3D Sound & Mormons on Broadway

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Kurt Andersen gets a sneak preview of the next big thing in entertainment: 3D sound. Robert Lopez, the composer and co-creator of the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, sits down at the piano to show Kurt the recipe for his cocktail of sweet and snarky. Plus we uncover the secret life of the jazz bandleader Ina Ray Hutton.


Ina Ray HuttonSecrets of a Blonde Bombshell

In the 1930s, Ina Ray Hutton conducted, tapped, and sang as the “blonde bombshell bandleader,” strutting her stuff in front of her all-female swing band, the Melodears. (You can’t make this stuff up.) She led bands through the 1950s — in clubs, in movies, on TV, on the USO circuit — and was the first female bandleader to be recorded and filmed. She wasn’t a legend or an innovator, but a hard-working musician who played a role in jazz history. Decades later, KUOW reporter Phyllis Fletcher discovered that Ina Ray Hutton had been passing as white — hiding in the spotlight. (Originally aired: September 30, 2011)

Video: Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears


Edgar ChoueiriAdventures in 3D Sound!

Edgar Choueiri knows how things work; he’s a rocket scientist — officially, the Director of Princeton University's Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory. If NASA ever sends a person to Mars, Choueiri’s research probably will have played a role. But Kurt Andersen visited his lab recently to get a taste of the future right now. Choueiri’s hobby is acoustics. He has developed a way to render sound in three dimensions, and given Studio 360 listeners an exclusive first listen of his 3D audio technology.

The 3D audio in the show segment above is calibrated for stereo speakers only so it won't work on headphones. To hear the effect, sit in front of your computer speakers, with your ears about equidistant from the left and right speakers. (It can’t hurt to close your eyes.) (Originally aired: April 29, 2011)

Listen: More 3D sound demonstrations


Robert LopezSongs from the Book of Mormon

If you’ve ever watched South Park, you know that a few of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's favorite things are organized religion and musical theater. Last year, the show's creators upped the ante exponentially with a Broadway musical: The Book of Mormon. It won nine Tony Awards, including Best Original Score.

The show follows an odd-couple of Mormon missionaries who are sent to save Uganda. True to its provenance, it’s got tons of profanity and shockingly vile jokes. But The Book of Mormon would not be such a gigantic success if it were a wall-to-wall naughtyfest: it has tremendous intelligence and heart. That mix of snarky and sweet is the signature cocktail of the musical's composer and co-creator Robert Lopez — he sat down at the piano to show Kurt Andersen what makes Mormon tick. (Originally aired: June 10, 2011)

Video: Robert Lopez performs “I Believe”