UCSD music man Scott Paulson plays it 'off' beat

Scott Paulson is an award-winning soundscape artist who has been heard on radio, television, and film. His performance ensemble, the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra, provides live music and sounds for silent film screenings, ballet, radio dramas, operas, and theatrical productions.

At many of his live shows, Paulson asks the audience to assist: Strike a thundersheet! Use exotic wooden birdcalls!  Roll out an elegant harp glissando! Play a Theremin, if you dare!

In addition to his slapstick and experimental music activities, Paulson is an orchestral oboist, and also is the University Carillonneur at UCSD, performing live on Geisel Library's rooftop chimes  (yes, he takes song requests!)

Paulson serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the UCSD Arts Library for which he founded and directs various festivals: The Short Attention Span Chamber Music Series, the annual Toy Piano Festival, The Not-So-Silent Film Festival, and a Paper Theatre Festival.

What brought you to La Jolla?

School. I was accepted at UCSD in 1980 as a teenage New Englander and was so happy to be on the West Coast! While in school here, I was lucky enough to get cooking gigs at some huge La Jolla homes. Now, almost 30 years later, I am still doing errands for some of those La Jolla families.

I learned a lot about La Jolla working for those families in the 1980s. One of the favorite people I cooked for was Roger Revelle.

Oh, and I wasn't really a cook at all, I bluffed my way into those gigs — but all those homes had cookbooks in their kitchens and buying fresh ingredients at Jonathan's was helpful. There was one scary night when I had to cook for a formal house dinner party for guests like Pierre Salinger and Bill Moyers and other literati and glitterati ... but I didn't panic and it all turned out fine.

What makes this area special to you?

La Jolla Music is very special to me — a delightful old school, full-service music store. I rely on them for advice and service on many of my musical instruments and it's fun to just browse and spend time with the staff there. Unfortunately, I can never seem to leave that store empty-handed. For example, did I really need that sitar?

What else? Knowing the secret shortcuts to La Jolla Cove is very special and having a major university up the hill is also a great feature.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I wish there was still a movie theater in the village proper.

Who or what inspires you?

Knowing about the immediate history of the area that I'm in is a great inspiration. I've done several silent movie shows featuring early 1900s films shot in La Jolla and San Diego featuring local talent, and showing these films with live music brings this past back to life and gives people an appreciation of the landmarks and landscape.

I've done several exhibits at the UCSD Arts Library that call attention to the history of La Jolla. One of my favorites was a Black La Jolla exhibit. Knowing which house jazz great Charles McPherson called "grandma's house" is a great inspiration to me when I'm walking down that block in La Jolla. We all need to inspire people to share that kind of information so that we can better appreciate our neighborhoods.

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