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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: The elusive “absolute tone”.
Post Subject: Re: More about the “absolute tone”.Posted by morricab on: 8/30/2005

nexium

nexium

Don't confuse between live music and recorded music.  I never speak of "correct tone" with regard to live music or real instruments.  A Strad sounds like a strad and a POS violin sounds like a POS violin.  Both tones are "corrrect" for that particular instrument (provided they are played with some skill).  In both cases we are hearing what I think you are refering to as "absolute" tone.

When I say correct tone, I mean that if there is a recording of a strad violin (preferrably one I made Smile ) then that recording will only sound "correct" if it still sounds like a strad violin and not some generic version of a violin.  This is what I mean by correct tone, the correct replication of the recording.  Now if the recording is bad then correct tone may not be absolute tone because perhaps for that recording, absolute tone is not achievable.

A good example of your other points:

A friend of mine came over the other day who loves music and hifi but has limited exposure to real live music.  My girlfriend was kind enough to play a bit of some Paganini Caprices (numbers 1, 5, and 24) on the Stradivarius (yes a real one from 1716) she is playing now (on loan for the year) to entertain us.  He had never ever heard a violin up close before (she very near us say 2 meters) and was quite impressed with both the amazing tone of the instrument and the acoustic power.  She also had on hand a cheap and nasty modern violin that she was to give to a student for learning violin.  The difference was immediate and stark in contrast.  My friend literally gasped at how bad the modern cheap violin sounded.  I too was shocked, being now conditioned to hearing only the finest instruments.  Its no wonder many people find the violin unpleasant!  So with no conditioning the sound is as the sound is and the difference takes only seconds to perceive. 

We then proceeded to listen to the sound that different bows make when playing the same violin (the Strad of course)!!  It sounds almost like the argument do cables make a difference in the sound, no?  Well, the bow makes a big difference in the character of the violin and that was a second shock to us!  Of course my girlfriend already knew this and was pleased that we could hear this difference.  She said that one would be more suitable for a small chamber concert (it had a softer warmer sound) and the other more suitable for a concerto in a big hall (where the hall itself warms up the sound and maximum projection of sound is necessary). 

In a way the Strad could be likened to a set of very sensitive and highly resolving loudspeakers.  Every nuance in technique and equipment is unveiled.  The cheap violin reveals nothing but its own vile character regardless of bow or technique.

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