Baroque to modern violins
Sound file appendix for the doctoral thesis of John McLennan, investigating the changes produced when a baroque violin is converted to a modern instrument and/or played with different bows, strings and configurations. The thesis is available on line: The violin: music acoustics from baroque to romantic (34 Mbyte). For a comparison of sounds with different position of soundpost, see The Effect of the Soundpost on Violin Sound.
The photo above shows a modern (left) and a baroque style violin made by John McLennan. The modern violin pictured is not that heard in the files below. Rather, the violin shown here in its baroque state was and later became all of the violins heard in the following files.
Four anonymous players (A-D), proficient in both original instrument and modern performance styles, recorded sound samples at various different stages on the evolution from baroque to modern, with a range of different configurations described in detail in the thesis.
In most browsers, clicking on a sound file will open a new window. To compare files, you may find it convenient to shrink the two new browser windows and to position them and to align the cursors vertically, as shown in this screen shot. This facilitates comparison of individual notes and phrases.
The effect of the baroque vs romantic violin @ 415 and baroque vs modern bow, gut strings (Player B)
romantic violin has a longer, heavier neck and fingerboard, at a new angle. It has a bass bar and the top plate has been retuned to adjust to this. It has a taller bridge with a different shape. However, in this comparison, it has the same strings and is played in a representative baroque pitch.
| Bassano baroque violin, baroque bow
|| Bassano, romantic violin, baroque bow
| Bassano, baroque violin, modern bow
|| Bassano, romantic violin, modern bow
The effect of the bass bar
|Player A, baroque violin @ 415, no bass bar
||Player A, baroque violin @ 415, with bass bar
| Bach partita
|| Bach partita
The effect of bridge position and baroque vs modern bow
Some paintings from the period, by artists famed for their accuracy, show the bridge positioned
below the f holes, rather than at the f hole notches, as is standard today. These files compare these configurations.
|Player B, baroque violin @ 415, bridge at standard position
||Player B, baroque violin @ 415, bridge below the f holes
| Bassano, baroque bow
|| Bassano, baroque bow
| Bassano, short baroque bow
| Rossini, baroque bow
||Rossini, baroque bow
| Rossini, modern bow
||Rossini, modern bow
The effect of baroque vs modern bow on a baroque violin (gut strings)
The shaft of the baroque bow bends away from the strings, whereas the modern bow bends towards it. This and the following sets of files allow comparisons on baroque and romantic instruments.
|Player B, C or D, baroque violin @ 415, baroque bow
||Player B, C or D, baroque violin@ 415, modern bow
| (B) Bassano, baroque bow
|| (B) Bassano, modern bow
| (C) Handel, baroque bow
|| (C) Handel, modern bow
| (B) Rossini, baroque bow
|| (B) Rossini, modern bow
| (D) Telemann, baroque bow
|| (D) Telemann, modern bow
The effect of baroque vs modern bow on a romantic violin, gut strings
|Player C or D, romantic violin @ 440, baroque bow, gut strings
||Player C or D, romantic violin @ 440, modern bow, gut strings
| (C) Bach, baroque bow
|| (C) Bach, modern bow
| (C) Bruch, baroque bow
|| (C) Bruch, modern bow
| (D) Bach2, baroque bow
|| (D) Bach2, modern bow
| (D) Sarasate, baroque bow
|| (D) Sarasate, modern bow
The effect of a shoulder rest and baroque vs modern bow on baroque violin @ 415, gut strings
The shoulder rest and chin rest permit and encourage different ways of holding the instrument and different playing gestures. They also modify the low frequency resonances of the instrument. This and the next set of files allow comparisons.
| (C) Handel, baroque bow, no shoulder rest
|| (C) Handel, modern bow, no shoulder rest
| (C) Handel, baroque bow, with shoulder rest
|| (C) Handel, modern bow, with shoulder rest
The effect of a chin rest on romantic violin @ 415, modern bow, gut strings
| (B) Bassano, romantic violin, no chin rest
|| (B) Bassano, romantic violin, with chin rest
Position of soundpost.
For sound files and analysis, see The Effect of the Soundpost on Violin Sound
John McLennan / firstname.lastname@example.org
More violin publications by John McLennan
Violin Acoustics at UNSW