Claudia Fritz: Stradivarius – Myth or Reality?

When: Wednesday 22nd February, 2017 @ 5:10 PM

Where: Room 4.31/4.33, Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh

Seminar Title

Stradivarius – Myth or Reality?

Seminar Speaker

Claudia Fritz (Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS)

Seminar Abstract

Old Italian violins from the 18th century are so famous that Stradivarius has entered common language. Who has never heard of this Cremonese violin maker, and the astronomical prices reached by his instruments at widely broadcast auctions? Players are loquacious about their amazing qualities and consider that the superiority of many of these instruments remains unrivalled. However, numerous blind listening tests since the beginning of the 20th century have shown a preference for new violins. These tests have been criticised for being too informal, not rigorous enough, and in listening rather than playing conditions. After all, who can judge the instruments better than the players themselves? Scientific studies involving blind playing tests were thus conducted. The aim was to explore whether, when the identity of the violins was not revealed, old violins were still preferred and could be distinguished from their new counterparts. The results speak for themselves …

In addition, some correlations between perceptual evaluations and acoustical measurements as well as future developments using motion capture and bridges instrumented with piezoelectric sensors will be briefly presented.

Speaker Bio

After a PhD in cotutelle between France and Australia, and a post-doc at the University of Cambridge (UK), Claudia Fritz has been a CNRS-researcher at Institut Jean le Rond d’Alembert, at University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, since 2009. Her main research interest is to correlate the mechanical properties of musical (bowed string) instruments with their perceptual properties, as evaluated by players and listeners. This involves all kinds of perceptual tests, as well as physical measurements to characterise the interaction of the players with their instruments (for instance speed, movement and force of the bow relative to the instrument) and vibro-acoustical measurements to characterise the response of the instruments that are studied. She was awarded the prestigious Bronze medal from her employer (CNRS) in 2016 for her recent work consisting in double-blind studies involving new and old Italian violins, which had gained widespread international attention.