil Went Down to Georgia." I usually don't get positive responses...

Re:Violins (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441975)

That's more of a fiddle player's song. No difference in the instrument, necessarily, but definitely a difference in the player/technique.

Re:Violins (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442531)

Yeah kind of like playing a trumpet, saxophone, etc...or simply playing a 'horn'. The horn players produce a completely different style of music.

Re:Violins (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442029)

Any time I see someone playing a violin I ask if they can play "Devil Went Down to Georgia." I usually don't get positive responses...

That's because you're too stupid to tell the difference between a violin and a fiddle.

Re:Violins (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442077)

God, you're a dumb shit.

Re:Violins (1)

albedoa (1529275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442113)

No please, go on. What's the difference?

Re:Violins (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442349)

They're the same instrument. Fiddlers tend to use different strings, and different techniques, but the instrument is the same.

There are differences in playing techniques. For example, classical violin style tends to have vibrato, while fiddles are often played without. Fiddlers makes extensive use of shuffle bowing (the "dee diddle de diddle") rhythm and lots of double stops. But those are playing styles - the instrument is the same.

Re:Violins (1)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442963)

Many fiddlers also alter the shape of the bridge and make it flatter. It's not a 100% sort of thing, but fiddles are often set up differently. My favorite explanation? A violin is carried in a case, a fiddle is carried in a sack :)

Re:Violins (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444259)

Huh. In that case, I've got two fiddles right here.

Re:Violins (1)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442191)

I've almost wanted to learn the song, just so I could do it when asked. Fortunately, I stopped playing after college, so I don't get the request anymore ;-)

Re:Violins (1)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443755)

I can, and it's a fantastic and fun song. You should've asked me! :3

I'm classically trained but thoroughly enjoy fiddle music. Nothing is quite as crowd pleasing in a pinch, and it's great at parties. If I could play some Paganini perhaps, then maybe I'd stick to straight classical, but that stuff is bloody difficult. :)

Reminds me of (1, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441843)

Hatori Hanzo and his amazing swords.

As interesting as this is, I still think I'd rather watch Kill Bill then listen to classical music.

Re:Reminds me of (4, Informative)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442403)

That's too bad. There's some really amazing classical music. You'd probably be surprised to find that many tunes are already familiar to you.

I listened to quite a bit of classical music when I was a kid, but during high school I switch to rock. During college I rekindled my interest in it when I found that classical had the same-- if not better-- calming effect on my brain that some kinds of metal music had. In particular, almost everything by J.S. Bach and Girolamo Frescobaldi. I especially like Glenn Gould's Bach recordings (piano) and Colin Tilney's Frescobaldi recordings (harpischord).

I've found that the structure and depth of much classical music is much more complex and satisfying than most contemporary music. Don't get me wrong, I still listen to rock music, rap, folk, and electronica music, and I do like a good amount of what I hear-- but I think for many "artists", making a living is more important to them than making art, and this is really where a lot of the old masters excel.

Here are some good "beginner" pieces to listen to. They're accessible, and have catchy tunes, and they run the whole spectrum of expression. They're not dull at all!
  • Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (I like the Boston Symphony Orchestra recording with Ozawa conducting)
  • J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (I like Glenn Gould's second recording, from 1988) or Brandenburg Concertos
  • I'm not a huge Mozart fan, but you've probably heard (and might) like much of his stuff
  • pretty much anything by Beethoven
  • Niccolo Paganini's 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (I like Midori's recording-- wow!)
  • Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (the orchestral re-work done by Ashkenazy is amazing)
  • G. F. Handel's Water Music (Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music recording is my favorite)

Anyhow, give it an honest try. You might like it.

Re:Reminds me of (2, Insightful)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443639)

when I found that classical had the same-- if not better-- calming effect on my brain that some kinds of metal music had.

I suspect that many people who don't listen to much metal would not find this statement surprising. (That's their oversight, of course.)

Re:Reminds me of (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443405)

I still think I'd rather watch Kill Bill then listen to classical music.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but at least try out Bach (the Musician's Composer)'s sonatas/partitas for unacompanied violin, or the sonatas for violin and harpsichord.

Of course, this music is not classical, but baroque - but this is another part of your education.

Re:Reminds me of (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444263)

I still think I'd rather watch Kill Bill then listen to classical music.

So, which classical pieces do you intend to listen to after you've watched Kill Bill?

Blind Sound Test. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29441849)

I wonder who can actually tell if a strad is better than a good modern violin. Is anyone aware of this sort of testing ever happening?

Re:Blind Sound Test. (4, Interesting)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441943)

They did it with the monster cables vs a coat hanger [gizmodo.com] . You could probably just grab a $500 violin and pit it against one of these 2 million dollar ones and see. The only problem is that the cost of $2m and $500 vs $150 and a coat hanger is a much bigger monetary difference.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (2, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442141)

They did it with the monster cables vs a coat hanger [gizmodo.com] . You could probably just grab a $500 violin and pit it against one of these 2 million dollar ones and see. The only problem is that the cost of $2m and $500 vs $150 and a coat hanger is a much bigger monetary difference.

But in 10 years that monster cable will be worth the price of scrap copper and the Strad will probably go from $2M to $5M.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442183)

But in 10 years that monster cable will be worth the price of scrap copper and the Strad will probably go from $2M to $5M.

