Music is all around us – we know you hear it, but are you really listening? From Lady Gaga to Bach to Axl Rose to Wu-Tang Clan you might be surprised at what is lying under the surface of your favorite songs.
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This season, we not only show you how to get more out of the music you love, but help you discover more music to love based on the music you already know.
Cognitive neuroscientists have argued that the most common scales used around the world are actually so similar to human speech patterns that our ears are drawn to them naturally and can recognize different scale patterns as easily as we recognize words. Scales connect everything from Michael Jackson to Gregorian Chant… and link music from India to Indonesia to Indiana.
Transcendence is sometimes defined as “collapsing the boundaries between the spiritual world and the human world through some sort of experience.” Listen to music that is used by people of different cultures and faiths around the world to connect with their spiritual practices, from Pink Floyd to Tromba to John Coltrane to the “mystic chord.”
Just like visual art, music is often described as having certain colors, but unlike visual arts, we don’t have an agreed upon vocabulary to describe them. In music we call those colors timbre [TAM-BER]. Timbre is one of the more elusive and intangible elements of music to describe, but we are feeling fearless, so join us for an episode that includes opera, tuvan throat-singing, bluegrass, classical, Kanye West, Cher and T-Pain.
What makes Dave Brubeck’s “Unsquare Dance” so “un”-square? In this episode we dive into music that uses uneven meter. The effect can be unsettling, groovy, enlightening… or all of the above! Plus we are joined by Chris Brubeck, part of the legendary Brubeck family, and expert on funky meter in music.
Even though heavy metal and classical music might look different on the outside, they are made of very similar stuff on the inside. In this episode we unpack the elements that define heavy metal and show you how easily they crossover into Classical music. Take a listen… and don’t be afraid to bang your head the next time you listen to a violinist shredding a cadenza!
Jazz might be the musical genre that people think of the most when they hear the word improvisation, but it’s not just jazz musicians that make up things on the spot. In this episode, we unpack various styles of improvisation, from rap to Baroque opera to jazz. Plus, we interview jazz composer and instrumentalist Kyle Saulnier, who explains what goes on inside his head when he’s improvising and gives tips on how beginners can approach musical improvisation.
Music has been used as tool of resistance efforts across the history, from the American Revolution to the anti-communist movement to #MeToo. In this episode, we examine the musical connections of these varying causes across multiple genres, including classical, hip-hop, folk, indie, and pop. We also speak with a leader in contemporary resistance music, Stephen Brackett, aka “Brer Rabbit,” aka the front-man for the hit band Flobots.
In our season two finale episode, we explore syncopation, one of the most playful elements of rhythm. There are specific syncopation patterns that link music across a remarkable variety of cultures and genres – almost like a shared heartbeat or fingerprint. We’ll find the “off” beat in everything from marching band to Broadway musicals, Ragtime, pop, Son, samba, and more.