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Perfect pitch: Donated guitars combine technology, beauty, innovation

Posted on Apr 27, 2006

closeuo of Babicz guitar, gift of Caranos

When Union's new Taylor Music Building is completed this fall, campus guitarists will have the opportunity to reel off riffs, power chords and arpeggios on two stunning – and innovative – new acoustic guitars that have been donated to the music department.

Last month, Jeff Carano, chief operating officer for Jeff Babicz Guitars and father of Vincent Carano '07, presented two of his company's unique instruments to the College. Inspired by the story of the Taylor family donors featured in Union's Accolades magazine last year, the elder Carano wanted to make his own contribution to the arts program at Union.

The guitars will available for students and faculty who would like to take a lesson or to spend some time strumming in the practice rooms, said Associate Professor of Music Tim Olsen.

Babicz guitar – Vince Carano, Tim Olsen, Hilary Tann, Jennifer Matsue

The Babicz line, founded by Carano and luthier Jeff Babicz in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2003, has been making headlines for its revolutionary technology in the often traditional world of acoustic guitars.

Two Babicz guitars, gift of Caranos

Its trademark is the visually striking fan of strings below the bridge, which increases the resonance and durability of the instrument.

The guitars also feature an adjustable neck joint that allows musicians to raise and lower string height.

“They're unique,” said Olsen. “The bridge is moveable and adjustable, you can move the neck back and forth for certain kinds of picking, and with the fanned strings, the tension is spread out across the entire top of the guitar.”

In many ways, the company is bringing technology more often associated with electric guitars to the acoustic or acoustic-electric realm. Rockers are taking notice, with Todd Rundgren, Pat Travers and K.K. Dowling from Judas Priest a few of the string-bending legends that play the Babicz line.        

“It's been really great getting to talk with these established artists at backstage events or at national guitar shows,” says Vincent Carano, an experienced guitarist himself who is currently trying to put together a band at Union.

“We've gotten some excellent feedback from players in genres ranging from folk to heavy metal, and almost everyone we talk to is fascinated by the design,” he added.

Several leading guitar magazines also been raving about Babicz guitars for their quality, versatile tone and innovation. The February 2006 “Guitar World Acoustic” gave its Gold Award for Overall Value to the Babicz Identity Series Spider-06E.

Vince Carano 07 on Babicz guitar, spring 2006

For Professor of Music Hilary Tann, who has taught Vincent a sequence of music theory courses, the Babicz guitars' new look is in perfect harmony with Union's new arts building, soon to be a reality. Thanks to several gifts, including $1.5 million from James W. Taylor '66 and John W. Taylor '74, North Colonnade is being transformed into a premier music facility.

“It is rare in this day and age to combine new technology with real imagination and apply it to music,” says Tann. “These guitars represent a marriage of beauty and function and the design is a real advancement in this direction. You have to wonder, if we can rethink an acoustic guitar, what else can we rethink?”

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Cox gives paper

Posted on Apr 27, 2006

Lorraine Morales Cox, assistant professor of Contemporary Art & Theory, gave a paper at the 34th Annual National Ethnic Studies Association Conference in San Francisco recently. The paper was titled “Critiquing Ethnographic Tropes and Ideals of Beauty in the Art of Wangechi Mutu and Ellen Gallagher.”

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Surman presents at KITP workshop

Posted on Apr 27, 2006

Rebecca Surman, associate professor of Physics and Astronomy, participated in “The Supernova-Gamma Ray Burst Connection,” a workshop at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California-Santa Barbara in March, funded by the KITP and a Department of Energy grant. She presented a talk on “Nucleosynthesis from Black Hole Accretion Disks.”

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Fernandes, Cass awarded NSF grant

Posted on Apr 27, 2006

Chris S. T. Fernandes, assistant professor of Computer Science, and Aaron Cass, assistant professor of Computer Science, have been awarded a grant, under the National Science Foundation's Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement program, for $149,991 over three years to outfit a laboratory and prepare coursework in which students will learn how to make systems usable and evaluate their usability. The first course will be offered as a Sophomore Research Seminar this fall. The awarded proposal is “Appreciating Technology and Understanding Science Through Usability Studies.”

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Borst speaks at Yale colloquium

Posted on Apr 27, 2006

Charlotte Borst, dean of Arts and Sciences, recently gave an invited colloquium talk at Yale University's History of Medicine and Science Department. She spoke on: “‘Taking Days of Examinations That Were Pitched to the Male of the Species': Women Medical Students and the AAMC Longitudinal Study of Medical School Graduates of 1960.”

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