Les Paul exhibit illustrates the musician’s contributions

Les Paul guitarOn the last two days of March, the best parking spaces next to the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building were roped off to accommodate a 53-foot-long RV. By 10 a.m., the entrance to that mobile unit was swarmed with visitors, all invited to participate in the “Les Paul Big Sound Experience,” a tribute to the late innovator and musician who gave the world the electric guitar.

The 1,000-square-foot space featured interactive consoles and history lessons on the development of instruments and recording technology throughout the 20th century.

Department of Recording Industry Assistant Professor John Merchant, along with RI Chair Beverly Keel, worked with the Les Paul Foundation to bring the traveling museum to campus. Free and open to students and the community, Keel says it provided everyone with a chance to learn about cutting-edge technology and innovation

Les Paul Persistence“While students learn about Les Paul from lectures, books and videos, this exhibit brought their educational foundation to life and provided a better understanding of all that Les Paul did to improve recorded music,” Keel said. “We hope is also inspired them to achieve great things themselves.”

To celebrate the exhibit, the department invited three music industry leaders to speak to students.  Keel interviewed Harold Bradley, a session guitarist who played with Les Paul, on March 30 and guitar builder Arielle Peri on March 31 in the Keathley University Center Theater. Engineer and producer Chuck Ainlay, who was recently named Nashville Music Association’s Engineer of the Year, spoke with classes on March 31 in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building.

Though Paul is most famous for his electric guitar, he also revolutionized engineering techniques such as close miking, echo delay, overdubbing and multi-tracking. In 1988, he was inducted into the the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The Gibson Les Paul guitar is associated with renowned musicians such as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen and Duane Allman.  Paul passed away in August 2009.

To learn more about the Les Paul Foundation, please click here.

Chair of the Department of Recording Industry Beverly Keel interviewing renown session guitarist Harold Bradley.

Chair of the Department of Recording Industry Beverly Keel interviewing renown session guitarist Harold Bradley.


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