Claudia Fritz


    Chargée de recherche CNRS
    en acoustique musicale

Research: More investigation about Strads & New Violins

Follow-up to 'Preferences among old and new violins', aka the Paris experiment:

One of the main criticisms to the previous study was that it took place in a hotel room. Though this was a deliberate choice (see our answer in the FAQ here), we decided to address this issue, as well as other limitations, in a follow-up experiment, which took place around Paris in September 2012. The experiment involved 6 Old Italians (including 5 Stradivari) and 6 new instruments, and was divided in 3 rounds:

  • 10 soloists from around the world evaluated the 12 violins in a small rehearsal room
  • The same players evaluated the 12 violins in an auditorium, renowned for its acoustics (Coeur de Ville in Vincennes), with the possibility of a piano accompaniment
  • The instruments were then played by the soloists with orchestral accompaniment, in that same auditorium, and were evaluated by an audience of about 50 people, composed of makers, musicians, audiophiles, critics, ...

The original scientific team - Claudia Fritz, Joseph Curtin, Jacques Poitevineau and Fan Tao - was expanded with the participation of the soloist Hugues Borsarello, the violin dealer and player Thierry Ghasarossian, and various researchers from LAM - Indiana Wollman, Laurent Quartier, Benoît Fabre - as well as David Griesinger. In addition, this experiment could not have been organised without the precious help of Philip Delacroix from Prima La Musica who kindly lent us the auditorium and Stéphane Agasse the stage manager; the orchestra from Sorbonne Universités (COSU), its conductor Vincent Barthe and its managers Agnès Puissilieux and Lucie Paladino; all the players, dealers and makers who nicely loaned us an amazing range of new and old violins (around 25 violins in total!); the Borsarello family and their warm hospitality in their Montgeron 'palace'; Stefan Avalos and Suzan ... and of course the soloist participants - Olivier Charlier, Pierre Fouchenneret, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, Ilya Kaler, Tatsuki Narita, Marie-Annick Nicolas Elmar Oliveira, Solenne Paidassi, Annick Roussin, Giora Schmidt, and Stéphane Tran Ngoc - as well as the large audience (who came from around France and England).

The first paper, dealing with the soloist evaluations, is now out! Published in PNAS in April 2014, it is downloadable here: 'Soloist evaluations of six Old Italian and six new violins'.

Two other papers will follow, one on projection and listener evaluations, and one on some correlations between the perceptual evaluations and acoustical measurements.

The experiment has been nicely documented by Stefan Avalos:

The experiment has of course attracted a lot of media attention. Below is a non exhaustive press review:

1. At the time of the experiment (September 2012).

  1. In the press

    1. On TV

    2. At the time the scientific paper was published online by PNAS (April - May 2014)

    1. In the press

      1. On radio and TV