News

Randel lectures on making a musical instrument

“The intercollegiate record is six loops,” said University president Don Randel as he swung a piece of elastic tubing in a circular manner to produce not only loops, but also wave lengths with a frequency too low for the human ear to hear.

On Thursday, March 2 in the Max Palvesky East Commons, Randel, who is also a professor in the Department of Music, gave the Winter 2006 Izaak and Pera Wirszup Lecture, titled “How to Make a Musical Instrument.”

Throughout the evening he gave the audience a performance of well-known pieces, like Revele (the song that used to wake you up at camp) on a six-foot garden hose and other household items.

The crowded room reverberated with laughter as Randel traced the history of the musical instrument, illustrating the relationship among the harmonic series (the octave), the varying sounds of different instruments, and the sound amplifier.

At the end of his lecture, Randel fielded a wide range of questions, from the mechanics of the human voice, to the philosophical “What is music?”

“I thought [the lecture] was really good,” said third-year in the College Erica Kaitz. “I think it’s a shame more people don’t come because [the lectures] are always on interesting and random topics.”

A reception followed the lecture with musical background provided by second-year Diana Zhou on the violin, second-year James Marrone on the piano, and third-year Shannon Kirwin on the flute. The lecture was hosted by David and Kris Wray, resident masters of Max Palvesky Residential Commons.