The University of Iowa

Vocoder History From WWII to Hip-Hop Music Today is Topic of April 1 Talk

March 23rd, 2011

Music journalist Dave Tompkins will speak about the evolution of the vocoder as a useful tool in World War II to now being the ubiquitous voice of popular music at 4 p.m., Friday, April 1, in Room 2520D, University Capitol Centre.

The title of the talk, “How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop,” was inspired from a mis-hearing of the vocoder-rendered phrase “how to recognize speech.” Tompkins will explain how the vocoder has been repurposed as a voice-altering tool for musicians.

Tompkins writes frequently about hip-hop and popular music. His work has appeared in The Wire, Vibe, The Village Voice, Wax Poetics and The Believer.

This talk is part of the “Taping the World” project. John Durham Peters, professor and chair of the UI Department of Communication Studies, and Kembrew McLeod, UI associate professor of communication studies, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are investigating the impact of the tape recorder and the ways in which it has altered communication and discourse since its popularization in the mid-20th century.

UI International Programs and Mission Creek Festival are sponsoring the talk.

For more information, contact McLeod at 319-621-4620 or