Happy Pi Day – and – Happy Birthday Albert Einstein

Did you know that March 14 (3.14) every year is celebrated as Pi Day? Many math geeks all around the world note and recognize this day…

Pi is a very very interesting number. Like any other irrational number, the digits after the decimal point has every bit of information available in the universe – i.e. every single combination of number sequences in every length. It is not wrong to say that we all are represented by the number Pi.

That reminds me of Life of Pi too :-)

Another importance of this day to be Albert Einstein‘s birthday. Although severely criticized due to his resistance against Quantum Physics/Mechanics – but by his attitude to challenge Quantum Physicists he is partly responsible that the area had grown so much – and being accepted as solid foundation of physics.

Happy 3.14 to all…

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Hannabach Custom-Made Classical Guitar Strings – Review

I have been hearing about the Hannabach classical guitar strings from past years – especially during the time that I have not been playing guitar much..

Hannabach strings are German made where I expected a good quality given the general German industry.

In this post you will find my experience with Hannabach Classic Guitar Strings – Custom Made – Medium Tension

This time I used a different technique during installation – specifically for the bridge side – where I did not do multiple knots except for the high E.

While discussing what I have been testing with a colleague from work, he told me that years ago when they replaced a friend’s strings with Hannabach, it basically changed the sound of the guitar. Though it was being compared to quite low end srings.

First Impressions

Very good bass sound; solid, bright.. But kind of too much buzzing and loud..  On the other hand the trebles are a bit dull. Sounds a bit unbalanced. I had a hard time to establish a balance while playing pieces like J.S. Bach’s BWV 996 Bourree..

… and later

After four weeks of playing (1/2 hours per day on the average), I noticed that the basses are still quite squeaky and the tuning almost stabilised. That is quite unusual for a set used for a month. I suspect the new style of installation is partly responsible.

While the trebles were already a bit dull, in 5 week’s time the trebles (especially high E) became much more dull..  On the other hand even after 7 weeks, the basses were buzzing and clear. That is also when the tuning problems became worse.

I am now sure that the tuning problems are due to new installing method. I am not going use that anymore – stick to the traditional.

The strings were replaced after 10 weeks when they were quite worn out.

As a conclusion, I liked the sound and projection a lot – the only problem was the balance between bass and treble strings, where it can be corrected by good right hand technique.

Finally the list of preference becomes:

  1. D’Addario EXP45 Normal Tension
  2. Savarez 540 R
  3. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ46 – Hard Tension
  4. Hannabach Classic Guitar Strings – Custom Made – Medium Tension
  5. D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N
  6. Luthier (Classical/Flamenco) Popular Supreme Set 20
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Fujitsu LIFEBOOK UH572 – The Music/Speaker Challenge

Music is an indispensable part of my life. While working on the tasks for the LIFEBOOK4LIFE project, I decided to go ahead and test the Fujitsu LIFEBOOK UH572 for music playback performance based on the music I like to listen.

To see the audio features of the device, you can see its datasheet

About audio we have the following:

  • Audio type: On board
  • Audio codec: Realtek ALC269Q-VB6 (HD audio)
  • Audio features: 2x built-in speakers (stereo), Support of high-definition audio, DTS BoostTM – maximizes acoustic power of your notebook by boosting perceived overall level of the mix Manufactured under license from DTS Licensing Limited. DTS, the Symbol, & DTS and the Symbol together are registered trademarks & DTS Boost is a trademark of DTS, Inc. Product includes software. © DTS, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There is direct reference to the sound processing features but not direct detailed references to the speakers itself. As Hi-Fi aficionados say, it is the loudspeakers, not the player or the amplifier. So the questions is:

How do the speakers perform with different genres of music?

To perform the tests I decided to use recordings from youtube.com so the same test could be repeated in different hardware too.

All the tests are done with 70% volume set to avoid any distortion or problems caused bu potentially a high volume level recording.

I should note that the comments below might be too subjective as I have a different ear sensitivity. I am too sensitive to high pitch sounds.

The pieces were first listened on an Dell Latitude E6410 to ensure that they are useful choices. The selection below represents the music I listen to these days…

Continue here to see the test results…

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Clarity, Balance and Durability – D’Addario EXP45 Normal Tension Classical Guitar Strings

The package said “Strings that last 3-4 times longer coupled with the brightness, clarity, and natural feel of our traditional, world-famous strings”

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After installing the strings on 2012-08-18, I directly noticed the classical D’Addario balance over all the strings and it was fairly easy to get them hold the tuning. Normally it takes 3-4 days for that to settle, but it took 2 days.

I noticed that the basses are slightly more squeaky until they get slightly dull due to wear-out. Of course with a good left hand technique, that can be avoided. It’s never the strings’ fault. ;-)

The projection with trebles were good. But the clarity and brightness is not as good as the Savarez 540 R.

