Music News

The Record
9:50 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Commerce Vs. Consumption: A Revolutionary Rethink Of Billboard's Album Chart

Taylor Swift, whose 1989 is currently the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and whose song "Blank Space" is at the top of the Hot 100, even though her music is not available on Spotify.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:32 pm

Imagine you're in a Tower Records in the late '90s. You head for the cash register with a credit card and two compact discs in your hand. Let's say one CD is by OutKast, the other by Smash Mouth (remember, it's the late '90s). The following week on the Billboard 200, America's premier album chart, both of the CDs you bought have been tallied.

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The Record
1:28 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Paramore Feat. Joy Williams, 'Hate To See Your Heart Break'

Hayley Williams (left) of Paramore and Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars, perform together on a version of the song "Hate To See Your Heart Break" from the deluxe version of Paramore's self-titled album.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on

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Music News
10:03 am
Sat November 22, 2014

In Bowling Alleys And In Rock Clubs, The Dude Abides

Jeff Bridges and his band The Abiders perform in concert at the Paramount in Huntington, N.Y.
Debby Wong Corbis

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 3:41 pm

Actor Jeff Bridges may have revealed his musical talent in a movie — as Bad Blake, the fading country singer in Crazy Heart — but music is more than just a side gig for him.

Bridges says he's always strumming his guitar, even when he's on a movie set.

"Whenever I'm working, I'll have my guitar with me," he says. "And if there's a nice tree to sit by, or a little creek or something, I'll go out there. Anywhere is a good place to play music."

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Music News
3:54 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

'Only The Truth' Gets At Reality Through Legend

Gabriela Ortiz is the composer of Unicamente la verdad.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 5:22 pm

Gilberto Reyes is a musician who grew up to Mexican parents in Southern Texas. He says as a kid he was not afraid of El Cucuy, or the boogeyman. He was more concerned about Camelia La Tejana, or Camelia of Texas.

"I remember when I was a kid listening to the songs, thinking, 'Wow. Una bandida,' " Reyes says. "This incredible woman with power to make men do whatever she wants at her will, you know."

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The Record
11:20 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Nora Jane Struthers, 'The Same Road'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 1:56 pm

Nora Jane Struthers is guided by fire. Coming up within the tradition-minded bluegrass world, she spent her youth in a family band with her father, a good daughter learning tradition. But since she's been leading her own band, the Party Line, Struthers has poured more and more emotion into her songwriting, coming up with some of the most quietly powerful narratives within the new wave of Americana artists.

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All Songs Considered
10:59 am
Thu November 20, 2014

NPR Music Presents A Screening Of 'Wild Combination: A Portrait Of Arthur Russell'

Illustration by Tyler Boss

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Deceptive Cadence
6:03 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Flurry Of Premieres For American Orchestras

This weekend Leonard Slatkin leads the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in several premieres, webcast live.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

How about some good — even great — news from American orchestras? Today and tomorrow, four of the country's biggest ensembles are playing world premieres by prominent composers.

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The Two-Way
4:14 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Motown's Jimmy Ruffin Dies; Sang 'What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted'

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 6:13 pm

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Music News
2:24 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago

Ela Stein Weissberger joins the cast of Brundibár for a final song.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 5:53 pm

Brundibár, a children's opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.

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A Blog Supreme
12:27 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

A Jazz Institution Moves Back Home To Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock and Pharrell Williams performed Williams' hit "Happy" at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition.
Imeh Akpanudosen Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 1:38 pm

Last weekend, at a sold-out, star-studded gala concert in Hollywood, Pharrell Williams and Herbie Hancock remixed Williams' hit "Happy," Kevin Spacey served up a compelling Frank Sinatra imitation singing "Fly Me To The Moon" and former President Bill Clinton offered a heartfelt reminiscence about his early days as a John Coltrane wannabe. ("Sometimes frustrated jazz musicians end up in another line of work and it ends up pretty good," he joked.) The opener was a jazz concert: Three virtuosic young trumpet players — Adam O'Farrill, Billy Buss and Marquis Hill — deftly negotiated standards.

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Music News
3:29 am
Wed November 19, 2014

'Do They Know It's Christmas?' Raises Hackles As Well As Dollars

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 6:17 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's hear the new generation of an aging song. It's a song produced 30 years ago to raise money for people in Africa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?")

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The Record
6:03 am
Tue November 18, 2014

A Rational Conversation: Can The Delayed Album Curse Be Lifted?

Azealia Banks.
Courtesy of the artist

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Deceptive Cadence
2:47 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Uncovering The Heart Of Chopin — Literally

Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, who died in 1849.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

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Music News
3:41 am
Sun November 16, 2014

'Twinkle' Sparks Fireworks As Fiddler Guts Violin Method

Shinichi Suzuki makes a rare visit to Britain in 1980 to demonstrate the method he developed for learning to play the violin.
Ian Tyas Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 3:37 pm

If you're a parent, the sound of a small child sawing away at the strains of the "Twinkle Variations" may be all too familiar.

It's Song One, of Book One, of the Suzuki method, a musical pedagogy developed by Shin'ichi Suzuki in the 1960s.

But lately there has been discord among music educators, a feud over methods and credentials and accusations of fraud.

