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Bill Cavanaugh
Appreciative Reflection Audio Recording Engineer
I’ve known Bill Cavanaugh for almost thirty years when he was a student studying musical
composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He turned me on to the music of Mahler
and humored me by listening to my off-key backup rendition of Midnight Train to Georgia
(Gladys Knight and the Pips) and anything Aretha while driving in the car. He encouraged
me by saying, “there’s an art to singing backup” and under his breath was probably
whispering, “and you don’t have it.” I remember a hot summer night when we were sitting
outside and he started conducting the sounds in nature from crickets to car backup
noises. In that instant, my concept of a symphony was forever changed.
The Cross-talking, Relational Brain
Bill lives in synesthetic moments-- dreaming in sounds and seeing colors with geometric
patterns when intensely focused on music. I recently found a drawing of a sound wave he
diagrammed to show the visual representation of amplitude. Coincidentally, Bill mixed the
sound for the Nova Synesthesia segment that is linked in the next paragraph. He works on
countless sound mixing projects for Nova, The History Channel, Discovery, Sesame Street,
MTV and VHI along with a many other clients.
In the Nova segment, neuroscientist David Eagleman using magnetic brain imaging had
synesthetes watch a black and white version of Sesame Street program featuring lots of
moving numbers and letters, while simultaneously scanning their brains. The visual display
showed cross-talk between two adjacent but unrelated areas of the brain, and this
suggested that activity in one area stimulates another region. This crossover allows the
synesthete to blend unrelated senses such as color and sound thus creating a different
kind of internal conversation. The following underlined link connects you to the February
2011 Nova Synesthesia: How Does The Brain Work? segment
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdXMQoU_AeQ). Eagleman, a presentational speaker
at the PopTech 2010 Conference suggested, “what we know is vastly outstripped by what
we don’t know” and discussed the importance of being open to the possibility of
uncertainty while holding multiple hypotheses. He is essentially espousing a social
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