Curiously, the trebles got brighter after a couple of weeks of playing and that was the time I got the best projection. Generally the projection was good.

After 7 weeks, I started to experience tuning issues (I always start tuning with harmonics matching and that does only work when the sound is bright) and decided to replace them to try a new set.

On 2012-10-06 I replaced them with Hannabach custom-made Classic Guitar Strings, Medium Tension for which I would be blogging soon.

The 7 weeks duration might be misleading, as it really depends how frequent one plays. I can say this was the most durable set I have used until now. Although I like the Savarez trebles better, with the durability, this set makes it to the top of the list:

  1. D’Addario EXP45 Normal Tension
  2. Savarez 540 R
  3. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ46 – Hard Tension
  4. D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N
  5. Luthier (Classical/Flamenco) Popular Supreme Set 20
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Did Not Like – Luthier Classical / Flamenco Guitar Strings – Popular Supreme Set 20 Medium Tension

I had gotten a Popular Supreme Set 20 from Luthier  via an out-of-town dealer to explore alternatives. The Luthier brand has always been endorsed by Paco de Lucia (and that was a big clue about what to expect).

First impression: The trebles are too dull, and sounded too weak… Basses were better but sounded a bit weak too. Furthermore, I had serious problems getting the strings tuned..

In time, (as with almost every string set) the bass strings lost brightness.. Also all strings were going out of tune quite fast and I needed to tune almost every 100 times a day..

After I realized that these strings are not really for classical music (baroque and renaissance pieces were *awful*, and Spanish pieces were braely bearable), I started to explore Flamenco sound..

Not being a Flamenco guitarist, I tried to play scales (with a lot of apoyando instead of tirando) and chords sounding like Flamenco and it became apparent to me that those strings are really for Framenco only.. Not my thing :-)

I replaced this set just after a week – could not stand more…

Immediately this set made the last entry of my preference list:

  1. Savarez 540 R
  2. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ46 – Hard Tension
  3. D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N
  4. Luthier (Classical/Flamenco) Popular Supreme Set 20

 

Next I will be trying .D’Addario EXP45 Normal Tension Classical Guitar Strings and I have a lot of hope there.

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Why Should You Have a Twitter Avatar?

When you first register your Twitter account, you are assigned a default avatar. That is a  PNG format image with an unhatched egg  as you can see below:

So what does this image mean? Literally it is an unhatched egg. An immature bird. I assume nobody wants to give that impressions constantly :)

Now… What does that “default avatar” mean in twitterverse. If you leave your avatar as the default (and NULL) possible meanings are:

  • You do not take Twitter seriously
  • You are just lazy
  • You are a spammer
  • You are nobody
  • You are so unsocial that you cannot have a friend with a camera to take your photo
  • You are unsocial and do not have a camera
  • You are unsocial and do not know auto-shutter function of your camera
  • You are a company / group that does not have a logo
  • etc.

Best Practices for a Twitter Avatar
On Twitter (and in social networking) people would like to see yourself. Nobody likes to communicate and share things with stylistic images, cartoon characters or so.. Some ideas:

  • Put your own photo that reveals your own face (preferably professionally taken) showing how a nice person you are…

  • Use a plain background and a high quality picture. Do not let other details shadow your face…

  • You may use a a full body or a bust portrait picture, but make sure that it shows “who” you are.

  • You can also have a stylistic representation of yourself (if you are a designer or have a designer to draw one for you), you can use it as soon as it really represents you uniquely.

  • Avoid webcam shots.. They are low quality and blurred.

So, what if you are not a single person. Some ideas below:

  • For a couple, use a picture together

  • For a brand/company/group/team, use the logo

  • For a “robot”, use the picture of your “robot” ;-)

  • For a pet or plant, use a picture of it

 

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Understanding Polyphonic Harmony and Temperaments

In the 12-note scale, when the basic chords (like a C major chord) are being formed, the sense of harmony is quite related with the integer #of characteristic waves that fits into longer waves (lower frequency, lower pitch).

Let’s consider the C-major (middle) chord: C4 E4 G4 C5 (do-mi-sol-do)

If the C4 is tuned to 261.63 Hz the wave length is .00382219164468906470 s. Lets calculate the frequencies of E4, G4 and C5. Initially note that two times the frequency (half the wavelength) is one octave higher in the scale (or half the frequency is one octave below).

