The Scientist Artist: Ed Garnero at Arizona State University

The Scientist Artist: Ed Garnero at Arizona State University


‘Cause people will give away pianos, two
dining room tables, one with a full set of chairs, logs — willow, acacia or eucalyptus — or mesquite dressers and things like that. My wife probably thinks I’m, uh … I’m
gonna need help. So, I think if something beautiful comes out of the
garage, and then they’ll be like, “OK, he’s not totally nuts.”
I build guitars and furniture and things out of wood, but I have this day job: I’m a
seismologist 24/7, actually. Seismology is the science of vibrations, so
that could be earthquakes, meteorites … Anything that makes a vibration makes
waves, and there’s a total connection between plucking a string that’s
attached to a slab of wood and the vibrations it makes. I’ve been a musician for 47 years.
Sometime in the ’90s, I was playing a four-string fretted bass, which is like, you
know, maybe a song and you have, you know, boom, boom-boom: that’s a four-string. People started
adding a fifth, lower string. On the five- string, boom, boom-boom, I could go, boom, boom-do-do-do-do. So I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should make one.” I have to start with the neck of the
guitar, because the necks of my guitars go through the body.
There’s these little spaces that I’ve routed out so air is underneath the
fingerboard, and those channels dump out into the body of the instrument. Each
channel has its own natural frequency, and these pitches could be the pitches
of the open string so the instrument just has more of a resonant character to it. What does a scientist look like? Does an artist look like something? I
mean, yeah, I consider myself a creative person. I wouldn’t, like, 20 years ago,
because I was afraid to, but now I call myself an artist. But I also call myself
a scientist. And I actually think everybody is an artist, and everybody is
a scientist. Every human being is artistic, creative and curious, and they
have the capacity to be organized with that — that’s the scientist. Now, so to me,
that’s, like, a grand challenge of communicating curiosity, and that’s why I
like teaching.

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