Week 2: Spectrograms FOREVER!

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Friday, June 15, 2018


Kristen Larson

This week has just flown by! On Friday (of last week) I sat down with Sarah C. and Amanda N. and we discussed my exhibit ideas. We narrowed it down to two, one that I determined was easy and the other would be challenging. We decided that I should take the first few days of this week to dive into the subject of sound and acoustics a little deeper. My hesitation with sound as an exhibit is that much of the exhibit cases are visually static and to do sound justice you need well, SOUND! I took Monday – Wednesday of this week just trying to figure out a good way to develop a visually appealing layout for the study of acoustics. And by Wednesday I knew that this was the direction I was going to be doing for the tenure of my internship. I am excited by the challenge and if I can pull this successfully I will be extremely satisfied with how I spent my time this summer.

Mid-week I met with my official mentor Melanie Mueller along with Sarah C. and Amanda N. to discuss some of my plans for the exhibit cases. I got the definite go-ahead for my ideas. However, the more I think about and work on my project the more grandiose it becomes. We’ll see if anything comes of my last “crazy” idea, but you’ll have to wait for those details as I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise if it does actually come to fruition.

In the meantime, I am really excited about creating a 3D model of a spectrogram using pink foam insulation and a hot wire cutter. I will be sure to post pictures when it is time to start my exhibit construction. Want to make your own digital spectrogram? Try out this Google Chrome Music Lab Experiment: https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Spectrogram/, which was a big influencer in how to proceed with my exhibit design.

The rest of my week was getting back to content research and I focused mainly on reviewing oral histories (which are about 6 hours in length, each)! While reading Frederick V Hunt’s session [fn1] he said something that made me laugh but also reflect on how I go about writing my own blog posts.

Beranek: There’s another thing, too, in your life that ought to be mentioned on the record. And that is that you always have written clearly, you write well.

Hunt: I speak lousy, but I write clear. Well, I use different standards. Speech is for communication—writing is for the record. And I take writing seriously, and I care whether what I think is crucial is right or not. So many people say: Well, that’s all right, they’ll understand it. And this is the lame excuse for bad writing I think. And, yes, I’m afraid I’m getting a reputation for being a hard man to write a thesis for on this score. But I’m always gratified when a few of them say: Gee, I’m glad you made me do that—I certainly feel differently about that now.

Beranek: Well, I remember when we’d write a paper—and I did write one jointly, as you know, with you and Maa. You used to put a music stand up in front of your chair and place the paper open on the stand and then flip the pages over as you would pages of music and would edit as you went. And we used to sit and you would read out loud as you edited and have us sit around and be critics: Did we understand this, should we say it differently, and so on. We had a kind of little symphony of writing.

On another note, after battling DC streets for a couple days by bike, Amanda W and I opted to take the longer route which gives us about 10 miles of dedicated and secluded bike trails through the Maryland wetlands, so overall the trip is 14 miles, each way. On Tuesday I had a few notable things happen on my commute into work. That morning the city began shutting down and barricading the streets for the Caps Stanley Cup Victory Parade somehow as I was biking down Constitution Dr. I got barricaded into the parade route. The streets were nearly empty except for a few police vehicles and the officers patrolling the perimeter, on each side of the barricade the sidewalks (and building staircases) were quickly filling up with red t-shirts. I wish I would have stopped to take a picture, but I was already running late, and this parade route was taking me on a slight detour so I pressed onward. 

In the midst of this already crazy bike ride I was going down a hill on my narrow bike path, gaining speed and at the base there was a slight turn and I ended up taking it too wide and ended up crashing my bike. While Vanilla Thunder (my awesome bike’s name, holla to my HIMYM fans) got a cushy landing in the grass I ended up on the asphalt of the path. After a minute of regaining my composure I fixed my bike chain and rode the remaining 2 miles to the ACP, where HR supplied giant bandaids and alcohol wipes which were awful but much appreciated (disclosure: if you don’t like blood you probably shouldn’t scroll down to see my picture for the week). But of course with the luck I was having since it was the parade the metro was on rush-hour protocol all day, which meant no bikes on the trains and I had to ride my bike all the way home. Good thing my injuries were minor and my bike just needs a touch of new grip tape.

With that I think that about wraps up my adventures for the week.

fn1: Collection #OH4688, Interview of Frederick Hunt by Leo Beranek and Charles Weiner on 1964 December 18, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, https://www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/4688-2

My most visual injury from my bike crash.

Kristen Larson