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Warm vs Bright definition
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GregW
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July 28, 2019 - 3:23 pm
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The terms warm and bright seem vague to me without a standard when we are discussing strings and violins...

I was wondering would you consider this warm or bright?

 

And how about this?

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cid
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July 28, 2019 - 4:50 pm
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I can’t tell with these two videos. To me, warm has more of what, I guess, are referred to as undertones? To me the warm sound is fuller, deeper, richer. I think bright is crisper. I think the individual notes come through more on a bright violin, viola or cello. I think it would be like comparing a classical guitar with nylon strings and an acoustic with steel strings. One is warm, the classical, and the acoustic with steel strings is brighter and more vibrant? Probably a bad analogy, but that is what I think of as warm and bright.

Maybe think of Obligato strings (warm, muddled, not crisp) to Spirocore (bright, sharper, more defined notes)? 

Not sure if that helps. I tend to lean towards warm and neither video, to my ears, sounds exactly warm. Some parts of each come out less bright, but I can’t specifically say one is bright and the other is warm. Sorry, probably not much help.

I tried searching for one video that compared a warm and bright violin side by side, but could not find one. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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July 28, 2019 - 8:27 pm
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They both sound bright to me; the first one is extremely bright and the second is brighter than average. It's not always easy to tell, because it's not just the violin and strings. I'm used to hearing vibrato, which makes any instrument sound warmer. Also, bow contact point: playing closer to the bridge produces a brighter sound (up to a certain point) and closer to the fingerboard produces a warmer sound.

This is what I would consider a very warm-sounding violin. As I mentioned before, it's not always easy to compare because of vibrato, but here there's a lot of depth even in the faster notes that are played without vibrato.

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AndrewH
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July 28, 2019 - 8:35 pm
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I think of bright as focused and penetrating ("crisp" is also a good word for it), and warm/dark as rounder and deeper.

One thought on how to understand bright vs warm: try singing at a constant pitch and you'll hear some vowel sounds as brighter or warmer than others. E and I sounds tend to be bright, focused, and penetrating; O and U sounds tend to be warm and dark.

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GregW
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July 28, 2019 - 9:32 pm
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@AndrewH and @cid thanks.   At times all three sound bright and warm and are great examples of 3 styles to me.  The vowel sound example was good Andrew.  It's kinda funny how that works.  I think I leaned more toward the first being slightly more warm than the 2nd.  But I suppose its really comparing the recordings since they all probably had different mic setups.  Anyway..just curious how you guys heard things compared to me.  Those 2 channels come through my youtube subscriptions and I really liked them.  Thought it would be fun to compare notes..mmm no pun intended.

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cid
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@GregW Good pun! I actually got it!

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Fiddlerman
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July 29, 2019 - 9:26 am
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For me, a warm sound is closer to a dark sound. Warm is a tough one to describe IMAO.

I make more comparisons between dark and bright.

Let's say you take one recording of a solo violin (Could be anything really) and you play it through your stereo system. If your stereo system has a tone control you would simply turn up the low for a darker sound.
On a typical amplifier you would perhaps turn up the low and reduce the high for a dark sound and do the opposite for a bright sound.

So this way you have the same instrument, same pitches, same performance, same instrument, sounding brighter or darker depending on settings, more trebly or basier, if that is even a word. LOL

When finding an instrument you need to focus on what you like to hear or what you need to project over others that you will be playing with. When I played as a concertmaster, soloist, or section leader, I was always wanting to sound over others when necessary without using too much force and wanted a brighter violin. When I play solo with no accompaniment, I lean towards darker instruments.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 10:09 am
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@fiddlerman I was kind of thinking maybe that's what the consensus was (is) on the warm vs bright discussion.  I know when I think warm or dark I'm thinking more d and g string (1st position stuff) bright is on up the scale.  I don't think I have ever heard or read anyone say they wanted a bright set of strings or a bright violin.  So it made me question the bright/warm thing.  I usually have found ( at least across forums) people seem to want a warm sound, me as well ( under the bass/treble kind of thinking).    I think its a love hate with the violin.  It's natural state is to be bright I feel but we are always looking for ways to warm it up whether through playing or hardware..  Poor fiddle.. 🙂  I can't seem to best describe the sound I like when I play you..I just know when I hear it and it gives me a warm happy feeling and usually happens when I'm not on the e string.  🙂

