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Is A Stradivarius Really Worth It?

Debate Information

Recently, an interesting test was carried out on how good a Stradivarius violin really is.

In Paris and New York, concerts were set up where the audiences were asked to listen to three virtuoso violinists who played both the multi-million dollar relic and a high-quality, brand-new instrument. Neither the audiences nor the musicians knew which variation was being played.

The result? In all cases, both audiences and violinists could not distinguish any difference in sound quality between the instruments. In fact, the musicians found the new violins had a better feel and easier to play.

The point is, does this mean that all violinists are going to accept that these revered instruments are no more than what they really are? And does it mean that the value of a Stradivarius is going to drop from millions of dollars to maybe hundreds of dollars?

Somehow, I don't think so and all because of human nature. Many people tend to cling on to a belief regardless of the facts.

Very much like religious belief really. Despite the fact that in all probability there is no such thing as God and certainly no afterlife and soul as portrayed in many ancient myths, many people "wish it so" which, to them, becomes their own reality.

A musical instrument, such as a Stradivarius is no more than an object but when someone places the same sort of dream-like status on how they run their lives, are they not missing out on the true reality and beauty of what life really has to offer?



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  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4800 Pts   -  
    That is an interesting philosophical question I have been considering for a while: does a particular history behind an object change that object's value? Now, "value" is, clearly, a subjective concept - however, there is a certain objective component to it; for example, a well-tuned piano is clearly superior to a poorly-tuned piano, all other things being equal.

    Suppose tomorrow archaeologists uncover a helmet that can be proven to have been worn by Julius Caesar. The next day, someone uses a 3D-printer to create its perfectly authentic copy. Is the original helmet more "valuable" than the newly produced helmet? That is, does the fact that the original helmet was at some point worn by Julius Caesar makes it a "superior" helmet to the materially absolutely equal helmet, but one that has never been worn by any prominent historical figure?

    My personal conclusion is that no, it is not any more valuable. Assuming that the two helmets materially are indeed identical, the only difference between them is the story we tell about them. In a certain sense, "past" is a social construct; it does not exist. One could easily make an argument that the past is just a story that is connected to reality, but is not a part of reality, hence it in itself cannot alter the "value" of anything.

    This, however, is not an objective conclusion. The alternative conclusion is also valuable. It comes down to how one defines the "value" of something. "Value" can very well come from the stories people tell about certain objects. There is no particular reason for Christmas trees to cost more in December than in June, and there is no particular objective reason for Christmas to take place in December, and for Christmas trees to be a culturally accepted integral component of its celebration - yet, for historical and cultural reasons, Christmas trees are clearly seen as more desirable by most people in December than in June, and everything else follows from it.
  • The point is, does this mean that all violinists are going to accept that these revered instruments are no more than what they really are? And does it mean that the value of a Stradivarius is going to drop from millions of dollars to maybe hundreds of dollars? No. It does mean you have found a group of people who will purchase other lesser-priced violins.

    Neither the audiences nor the musicians knew which variation was being played.
    I do not think you fully understand sound as it is produced in reading this debate, it is unclear as to if the test had identified a condition in which natural reverberation negates authentic and unique distinctions in musical tone on an instrument. With a digital sampler, I have often played samples of different violins to listeners where the introduction of tone takes place adds to the ability to identify different timbers and qualities of sound.  

    Just a thought but a person who played in front of people may have a selection of instruments to perform with because of different qualities than the musical instrument they chose to practice with. also because of how intense a practice might become by a number of different factors what instrument they choose to practice with may also change. If a violinist would I choose to practice with a Stradivarius violin, not at my level of playing and practice. This choice has to do with a cost you are not considering at the moment. No offense meant.

  • exconexcon 563 Pts   -  
    Swolliw said:

    A musical instrument, such as a Stradivarius is no more than an object but when someone places the same sort of dream-like status on how they run their lives, are they not missing out on the true reality and beauty of what life really has to offer?
    Hello S:

    Uhhh.  You're missing some stuff.  Lemme help clear it up.

    I dunno why it's so, but people attach certain value to things that I'd never attach value to.  Apparently, you wouldn't either.  Some people attach value to old bicycles beyond the utilitarian value of a bicycle..  I don't do that.  You, apparently, don't either..  That reveals two things.  An item has a utilitarian value, and to some a collectors value as well.  In the coin collecting world, it's called numismatic value... 

    Now, it is true, if the value of the Stradivarius you speak of were based on its musicality, it wouldn't be worth much..  But, when you add in the collectors value, it's worth millions.  I'd never pay that much for a fiddle, but I WOULD pay that much for a Mickey Mantle rookie card..  Go figure..

    excon
  • SwolliwSwolliw 1477 Pts   -  
    @MayCaesar
    There is no particular reason for Christmas trees to cost more in December than in June

    It just goes to show that people have fetishes about things.

    Take Eric Clapton. In social circles and even in his own industry, he is not regarded as a very nice person, in fact, the words, p***k and c***t quite often pop up in conversations about the guitar hero, commonly known as God. Yet the bugger is one of the filthiest rich in show business and the millions are still pouring in. How does he do it? He is an avid collector of top end Swiss watches. He'll buy a Patek Phillipe for $300k then auction it off for $1.6 million soon after, just because he wore it once. Same goes with his guitars, an ordinary Stratocaster that he strummed once goes for hundreds of thousands.

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