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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, before there was language, there was the voice. Today we celebrate the voice. Music journalist Dave Tompkins has written about the long and colorful history of the vocoder in his book How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop: The Machine Speaks. He tells Jim Fleming the title comes from what people think the vocoder is saying when it voices the phrase "How to recognize speech."

Next, the contemporary art world was shocked in 2010 when the prestigious Turner prize went to a voice installation, the work of the Scottish artist Susan Philipsz. She tells Anne Strainchamps she started out as a sculptor but was drawn to sound, the voice in particular.

Then, singer/songwriter Ben Folds has worked with a wide variety of musicians from Dreamworks to the novelist Nick Hornby. He's known as a pianist, but he tells To the Best of Our Knowledge producer Doug Gordon that he's also fascinated with another instrument - the human voice.

Finally, if you grew up with television chances are you saw a lot of Dick Cavett. He ruled the airwaves for five decades as the king of the live interview. Cavett is now a blogger for the New York Times, and has recently published a collection of his columns in a book called Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets. He tells Steve Paulson how he got started. [Broadcast Date: May 18, 2011]

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  • (P) and ©2011 Wisconsin Public Radio

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