Thursday, August 26, 2004

Stradivarius and the making of genius

Connecting the abstract and the everyday is a challenge. Have started reading Toby Faber's book Stradivarius

Example

The extraordinary thing is the violins that Amati, Stradivarius and others made in 17th & 18th Century Italy have never been equalled, yet alone bettered for sound quality. No computer simulation, no CAD programmes, but we can't get anywhere near them for beauty of sound, or functional excellence.

Example

Antonio Stradivarius was a genius, and he had a thirst for the absoute. A thirst for another world, for truth and beauty - see how the overgrown path connects to the Mystery of the Monks thread above?

In his book Wired Life Charles Jonscher describes how that the world's best computer software cannot derive from a photograph of a room a simple description of its contents; chairs, tables, pets, people. And even when software does manage to acquire this apparantely simple ability...it will still have no idea of the significance of the presence of the objects.

Stradivarius understood the significance of the position of the bass bar and sound post, the shape of the f holes, and the importance of the formulation of the varnish in determining the final sound. Why cannot a computer do the same thing? What was the extra dimension that allowed Stradivarius and his contemoraries in Cremona to achieve the absolute? Surely the question answers itself? If not please put a posting on this blog with details of a computer designed violin that matches the Viotti violin or Davidov cello.

I need to get back to work now. And anyway this is all starting to sound like a Confirmation class again. Let's remember that divine inspiration needs to be matched by physical hard work..

Tis God gives skill, but not without men's hands:
He could not make Antonio Stradivari's violins without Antonio

George Eliot






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