That wasn't the point I was going for though. I was pointing out that a blind sound test has been done with two things, and the overall price of each test.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (4, Interesting)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442545)

The $500 violin would fail. Miserably.

source [npr.org]

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442009)

Yes, it was in TFA, you would know if you had RTFA

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442193)

Hmm...It would be cool to seem them use the 'wood' to create super versions of say...a Telecaster that would be a perfect specimen in the future...

Re:Blind Sound Test. (2, Interesting)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442549)

Not only that, but next to TFA were a series of links/summaries to articles full of similar "tests" and breakthrough explanations of why Strads sound the way they do. People have been announcing new Strad secrets like people announce bigfoot sightings. IMHO, it sounded like the article was a puff piece press release to sell new fungus-treated violins.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442285)

You know, the Stradivarius like most instruments in the > $10,000 range (they go way up from there) has a sound that intuitively appeals to classical players/listeners. But there are a bunch of other makers that make very distinctive instruments of equal stature. They just don't have the celebrity status of Stradivarius.

Anyway, back to your blind sound test. The paying listener, is hearing the instrument in context of a song, so its characteristics aren't obvious. There is so much that goes into a single performance that attracts lots of paying customers, a Stradivarius in the first chair isn't relevant. Who's in the first chair? What songs will they play? etc.

Also keep in mind consumers of classical music prefer the sound of a modern violin. the tension of the strings has increased meaningfully over the centuries and so has the pitch. So a Stradivarius isn't really built to handle the tension or modern strings.

While there is some interest in playing classical instruments strung with animal-based strings and tuned like they were centuries ago, it's a tiny niche.

Tension/wear/tear (1)

GargamelSpaceman (992546) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443323)

At some point an average jack-o-lantern with elastics stretched over the hole will sound better than even the best strad. That is because at some point everything that is used will break.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (4, Informative)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443911)

Also keep in mind consumers of classical music prefer the sound of a modern violin. the tension of the strings has increased meaningfully over the centuries and so has the pitch. So a Stradivarius isn't really built to handle the tension or modern strings.

This isn't exactly true. Nearly all 18th-century violins have been radically overhauled to meet 19th-century standards for sound projection. The neck was re-cut to bend back to allow for greater string tension, which also had to be absorbed by a heavier bass-bar under the left foot of the bridge.

But this aside, the majority of violin players still tend to use gut strings (usually wound with silver) by preference. Synthetic strings can work well on some instruments, but YMMV. On my own instruments, I have had some success with synthetics on the middle strings.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442431)

Did you even read the article?

In the test, the British star violinist Matthew Trusler played five different instruments behind a curtain, so that the audience did not know which was being played. One of the violins Trusler played was his own strad, worth two million dollars. The other four were all made by Rhonheimer â" two with fungally-treated wood, the other two with untreated wood. A jury of experts, together with the conference participants, judged the tone quality of the violins. Of the more than 180 attendees, an overwhelming number â" 90 persons â" felt the tone of the fungally treated violin "Opus 58" to be the best. Truslerâ(TM)s stradivarius reached second place with 39 votes, but amazingly enough 113 members of the audience thought that "Opus 58" was actually the strad! "Opus 58" is made from wood which had been treated with fungus for the longest time, nine months.

That's your blind test, right there.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444143)

That's your blind test, right there.

Wasn't double-blind, though, which can make all the difference in a test of the tonality of a musical instrument. Much of an instrument's tone comes from the player, not the instrument. And a lot of what we perceive as "tone" isn't tone at all anyway - all a musician would need to do was play an instrument louder and a sizable number of people will think that makes it sound "better".

What's really needed is for a robot to play these instruments - that's the only way to ensure they'd all be played the exact same way every time.

I wonder who can actually tell if a strad better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442463)

You really have to have a good tree ear for music to tell the difference between a Fungivarius and a Strad.

Re:I wonder who can actually tell if a strad bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443073)

Just goes to show there's morel or less no difference in high end violins these days. A bad player can make a Strad sound like shitaki.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (4, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442485)

I wonder who can actually tell if a strad is better than a good modern violin. Is anyone aware of this sort of testing ever happening?

Wikipedia cites this book [google.com] by James Beament of Oxford as a source of blind tests and audio analysis that concludes there is no observable difference. The money quote:

there appear to be no characterizing differences between the perceived sound from well-made orthodox instruments on any age when played by a skilled player

The audiophile phenomenon is neither new nor isolated to electronics and turntables. Instruments are shiny and expensive and often rarefied; it is inevitable that a mystique emerges that lead to claims of dramatically superior audio quality. Never expect that the existence of actual evidence will dissuade the audiophiles; for every one tester there are a thousand bullshit artists and a million fools that want to believe them.

Unleash the anecdotes!

Re:Blind Sound Test. (3, Funny)

Subm (79417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443635)

there appear to be no characterizing differences between the perceived sound from well-made orthodox instruments on any age when played by a skilled player

That's because they used the wrong speaker cables and missed out on the warm sound only pure gold provides.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443955)

Unfortunately, it says nothing in that book about the cost of the instruments.

So they could have been comparing a number of 'shiny and expensive' instruments, but just found that the makers name doesn't make much difference above a certain level of quality.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444119)

Unleash the anecdotes!

Sure. There's no doubt that violins made along a similar pattern will sound approximately similar to an independent observer.

But to the player, the difference can be quite profound. I am a violinist, and love well-made istruments of any vintage, but there is nothing that says modern instrumnts are in any way inferior to classic Italian achines.

