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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Social networking online is mainly about people hearing from other people, but there's a corner of MySpace that's about people hearing from things. The site is known as ItSpace, and it's the creation of composer Peter Traub. What you see is pictures of everyday household objects, like a pillow or a shower head. And what you hear is a short piece of music composed using that object.

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Mr. PETER TRAUB (Composer, creator, ItSpace): My name is Peter Traub. I'm an electronic music composer and a graduate student at the University of Virginia. I made this piece called ItSpace, which is a series of compositions made from objects within my own house, like a metal bowl.

(Soundbite of musique concrete)

Each exists as individual pages within the online site MySpace. So instead of a page on MySpace being about a person it's about an object.

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Trying to play these objects like instruments. How do you think of a pillow as a musical instrument? How many sounds can you get out of a down pillow?

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Well, it turns out that you can actually get quite a few interesting sounds out of a down pillow.

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Crumpling it up in my hands and, you know, sort of crumpling the feathers inside, running my nails across the surface of the pillow, beating the pillow.

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And when you slow down some of these sounds that have essentially a lot of white noise you get that ocean sound. This nice, metaphorical connection in my head between the feeling of putting your head on a cool pillow and the waves of fabric and the ocean soothing you to sleep.

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You're hearing these sounds sort of essentially magnified, much more close up than you would hear them in everyday life. And a great example of that is the recliner piece.

(Soundbite of musique concrete)

When you lean back in that recliner and you're sitting in it you hear the springs inside it, but it's not nearly as loud or as detailed or as dramatic as it sounds in the piece.

(Soundbite of musique concrete)

And you also hear some sounds maybe that sound a little noisy, which is actually the sound of the fabric rubbing against itself and a thud when the recliner comes open or comes closed.

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I think the last two I came up with were the shower head and the folding table.

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What I wanted to do was make this percussive, almost kind of rock song out of this cheap $5.00 plastic folding table that has, you know, these little metal folding legs and a plastic top and the top of it is sort of textured, almost like sandpaper.

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So I got a lot of great sounds just running my fingernails along the tops of the tables and rubbing my finger underneath the table. It's vocal - or as my wife described it - it sounds like an elephant. In the background it goes…

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It sort of made me laugh and it sounds almost a little tribal with the drumbeating and everything.

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I had this idea to create some sort of art gesture within a social networking Web site, like Facebook or MySpace. They're interesting. They've changed the way we interact with other people. There's also something that's a little bit sad to me about them in the way that they're sort of removing us from one-on-one human relationships and they're commodifying us into objects. You look at a MySpace page of a person and how different is it really from a MySpace page of my recliner. I sort of wonder if you know a person any better through their MySpace page than you know my pair of vases.

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BRAND: That's composer Peter Traub. His story comes to us from producer Jesse Dukes at HearingVoices.com. And for a link to ItSpace, you can find it at npr.org.

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Coming up on the program, I go to the Oscars alone. As you may have noticed Alex Chadwick is not here today. He's home sick. And he was too sick to go to the Oscars last night. If you can believe that. But I bravely soldiered on. The scene behind the velvet rope when DAY TO DAY continues.

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NPR's DAY TO DAY is back in a moment.

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