“Here in earthquake country you don’t want to sit under a one-ton bell,” explains Scott Paulson ’88, on the origins of the nontraditional instrument he plays in a small concrete bunker atop Geisel Library—an electronic carillon. Among his other outreach roles with the library, Paulson is the university’s first and only carillonneur, or he who tolls the bells (which are actually precisely pitched lengths of musical wire).
Established by a gift from Joe Rubinger in 1989, the carillon at first played only a short, automated melody before it rang the hour. “I knew it was being underutilized,” Paulson says. He’s since given the chimes a higher profile, playing live for special occasions and inviting music students to compose pieces and perform them for the campus (“They can be very off-the-wall—we once held the nose of a handheld fan to a wire for a vibrato effect.”) He also actively takes requests from those on campus and off, anything from Pachelbel’s Canon to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it along!