A Woods Hole 'Sonic Secret'

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Glenway Fripp reveals a "sonic secret" from a corner of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. This audio snapshot comes to us from Viki Merrick at Atlantic Public Media, in association with member station WCAI on Cape Cod.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And now we turn to a humbler kind of music, the kind that's really not meant to be heard in public: singing in the shower, for example, or under our breaths in the office. Here's an audio snapshot of one such auteur living in Massachusetts.

Mr. GLENWAY FRIPP: We're at the Loeb Building in Woods Hole, and there is a corner here that has some very high resonances, or what are known as room modes. These are the fact that all buildings have certain frequencies that are louder than the other frequencies in the room, and this particular corner, which is in a stairwell, happens to have a nice resonance, pretty near B-flat. So we're going to walk into this corner, I'm going to be singing B-flat and, all of a sudden, my voice will disappear and all you will hear is the resonance because the resonance is almost equal to my voice.

OK, the note we're searching for is somewhere around this...

(Soundbite of Fripp humming; building resonance)

Mr. FRIPP: You can't even hear my voice, right? And that's how I discovered this. You're just talking and you--`Wow, what is that weirdness jumping out at me from the room?'

(Soundbite of humming; building resonance; music)

BRAND: That was Glenway Fripp. He's a musician hanging out at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. That audio snapshot was produced by Viki Merrick, and came to us from Atlanta Public Media and member station WCAI on Cape Cod.

BRAND: This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

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