Tag Archives: sound

The Sound of Light

I was recently a guest in a classroom (not at APU) and listened to a fantastic composer and beloved professor tell a room full of eager students that the reason florescent lights buzz when they start to go bad is because some of the light is slowing down, and the frequency of the light is getting so slow that it becomes a sound wave instead of a light wave, which is why the buzz is at 60 Hz.

Nobody in the room contradicted him. Nobody. After about 30-second of dumb disbelief, I protested, and the whole class turned on me as if I were an idiot, daring to argue with this obviously brilliant man.

This brought to mind 3 things:

1. An expert in one area is not an expert in all areas. If you are a teacher, be sure you communicate to your students when you are speaking from your area of expertise, and when you are speaking out of your nether regions. If you are a student, become critically aware  of the difference. 
2. Intellectual authority comes from being right, not from being in a position of authority. Don’t be afraid to challenge professors when they are wrong.
3. In a room full of 20 people, I can’t believe nobody knew enough about light, or sound, or electricity to contradict an obviously absurd assertion. I’m worried that we’ve come to just accept general ignorance about how the world works.

So here’s today’s extra credit question. Help me restore my faith in the world. Without heading to wikipedia or google, with just your general knowledge of physics, what would you have said to the man to demonstrate his error?

Underneath the Satellites

Ran across this the other day. It’s a track I completely finished writing the music and producing, but never finished a song to go with it. It was an experiment in tweaking with different keyboards – a rhodes, jupe 8, a few delays, and I think an old EMU sampler makes an appearance.

Anyway, enjoy!

Underneath the Satellites

Wiki Wiki Waaa?

So, I’m in a quandary.

For the past 6 years, I’ve used this book as the textbook for my Intro to Music Tech. It’s over 10 years old, which is an eternity in music technology, but nobody has really written anything that’s as clear and usable since.

loudspeakersThis morning, I stumbled across the Wikipedia article on loudspeakers. It’s … fantastic. Clear, concise, well organized, contains everything it should. It is, in fact, much better than the chapter on speakers from the textbook I’ve been using. That led me to the entries on microphones, MIDI, digital recording. Some are great, others are written by engineers using inscrutable symbols and mostly made up vocabulary.

But even the one’s that aren’t great are still pretty good. Which really has me considering why I make my students buy a $25 book every semester.

So, I’m considering a switch for the fall. Instead of having a required textbook, I think I might just have a page of assigned links instead, some from Wikipedia, some from other sites that cover the material well. The content is there, I think I can organize it in a way that has some continuity and logical progression. Maybe I’ll put together a few pages of my own on my academic site to cover the gaps.

Anybody think that’s an awful idea? Phil?

Wanted: Tech Director who will do what I’m thinking but forget to tell them.

Hey, so, our church is hiring a sound guy .. I mean, a tech director. We had one candidate that was very close, but at that last minute withdrew himself from consideration. So, I’m kicking this out to you all. Do you know anyone who might be a good fit? Here’s the job description I posted on Craigslist:

Christ Community Church in Buena Park is searching for a qualified technical director. The primary responsibilities are running sound for two contemporary Sunday Morning worship services, setting up slides (sermon powerpoint and song lyrics) in Media Shout software for the service, some website content updating, and managing a team of technical volunteers in supporting roles.

This position requires about 10 hours of work per week, most of which occurs on Sunday morning. Compensation is fixed at $150 per week. Candidate must be a practicing Christian of any denomination, with experience in mixing live sound for contemporary bands.

A full job description is available at the following link:


Interested candidates should send a brief email describing how your experience fits the job description.

If you know anyone who might be right for this, have them drop me an email, michael [at] addisonrd [dot] com. We have an interim helping us out, but he leaves in about 3 weeks, so time is short. Any and all help is appreciated.


Things you don’t want to hear the “Sound Engineer” say when setting up your keyboards for an outdoor wedding gig:

  1. No, I didn’t bring any direct boxes, I was just going to mic your amp.
  2. Yeah, those sm58s are for the string quartet. I’m going to put them in a stereo pair to capture the whole group.
  3. Phantom … power? Your active direct box needs … phantom power? Wait, your keyboard is powered from the direct box? What about that power cable? I don’t understand … what is phantom power?
  4. Yes, I hear the distortion. It’s probably because we had to chain 4 xlr cables together. That causes the signal to lose strength, running 100 feet of xlr like that.
  5. You bring your own DI boxes and xlr cables to a gig, just in case? Wow, you must run into a lot of bad sound guys, eh. Huh huh.
  6. Yeah, so I’m running your line into the fender combo amp mixer, amping it, then running it into the Numark DJ mixer, and from there to the powered speakers. Yeah, I don’t know why things sound distrorted.
  7. That boom mic doesn’t really stay in place anymore. When it starts to drop, can you just kind of hunch over a little bit as you sing?