Founding a Family of Fiddles
How good are they really?

All who have worked on the new instruments are aware of the present lack of objective tests on them - aside from musician and audience comments. In the near future we plan to compare comments with adequate tonal analyses and response curves of these present instruments as well as new ones when they are made. The only objective evaluation so far comes from A. H. Benade at Case Institute: "I used my 100-W amplifier to run a tape recorder alternately at 60 and 90 cps while recording a good violin with the machine's gearshift set at the three nominal 1-, 3.5- and 7.5-in/sec speeds. This was done in such a way as to make a tape which, when played back at 3.5 in/sec, would give forth sounds at the pitches of the six smaller instruments in the new violin family (small bass and contrabass excluded). There were some interesting problems about the subjective speed of low- compared with high-pitch playing, but the musician was up to it and we managed to guess reasonably well. The playing was done without vibrato. It is a tribute to everyone involved in the design of those fiddles that they really do sound like their scientifically transposed cousin violin."

But as yet we know only part of why this theory of resonance placement is working so well. Probing deeper into this "why" is one of the challenges that lie ahead. Still unsolved are the problems of the intricate vibrational patterns within each free plate as compared to those in the assembled instrument; the reasons for the effect of moisture and various finishes on the tone of a violin and the possibility of some day being able to write adequate specifications for a fabricated material that will equal the tone qualities of wood!

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