A piano sound sample for C4

If we put 2 smaller waves in a single C4 wave:
.00382219164468906470  / 2 = .00191109582234453235 s
freq = 523.26 Hz

Sample of C4 and C5 together

If we put 3 smaller in a single C4 wave
.00382219164468906470 / 3 = .00127406388156302156 s
freq = 784.89 Hz

This is one octave higher. If we lower 1 octave (freq/2) -> 392.445 Hz

Sample of chord C4-G4-C5

If we put 5 smaller waves in a single C4 wave:
.00382219164468906470 / 5 = .00076443832893781294 s
freq = 1308.15 Hz
That is 2 octave higher. If we lower 2 octaves (freq/(2^2)) -> 327.0375 Hz

Sample of chord C4-E4-G4-C5

The above wave snippet shows only a timeframe of 15 milliseconds (0.0015 seconds). The human ear / mind cannot process this tiny wave separately and the hearing mechanism unconsciously perceives the wave alignment as “harmony” :) ..

The contemporary frequencies for western music we have the following on a standard piano keyboard:

  • C4 261.63 Hz
  • E4 329.63 Hz
  • G4 392.00 Hz
  • C5 523.25 Hz

But the resulting frequencies are slightly different:

  • C4 261.63 Hz
  • E4 327.0375 Hz (-0.79% error)
  • G4 392.445 Hz (0.11% error)
  • C5 523.26 Hz (0.002% error)

This does not look perfect. Right? But well nothing is perfect .. See below:

Explanation of the Error Percentages

We should note that the errors below 1% are not noticeable to untrained ears at all where they are hardly noticeable to well-trained ears.

This basic mechanism is an implementation of the Pythagorean tuning which was a system of just (and mathematically perfect) intonation which tuned every note in a scale from a progression of pure perfect fifths (ratio of 3:2).

This was quite suitable for much of the harmonic practice until then, but in the Renaissance, musicians wished to make much more use of Tertian (C4-E(flat)4) harmony. The major third of Pythagorean tuning differed from a just major third by an amount known as Syntonic comma, which musicians of the time found annoyingly impure.

Syntonic Comma

In music theory, the syntonic comma, is a small interval between two musical notes, equal to the frequency ratio 81:80. Two notes that differ by this interval would sound different from each other even to untrained ears, but would be close enough that they would be more likely interpreted as out-of-tune versions of the same note than as different notes. That stands as an error of 1.25% this is generally not noticeable.

Through Baroque, Renaissance era and 19th century there had been various temperaments used for the scales but today western music is based on the irregular temperament called Well Temperament.

Western Music Today – Well Temperament

“Well tempered” means that the twelve notes per octave of the standard keyboard are tuned in such a way that it is possible to play music in most major or minor keys and it will not sound perceptibly out of tune.

Summary

The C-major chord with contemporary (well) temperament:

  • C4 261.63 Hz
  • E4 329.63 Hz
  • G4 392.00 Hz
  • C5 523.25 Hz

is an acceptable approximation of mathematically perfect frequencies of 261.63, 327.0375, 392.445, 523.26 Hz chord with Pythagorean tuning.

Some text are copies from references below:

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Fingering for Tarrega’s Adelita

When I resumed playing classical guitar after years of break, I was looking for a new, familiar and easy piece to study. While browsing I came accross Francisco Tarrega’s “Adelita”:

image

After the sight reading and practicing for a lot of weeks (along with other pieces) I have noticed that the fingering on measure 13 sounded well but it was tricky to play:

image

It sounded well as soon as I could play it but it required a very fast shift from position VI to II and back to VI in a single beat – where I could almost never play clearly or fast enough.

Looking for alternatives, I came up with a different fingering:

image

That gave much better results for me (position changes VI-V-VI is much easier to play fast enough). Just one issue – since I had memorized the original it is hard to get used to the new fingering!!!

Note to self: Instead of rushing into pieces, consider all fingering and interpretation alternatives first.

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Classic Guitar Strings from France – Savarez Set 540 R Normal Tension

Years ago I kept seeing the brand Savarez but never had the guts to try. But since I do not give concerts, trying cannot harm.

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The first time I installed and tuned them I was impressed by the volume and brightness of the trebles. It is so easy to get a real warm classical sound. On the other hand the bass strings sounded distinctly different. Not bad – just different.

I cannot say it lasted much long but they made the top of the list immediately:
1.  Savarez 540 R
2. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ46 – Hard Tension
3. D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N

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Need to Get New Classical Guitar Strings – D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N

One decision needed to be made in June 2012. Which guitar strings to choose?

For years I had used D’Addario and specifically EJ46 – Pro Arte – Hard Tension. It had provided a clear and strong tone which is good in concert halls:

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I had even used extra hard tension once. But I do not need that anymore. A normal tension set would do just fine.

I had even used extra hard tension once. But I do not need that anymore. A normal tension set would do just fine.  So I got a set of D’Addario EJ27N:
image

That was nice. Not bright enough though and the tone the bass strings got dull quickly (1-2 weeks). Trebles did not sound bright enough too.  Decided to test and see other brands and models…

From now on I shall keep a list of strings in order of preference:
1. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ46 – Hard Tension
2. D’Addario Classic Nylon EJ27N

 

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