Thursday, October 27, 2005

Finite Element in Music

A finite-element reconstruction showing one of the acoustically important structural modes of the body of a violin is shown in the picture. The snapshot view shows, on a much exaggerated scale, the highly asymmetric vertical displacements and flexural vibrations of the instrument. The results were obtained when the displacement was at its maximum. Note that vibrations of all parts of the instrument are involved in the resonant mode. In particular, the resonances of the front and back plates cannot be considered in isolation from the rest of the instrument, as has often been assumed in the past.

Source: Physics Web

Cremonese Violins

Is there really a lost secret that sets Stradivarius violins apart from the best instruments made today? After more than a hundred years, this question remains highly contentious, provoking strongly held but divergent views among players, violin makers and scientists alike. All of the greatest violinists of our time, certainly believe it to be true, and invariably perform on violins by Stradivari or Guarneri in preference to modern instruments.

Violins by the great Italian makers are, of course, beautiful works of art in their own right, and are coveted by collectors as well as players. Particularly outstanding violins have reputedly changed hands for over a million dollars. In contrast, fine modern instruments typically cost about $10000, while factory-made violins for beginners can be bought for under $100. Do such prices really reflect such large differences in quality? Is it not a fact that one of the reasons that the great Cremonese violins sound so wonderful is because we have always heard them played by the world greatest players?!

The violin is the most highly developed and most sophisticated of all stringed instruments. It emerged in Northern Italy in about 1550, in a form that has remained essentially unchanged ever since. The famous Cremonese violin-making families of Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri formed a continuous line of succession that flourished from about 1600 to 1750, with skills being handed down from father to son and from master to apprentice. The popular belief is that their unsurpassed skills, together with the magical Stradivarius secret, were lost by the start of the 19th century.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Taq-i-Kasra (translated as "The Arch of Khosrow"), now a ruined ancient city, 32 km SE of Baghdad, Iraq (part of Persian Empire, called Ctesiphon then); was constructed at the Sassanid era, Persian Empire Dynasty (224-651 CE.) Legend has it that locals swore that the magnificent vault was the work of genies. The structure was abandoned after Islamic forces defeated the mighty Persian Empire in the 7th century.

The height of the people watching the Taq in the picture may be a good scale to show the approximate span and height of the arch. The young structural engineers should notice that when this shell was designed and built, there were no computers, finite elements, theory of plates and shells, and nothing but engineering talent, touch and judgement.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Imagine… It was sung by John Lennon some 40 years ago for the first time, and then performed by many other singers and artists. I have always loved it since then, although I was a little kid. Maybe that's why I’d prefer the performances by Diana Ross and especially Nana Mouskouri which belong to my youth, years of life and love. See the lyrics:

Imagine there's no heaven,
it's easy if you try,
no hell below us,
above us only sky,
imagine all the people,
living for today.

Imagine there's no countries,
it isn't hard to do,
nothing to kill or die for,
and no religion too,
imagine all the people,
living in peace.

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will be one.

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
no need for greed nor hunger,
a brotherhood of man,
imagine all the people,
sharing all the world.

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will live as one.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Grosse Fuge

Heather Carbo, a librarian found a working manuscript score for a piano version of Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge," a monument of classical music when she was cleaning out an archival cabinet one hot afternoon in July. It was in the composer's own hand, according to Sotheby's auction house. The 80-page manuscript in mainly brown ink --a furious scattering of notes across the page, with many changes and cross-outs, some so deep that the paper is punctured-- dates from the final months of Beethoven's life. The score had effectively disappeared from view for 115 years, apparently never examined by scholars.

What's more, this manuscript is among Beethoven's last, from the period when he was stone deaf. It not only depicts his thought processes at their most introspective and his working methods at their most intense, but also gives a sense of his concern for his legacy.

Source: New York Times

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Ludwig van Beethoven, on deathbed, 1827:
Applaud my friends, the comedy is over. (Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.)

Nelson Mandela:
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.


Well... I quit smoking! This is day #15. And believe or not, it's not tough at all, no mental or physical problems, although I smoked for some 27 years. . .

This is what I want my young friends and colleagues know. It's easy. Just try. Just do.

This post was recommended by a nice colleague of mine.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Best Cities

Vancouver is now ranked 3rd in The Economist list of best cities for the second time, after being the first for 3 consecutive years in 2001 to 2003.

It is also good to have 5 Canadian cities among the first 25 cities, whish is a proof of the life quality in this country.

"The overall quality of life ranking is based on an evaluation of 39 quality of life criteria," writes The Economist; among which political and social environment, economic and socio-cultural environment, medical and health considerations, schools and education, recreation, and housing could be named.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Destiny Dice

My heart is no more empty,
The clouds are no more gray,
That is in a warm nice love,
This is shiny fuchsia today.

May God make you look at me,
May you share the love, warm and nice,
This is though the order of Cupid,
Sweet Venus has so thrown the dice. . .

Monday, October 3, 2005

New Weblog

Well, it's now more than 6 months I've blogged in my Persian weblog. It has been so tough to organize everything in a Persian template with right to left settings, but it has thus been a good challenge and experience anyway.

And now I've started a new English weblog. The title "All Men Should Be Brothers" is taken from "Ode to Joy" by Frederich von Schiller, which was later used in the finale of the ninth symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The weblog is dedicated to music, poetry, arts, and structural engineering as well.
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