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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

outlander Re:The art of inconsistency (469 comments)

Hmm. I'd suggest that when you say 'inconsistency,' what you're referring to is the range of timbres available throughout the instrument's entire compass. Part of the richness associated with the old master instruments is a sweetening of the high end, caused by a variety of factors but mostly by the instrument being in tune with itself. The idea of building the instrument to be consonant with itself - that is, in tune with itself - is quite old. Builders who do this (tuning the top and back to specific pitches when rapped, working the bass bar and neck to work with the body, et cetera) tend to build instruments where the harmonics pile up on each other in the upper register and sound sweet - there's not a lot of phase cancellation. Builders who don't tend to have 'wolf' notes, which are odd resonances caused by any number of things, mostly mass either existing or lacking in a particular location in the body.

Many modern builders do tune the instrument such that it gets sweeter as the pitch increases, which can lead to a deceptive increase in perceived volume.

A number of modern guitarmakers have adopted the build-without-stress and consonance philosophy as well, most notably students of the late Arthur Overholzer, including Richard Hoover of Santa Cruz Guitars and a number of the people he's taught. It definitely makes for a more pleasant players' experience - they move all of a piece and feel very alive.

about two weeks ago
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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

outlander Re:Time to add another layer of BS indirection: (469 comments)

Hmmm. On the west coast, Jai Heide (www.jayheide.com, Berkeley CA) or Scott Cao (www.scottcaoviolins.com, Campbell, CA) are wonderful. On the east coast, I'd call David Bromberg in Delaware (yes, *that* David Bromberg) as he's now a dealer in violins. In Chicago, the Chicago School of Violin Making will have referrals, as will North Bennet Street School in Boston.

There are *so* many good violins out there (and so many crackerboxes) that a knowledgeable and trustworthy dealer will do you right.

about two weeks ago
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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

outlander Re:What's in a name? (469 comments)

Stradivari means "toll collector." IJS.....

about two weeks ago
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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

outlander Re:Time to add another layer of BS indirection: (469 comments)

Sample size being what it is, this isn't really a surprise. In the lutherie world, tests like these get conducted on a relatively regular basis to determine whether or not the qualities attributed to old master violins are replicable by newer makers. In general, the tests (often conducted under the aegis of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) or Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA)) have tended to validate the claim that many modern builders - Paul Schuback, Joseph Curtin, Michael Darnton, Scott Cao, many others - are doing work that matches (or exceeds) the performance of Old Master violins.

Keep in mind that what we think of as a modern violin is emphatically NOT what the old masters built. Really. They generally made baroque violins, with lower bridges, shorter fingerboards made of maple or other fruitwood, much flatter neck angles, and lower tuning (where A could be as low as 405 to 415 Hz, vs 440 for modern instruments). Over the years, any old master violin which is being played regularly has had its neck reset to a steeper pitch, its fingerboard replaced with a longer ebony board, a much taller and thinner bridge, sometimes a new tailpiece, sometimes even a new scroll. Many times, the top has been regraduated to lighten it in an attempt to reduce mass and increase brilliance. Bass bars are routinely replaced.....some well-known Strads have fifteen to twenty chalk-fitted area patches to repair damage caused by wear, accident, or worm, and at least one has had the entire top thinned to .5mm and new spruce chalk-fitted to structurally rebuild the instrument. (See GAL Red Books; lots of articles on this topic). So the instruments are NOT what the old masters built - they've been hotrodded to suit the needs of players. Baroque violins sound beautiful (listen to Ars Musica ensemble for great examples) but lack volume and power and sustain.....and hotrodded violins have all of these qualities in spades.

What remains of the original violin after hotrodding? Well, for a lot of Strads/Guarneris/Amatis and the like, it's the arching of the top and back, and the general design of the body The patterns of arching and the shapes and outlines have been studied for over two hundred years by violin makers, and has accelerated dramatically with the advent of computing power whch can measure resonance patterns (laser interferometry. for example, and 3D scanning, and materials analysis) and there are extraordinarily accurate plans readily available for interpretation by skilled modern builders. Since, in general, the violin lutherie world is chiefly an apprenticeship system, notwithstanding a few excellent schools, builders learn their craft at the feet of great design and often with strict but excellent teachers.

The implication is that the art of violin making has continued to evolve, with greater access to the science behind the instrument as much as great manual skill to actually do the work of construction. Modern builders don't have and generally don't need magic varnishes or magic wood; they have good materials - and in fact a wider choice of materials than ever before, deforestation notwithstanding - and great skill in working with it to create superlative instruments. And honestly, while old master instruments are nice, I'll take a new, slightly 'tight' violin, and play it in until it loosens up; it costs less, is less to risk, and listeners can not distinguish between it and the ancient instrument. And I'll be delighted to be able to interact with the person that made it, and give feedback to help make the next ones even better.

Oh, and the whole magic varnish theories of people like Nagyvary are nonsense. Construction is more of a determinant than finish....think about it. Which determines structure, the construction, or the extremely thin finish layer? Yes, ash varnishes are beautiful, and salt-of-gems varnishes are beautiful, but they don't necessarily exhibit the visual properties (chiefly dichroism and clarity) of old master instruments.

about two weeks ago
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South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards

outlander Re:How is presenting all theories a problem? (665 comments)

evolution != abiogenesis

evolution is the change in allelles observable over generations.
abiogenesis is the study of the origins of life.