Re:Blind Sound Test. (2, Interesting)

Bertie (87778) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444167)

The Independent newspaper carried out a lovely little experiment a couple of years ago. They took a very famous violinist (can't remember who now), gave her a Stradivarius, and sent her busking under a bridge by Waterloo station in London. At one point, the reporter who was accompanying her went to ask a homeless guy sitting under the bridge what he thought. "Is that a Stradivarius?", he asked straight out. Turned out the guy was from Stradivari's home town of Cremona and would've known the sound of a Strad anywhere.

Now, just think how unlikely it is that someone will roll up and busk with a Strad, and yet this guy was sure he knew what he was hearing. So yeah, they have a distinctive sound all right.

The most beautiful sound (4, Interesting)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441879)

When I was much much younger I was purchasing a violin. While at this shop the owner had a 'cheap' Stradivarius. After I had selected the instrument I wanted (this had been going on for weeks of trying them) the owner let me hold, and play, his 'cheap' Stradivarius.

The sound that effused out of that instrument can not be put into words to hear and feel... it made the one I selected sound as if it were a cheap knockoff made of plastic. The tones could not even be compared in the same room- one was transmitted through steel cups and a string, the other was singing in front of you.

To this day that is one of the more emotional feelings of music I have ever felt.

To have that sacred sound reproduced for everyone to have access to- I don't know. It is such a beautiful instrument that, currently, only the elite can have and play (most instruments are endowed to players- on 'loan'). Should everyone have access... would it be the same?

Re:The most beautiful sound (5, Insightful)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442047)

The fact that you even wonder if it would be the same if it was "common" strikes a blow to your assessment that it actually sounded different. I'm sure good ones sound better than cheep ones, but all you convinced me of was that elitism has a note all its own.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442899)

As I play and listen to various guitars. I can unequivocally say that different woods and builds sound exceptionally better. Violins are no different. The better made ones do have better tonal qualities. I'm a lamp cord user over monster cable so i'm not an elitist :-]

Re:The most beautiful sound (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443363)

I don't think the actual quality was being called into question, but rather the fact that the original poster specificed wondered if the sound would be as good if it was common.

That itself basically states that to some degree, the poster was prizing not the actual sound (which should be good aside from rarity), but rather the fact that he was hearing what was described as a rare instrument.

Personally, I agree on the quality issue, but I've never been much for "rarity" alone making something sound better. As someone also really into (electric) guitars, aside from pure collectors value, from a tonal standpoint I don't see the advantage in paying some ungodly sum for say, an original 1958 Gibon Les Paul Standard, versus any decent modern guitar for $500 and throwing a pair of Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups in it. One might a lot more "rare", but if the commonly available one sounds as good for a lower cost, then I'll not be a snob.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443681)

Not to mention that if someone were really concerned with good music, he'd want everyone to play on the best instruments possible. How would the world be any less rich if it were full of more beautiful sounds?

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443697)

I think he was more concerned that if the quality was always that good if he would get the same emotional response every time, or if it would water itself down to the mundane.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444327)

Just as the honey-delicious manna from heaven eventually tasted like stale dust to the Israelies who had nothing but manna to eat, an awe-inspiring sound will eventually turn into pure noise without variety. Any violinist worth their resin can tell the difference between a $200 violin and a $200,000 violin -- and to them, the $200,000 violin has a sweet, full resonant tone to it. To someone who hates listening to his sister practice violin for 2 hours a day, a $200,000 violin sounds like a dopier at low notes, screetchier at high notes than the crappy one his sibling plays.

It's like telling the difference between the engine noise of a honda civic with new intake/headers/exhaust and a Koenigsegg CCX. To someone who doesn't care about cars, they're both engines. To a car enthusiast, to hear one is a practically orgasmic experience while the other is cheap. This difference is based on expectation and knowledge of what the two different cars' reputations and capabilities are.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

KraftDinner (1273626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443057)

Exactly, what is it about a person's social status that makes them sound "better"? Nothing, that's what. It's all about talent and practice. Some of the greatest musicians I have EVER heard were busking on the streets. No amount of money, notability or stature will ever change how they sound or how their instruments sound.

Perhaps a placebo effect? (5, Insightful)

LitelySalted (1348425) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442073)

I imagine there might be some of that Placebo effect taking place.

They did a study a while back where they gave cheap wine to ordinary people and labeled it as expensive wine. Then they did the opposite, labeling the expensive wine as cheap wine. When people were asked which wine they liked better, guess what? they liked the "cheap" wine labeled as expensive wine the best.

While I don't doubt that the Stradivari violins may be top notch, I doubt there is that much variance between a "modern" top notch violin and what he created.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442189)

Actually, the violins from Guarneri del Gesà ( a descendant from guarneri companion of stradivarius)
are even more expensive.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442457)

I doubt there is that much variance between a "modern" top notch violin and what he created.

There's actually lots of differences. The listening scenario is playing the same song on two different instruments by the same player. It's obvious then, but that doesn't make a good performance that people are willing to pay for. NPR did a story like that one Sunday morning.

Also remember that modern violins are played at a higher pitch with modern strings that appeal more to listeners than really old violins. Old instruments are, for sure, a subculture buried deep inside a niche.

Stradivarius is just the most well-known name.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (2, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442661)

A listener might attribute "better" sound to a more expensive violin, *and* the player might play the more expensive violin with more care, resulting in a "better" sound.

