Dulcimer Challenge

John Henry
@john-henry
3 years ago
331 posts

Well put Brian, that is more or less what I intended to say after checking all that had gone before, 'cepting I could'nt find the other thread ! IMO, all you need to do to influence any result is play midway down the fretboard, and then move closer to the nut and play, on as many dulcimers as you chose, the resultant sound will change ,and thus people's perception ?

JohnH

Permalink Reply by Strumelia 1 hour ago

"Maybe we're all just using the same generic debate over and over to cover various situations" point I was trying to make agood time back !!!

Brian G.
@brian-g
3 years ago
95 posts

Who stated they could tell the difference between an hourglass and a teardrop "regardless of other variables"?

If the point is to distinguish between shapes based on sound, then all other variables must be held constant. If they are not, you do not have a test of shape's effect on sound. Period.

You are not testing what you think you are. :)

Ken Hulme said:

Ah, but you see, that has been the brag from several people all along -- regardless of other variables these people claimed they could distinguish an hourglass from a teardrop. So that's how I designed the test. Not a dozen McSpads of different shapes. Not trad vs modern volumes, not VSL. At least once a year someone says "I can tell an hourglass from a teardrop." Can you?

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,701 posts

Maybe we're all just using the same generic debate over and over to cover various situations, JH.

Could be easier that way!


John Henry said:

Well, I'm swearing! 'cos I've got it in my mind all this was argued over quite recently, other than on this particular thread, and for the life of me I can't find it. I am sure that I posted comment on it . Am I losing the thread ?

JohnH




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
phil
@phil
3 years ago
149 posts

my ears are not that good to be able to tell. Best I can do is tell one instrument from anotherGrin.gif

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 years ago
859 posts

But Robin, you could bet, and you'd come out even since you'd be right half the time!

Robin Thompson said:

If I were a betting person, I'd bet against my ability to do so.



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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger
John Henry
@john-henry
3 years ago
331 posts

Well, I'm swearing! 'cos I've got it in my mind all this was argued over quite recently, other than on this particular thread, and for the life of me I can't find it. I am sure that I posted comment on it . Am I losing the thread ?

JohnH

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,701 posts

Some swear you can and some swear you can't.....and some just swear. And now we can't agree on what constitutes a fair and equitable test! Funny!

Randy you got me laughing on this one. Too true!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 years ago
840 posts
If someone else was doing the playing and I was in an audience and had my eyes closed, I likely could tell no difference between an hourglass and a teardrop. If I were a betting person, I'd bet against my ability to do so. Lol! If, though, I were blindfolded and could stand right in front of the player, maybe. . . It'd just be something to try for fun. :)


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 years ago
112 posts

This topic comes up every couple of months and always ends up as a stalemate. Some swear you can and some swear you can't.....and some just swear. And now we can't agree on what constitutes a fair and equitable test! Funny!

I've never weighed in on the subject but have some winter downtime somewhat random thoughts on it.

First off, I don't have a good ear for this type of thing and can't tell the difference between a teardrop and an hourglass.

But of course there are people who can.

A couple of extreme examples who come to mind are Antonio Stradivarius, in the 1700's, and Lloyd Loar, in the 1920's. They built violins and mandolins, respectively, and refined the shape and sound of their instruments and no one has been able to better their designs. I think they'd have the god given ability to detect acoustical differences in the shape of dulcimers.

But I don't believe you have to be a world renowned acoustician to tell the difference. Mark Gilston, John Keane and Ken Bloom are three who I think can. And there are others. I'd put a little bit of money on Dwain Wilder and Richard Latker.

Can a dulcimer builder adjust an hourglass shape to have some of the acoustical properties of a teardrop? Sure. And vice versa.

I remember when I got my first dulcimer after playing guitar for a few years and I thought "how can that thing work"? It has a big fingerboard running over the top of the soundboard. What a poor way of transmitting sound. But we all know it works. But we don't know how it works yet.

Someone will come along one of these days and figure it out, and hopefully will have the personality and communication skills to let us in on it.