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Fiddlerman
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July 29, 2019 - 10:31 am
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Exactly. However, there are different types of bright sounds. We have expensive violins that have a desirable bright sound as well. Many local symphony musicians like that.
Clear and bright, pure bright but not unpleasantly bright or even metallic sounding. It's really tough to describe sound. I think it's way easier to hear it and like, or dislike but not know why. LOL

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 10:59 am
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@fiddlerman  gotcha.  The metallic part makes sense.  I hear a sound that can be described as that sometimes..ok a lot when I play and its not something I like.  It takes concentrating to not make it.  Which slows me down.  You know...hey its an e an open e..yay I can play that...screeeetch.  It is very rewarding though to know ahead of time where those parts are and be able to get a good sound.  I think that is part of the enjoyment.  Finally getting a tune somewhere close to what you heard a favorite player or recording sound like.

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Fiddlerman
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July 29, 2019 - 11:41 am
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Also, check that you are not playing too close to the bridge. Sometimes people play ponticello non-intentionally. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 11:47 am
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Yes sir!  Will do.  facepalm so many variables.  smile

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BillyG
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July 29, 2019 - 12:08 pm
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🙂 Happy as ever to add to the general confusion !   ROFL

I'm currently messing with some home-made software, which uses, as input, a file of audio-spectrum data, exported from the Audacity application.

Long story short - what kicked this off was the opportunity to try a cable tailpiece fabricated by our fellow collaborator, @Irv   

The *original* reason for doing this started because I was investigating the use of the D'Addario Octave strings - which - for those unfamiliar - are "normal sized 4/4 violin strings" but play a full octave down.  They are thicker and generally heavier strings - but a lot does depend on their construction - but that's another story as well.

I absolutely agree with the comments above from @GregW and @Fiddlerman - when listening to playback, it is all about how YOU choose to set your EQ.

The "natural" and "un-equalized" sound from the violin will depend on a whole host of things - the violin body resonances, the string types, the bow/rosin, the location of playing (close to bridge, close to end of fingerboard), bowing weight and speed.  Not to mention the tailpiece and other structural components.

Soooo..... being a curious sort of chap (no comments please 🙂 ) - I embarked on writing this little software program.

It analyses the audio spectrum extracted from Audacity for a single tone at a time, and identifes the harmonic components, and their levels, up to the 25th harmonic.

[ 25th harmonic????  yes, that's from the "slip" ( in the grip-and-slip action of the bow hair over the string, creating something like a sawtooth wave form (just "something like) ]  Even at the 25th harmonic, the level is still above the noise-floor and is, in some way, although minor, contributing to the tonal quality of the sound we perceive.

Here's a couple of plots from one of the tests I've done - the first is the Octave D string (D3,

as distinct from the "normal" D4) on a standard tailpiece.  The second is the same string on @Irv 's cable tailpiece.  They are quite different and sound different - the original (normal) tailpiece has a lot more presence of the lower harmonics, and ( I don't really use these terms myself ) if I had to - it is "warmer / darker"  The cable tailpiece makes the string sound "brighter/crisper"

There is more to come, over time, on this little project - just thought I'd throw this in - you can see form the fitted curve to the harmonic peaks, that sure, using equalization on your listening device, you could easily "lift" the area of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th on the cable tailpiece and make it sound more like the normal - and - of course - vice-versa - you could drop the EQ in the same range on the original tailpiece, and make it "brighter", giving more presence to the higher harmonics.

As I say - more to come on this....

