2/20/18 Show feat. Mike Mulshine on the Design of Electronic Instruments

Featured image: A six-channel hemispherical speaker, a central tool of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra and sound-producer for a huge variety of instruments.

This week’s show features Mike Mulshine, Research Specialist on Electronic Music and Assistant Director of PLOrk here at Princeton, who walks us through the ins and outs of designing electronic instruments. Technology allows us to separate the interface from the an instrument’s sound-producing body—for example, most synthesizers have a set of piano keys, capable of producing waves that travel through a PC and other digital processors until finally reaching a speaker that makes sound. This separation allows us amazing flexibility: any sound can be made digitally, by a performer doing any action at all. With limitless options, how do designers make expressive but usable instruments? Mike discusses one example, a project by himself and Dan Trueman called the Bitklavier, where modular coding gives composers freedom to electrify a piano layer by layer.

In other news: Geologists are questioning longstanding theories about the middle of tectonic plates—cratons—that are supposed to be stable over billions of years. New research indicates they might be more dynamic than we thought.

The playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

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2/13/18 Show feat. Isabela Morales on Princeton and Slavery, Intertwined Institutions

Featured image: James Collins Johnson, a janitor of Nassau Hall and active participant in campus life, was almost returned to his former enslavement by the Fugitive Slave Act. (Courtesy Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Graduate researcher Isabela Morales of Princeton’s Department of History comes on this episode to introduce a valiant project: a full historical exploration of Princeton’s connections to slavery. Oddly, such ties had never been documented before the project began in 2013, but they appear in droves: the first nine presidents of Princeton owned slaves at some point of their lives, often as they presided over the Ivy League campus. After New Jersey formally banned new slaves in 1804 (though some remained enslaved here until 1865), Princeton remained a friendly haven for Southerners with “traditional” views. One famous researcher even recruited a free black servant to help with laboratory work, sharing none of the scientific credit.

For more on the project, visit their website, play with their data visualizers, and read the many excellent articles available: The Princeton & Slavery Project

In other news:

Thanks for listening! The playlist can be found below and at WPRB.com.

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