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Airdate: Feb 05, 2013
Scientist: Peter Swendsen

Swendsen - Magical Sounds

Swendsen - Magical Sounds
What unique instrument can only be heard in the middle of winter?

Transcript:
Swendsen Magical Sounds

Music; Ambience: "Light Tower" Ice particles, bass drum

Musicians explore and celebrate the world of sound and sometimes they discover musicality in unexpected places. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Peter Swendsen is an Assistant Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts at Oberlin College. He took me on a sound walk around the college's campus.

"So, there are these huge light poles around the the soccer field, and I'll play for you some recordings I have of these in the winter when the inside of them has water dripping down, and it's cold enough that they creak in this really lovely frozen way with these water drips coming down. But that was a a really fun discovery 'cause, ya know, you have these 50-foot tall instruments"

Peter Swendsen recorded the water dripping inside the light pole towers and created this musical piece.

("Light Tower" recording)

"I think what's magical about it to me is that there's so many layers to it, ya know? So much has had to occur for that sound to reach us. Have to have just the right combination of architecture and material and weather and wind and water, and to get that to other people, I find that it's best to put that instrument in conversation with an instrument we're more used to, which, in this case, is a bass drum. And by putting that into a concert hall setting, you're bringing this huge 50-foot tall, weather-dependent instrument from the world into a place where people can attend to it."

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.