This is a little bit different from my typical Song of the Week as it is in fact a podcast discussing music. That podcast is Radiolab, the show that explores curiosity and science through storytelling. This episode of Radiolab Shorts explores the music of Dawn of Midi who use an electronic approach to acoustical music that creates a trance-like state.
You can listen to the podcast here: http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2013/aug/29/dawn-midi/
Tracks from the new album Dysnomia and others are on the Dawn of Midi soundcloud page.
This weeks song by Canada’s The Souljazz Orchestra brightens up a dark and dreary (but still unseasonably warm) day with samba and semba rhythms. And it’s about postcards, one of my favorite things.
I learned about this song through a podcast from Minnesota Public Radio’s Current Song of the Day. Other places I hear new music include:
Believe it or not, I even still find good music on the radio, especially thanks to the many college and public radio stations in Boston. My favorite is WERS, which you can stream online or through an app if you live in environs not accessible to good radio.
Where do you learn of new music?
It’s amazing what a major fiscal crisis can do to you. I’ve basically have no interest in economics. In fact I even managed to weasel myself out of the required economics course in High School by taking a special course in Japanese taught by a college professor (that worked out well as I know something like five words in Japanese).
I find it surprising that quite accidentally I find myself reading and listening to economics news pretty much on a daily basis. Here’s what I’m checking out:
So if you’re trying to figure out what’s going in our global financial system, check these out.
Edit on Sep. 25th:
Hah! This guy could be me:
I was listening to the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast entitled Sturm and Twang and I had an epiphany on the perfect person to run on the ticket with Barack Obama.
This candidate brings to the table:
- Extremely popular with backcountry rednecks AND with freewheeling hippies!
- Would help bring in red states like Texas and Tennessee while also appealing to disenchanted progressives who lost interest when Dennis Kucinich dropped out.
- Brings the age and wisdom of decades of political activity, yet is still a Washington outsider.
- Should Obama win the election he’s going to have deal with the massive National Debt. This VP candidate has experience paying off huge debts!
- Would be greatly entertaining on the campaign trail and totally win any debates.
- Is pretty much already beloved by Americans.
If you haven’t guessed already, the candidate is none other than the Red Headed Stranger,
I doubt anyone from the Obama campaign will read this, but if you do make sure to tap Willie for VP. Oh do!
Three more episodes of podcasts worth listening too:
- “Disgustingly Adorable” – Colonial Williamsburg: Past & Present covers the annual spring lambing, a big event for Phi Pi fans. Previous sheeplore: Fuzzy Pigs and Out Like a Lamb.
- “News from Lake Wobegon” – A Prairie Home Companion is a classic radio show, although it’s a bit tired these days. I’ve heard about all the Guy Noir and Ketchup ads I care to hear. Luckily there’s a podcast just for the best part, Garrison Keillor’s monologue. The one for May 3, 2008 is particularly good with a reflection on why Christianity is hard and the great line, “Gas costs more than beer. Don’t drive, drink.”
- “The Beauty and Challenge of Being Catholic: Hearing the Faithful” – An episode of APM: Speaking the Faith I learned about via Dirty Catholic. This a great selection of interviews from a cross-section of American Catholics. More interviews and transcripts at the website
Here’s another edition of my irregular feature of spotlighting good podcasts I’ve listened to recently:
- Writing the World is a recent episode of the Wisconsin Public Radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge. It features interviews with several prominent and award-winning authors about their craft. What struck me is that while we often talk about a writer having a voice, due to the nature of their medium we rarely hear their actual voices. Toni Morrison’s voice is beautiful while V.S. Naipaul sounds insufferably pompous. Amy Tan is heartbreaking when she impersonates her mother speaking to ghosts. Other writers interviewed include Sherman Alexie, Alice Walker, and Orhan Pamuk.
- Pop Music- RadioLab is quickly becoming my favorite radio show podcast and this episode focuses on music getting stuck in our heads (WARNING: If you’re like me, listening to this podcast will leave “Downtown” stuck in your head for days!). Some people are unfortunate enough to get full-orchestrated and loud songs playing in their heads to their detriment (the work of Oliver Sacks is cited in this segment). Song writers on the other hand want to get music in their heads (and then into other people’s heads). While I’m unusual in my generation in that I am not exceedingly nostalgic for School House Rock (in fact I hated it when I was a kid), the interview with the songwriter who created them is pretty interesting. Finally, there’s the story of Ahmad Zahir, the “Afghan Elvis” who welded Western music to local tradition to become a pop sensation.
- Can Science Save the Banana? – I love bananas. In fact, I read a book about bananas called Bananas: An American History by Virginia Scott Jenkins. From this Scientific American podcast, I learned that in our grandparents’ generation, people were able to eat a larger, more tasty type of banana which is now extinct due to a fungus. Worse, the banana we’re familiar with now, the Cavendish, is now also suffering from the blight and may be wiped out in the next decade. Genetic engineering and/or switching American tastes to the red banana may be our only options. I’ll have to keep up on the banana news from the Banana Book Blog (http://www.bananabook.org/) by Dan Koeppel.
I haven’t promoted it yet, but I added a new page to the links at the top of this blog called “PODCASTS.” It’s basically a list of all the podcasts I (try) to listen to sorted into a few broad categories. Some of the podcasts appear in multiple categories. I probably should also add a simple A-Z list as well as some synopses of each podcast. Anyhow, for now it’s what I listen too, and each is recommended for anyone interested in those topics.
I want to highlight three individual podcast episodes (all radio shows originally) that fall under the them of Old Sounds:
- Ultima Thule is an Australian radio show that plays ambient and atmospheric music. A recent episode, UT 702 featured Christian religious music of the past including liturgical chants from the Coptic, Maronite, Melkite and Old Roman traditions. If you’re like me and are familiar with Gregorian Chant, but have not heard these other traditions, you will find it ear-opening. The history of sacred music is rich and diverse.
- WNYC’s Radiolab recently did an episode about Orson Welle’s 1938 broadcast of “War of the Worlds“. They play segments from the actual broadcast, including the eerie moment where a report from the field goes silent. They also provide some historical context that helps explain the ensuing hysteria – the brewing war in Europe, radio coverage of the Hindenberg disaster, and the recent innovation of news bulletins interrupting radio programing. They also cover two other occasions in which radio performers perpetrated the same hoax with disastrous results.
- Finally, for the oldest sounds of them all, recordings that precede Edison courtesy of the Antique Phonograph Music Program on WFMU. These recordings were made in 1860 not to be played back but as visual representations, however scientists were able to convert the images into sound! This is the earliest known recording of sound. The Antique Phonograph Music Program is always awesome as they play old records on their original equipment, but this episode goes above and beyond as they explain this great discovery.
I heard about this project on the Scientific American podcast “Science Talk“. It is no less than exhaustive, six-year project in the taxonomy of artificial plants. Be warned, the Ethnobotany Journal article (pdf) contains requires knowledge of Pig Latin. The publication date is interesting as well.