Printer-friendly version
Emily Grossman

Someone Once Posed a Question

June 6, 2008 at 8:09 AM

If a violinist plays in a forest and no one hears, does she make a sound?
From Antonello Lofù
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 10:11 AM
I would say...

I hope bears can't hear you!!...In that case however none could hear you screaming!!

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 10:51 AM
1. Why "she"? ;-)

2. Yes. I suppose violinists are not deaf, so "she" can hear her own playing.

(Sometimes I wonder if some of my students are in fact deaf to their own playing and my comments as well.)

Tobias

From Bill Busen
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 4:19 PM
If a man makes a comment in the forest, and there's no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 4:19 PM
Tobias, my sympathy. My students are sometimes like that, too.
From jake bush
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 5:18 PM
The sexist answer would be, "No, SHE doesn't make a sound, but HE does."
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 6:00 PM
If a violinist plays in the forest, and no one hears, wouldn't that make the violinist deaf??
From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 6:21 PM
Ruth's point is a good one. Suppose further, that there is one person who hears but only claps with one hand. I think this discussion may be getting beyond metaphysical.
From Bill Busen
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 6:35 PM
"If a violinist plays in the forest, and no one hears, wouldn't that make the violinist deaf??"

Why do you think the violinist has to go into the forest to play?

From Antonello Lofù
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 7:22 PM
Common.....He makes a sound!!! it's not like these space movies where you can hear the collision or an explosion even though there is not air in the space
From Rosalind Porter
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 7:42 PM
It would be one very strange forest if there was no "life" at all present which could hear the violinist. What about the birds, the mammals like squirrels, bears, rats etc. depending on what continent you were playing. We know that insects can hear and even some reptiles.

So, don't think we can get all philosophical about this one... ;-)

However, one thing I would love to know from any scientific types here is - if a violinist went to the Moon, got out the spacecraft with his/her violin and bow and started to play - would they make a sound? No air to transmit sound waves on the moon... so I am assuming you'd hear nothing?

Other thing is, if you took a violin out of a spacecraft onto the Moon's surface, or indeed on a space-walk from the ISS, would it survive, or would it suffer a horrid fate?

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 6, 2008 at 10:00 PM
If a violinist plays in the forest, and no one hears, does she make union scale?
From Carol Cook
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 12:10 AM
at least no one will fault her intonation...
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 12:41 AM
If no one hears is one thing, no one in the whole universe is capable of hearing is a different story. It’s the later puts the existence, or the concept, or the term of 'sound' into question.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 4:39 AM
Anne,

"If a violinist plays in the forest, and no one hears, does she make union scale? "

Is that Major or minor scale……pay?

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 11:31 AM
Pardon my vagueness. Specifically, Union Phrygian Scale, e.g., "This Alaska gig is so cold, our fingers are Phrygian."
From Bob Annis
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 6:12 PM
Interestingly enough, I believe a violinist on the Moon would be able to hear her violin thru bone conduction. Briefly, and assuming she took care not to hold her breath, which would cause lungs to burst and eardrums to rupture, from trying to contain the expanding gases. Meanwhile, eyeballs would burst, and ice formation would freeze the various bodily fluids which, being relieved of atmospheric pressure, would be boiling away merrily.

The varnish on the violin would outgas quickly, the bow hairs would snap from the pressure of being played while frozen, and any mosture left in the violin wood would freeze and rupture wooden tubules. The violin would remain viable longer than the violinist, whose exposure to vacuum and near absolute zero temps (assuming she's in shadow) would render her into a dessicated wreck in a short while. Unconsciousness would occur in seconds, mercifully enough.

I think that's the rough scenario.

From Mazz Swift-Camlet
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 8:14 PM
I have to say - I've enjoyed Bob's response the most. you are a very entertaining group of people!
From Rosalind Porter
Posted on June 7, 2008 at 11:15 PM
Cool response Bob, thanks for that! It definitely satisfies my curiosity (though I was assuming the violinist would be wearing a space suit!) Interesting how the violin and bow would react.
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 3:08 AM
Emily, I do believe you have just made a record for number of comments outweighing length of blog. ;)
From Emily Grossman
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 6:28 AM
:)
From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 3:00 PM
That's what is cool about Emily's blogs. They are interesting enough to generate lots of comment. Keep it up, Emily!
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 10:29 PM
Greetings,
if a violnist played in a rainforest they were bloody lucky to find one,
Cheers,
Buri

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Our Kokopelli
Please support Violinist.com
through your
one-time donation or
sponsorship campaign.

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music

Yamaha V3 Series Violin

The Potter Violin Company

Coregami Performal

Metzler Violin Shop

Gliga Violins

Zhuhai International Mozart Competition - Apply by April 30, 2017

Connolly Music

Corilon Violins

Meadowmount School of Music

Anderson Musical Instrument Insurance

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Heifetz International Music Institute

Long Island Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop