Music News

For more than a century, the Royal Shakespeare Company in England has hired composers to write original music for its productions. That sheet music has sat in a vault for decades — until now.

The company has started releasing albums that combine music from its contemporary productions with much older works.

Bruce O'Neill, head of music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, describes the archive as "a bit like a bank vault."

Homeless In Nashville, Huge In Sweden

Oct 9, 2014

Country music fans were introduced to a new face at last month's Americana Music Awards in Nashville, when 62-year-old Doug Seegers opened the show with a song from his debut album, Going Down to the River.

The last short story Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote is about being seriously ridiculous. In "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man," an intellectual prone to existentialist despair is saved from suicide when, in a vision, he discovers a parallel planet where humanity has never sinned. "It was like being in love with each other, but an all-embracing, universal feeling," he tells the reader. This contact with Eden reinvigorates him, but then, during a playful moment, he teaches the planet's innocents how to deceive each other — and this leads to a catastrophic, Biblical fall.

Fifty years ago, New York City musician Johnny Pacheco and his lawyer friend Jerry Masucci started a small Latin music record label and delivered their first albums to record stores across the city — from the trunk of the musician's car.

Steven Patrick Morrissey, the singer who formerly led The Smiths and is on a solo tour in Europe, has undergone treatment for cancer, he tells a Spanish newspaper. Morrissey did not specify what ailment he had been suffering from, saying only that he had undergone "cancer scrapings."

The singer, 55, was asked about his health in an interview for Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

At the St. Louis Symphony concert Saturday night, the intermission may have been the most memorable part of the performance. Demonstrators in the audience sang a "Requiem for Mike Brown," referencing the 18-year-old African-American shot to death by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in August.

When Alice Gerrard and Hazel Dickens started playing together at folk music parties around Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s, they were a bit of an odd couple. Dickens was older, from West Virginia. Gerrard was younger; she'd gone to college, but didn't grow up around the music the way Dickens had.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now this. We have a tip of the hat from an older generation to a younger.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And since this involves Aretha Franklin, we can assume this is one spectacular hat.

Julian Casablancas has seen highs and lows in his career. Is This It, his 2001 debut with his band The Strokes, is considered one of the great rock albums of that decade. Full of pop melodies and rock-star snarl, it launched a generation of bands chasing a similar sound.

Tsapiky: Dance Music Fit For A Funeral

Sep 29, 2014

Breathalyzers were placed in the doorway of a nightclub in Stockholm this weekend, with an unusual purpose: to ensure no guests had been drinking alcohol. It was all part of a plan for a booze-free night out called Sober, where staff were also on the lookout for anyone who seemed to be on drugs.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to open its 70th season this week, but musicians have been locked out of their workplace since September 7th, when their contract expired. The same thing happened just two years ago. Back then, negotiators reached a new agreement before opening night. This year, Atlanta classical music fans were not so lucky.

Mac Wiseman Returns To The Songs Of His Childhood

Sep 27, 2014

Mac Wiseman is the kind of person who hangs on to things. At his home outside Nashville, the 89-year-old country balladeer points out a round dining table made of dark, grainy oak.

"It's the only one my mom ever had," he says. "She bought it when she and Dad got married. That was a year before my birth. So she bought it in 1924, which would make it 90 years old now."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Roots, Plugged In

Sep 24, 2014

When I put Jonah Tolchin's performance at Third Man Records on my schedule for Americana Fest, the annual gathering of roots-minded musicians that took over Nashville last week, I thought I was going to see a young artist playing old-timey music. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old New Jerseyite released an album, Clover Lane, that gently ranges from countryish ballads to uptempo numbers with a country blues feel.

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and producer Atticus Ross continue to tease their upcoming soundtrack for the movie, Gone Girl. The longtime collaborators have posted four new songs from the score to their Soundcloud page.

You might think they go together like oil and water, or chalk and cheese.

If you've ever been to a wedding reception in the U.S., you know there's one question that can get a whole family on the dance floor: "Do you remember the 21st night of September?"

Breaking A Song Apart, Note By Note

Sep 18, 2014

The Song Exploder podcast tells the story of songs by breaking them into their pieces and letting you hear how they were built.

Homepage photo: Pat Castalado/WikiCommons

The Rise And Fall Of The Fade-Out

Sep 17, 2014

Like the proverbial old soldier, some songs never die — they just fade away. Think of "Hey Jude," in which The Beatles hammer the closing refrain for more than three minutes before drifting into silence.

Composer and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, 57, has been named one of 21 new recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as the "genius grant." The award is worth a unrestricted stipend of $625,000 over five years, as dispensed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Apple's U2 Album Promotion Backfires

Sep 15, 2014
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Billboard's album sales chart has a new entry in its No. 5 spot: Legend, the greatest hits record by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It's the highest spot ever for Marley. And while the 30-year-old album has sold millions of copies over the years, it only reached No. 54 when it was released.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In a quiet park in Kampala, Uganda, 14 musicians from seven East African countries sit together under a tree. They're working on an idea from Ugandan musician Lawrence Okello.

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