A real double blind test would require a robot player that played each instrument exactly the same.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (2, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443527)

A listener might attribute "better" sound to a more expensive violin, *and* the player might play the more expensive violin with more care, resulting in a "better" sound. A real double blind test would require a robot player that played each instrument exactly the same.
Some years back, I read of an interesting "double blind" test that showed another interesting complication.

The test setup was a violinist hidden behind a screen, playing the same pieces of music on several instruments. The listeners were a bunch of professional musicians and educators. Neither the play nor the listeners had any information about the instruments, just a number.

The result was that the player reported a quick judgement of each instrument's "quality", usually within just a few notes, and was consistent in that judgement even when the experimenters renumbered the instruments.

However, the listeners were highly inconsistent in their ratings of the sounds of the various instruments. How good a given piece of music sounded was different for different listeners, and unrelated to the commercial "value" of the instruments. It was also not very well corellated with the player's opinion of the instrument's quality.

The main conclusion I drew from it is that the significant difference in an instrument's "quality" is how well it plays (and that could well be different for different musical styles). The quality of sound heard at a distance is primarily a function of the player, not the instrument.

It would be interesting to read about other well-done experiments. But most of them probably aren't too useful, because the players and/or listeners know something about the instruments that they're listening to.

I learned a similar lesson a couple of decades ago, when I was shopping for a violin bow. I decided to carefully avoid looking at the names or prices of bows before playing with them. It turned out that my judgement was uncorellated with the price, and I ended up buying one of the cheaper bows. The shop owner just grinned when I chose that one, and said that he played with that type too, because he liked the sound.

But it's well known among players of bowed instruments that the best bow depends on the instrument, the player, and the style of music. It's meaningless to ask which bows are best without that information.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (0)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442673)

I imagine there might be some of that Placebo effect taking place.

They did a study a while back where they gave cheap wine to ordinary people and labeled it as expensive wine. Then they did the opposite, labeling the expensive wine as cheap wine. When people were asked which wine they liked better, guess what? they liked the "cheap" wine labeled as expensive wine the best.

While I don't doubt that the Stradivari violins may be top notch, I doubt there is that much variance between a "modern" top notch violin and what he created.

To be fair this could very well prove that ordinary people want to appear as wise, and not that they genuinely enjoyed the cheaper wine. Still the things that tickle our senses are very individual experiences and different methods provide different results. I wouldn't want to drink 50 year old Coke for example, but some people could find it tasteful, and who's to say that I should enjoy anything more than the other except for me? I do admit that I have preferred a more expensive wine at times, but I don't think it was my preference just because of the price. I draw this conclusion from also having chosen less expensive wines at times, but without focusing on the tag or naturally it would be an important factor. As for the example there's a difference between peoples inward opinions and their outward opinions, however I do think that we can be "taught" into liking things to an extent where we can honestly enjoy them. Licorice candy is an excellent example of mine which I learned not only to enjoy but to love. Just because it was recommended to me by someone it doesn't make my preference less "real" than if I would have stumbled upon it without any prior knowledge.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442885)

While I know jack shit about violins I do feel the difference for stuff I know and like. Of course the world is full of wannabes, but those who love one thing, can spot the difference easily.

Re:Perhaps a placebo effect? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443907)

This is why one ought to have more than double blind tests.

I suggest Quad blind semiblind and misleading tests, to test the placebo effect AND the real. For each sample, double it; one blind, one with clearly marked labels which may or may not be correct. Then measure and compare the results of all.

One of the things I suggest that might be happening is that certain things do have a "difference" that one cannot measure accurately with scientific equipment.

Let us say for the sake of argument that it is not fully possible to measure all the subtleties of a AUTHENTIC Stradivarius verses an otherwise high grade violin. Then what? What if humans CAN detect things like "warmth" that a scientific measuring instrument can't fully quantify because we aren't able to measure it with scientific instruments?

The only way to be able to fully able to know for sure, is by a test such as I have suggested. Is simply calling a violin a Stradivarius enough to sway people, or is there something else to these things which eludes measurement?

Re:The most beautiful sound (2, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442525)

To have that sacred sound reproduced for everyone to have access to- I don't know. It is such a beautiful instrument that, currently, only the elite can have and play (most instruments are endowed to players- on 'loan'). Should everyone have access... would it be the same?

Should everyone have the privilege of having access to cheap books? Should everyone have access to quality medical care? Oh, I see, they should not...or should they?

Re:The most beautiful sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29444201)

Should everyone have access to quality medical care? Oh, I see, they should not...or should they?

The differences being, of course, that the reason "everyone" will have access to "that sacred sound" is that it's going to come down vastly in price due to new technology, not due to a scheme that makes us all chip in for you to buy a Stradivarius. Universal health care advocates should take note that without a capitalist health care system, similar advances in medical technology will never be made.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442909)

I know it sounds strange, but I had a similar experience comparing the tone of an old Martin guitar to the ones I could actually afford. I'm not a good guitar player and don't have a really good ear, but dammit, it just sounds better!

As far as your last question, ultimately it is the sound that matters, not how it is produced. So if they can build a modern instrument with the sound of a Stradivarius or of Pachelbel's violin, they absolutely should. And don't worry -- it still won't be cheap; it'll just cost the same as a small car instead of a large mansion.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443585)

Something a bit strange happened to acoustic guitars around the 1980s

Companies like Yamaha started making these really solid guitars that were indestructible and had thick varnishes on them, so they looked great and felt solid. The only thing was, they don't sound so good.
When you pick up an old Martin or Gibson acoustic, they feel quite flimsy and light compared to most modern acoustics, but they really sing.
The old guitar makes concentrated on tone, which meant using thin wood on the body quite often, and giving up a bit of strength in the struts. (Thicker struts in the guitar top = more strength = more wood having to be moved by the strings.)