[ The leftmost point on the spline-curve is the fundamental - NORMALLY the fundamental would be one of the most present in the spectrum - and here - it looks REALLY REALLY low - and it's correct - but don't forget - this is an OCTAVE string set - and it is D3, not D4 - and it's frequency (around 145Hz give or take) is below the natural response of the 4/4 violin body.  It is even worse for the low G2 - a fact attested to by the fact that when playing the low G2, most of the energy goes into rattling your teeth, and not vibrating the air volume withing the violin ]

 OT-D3-Spline-2.JPGImage EnlargerIT-D3-Spline-1.JPGImage Enlarger

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 12:26 pm
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@Billyg I would have thought by looking at the graphs that Irvs tailpiece would be the warmer of the two since there doesn't seem to be as many higher frequency spikes.  I mean they are still there and there isn't as much amplitude in the lower frequency range, but just LOOKING at the graph I would have guessed the bottom graph more on the warm side.  Presonus has a heat map sort of display Ive played around with trying to analyze strings.  Michael uses something similar on the fiddlershop videos.   I think for my satisfaction in what I was seeing in my in home experiment I would want to try and secure the fiddle in a stationary spot in relation to the microphone.  Thinking some sort of pedlestel .  but then I thought there would be no way I could get the exact same pressure and speed on the bow without some type of robot arm..although my playing can be robotic..   Interesting @Billyg ! ...I love it! laugh

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BillyG
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July 29, 2019 - 1:12 pm
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🙂 LOL @GregW - appreciate the feedback !

Yeah - I understand exactly what / why you say that.

Now - I'm not arguing with you here - not at all.

And, as I say - I have a REAL issue using the terms warm/dark - bright/crisp/brilliant and so on...

I intended to include the audio clips, but I've accidentally deleted them (oh and pics of the cable tailpiece) - I can get them back easily and post it later - and of course I was talking about how I perceived the sound.

What I *suspect* is happening here (on these specific strings, and at the relatively low frequencies we're talking about here - even the 10th harmonic is only 1450Hz (!!!) - in that "sweet spot area" for our auditory processes - we have, with the original tailpiece a whole heap of high-contributing components to the "low-frequency-side of things".  That is quite unlike say the 10th harmonic component of the top E5 on a normally strung violin - at 660Hz (or so) - the 10th is 6600Hz - beginning to get into the area of perception drop-off (which, as I understand it, declines from somewhere around there - a separate thing from the "maximum frequency we can hear which diminishes with age" thing)  So what I - and as I say *suspect* - is happening here is that the original tailpiece ( AT THAT FREQUENCY ) happens to be contributing to a more complex, and richer, and if I have to use the word, warmer, sound profile, compared to the cable tailpiece, which - appears to me - to have much more of a harmonic response curve we would get from a plain-old-saw-tooth - an almost clean harmonic fall off - with no specific higher-ampilude weighting on the lower harmonics - here's a "perfect" ( haha - almost ) sawtooth specturm (you'll be well aware of this no doubt) = and - it sounds like a chainsaw - like too darned over-bright...  LOL - 

saw-145.JPGImage Enlarger

If we set the EQ we used to "make the original tailpiece string-sound" on the cable tailpiece audio playback we would be left with little but the fundamental and second, maybe 3rd harmonic - not far away from a sine wave - which is ( to me ) - well - just uninteresting to listen to - and for sure - not something I could class as "warm/dark" - to me - it just sounds much like a "pure-tone" ( sine wave )...  

I find ( and it's personal to me - not a generalization ) that higher frequencies are more often than not, unsettling (when soloed).  To me, they are uncomfortable on their own  With clever playing (vibrato etc) I find I can tolerate it, and once there are multiple instruments, with the lower frequencies heavily present - the top-end violin sounds become almost angelic !!!

What an instrument !!!

