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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Steampunk Violin


Roundtable Rival - Lindsey Stirling

This lively little tune showed up on YouTube. It's pretty great, it's like an old Western with cowboys and dancing girls, and wait a minute, what the heck is that thing she's carrying around? A violin with a trumpet horn?



Yamaha Performing Artist Lindsey Stirling - "Roundtable Rival" Behind The Scenes

Yes, as she explains here, that is exactly what it is. But it turns out there really was such a thing. John Stroh invented it back in 1899:
The Stroh violin is much louder than a standard wooden violin, and its directional projection of sound made it particularly useful in the early days of phonographic recording. Regular violins recorded weakly with the old acoustic-mechanical recording method, producing a thin, whining tone. The Stroh violin improved this by producing a fuller, louder sound with better tone.
Stroh violins were common in recording studios, but became rarer after record companies switched to the new electric microphone recording technology in the second half of the 1920s. - Wikipedia

Erwin Schulhoff : Susi (1937)

I listened to several recordings of the Stroh Violin on YouTube and this one sounded the best. All the others sounded a bit whiny. Could it be that what made it work well with recording equipment 100 years ago makes it sound worse with today's equipment?

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