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,701 posts

It doesn't make sense to me either way, in such a small test with other things not being equal in the two dulcimers being used. If only using two dulcimers, then all other factors really must be identical for it to mean anything (which is practically impossible). If using a dozen or more dulcimers that are very very similar, then perhaps an outcome might have more meaning. With all due respect...I just don't see how this particular test can actually prove anything one way or another. But hey, I hope folks have fun with it anyway!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,397 posts

Ah, but you see, that has been the brag from several people all along -- regardless of other variables these people claimed they could distinguish an hourglass from a teardrop. So that's how I designed the test. Not a dozen McSpads of different shapes. Not trad vs modern volumes, not VSL. At least once a year someone says "I can tell an hourglass from a teardrop." Can you?

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,701 posts

I have to say I agree with Dusty on this. Too many uncontrolled variables.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 years ago
859 posts

All these questions about VSL, wood type, instrument design, kind of noter, etc., get to the central point: given the vast number of variables that affect the sound a dulcimer makes, it is impossible in practice to identify the shape of the box as the sole reason for differences in tone.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,397 posts

Yeah... well, unfortunately I don't have a dozen instruments.... Eleven dulcimers playing the same one tune would make an interesting test...

john p
@john-p
3 years ago
213 posts

Question is - can you tell from SHAPE alone.

Nothing to do with wood, builder, tune, player, home fret, size etc. etc.

The test is poorly designed if only two instruments are being used, there should be a dozen or more.

John Henry
@john-henry
3 years ago
331 posts

And played in the same position along the VSL ?

Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 years ago
112 posts

So....how's this going? Were the teardrop and hourglass dulcimers the same brand and same woods?

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,397 posts

It's a coded message from the Militant Manatee Coalition.... one of their representatives was down by my friend's boat that day!

Skip
@skip
3 years ago
198 posts

Yeah, just got some alien sound I didn't really understand, soundedlike 'salgro'. Probably means 'you're going to guess wrong' or 'gotch ya'.

Strumelia said:Skip, maybe that's just a subliminal message...like the Beatles' "Paul is Dead" thing... Have you tried playing it backwards? 43.gif

You're welcome Ken, I was interested in the comparison.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,397 posts

Ayup. There's a glitch there... Gotta have my tech guy look into it.... Only supposed to be one tune per cut and no talking! I checked all the other cuts and they only have one song per file. Thanx for listening, Skip!

Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,701 posts

Skip, maybe that's just a subliminal message...like the Beatles' "Paul is Dead" thing... Have you tried playing it backwards?

Skip said:

Ken the first one someone says 'hourglass' at the end of the tune, just before starting the 2nd tune.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 years ago
859 posts

The first is hourglass, the second teardrop. Or the other way around. I'm sure of it.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

"A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think."
-- Pete Seeger
Skip
@skip
3 years ago
198 posts

Ken the first one someone says 'hourglass' at the end of the tune, just before starting the 2nd tune.Grin.gif

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 years ago
1,397 posts

For years I've said that you cannot tell what shape of dulcimer played a given tune. Others have firmly declared that they, by George, could always tell when a tune was being played on an hourglass versus a teardrop. A week or so back, Mark Gilston took up my challenge.

He says he can tell whether a tune is being played on an hourglass or on a teardrop; that each SHAPE has a distinctive sound. I say the sound of a dulcimer is NOT shaped-related. I've recorded 6 tunes on two dulcimers. The only thing my audio engineer friend did was cut apart the master recording into individual takes, and enhance th amplitude of all cuts equally

So you can "play along at home", sort of, here are two of the eleven files that Mark will listen to.

01.mp3

02.mp3

Can you tell what Shape the instruments were that played those two tunes? Of course in some sense you've got a 50/50 chance of getting it right. That's why Mark is taking the full test with eleven recordings.

Perhaps after Mark has had his 'go' at determining which is what, I'll open the files up to others...


updated by @ken-hulme: 06/11/15 07:40:08AM