Sunday, July 22, 2018

Triumph of Technology: Violins, Debra Wilson (Monday Musings 54)

Technology and Violin
As a video gamer, of course I love technology, despite guilt that only privileged few can enjoy its benefits. My adoration of technology comes down to the fact that it saved my life. Indeed, if I were born during the Stone Ages, I probably won't live past 5 years old due to poor vision and lack of corrective glasses: "Oh, that's a cute domesticated cat, no it's a Tiger!  Aigggh!" followed by Bite, Crunch, R.I.P. 

Despite my guilt over loving technology so much, it was such a triumph that double-blind studies have shown that modern violins have fared as well or better than Stradivarius violins! The priciest modern violin went up to $132,000 (average of the best modern violins appear to be in the $15,000 range), but that pales in comparison to up to $45 million starting bid for a Stradivarius.

Here's the link to the study. These exciting results equalize the playing field for disadvantaged violinists. I can only imagine a Billionaire (most likely not even interested in music, not to mention violins) purchasing a Stradivarius for a mere $15 to $45 million (that is to him), just to show off to his friends.

After doing so, I can see him carelessly tossing it onto a chair. Then, sitting on it, Crunch, R.I.P.! A one-of a kind violin destroyed, when it could've been used by an elite violinist on loan. Billionaires can buy up ALL the Stradivarius violins (excepting, of course, the ones already owned by real violinists and on loan), leading to no availability of these prized instruments.

But due to these incredible findings, not only can modern violins be just as good if not better than a $45 million + one, they are also affordable and available. $15K is not cheap by any means, but it's not too price-gouging if you're a professional violinist.

It made sense to me why a modern violin can outperform a Stradivarius. There are renowned researchers from M.I.T. and other prestigious academic centers, studying and measuring how to make the best violins, in concert (pun intended) with master violin makers and professional violinists input. And these results can be reproduced as they've been quantified.

I'm sure there are skeptics who feel that science can't measure the "soul" of a violin, that there's something unidentifiable about a Strad. Interestingly, it was found that perhaps the "soul" of a violin might be a fungus, as these fungus-infected violins beat out Stradivarius!

Check out this YouTube, the sound quality isn't the best of course. 

The one I chose was a modern violin as I was impressed by the full tone throughout the entire scale. My second favorite was the Stradivarius.

In the end, the audience came down to those two violins that I preferred. The clip commentary noted that the Strad was preferred, followed by the modern.

Click on Spoiler for the violins:

I'm hoping that science will produce more measurements and findings into how to make violins better and better so that anyone can own a cost-effective violin that rivals a Strad!

Debra Wilson
Although I'm gung-ho about science and technology, there's magic about humor that truly can't be measured by science. Is this not the perfect music video parody of Destiny Child's Emotion, demonstrating Debra Wilson's comedic genius? (btw, don't hurt me Beyhive, I'm not a Beyonce fan!).

This is the original:

The How of Happiness Review


  1. I used to play Violin, I royally sucked at it but I was a kid so I don't care. Sadly the one I used to use has warped and aged and sounds like ass now, it was only a cheap offbrand 3/4 size one so I hardly expected it to last, would be too small for me now anyway. I'd love to get a full size one, but we gotta live inside our means after all.

    1. I never played the violin, only piano, but also pretty poorly, but at least it gave me appreciation for music! Indeed, even an inexpensive violin might cost more than a console, they're pricey. I certainly would only buy a violin if it's a major hobby and you're actually going to play it, or your career.

      If I had to chose an instrument again, I would chose a more portable one, so you can play it wherever you want. I'd probably chose the Viola b/c of it's richer tone and portability!


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