Please quite using that tired strawman argument.

thanks

about 2 months ago
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South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards

outlander Re:Which Creation? (665 comments)

It's tortoises all the way down :)

about 2 months ago
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Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found

outlander Re:It's the devil (108 comments)

He wouldn't have done it via image. He'd have kicked 'em, and used [puppet | chef | salt ] to customize the configs.

about 2 months ago
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Dyson Invests £5 Million To Create 'Intelligent Domestic Robots'

outlander Re:dyson (125 comments)

They have to have better aesthetic values than Rosie on the Jetsons.....

about 2 months ago
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Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

outlander Re:Good (544 comments)

Actually, yes. I was raised in a mainline Protestant denomination - not Baptist - and the items cited in the prior post were all part of the ideology, even if they were soft-pedaled because some of them weren't acceptable even then.

It's a morass of contradictions and Bronze Age rank superstition, with no saving grace but the poetry in some Old Testament books.

about 3 months ago
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Bletchley Park's Bitter Dispute Over Its Future

outlander Re:History is historic (99 comments)

Exactly. The second world war was won, in large part, by the efforts of Bletchley Park (and its cognates elsewhere in the world).

It is a terribly important historical site. The copy of Colossus there is a major milestone in the history of computing.

about 3 months ago
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Bletchley Park's Bitter Dispute Over Its Future

outlander Re:History is historic (99 comments)

Having been there in 2012, I agree. It's wonderful as is, and is an excellent monument to human ingenuity. And the volunteers are spectacular.

about 3 months ago
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Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

outlander Re:but it didn't remove the option. (130 comments)

Me too. I've not had to do a serious job hunt for a long time; technical people of a certain level are in relative demand compared to other skillsets.

The practice of poaching employees to acquire needed skillsets, and employees benefitting from higher salaries as a result of this competition, is an old and honorable practice in the tech industry. This is an attempt to undermine competition and so the libertarians here should be cheering for the plaintiffs to win....anything else is inconsistent with a free-market worldview.

Of course, I'd argue that anyone with a basic sense of fairness should think so, too.

about 3 months ago
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Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

outlander Re:Collusion, in tech? (130 comments)

It's intended to keep salaries down, no mistake, and that's probably first among the reasons for it.
'Workplace stability' is a polite term for 'OMG we don't manage our staff well enough to have some redundancy and we allow ourselves to let people to become SPOFs' - and the average nontechnical corporate manager's response to this is to resort to underhanded means to retain staff and keep costs down.
There's nothing about this that actually benefits the worker.

about 3 months ago
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What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

outlander Re:$11,530.54 (804 comments)

Less about aesthetics perhaps than about the efficiencies gained by vertically integrated design.

Apple doesn't have to adapt to standards like interfaces and bus strips which affect the DIY market, so they can design a product which reduces overall size. The cost, unfortunately, is compatibility with anything outside the Apple world; the upside is a smaller package, which is important in some cases.

about 4 months ago
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What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

outlander Re:Obvious Question (804 comments)

Remember that the goals wasn't just comparable performance, but comparable form factor. If the form factor constraint is lifted, it's much simpler. But at the 2x-the-size-of-the-Mac-Pro form factor, it was difficult to match the spec adequately. The small form factor of the Mac Pro is nice, but it's really the only differentiator - it's quite possible to build a comparable machine from off-the-shelf parts if size isn't an issue.

(And I don't say this as an Apple or Windows or Linux enthusiast, but as someone who uses whatever box I happen to have and who deals with the frustrations inherent in all OSes - after all, they're tools to an end, not an end in and of themselves).

about 4 months ago
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Republican Proposal Puts 'National Interest' Requirement On US Science Agency

outlander Re:Knowledge is Power (382 comments)

Give me a grant and I'll get right on that arc reactor project....

about 5 months ago
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Republican Proposal Puts 'National Interest' Requirement On US Science Agency

outlander Re:Come again ? (382 comments)

I don't mean to make light of your experience, but I did the same in the late 1970s/early 1980s. I worked several jobs to put myself through a reasonably well-respected northeastern university, and got through 2 bachelors' degrees and a master's in just under six years.

And while I got a great education, and graduated very near the top of my class (top 1%), I'd have learned more, better, faster, in a model where studying was the chief obligation, not keeping myself housed, fed, and clothed by working many jobs. There's a reason why some cultures which value education have tended to give their students and scholar candidates the opportunity to nearly exclusively focus on their studies - in the near term, the return is highly variable, but in the longer term, the return from better-trained students is far higher.

Yes, there'll be people who abuse the system. That *always* happens. But that doesn't invalidate the value of better-educated students who can actually spend time *learning,* not constantly cramming to pass a class to acquire a credential. Look at what happened after the GI Bill - we had a high percentage of reasonably-well-educated people, who had gone to college in a wya that didn't give them a free ride but also didn't make their lives the grind that your life - and mine - was during their college years. The education afforded those people brought tremendous technological advances in every field from medicine to engineering to physics.

I would like to hope that the US, as a nation, finds it in its national interest to provide not merely incentives, but reasonable paths including publicly funded loans and grants, to educate its citizens. At the end of the day, an educated population benefits everyone.

about 5 months ago
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Experian Sold Social Security Numbers To ID Theft Service

outlander Re:And, who has the Obamacare ID validation contra (390 comments)

Actually, it was the GOP who initially dubbed PPACA "Obamacare."

While the term "Obamacare" reads as disparaging the paln to certain parts of the GOP base, the use of the term may prove detrimental to the GOP in future, if it works. Given that MA enacted the same general plan as "Romneycare" based on Heritage Foundation ideas, and that it's generally worked OK in MA, the association of (the potential success of) individual-mandate private healthcare with the Democrats means the GOP threw away a mimetic advantage. If they'd called it "Romneycare Redux" or something like that - which is to say, associated it with its initial instantiation - they'd have kept a connection to the GOP.

I'm not too concerned about it. While it's not perfect, it's not godawful, either, and I'm curious to see how it'll play out. I'm hoping it does, not out of ideology, but because I know too many people who have been wiped out by medical costs when insurance dropped 'em -

about 6 months ago

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