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Music News
5:49 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Brilliance In Bumps And Bruises, On Air And On Screen

Dave the Spazz does a weekly show on WFMU.
Courtesy of Ray Ray Sunshine Films

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 8:21 am

A new documentary about WFMU, the scrappy, chaotic and iconoclastic radio station in New Jersey, debuts today at the DOC NYC film festival. Sex and Broadcasting is described by the filmmakers as "an American tale of life, liberty and independent radio." In an opening scene, station manager Ken Freedman is on the air and delivers what amounts to a manifesto.

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The Record
11:04 am
Thu November 13, 2014

TV On The Radio And The Paradox Of The Midcareer Band

TV On The Radio's new album, its fifth, is titled Seeds.
JUCO Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 3:02 pm

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Music News
2:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

'Concert For Valor' Honors Veterans' Contributions

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:24 pm

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

All Songs Considered
9:05 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Houndmouth, 'For No One'

Tyler Zoller Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:22 pm

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Music News
5:51 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Update: Tales About Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour Weren't True

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 11:09 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Music News
1:02 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Why The Caged Bird Raps

Maya Angelou's poetry and lyrics meet hip-hop beats on the new album Caged Bird Songs.
Chester Higgins Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:58 am

Maya Angelou: poet, singer, dancer, painter, Grammy winner — and now, hip-hop artist.

The new album Caged Bird Songs takes its title from Angelou's 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. One of the last projects Angelou worked on before her passing in May, it blends some of her most famous poems and lyrics with hip hop beats.

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Music News
3:22 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

In Berlin, A Beat That Bloomed From Rubble

Tacheles, a squat in the central district of Mitte, 1990. Spots like this one often became clubs or art spaces in the years following German reunification.
Ben de Biel

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:03 am

Just after 10 on a Saturday morning, at a defunct power station in central Berlin, revelers reluctantly leave a club buried in its basement. One of them asks, "Hey man, you there, you know a good place to party?" as he stumbles into the sunlight.

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Reaches Labor Deal With Musicians

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Michael Kurth stands on the picket line for a silent protest during the lockout in September. The orchestra announced this weekend that it had reached a new four-year contract with musicians.
David Goldman AP

Musicians and management at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have reached agreement on a new labor contract after months of negotiations and a lockout, setting the stage for the ensemble's 70th anniversary season to start on Thursday. Appropriately enough, the first concert will feature Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

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Music News
4:04 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Revisiting An Era When Pop Didn't Always Have Lyrics

Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr. perform as Steelism at Fond Object, a Nashville-area record store.
Jewly Hight

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 10:13 am

There was a time when you could hear instrumental music on Top 40 radio right alongside big-name singers. But, with a few exceptions, the heyday of pop instrumentals ended three decades ago.

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The Two-Way
6:11 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

This Is An Orchestra Under The Influence Of Chili Peppers

Danish concertmaster Erik Heide plays "Jalousie" after downing an vividly hot pepper.
Chili Klaus YouTube

It's not unusual for musicians to play through pain. But instead of blisters or cramps, members of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra recently endured the searing throb of hot peppers. And it was on purpose: Each musician ate one of "the world's hottest chili peppers" whole, as they played a tango.

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Music News
6:02 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Murder-For-Hire Charge Dropped Against Drummer For AC/DC

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 2:27 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Music News
12:03 am
Fri November 7, 2014

A Musician Writes A Soundtrack For His Grandparents' Love Story

We Are the Willows' new album is titled Picture (Portrait). Peter Miller (center) is the band's principal songwriter.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 6:13 pm

Peter Miller is the principal songwriter and lead singer of the Minneapolis band We Are the Willows. For the group's new album, Picture (Portrait), Miller wrote songs inspired by more than 350 letters sent to his grandmother, Verlie Miller, from his grandfather, Alvin Miller, during World War II.

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Music News
4:37 am
Thu November 6, 2014

AC/DC Drummer Charged In Murder Plot

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 9:15 am

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

Music News
12:03 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago Thursday.
The LIFE Picture Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:23 am

It's rare to be able to celebrate a person who invented a popular musical instrument. Mostly, from the guitar to the violin to the flute, musical instruments have evolved over time: There is no Mr. Flute or Ms. Trumpet. But there is a Mr. Sax — or, rather, a Monsieur Sax.

Adolphe Sax was born in Belgium 200 years ago Thursday. As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Song Premiere: José González, 'Every Age'

José González returns with his first new solo album in seven years. Vestiges And Claws is due out Feb. 17.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:37 pm

It's been more than a decade, now, since José González first burrowed into our hearts with his inspired and deeply moving cover of The Knife song "Heartbeats." (Remember that bouncing ball video?) That track appeared on the Swedish singer-songwriter's 2003 debut album Veneer, a collection of sometimes moody acoustic songs that swelled and swooned with surprising momentum.

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The Record
1:33 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Taylor Swift, Platinum Party Of One

Some things actually are surprising: Taylor Swift, performing on ABC's Good Morning America in New York City on Oct. 30, sold over a million copies of her new album, 1989, in its first week.
Jamie McCarthy Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 3:53 pm

Tuesday night, Nielsen SoundScan announced that Taylor Swift sold 1.287 million copies of her new album, 1989 in its first week of release. This would be impressive in any year, but in a year like this, you could call it a miracle. So far in 2014, only one album has sold more than a million copies: the soundtrack to the movie Frozen, which actually came out in 2013. No other album released in 2014 has sold one million copies, all year long. So it's not just that Taylor Swift is doing big numbers. She's doing big numbers at a time when no one else is doing big numbers.

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