The same thing has happened to drums. The shells of an old ludwig or gretch kit are sometimes half the thickness of a modern mapex or Yamaha kit, and the metal hardware parts much lighter and smaller. But they sing more, as the shells resonate a bit, and the hardware (nowadays often really just big lumps of shit powder alloy (monkey metal)) is not sucking the tone away.
Part of this was due to people needing volume, physically stronger kits for touring, and some really heavy hitting drummers. But a big part is just psychology as heavier sturdier drums with huge metal hardware parts sell better.

With an acoustic instrument, making it physically stronger is often decremental to the tone, but sadly people don't care so much nowadays.

Re:The most beautiful sound (1)

wrfelts (950027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444021)

I've had very similar experiences with pianos. I'm by no means a master. I don't even consider myself proficient, but the opportunities that I have had to play a really excellent piano made things totally different. From the weight of the keys and their responsiveness to my touch to the acoustic quality and shape of the box surrounding the harp, everything sounded and felt different. I've only been "lost" playing piano twice in my life. Once was on a high end traditional full grand (can't remember the make). The other time was, to my surprise, on an simple Yamaha full keyboard (a high-end electric one with only 2 "voices"). It felt and sounded as good as the grand to me. I was shocked that an electronic device could really produce that sound and have such a velvety feel. It was a dream to play.

If instruments with that level of quality were accessible to everyone I believe that the amount of truly inspiring musical compositions would begin to soar. My piano play began to wane after those experiences simply because everything else left me flat. When you truly enjoy the experience of playing a quality instrument and the instrument itself is not fighting against you in the production of a really beautiful sound your creativity level goes way up.

With the studies out that have definitively proven the link between playing music (including singing) and the increase in abilities in language, math, and science aptitude I begin to wonder if more common access to high quality instruments would help to improve the math, science, and language problems we now have in the education system. I would certainly help reduce the amount of pop-noise that pervades our society today.

So what does the fungus actually do? (1)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29441981)

There's an implication in there that it makes the wood more uniform, as if it had grown in that mini ice age, but there's no explicit mention, and all I can find at the minute are links to the same story.
Is that what it does, or is it something else to do with the acoustic properties of the wood?

Re:So what does the fungus actually do? (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442477)

Last two lines in TFA:

The fungal attack changes the cell structure of the wood, reducing its density and simultaneously increasing its homogeneity. "Compared to a conventional instrument, a violin made of wood treated with the fungus has a warmer, more rounded sound," explains Francis Schwarze.

But other than that, you're right, not much to go on.

Methodology (4, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442079)

The test was with 5 violins, which consisted of one Strad, two made recently by biotech, and two made recently in the traditional way. The audience had 180 members. If you were to guess at random, you'd have a 20% chance of picking the Strad, and a 40% chance of picking out one of the biotech productions.

Some comments on the methodology:

  • The tested was done blind, but seemingly not double-blind. The player was behind a curtain, but could probably have picked out some visual differences between the instruments (a notch here, certain wood grain pattern there, etc.), which in turn could have affected his playing, consciously or unconsciously. It'd be preferable to get a pair of Strads on loan and have a master violinist play them without seeing them beforehand.
  • 180 seems a small sample size to me, especially when you have a fairly high chance of guessing the Strad.
  • Was the curtain acoustically transparent?

As it happens, one of the biotech productions got 50% of the vote for the best sounding one, and 63% thought it was the Strad. That beats random guessing by a good margin, but I think this could have been done better.

Re:Methodology (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442519)

Also, importantly, it appears that the audience members could talk to each other.

Re:Methodology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442595)

There's no way that the person playing the violin would be unable to tell the difference between the violins. Just like if your wife was replaced by a prostitute, you would still be able to tell, even if the lights were off.

To make a car analogy, imagine if somebody was trying to determine if a '63 Ferrari was better than a modern replica. You would have to be an expert driver to make the test valid. As a driver you could easily tell which one was real; it would have aged leather, the paint wouldn't be fresh, it would sound different, and so on.

Re:Methodology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443103)

This guy's violins have had exceptionally good results when pitted against Strads - http://www.nagyvaryviolins.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nagyvary

Re:Methodology (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443239)

"Of the more than 180 attendees, an overwhelming number â" 90 persons â" felt the tone of the fungally treated violin "Opus 58" to be the best. Truslerâ(TM)s stradivarius reached second place with 39 votes, but amazingly enough 113 members of the audience thought that "Opus 58" was actually the strad! "Opus 58" is made from wood which had been treated with fungus for the longest time, nine months."

It appears that two 'fungus violins' were used and that the longest treated one was picked out (Opus 58)

Hmm. (2, Insightful)

Trayal (592715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442111)

This would be rather more convincing to me if the listeners were not part of a group where they could possibly confer with each other (groups of people discussing a subjective subject are likely to come to the same conclusion), and/or if the results have been shown to be consistently repeatable.

Still an interesting start, though. Definitely merits further investigation.

So many variables and theories... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442137)

For example, the wood for the Stradivarius violins were transported by floating them in salt water behind the boat. And there are theories about the varnish.

