Day 352 Mile 352: On Running, Violins, Incremental Gains and Chicken Soup

20171217_190107-01.jpegDay 352 Mile 352: On Running, Violins, Incremental Gains and Chicken Soup. Apart from running around in ill defined ellipses one of my other passions is music and today gave me an usual chance to combine the two. I’ve played the violin since 1987 which makes it one of the corner stone activities of my life, something which I do, it may go in peaks and troughs of activity but it is something which is always there, whether actually in my hands or just rattling around inside my head.

Today marks the 280th anniversary of the death of the Italian Violin maker Antonio Stradivari, which given that no one knows when he was born is the next best thing. He is almost certainly the best known classical instrument maker and is almost a household name for people rummaging around in lofts convinced that they are going to find one of his ‘lost’ instruments!

Violin by Antonio Stradivari 1715
Violin by Antonio Stradivari 1715

Stradivari was a pupil of Nicolò Amati another astounding instrument builder and from him he learned not only the design and ratios of the violin as it was at the time but an aesthetic beauty to his execution and level of craftsmanship that far outstrip the functional needs of the instrument.

Stradivari’s reputation is founded on incremental improvements he made throughout the design of the instrument. To the uninitiated eye many of these would be almost imperceptible, millimeter differences here and there which none the less result in significant tonal improvements especially when combined. He made significant revisions to the relative length and depth of the instrument, the bridge, and varnish used; yielding a more powerful and penetrating tone than earlier violins.

Between 1700-1720 are the years commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Period’ of Stradivari’s work. He set the standard by which the skills of a luthier would be judged and provided the blueprint for the violin as we know it today. Possibly more importantly than that his approach to product design and improvement, a balance between innovation and accretion of incremental gains is utilized throughout the world today; computers to racing bicycles and everything in between owe something to Stradivari’s methods of development and improvement.


Anyway, back to running… I don’t have a Stradivarius, for obvious reasons, and if I did I would certainly never run with it. I wouldn’t with my own violin either (in today’s cover photo) unless I was been swiftly followed by angry bears or something similar. However it would be nice to celebrate this anniversary somehow.

My way to work goes past a 1930’s housing estate, which like many of them was built with grand ideas for a better world. One of the driving ideals with this one seems to have been avoiding the regimentation and grid patterning so prevalent at the time. This makes for a set of sweeping curves and arcs which bear much more than a passing resemblance to a violin scroll when viewed from the air, with a route that covers just over one mile.

So I went and ran it. This morning it is cold, and I have a cold. I have been dispatched to work with a (coincidental) tub of chicken soup left over from yesterday and I hope it will do the job!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1663.1 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!


Today’s earworm, a recording of one of the first pieces of music I remember hearing of solo classical violin. I still find in an amazing balance of simplicity and complexity, creating a dialogue and a convincing world of character and emotions, individual notes and multiples out of a single line. As ever don’t the the cover art sway you too much its actually quite good! Enjoy!


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