Plate archings and tone - part 2: a question of tone

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Nigel Harris shows how close control of the arching shape of the plates can influence tone

If one plays a chromatic scale on a violin starting on the open G string, the timbre of each note is different. When we talk about the ‘tone’ of a violin, we are referring to some common quality in the timbre of these notes (and feel under the bow), not the variation from note to note. Players might say, for example, that they like the G string but not the A string. It is the quality common to all the notes on a particular string that they are recognising. I have, with assistance, made 272 instruments and developed procedures that enable close control of the plates’ ‘end arch ratio’ (EAR) and auditing its effect on tone. The tone of the G string is dependent on the EAR of the lower bouts, whereas the D string depends on the EAR of the upper and lower bouts; the A string and, to a lesser extent, the E string depend on the upper bouts’ EAR. As the bow moves from the lower to the higher strings, the tonal dependence moves from the lower to the upper bouts…

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