The top of a violin has decorative purling trim placed in a groove carved around the outer edge. The groove is thinner than the rest of the violin, and it eventually cracks, causing the face of the violin to resonate better.

Violins that are played sound better than new violins. This can be duplicated by placing a violin in a chamber with speakers, and playing music for many, many hours.

The list goes on.

The reality is that some violins sound better than others. A Stradivarius is an instrument like any others - created by art and skill, not magic.

You want a Stradivarius? $150 gets you the downloadable version of the Garritan Personal Orchestra, which includes Stradivari, Gagliano and Guarneri violins. [garritan.com]

Eye of the Beholder (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442167)

Give me six months and a soundboard and I'll reproduce and then better the best violin you've ever heard. Only problem is, you'll never accept the results.

You want to know why Stradivarius violins are regarded as being of unparalleled? It's because they are regarded as being unparalleled. Do you seriously think that in over 300 years of violin making that noone has yet beaten what must be by now ancient and squeaky artifacts?

This kind of "Golden Age" worship is not based on any objective assessment of quality or sound harmonics or anything else. When violins are so good that there is no realistic way to tell the difference, people need to make up myths and stick to accepted scripts in order to be accepted as "knowladgeable". It's like how in blind tastings no-one can tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines. Blind test it and I guarantee you that 99.99% of professional music lovers wouldn't be able to tell a Stradivarius from a cubase.

You're telling me that one guy in the 1600 managed to get his hands on all the fungus infested trees in Europe brought on by the cold and "that's" what's making these things sound so good? When people have to resort to such Grade A bullshit like that, you know they're getting desperate. I find it far more plausible that the Emperor has no clothes, and that violins can only approach a theoretical limit of sound quality before physical forces, feedback, etc become dominant over the diminishing returns.

There's no secret to Stradivarius violins. If people want to throw money away on mythical violins, let them. The ones from your local dealer will sound just as good, and in any case, violins don't have any effect on human penis size.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442327)

I'll bet you don't use these cables [pearcable.com] on your stereo.

And you probably aren't much fun at parties.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442367)

Something tells me you're not a musician.

Old Strads are popular for a reason. Old Strats are popular for a reason, too. Wouldn't trade my old one for a new one, thank you very much.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29442479)

There is at least one luther who is regarded as close to (inferior or superior depending on the opinion) Stradivarius : del Gesu.
Now, you might tell he is overrated too. I personaly have no opinion on that.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442723)

Do you seriously think that in over 300 years of violin making that noone has yet beaten what must be by now ancient and squeaky artifacts?

I'm willing to believe it's possible, with a caveat. In many artistic disciplines, the master may die without imparting all his knowledge to a student. When the student becomes the new master, he too later dies without passing on everything he knows. Thus, the knowledge base eventually dwindles. In part, the rigor in scientific fields of writing down everything in detail is an important part of fighting against this tendency.

You're telling me that one guy in the 1600 managed to get his hands on all the fungus infested trees in Europe brought on by the cold and "that's" what's making these things sound so good?

It wasn't the fungus that made Strads good (though I originally read it that way, too), but rather that Little Ice Age produced long winters and short summers that made trees grow slow. Wood grown slow tends to be harder. The fungus is a modern attempt to duplicate this effect.

It's like how in blind tastings no-one can tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines.

Not necessarily cheep and expensive, but double blind tests have made important changes within the wine industry. A well-trained sommelier can, completely blind, tell you the type, vintage, region, rainfall that year, and the type of wood in the barrel used to age the wine. If you're just talking about doing some taste tests in a shopping mall, sure, nobody is going to tell the difference, but the same doesn't apply to people who have worked at wine tasting. Mind you, those same sommeliers won't necessarily choose expensive wines every time, either.

Much the same is true of classical music lovers. There must be some stipulations here, though. Hearing invariably degrades with age, whereas taste buds can be regrown and made better at any point in a person's life, barring some severe accidents or certain life choices (smoking can kill your taste buds for good, in some cases). Also, human hearing isn't all that great to begin with, and is highly susceptible to placebo effects. Audiophiles are particularly stupid. They perpetuate views that have no backing in double blind tests, and are largely people with more money than brains.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443787)

I'm willing to believe it's possible, with a caveat. In many artistic disciplines, the master may die without imparting all his knowledge to a student. When the student becomes the new master, he too later dies without passing on everything he knows. Thus, the knowledge base eventually dwindles.

This is one theory of knowledge transmission, and it deserves to be taken seriously; however, we're at the head of a four-thousand-year-long counterexample in our current technological progress. Many students learn things that their masters never knew, and the overall state of the art advances. So while I think it's possible that Stradivarius knew more about violin-making than his students, it also seems very unlikely to me that we've never recovered his knowledge.

If the difference is in materials (as is usually claimed), well that's certainly more plausible.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (2, Insightful)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442787)

The digital age hath clouded thine judgment.

Mass produced violins will tend to sound tinny due to their mass-production. Placing immense care into an instrument that'll be in the hands of a 6th grader who really wants to skip school to smoke pot would be a waste of time, so they churn out low quality instruments.

Individually built violins have a warmer tone, as more care is put into them. But that's just on the outer rim of effort put in. The type of wood, the location of the tree it was cut from, how it was cut, weather it withstood, and so on...those all contribute to the sound.

Unlike say, a synthesizer, which can improve its sound exponentially with every additional advancement in computer technology.

