Entertainment » Music

In Blind Test, Soloists Like New Violins Over Old

by Seth Borenstein
Monday Apr 7, 2014
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This framegrab image from video, provided by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, shows soloist Ilya Kaler wearing welder glasses so he can’t see the violin during a test of old and new instruments outside Paris.
This framegrab image from video, provided by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, shows soloist Ilya Kaler wearing welder glasses so he can’t see the violin during a test of old and new instruments outside Paris.  (Source:AP Photo/Stefan Avalos, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)

Ten world-class soloists put costly Stradivarius violins and new, cheaper ones to a blind scientific test. The results may seem off-key to musicians and collectors, but the new instruments won handily.

Contrary to musical convention, most of the violinists passed up the six older violins, including five made by the famous Stradivari family in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Most of the musicians couldn’t even tell whether they were using old or new violins based on the sound. The musicians wore dark glasses and the lights were dimmed when they played the dozen violins in a rehearsal room and a concert hall.

Old Italian violins like the Stradivarius have long been considered superior.

The study was released Monday by the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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