Oh - talking of the "robot arm" - well - something similar - but thinking of a different approach - going to experiment with a swept frequency, output through an amp, and recorded as the "noise profile".   Then, with a violin (strung and fully tensioned strings, but with the strings dampened by rubber bands etc) right infront of the speaker, record THAT.  Subtract the two - and you may have a "poor-man's" picture of the violin body response curve....  Dunno for sure, but it's in my mind....  Might need to construct a small home-made anechoic chamber to enclose the experiment...  but that's for later, if ever...  🙂

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 1:26 pm
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@Billyg  haha yes the experiment could become like herding cats where controlling varibles is concerned.  I hear yah!  Lol.  And by the way..I wasnt disputing findings I was noting that just me looking at graphs initially what I thought.  

I find ( and it's personal to me - not a generalization ) that higher frequencies are more often than not, unsettling (when soloed).  To me, they are uncomfortable on their own  With clever playing (vibrato etc) I find I can tolerate it, and once there are multiple instruments, with the lower frequencies heavily present - the top-end violin sounds become almost angelic !!!

YES!  the best jams to my ears are when there is an upright bass player.  It just pulls everything together and..warms it up.. Probably helps timing for everyone and smooths out some of the fiddles highs.

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BillyG
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July 29, 2019 - 2:16 pm
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LOL @GregW - yeah I know you weren't disputing findings - I've made claims, and design decisions over the years that have been less than perfect - and sometimes just plain wrong - it often takes feedback from others to reach the truth of the matter!  I appreciate your words !

We should never hesitate to question things, they are rarely as simple or straightforward as they may at first appear...

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AndrewH
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July 29, 2019 - 8:43 pm
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I don't think it's nearly as simple as lower vs. higher harmonics being stronger. I worked with FFT and violin acoustics when I was in college (a long time ago, so I don't remember all the details) and I recall that even numbered and odd numbered harmonics have distinctly different effects. There's a sort of sweet spot for the relative strengths of the even and odd numbered harmonics: if the odd numbered harmonics are too strong the timbre becomes strident, which we perceive as "bright," and if even numbered harmonics are too strong the timbre loses complexity and becomes more focused, which we also perceive as "bright" but somewhat differently. Phase also matters: the sound seems brightest to me when all the harmonics are in phase with one another.

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GregW
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July 29, 2019 - 11:35 pm
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"Phase also matters: the sound seems brightest to me when all the harmonics are in phase with one another."

@AndrewH it seems like that would definitely be a projection gain.  How did you know they were all in phase?  Is this something you hear now or was it in the course you were discussing?   I wonder how thickness of the top and bridge play into it.  Does a composite tailpiece vs a wood tailpiece make a difference and in which direction.

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BillyG
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July 30, 2019 - 2:22 am
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Interesting point @AndrewH - I was (in that specific sense) unaware of the possible effect of the even/odd harmonic weightings - although of course aware that, for example, the removal/attenuation of all even harmonics will indeed change the overall waveform to more of a square-wave - and perhaps that's what is happening?  Anyway that's something else for me to investigate and consider !   

The phase relationship is also something that intrigues me - not so much from the point of view of the test images posted above where the sound is a single tone and in its mathematical deconstruction by the FFT into the frequency domain, as I understand it, the harmonics are by definition, in phase (and have to be)

However, when it comes to more than one instrument playing "exactly" ( ! )  the same note or a related harmonic, the sounds from the instruments are (assuming we're talking real instruments, and not synth) in all sorts of phase relationships to each other, as well as having slight variations in frequency from each other (just because we're human).  

Ahhhh... right... perhaps I see better now, what Andrew is getting at - OK - back off a bit...  Let's separate the test I have done from "real life".   In my test, all other strings were dampened and not playing their usual part in the overall sound produced.  I was trying to isolate, as far as possible, the effects of the different tailpieces on the sound produced. [And also as another part of the same test, attempting to measure the response time of the heavier octave strings with both the standard (around 13g) tailpiece, and the ultra-light (3g or so) cable tailpiece..  but that's another story].  In real life, there would indeed be sympathetic string resonances going on, as well as natural body resonances (although, with this low D3, not a lot of those on a 4/4 fiddle).  Yes, I can see how in that scenario these different harmonic sources, even from a single instrument, could potentially vary in phase....  OK, maybe that's what was being referred to ?

 

  

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