You could no doubt improve a violin with digital enhancement, but only for digital distribution. For a live performance, while your digital diva would be setting up hundreds of wires, a simple bow is the only tool a violinist needs to play just as good.

Or, in simpler terms: when you get something right, you don't need to tack on a computer to make it better. Violins are very much so physical, and there is currently no known method to mechanically produce timber that is better than the Strad's timber. Nor is there a particular need to; with people like you saying that all violins sound the same, it seems a damn waste of time to even try.

Re:Eye of the Beholder (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442797)

I had a wine tasting instructor that claimed that any bottle of wine over $25 was $25 worth of wine and $N - $25 worth of "rare". Sound and wine, it's easy to spot the crap, but the difference between a great violin and a priceless violin is less than the difference in your ears on a cold dry day, vs. your ears on a hot humid day. (b.t.w. I'm done some programming for an audiologist, so I've seen just how variable human hearing can be.)

I'm not convinced (4, Interesting)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442219)

Blind tests of violins and bows are notoriously difficult to conduct effectively. Much of the problem is that players become accustomed to particular instruments and unconsciously adjust their playing, and indeed their artistry, to the response of a particular instrument. Instruments have off days due to changes in humidity or string wear. The bow has to match the instrument and the performer. Differences among great violins are subtle. Selection of music to be played has a role. Performers, too, are variable, and rarely give three or more great performances of a work in a row.

Nonetheless, this is promising work. A modern violin by the best makers is typically a $25,000 instrument, while professional players in major orchestras are expected to spend several times that for an older instrument. It's like having an extra house payment. If the quality of the modern instruments starts to rival and surpass those of lesser makers in antiquity, it will help young players immensely as well as giving speculators in such instruments a well-deserved comeuppance.

Re:I'm not convinced (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442419)

If this response to the 'fungus violin' was consistent, they would still be better than the strad, no matter what the reason.

Re:I'm not convinced (1)

PipingSnail (1112161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442577)

Absolutely. A friend of mine once told me of a story where a band member friend had his violin case run over. He ran back to the case and was more concerned about the bow than the violin. He reckoned replacing the bow would be harder than replacing the violin.

As for instruments having off days - for sure. I play bagpipes. Some days they sing. Other days, best to put them down and not bother at all. Most days, somewhere in between :-)

Re:I'm not convinced (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443029)

That happened on "Antiques Roadshow" as well. A woman brought an old violin to the appraiser who told her that the violin was worthless, but the bow was worth thousands.

Sadly, there's likely nothing new here. (4, Informative)

thatseattleguy (897282) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442361)

I'm old enough to have seen that a breathless "the real secret to Stradivarius's violins discovered!!!" story comes up about once ever ten years, then fades away, making way for the next iteration.

When I was in high school it was that the wood he used was floated down rivers before it got to him, and therefore picked up minerals - which a modern maker claimed to have duplicated by boiling the wood in a broth made from shrimp shells. (I'm not making this up.) Earlier, it was something to do with the exact composition of the varnish. And no doubt numerous others that I never heard of.

Somehow, through it all, Strads are still prized above all other instruments, and keep increasing in value each year.

Re:Sadly, there's likely nothing new here. (2, Informative)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442427)

Shout it out brother! Every few years there is some "new method" to replicate Strads. You missed the one about soaking wood in urine, making one out of ceramic, and countless others. Kinda sad, really.

That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442749)

There's no question, the man made great violins. However, they are not some amazing, "Oh my god you can hear a huge difference no matter what," kind of thing. High quality modern instruments. It isn't as though there haven't been blind tests and acoustic analysis done, and they haven't shown any difference between high quality current instruments and Stradivarius.

It basically is just a sort of self sustaining mythology, and thus is likely to continue. Even if we produced a violin with nanotechnology that was provably atom-for-atom identical, people would claim the Stradivarius sounded better.

You see this in other high end audio all the time. Cables would be the best example. You can, and people do, pay prices like $50,000 for speaker cables. However there is no research anywhere that shows that they do anything for sound. Yet people claim they can hear the difference, despite none being measurable, and shell out the money.

Also there's simply the status symbol. Stradivarius instruments aren't something everyone can own. As such owning one is a massive status symbol. This will remain true, no matter what replicas are produced.

So it won't matter. They'll be "the gold standard" forever, however in reality we've already matched them acoustically.

Re:That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443071)

Yep. An authentic Picasso is worth millions, but an exact reproduction might be too ugly to put in your living room.

Re:That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (2, Funny)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443351)

You see this in other high end audio all the time. Cables would be the best example.

My favorite example: Denon's AK-DL1: "Ultra Premium", a $499 5-foot Ethernet cable. [denon.com] It's so premium that "signal directional markings are provided for optimum signal transfer" -- presumably the electrons read the markings to figure out which way to go, because moving under a voltage is just so out of style.

Funniest line ever: (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443973)

the AK-DL1 will bring out all the nuances in digital audio reproduction

Ya that's a good one (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444039)

Especially because if you actually own a Denon device with Denon Link (I do) it tells you straight out that all you need is twisted pair cable. However my guess is that some audiophile types whined that they couldn't buy "audiophile grade" Cat-5 to Denon. Denon then decided they'd more than happily put a hose in their pockets and suck the money out.

Re:That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443733)

I don't think it is fair to compare this to audiophool cables. A new violin and a very old one are quite different.

A hundred years or so of playing changes the sound of a wooden instrument.

