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Ethnomusicologist Karl Signell proposes a fresh approach to thinking about music. In twelve half-hour programs originally broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Nature of Music series offers new ideas from the experts, from musicians such as violinist Yehudi Menuhin, from scholars such as Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, and from people in the business such as record producer Mitch Miller, etc.
It attempts a grand synthesis of old truths and recent discoveries about music, from psychoacoustics to biomechanics, from poetry to philosophy. By searching for universals, The Nature of Music asks what it means to be human.
The series won international honors from the International
Radio Festival and the Japan Prize, and national honors from Ohio State and
Armstrong. Funders include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and the Skaggs
Music & the Performer
"Listening to music technically for its devices is not good listening. Though I suppose many people think if they could do that, they'd get more out of the music. That's nonsense!" (Barzun)
Guests: Jazz critic Martin Williams, composer R. Murray Schafer, record producer Mitch Miller, poet Robt Kelly, Japanese vox pop, popular music historian Hugo Keesing, anthropologists Marina Roseman, Tony Seeger, ethnomusicologist Charles Keil, composer Libby Larsen, historian Jacques Barzun, pianist Emanuel Ax, conductor/harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock.
Music & Commerce
"See, if people listen with their ears, and not wait for somebody to tell them this guy just won a contest or a critic to say they were great, they would get the excitement of discovery for themselves." (Miller)
Guests: Record producers Mitch Miller, Jay Saks, Amy
Horowitz, Gerry Wexler, syndicator Al Ham, rock composer/performer Frank Zappa,
popular music historian Hugo Keesing, Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa.
"We normally see time as something against us, don't we? And of course, the great pleasure of music is that we can escape from that and we beat time at its own game." (Pinnock)
Guests: Conductor/harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock, art
historian Robert Farris Thompson, anthropologist Tony Seeger, Harvard psychologist
Howard Gardner, music historian Joseph Kerman, jazz singer Betty Carter,
violinist Paul Zukovsky, educator Frederick Erickson, ethnomusicologist Charles Keil.
Music & the
"Creation is what God did, it's not what Man did."
Music & the
"The violinist can feel much freer when he can swing on his feet, and when the toes are alive and can respond to pressure." (Menuhin)
Guests: Music historian Leonard Meyer, jazz singer Betty
Carter, educator Frederick Erickson, ethnomusicologist Gilbert Rouget, soprano
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, folk musicians John Dee & Fris,
anthropologist Adrienne Kaeppler, composer/philosopher R. Murray Schafer,
performer George Abe, Baul mystics from India.
"There's no question that digital pianos will
replace those copper-wound strings and felt-covered hammers. That won't exist in
most homes twenty years from now." (Appleton)
Music & Words
"And if you don't understand a language, and hear a poem in it, I think your tendency would be to listen to it as though it were music." (Cage)
Guests: Anthropologists Tony Seeger, David McAllester,
zoologist Eugene Morton, psychologists Dane Harwood, Howard Gardner,
composer/philosopher John Cage, historian Jacques Barzun, jingle composer Jake
Holmes, anthropologist David McAllester, composer Leo Craft, anthropologist
Steven Feld, jazz critic Martin Williams.
Music & the
"Mozart probably had as good a musical brain as the world has ever seen. But it was necessary for him to couple it to Western classical music. We don't know, if he'd lived in India or in Africa, whether his kind of musical mind would have been able to deal with those kinds of musics." (Gardner)
Guests: Harvard neuropsychologist Howard Gardner,
jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, experimental psychologist Diana Deutsch, PET Scan
researcher John Mazziotta, psychoacoustics author Juan Roederer, Hopi Native
American Michael Lomatawayma.
"All kinds of music will have access to music video,
from jazz to classical, to opera to country, to folk to blues. To Tibetan monk
music! If they want to make a video, let people see what the hell Tibetan monks
look like making their music. Why not?" (Shore)
"Any late Romantic nineteenth century orchestral work has a very solid ideological lining. It shows the predilection for education, for cultural improvement, for refinement...just the sort of mixture of experience that upper-middle class people find enlightening and elevating." (Brenneis)
Guests: Anthropologists Donald Brenneis, Marina Roseman,
David McAllester, jazz critic Martin Williams, music historians Stanley Sadie,
Terrance O'Grady, ethnomusicologist Charles Keil, rock critic Michael Shore,
composer R. Murray Schafer, historian Jacques Barzun.
"Dreams tell us something about ourselves that can't be told any other way. Drama does that. Painting does that. Music does that. We need to know these things." (Williams)
Guests: Composer R. Murray Schafer, bellringer Richard Dirksen, ethnomusicologists Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Józef Pacholczyk, Gilbert Rouget, anthropologist Steven Feld, music historian Leonard Meyer, composer John Cage, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, jazz critic Martin Williams.