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.


screen shot showing two browser windows 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, the symbol on the left will play the sound in the browser. Alternatively, the wav symbol on the right will open the sound file in a new window. If you want to compare files in detail, you may find it convenient to open 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 thoughout the samples.


The effect of the baroque vs romantic violin @ 415 and baroque vs modern bow, gut strings (Player B)

    wav Bassano baroque violin, baroque bow wav Bassano, romantic violin, baroque bow
    wav Bassano, baroque violin, modern bow wav Bassano, romantic violin, modern bow
The 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.

The effect of the bass bar

    Player A, baroque violin @ 415, no bass bar Player A, baroque violin @ 415, with bass bar
    wav Scale wav Scale
    wav Bach partita wav Bach partita
    wav Sibelius wav Sibelius

The effect of bridge position and baroque vs modern bow

    Player B, baroque violin @ 415, bridge at standard position Player B, baroque violin @ 415, bridge below the f holes
    wav Bassano, baroque bow wav Bassano, baroque bow
    wav Bassano, short baroque bow  
    wav Rossini, baroque bow wavRossini, baroque bow
    wav Rossini, modern bow wavRossini, 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.

The effect of baroque vs modern bow on a baroque violin (gut strings)

    Player B, C or D, baroque violin @ 415, baroque bow Player B, C or D, baroque violin@ 415, modern bow
    wav (B) Bassano, baroque bow wav (B) Bassano, modern bow
    wav (C) Handel, baroque bow wav (C) Handel, modern bow
    wav (B) Rossini, baroque bow wav (B) Rossini, modern bow
    wav (D) Telemann, baroque bow wav (D) Telemann, modern bow
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.

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
    wav (C) Bach, baroque bow wav (C) Bach, modern bow
    wav (C) Bruch, baroque bow wav (C) Bruch, modern bow
    wav (D) Bach2, baroque bow wav (D) Bach2, modern bow
    wav (D) Sarasate, baroque bow wav (D) Sarasate, modern bow

The effect of a shoulder rest and baroque vs modern bow on baroque violin @ 415, gut strings

    wav (C) Handel, baroque bow, no shoulder rest wav (C) Handel, modern bow, no shoulder rest
    wav (C) Handel, baroque bow, with shoulder rest wav (C) Handel, modern bow, with shoulder rest
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.

The effect of a chin rest on romantic violin @ 415, modern bow, gut strings

    wav (B) Bassano, romantic violin, no chin rest wav (B) Bassano, romantic violin, with chin rest

Further files.

wavB.R.OpenStrings.wav

wavB.R.Scale.wav

wavB.R.Scale.wav


wavC.R.BrahmsBaroqueBowGutShoulderRest.wav

wav C.R.BrahmsModernBowGutShoulderRest.wav

wav C.R.HandelBaroqueBowGutNoShoulderRestRepeatAfter.wav

wav C.R.HandelModernBowGutNoShoulderRest.wav

wav C.R.OpenStringsBaroqueBowGutA.wav

wav C.R.OpenStringsBaroqueBowGutB.wav

wav C.R.OpenStringsBaroqueBowGutC.wav

wav C.R.scale.wav


wav C.R.BachBaroqueBowGut.wav

wav C.R.BachModernBowGut.wav

wav C.R.BruchBaroqueBowGut.wav

wav C.R.BruchModernBowGut.wav

wav C.R.OpenStringsModernBowGut.wav

wav C.R.OpenStringsModernBowModern.wav


wav D.R.TelemannBaroqueBow.wav

wav D.R.TelemannModernBow.wav

wav D.R.Bach2BaroqueBowGut.wav

wav D.R.Bach2BaroqueBowModern.wav

wav D.R.Bach2ModernBowGut.wav

wav D.R.Bach2ModernBowModern.wav

wav D.R.OpenModernBowGut.wav

wav D.R.OpenModernBowModern.wav

wav D.R.SarasateBaroqueBowGut.wav

wav D.R.SarasateBaroqueBowModern.wav

wav D.R.SarasateModernBowGut.wav

wav D.R.SarasateModernBowModern.wav

wav D.R.scaleModernBowGut.wav

wav D.R.scaleModernBowModern.wav

Position of soundpost. For sound files and analysis, see The Effect of the Soundpost on Violin Sound


Email address

John McLennan / jmcl1597@bigpond.net.au
More violin publications by John McLennan

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