A few things happen. The wood ages and seasons, and the vibration changes the characteristics of the wood. A completely new violin sometimes has a few hot or dead spots in it's frequency response that get less obvious after a few years of use. Also, the bridge, nut and fingerboard get a little worn.
There have been studies that show these differences are large enough to be noticeable.

Of interest is "US Patent 5537908 - Acoustic response of components of musical instruments" which talks about using a vibration table to attempt to speed this process up.

Re:That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443927)

When you're stuck carrying around large piles of cash, of course things sound better when a company like monster unloads some of that from you.

Re:That's becaues it's more mythology than reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443931)

Actually for cables there are plenty of studies showing that it is all dreck and you should just go cheap.

For violins, not so much. I'd love to see some properly conducted studies making them as double-blind as possible, over multiple days, with large sample sizes. I think there would always be doubt if the results favored one violin over another, but it would be interesting to see what happened.

Also, I wouldn't really trust the audience to know better. People prefer McDonalds to fine French cuisine, but the type of distinctions that are being talked about here require a baseline of experience and knowledge that the average person would not have - which is fine, not everything is meant for everyone.

Re:Sadly, there's likely nothing new here. (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443187)

Authentic Picasso's keep going up in value, but I doubt anyone really believes they look better than a great reproduction.

A guitar used and signed by Pete Townsend would be more valuable than the same type unsigned and unused.

There's really nothing about a Stradivarius that you can't get by spending $25000 or so. Except the provenance and prestige.

hang on (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442365)

long winters and cool summers which caused trees to grow slowly and uniformly ideal conditions in fact for producing wood with excellent acoustic qualities.

So it was the trees that created the conditions?

The Stradivarius Myth (5, Interesting)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442495)

The "unparalleled" sound of Stradivarii is probably mostly the placebo effect---the Stradivarius myth [telegraph.co.uk] .

Here's a quote from the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] :

Above all, these instruments are famous for the quality of sound they produce. However, the many blind tests from 1817 to the present (as of 2000) have never found any difference in sound between Stradivarii and high-quality violins in comparable style of other makers and periods, nor has acoustic analysis.[2] In a particularly famous test on a BBC Radio 3 program in 1977, the great violinists Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zukerman and the violin expert and dealer Charles Beare tried to distinguish among the "Chaconne" Stradivarius, a 1739 Guarneri del GesÃ, 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.[3]

Progress (1)

OrugTor (1114089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442689)

The key element is that someone has demonstrated the effectiveness of modern instrument-making. It's a small step to use slightly different wood; I'm convinced one could make the perfect instrument from modern materials but the classical music culture is extremely resistant to tech enhancement. The perception that a wooden violin engineered to 18th century standards cannot be surpassed is so fimly embedded in the violinist culture that it may never be recognized as the myth it surely is.

A few million of VC should do it. (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29442981)

Seems like it wouldn't be that difficult to find a place in Canada that has a climate approximating that of "Little Ice Age", plant some trees, wait a few years, and then harvest Stradivarius-quality wood.

Re:A few million of VC should do it. (1, Insightful)

Brett Johnson (649584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444065)

The only problem is "a few years" is like 150-250 years.

Perfectly believable (5, Interesting)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443163)

I’m really a trumpeter...the computer thing is just to pay the bills.

Last night at a rehearsal, for an incredibly stupid reason (I mean, really, how do you walk out the door without grabbing that big yellow Pelican case?) I had to borrow an instrument.

The one I would have been playing on was owned by both Harry Glantz and Bill Vacchiano, perhaps the two greatest trumpeters ever to play with the New York Philharmonic. It’s a magical instrument, and the only C trumpet I ever want to play on again. Not perfect — it has its quirks — but it’s perfect for me.

The instrument I played on last night was barely adequate, and the mouthpiece was the polar opposite of mine.

It only took a measure or two for me to produce a sound that I considered acceptable. By the end of the first piece, only a trained musician who knows my playing very well would have been able to tell that I wasn’t using my own equipment.

Of course, I had to work a lot harder than normal to get to that point, and I still wasn’t achieving the results I consider optimal. But very, very few people reading these words would be able to tell that.

I learned that lesson decades ago at a master class with Charlie Schlueter, the principal trumpeter of the Boston Symphony. He wanted to demonstrate something but had left his horns at the hotel. So, he picked up whatever was closest, played a couple phrases, looked askance at the trumpet, set it down, and continued with the class. Everybody’s jaw dropped; the horn was the worst piece of shit I’ve ever played on — it leaked, sounded awful, and you couldn’t play it in tune to save your life. But Charlie still sounded like Charlie when he played it.

Cheers,

b&

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443207)

Does the Fungivarius go to 11?

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29443425)

In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming !

Fun Guy (1)

musichead (800784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29443813)

I contend that even though Stradivarius did not incorporate eukaryotic organisms into his process he still was a fun guy.

Music is music (2, Insightful)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444059)

It's honestly REALLY fun to read dozens of people trying to rationalize the appeal of Stradivarius violins as being some sort of grand, elitist, social experiment. They're fantastic instruments, they're old, they're relatively rare, and they have a lot of history and legends behind them. Music is the full emotional effect. You can make an instrument that sounds as a good as a Stradivarius, but there are plenty of people that are swept away by the romanticism and mysticism of the original.

Not Idle (2, Insightful)

XLR8DST8 (994744) | more than 4 years ago | (#29444301)

this is actually informative scientific news. don't see why it's in the Idle section.
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