Institut d'Alembert - LAM, Sorbonne Université / CNRS
While the outline geometry differs slightly between violins, it can vary considerably between violas, which are less standardised. During the 2016 Oberlin workshop (organised by the Violin Society of America), a group of instrument makers have collectively designed the so-called ObieAlto outline. 25 violas were then built following this model, but without any other constraint. They were gathered and mounted with the same set of strings at the 2017 workshop. Two short excerpts (respectively in the low and high registers) were recorded by a professional player in a recording studio. The recordings were used in two listening tests, based on a free categorisation task : participants (20 makers and 10 violists) had to evaluate the similarities and differences between the instruments. Statistical and linguistic analyses showed a large variability between the participants but groups of instruments sharing relatively consensual features could be identified. Very few direct relationships between these perceptual features and physical parameters (constructional data but as well audio descriptors calculated on the recordings and vibro- acoustical measurements) could be observed, showing that the multiplicity of the parameters available during the building process allow instrument makers to obtain a certain set of perceptual properties with very different strategies.
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