Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adventures in violin rescue, part three: violin tasting

"Gallagher's Frolics" (traditional Irish), performed on two violins

#1) 1840 C. F. Hartmann, Nazareth, PA.  The label says "1840, Nazareth, PA," but underneath the top it is signed and dated 1820, which is apparently the year Hartmann was born--somewhere around Neukirchen in Saxony.  This could be the first violin Hartmann made in America.

#2) c.1800 anonymous Saxon violin.  I'm still getting the intonation dialed in on this fiddle, so try to ignore that...It's an odd thing, because violins are not all that different, but it takes more than a week to get used to a new one after 28 years on the old one. 

This is a bit of an experiment, comparing these two violins.  I'm not sure the audio recording quality delivers the sound of these instruments, but the difference for me is how easy it is to play #2, and how everything is more connected with a fuller tone.  More sweetness in the high end in #2, as well (compare :22-40 and 1:06-24).  Can you hear the ringing sound at the very end?  Violins all do this to some degree--the strings act as spring reverberation devices when they aren't being played and their harmonics "ring" when they coincide with the harmonics of the note you're playing.  These "chords" are especially lovely in the sound of violin #2, kind-of intoxicating when the instrument is under your ear...