March 23, 2008

If you are bluegrass obsessed, or maybe just interested, then these secret notebooks filled with Lloyd Loar's musings on the physics of music will interest you.* Actually, they are lecture notes rather than musings.

Among the many pieces of memorabilia that Loar's widow Bertha entrusted to my care was a well-illustrated lab note book entitled The Physics of Music prepared by one of Professor Loar's students from a class at Northwestern University during the summer of 1943. This was to be Loar's last class. As dated in the book, the first lecture was given on June 23, 1943 and class continued for 11 lectures until Loar became ill in the summer of that year, just one month prior to his death. Sadly, lecture 12 was never given and one can only surmise what his wrap-up would have been.

I think his 12th lecture had all of the secrets in the world, gone forever...
I didn't know that Loar taught at Northwestern, that was interesting to learn.

If you are wondering who the hell he is, why he is the man who invented the Lloyd Loar F-5 Mandolin, the instrument that Bill Monroe played and made the universal standard in bluegrass.

Here it is:

(*by the way, you would think that someone charging $24.95 for a spiral bound, 40 page photocopy of one of Loar's student's notes would, at the minimum, spellcheck his webpage. Having seen my student's notes, I wouldn't necessarily trust the perfect accuracy of these notes. But then again physics students in the '40s were probably pretty bright. Besides the F-5 they gave us the A-bomb).

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