It's a long journey from an idea, to a song, to a record, to your stereo or phone or car, and finally — to your ears. From the makers of instruments to composers, producers, and engineers, the fingerprints of hundreds of people are indelibly stamped on the music we hear. The Art of Listening goes in-depth with the people who make music happen every day for the listening public.
Just because an instrument was invented over 1400 years ago doesn't mean the music has to be. In Seoul, South Korea, Luna Lee plays the most traditional of Korean instruments — the gayageum — with a twist: covering classic rock songs. Luna has risen to fame with covers of Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, and Queen.
You would only expect a duo as eclectic as Daft Punk to have similarly eclectic influences. From Gary Numan to Tron, the two take inspiration not just from music, but from film and art. This side-by-side comparison shows some of the ways Daft Punk has referenced or been inspired over the last 20 years.
There have been lots of changes in how we listen to music since the vinyl record was the dominant format. From records to cassettes to CDs and finally the mp3, how we store music has evolved, but the process of making a record has stayed basically the same since the early 1900s. With this in mind, a group of people is bringing record manufacturing out of the dark ages and into the 21st century.
El-P and Killer Mike took over NPR's Tiny Desk for a live show so big it almost didn't fit the room. The two comprise supergroup Run the Jewels, known for their scathing brand of activist hip-hop that has evolved to be louder and better with each album since 2013. The duo brought three songs from their latest EP RTJ3 to NPR's Washington, D.C. office for 11 of the best minutes from the hip-hop underground.
The 2017 Grammy Awards had some top-flight highs — Beyoncé — and ridiculous lows — technical difficulties on Adele's George Michael tribute and Metallica and Lady Gaga's duet. Sadly, they can't get it right even for the biggest night in music. But all that could almost be forgiven when the Weeknd and Daft Punk took the stage for a medley of "Starboy" and "I Feel It Coming". From the epic sci-fi set design to the Weeknd's perfect performance, they nearly stole the show.
Not all comforters are created equally. For those looking to step up their sleep game, Brooklinen's All-Season Down Comforter is the ideal addition to turn your bed in to a year-round cloud of comfort. Handmade in Northwest Canada of premium Hutterite down, a soft cotton sateen shell and a baffle box construction, this is a no-brainer upgrade. Warm enough to rely on during the winter and light enough to keep on your bed year round. After 5 months of back orders, these babies are finally back in stock so grab one while you can.
Presented by Brooklinen.
The Casper mattress is obsessively designed, but it gets covered up most of the time. The Casper sheets let you enjoy the same engineering and aesthetic. Made from super soft Supima cotton, they're crisp and comfortable but also breathable and durable. Fine details like labels on the short sides of the fitted sheet, envelope-closures on the pillowcases, and hidden openings on the corners of the duvet cover make even the process of putting them on a delight. Each set includes flat and fitted sheets, pillowcases, and you can add a duvet cover.
Presented by Casper.
Steve Hackman isn't your average composer. Instead of writing his own original works, he's taking classic symphonies and remixing them with modern songs. For his latest arrangement, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra performs his symphonic mashup of German composer Johannes Brahms' 1st Symphony and Radiohead's third album OK Computer.
Dreamt up by the creator of the 4chan community The Pablo Collective, this four-song experimental album takes Kanye West's The Life of Pablo to an even darker place. Each of the songs are about 20 minutes long and consist of a mix of samples, interviews, and the artisit's notorious on-stage rants for a track list that includes "Ultralight Wall", "Washed Up", "Father Stretch My Hands Pt.3", and "Fade Pt.2". With contributions from a variety of artists, the entire project can be streamed on Bandcamp.
The digital revolution has made everyone a photographer, producer, director, publisher — the traditional barriers to getting your art to a wide audience have been demolished. But with the democratization of art has become a question of dilution. When everyone is an artist, does being an artist have any meaning? In this full-length documentary, some of today's biggest artists give their opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of art for everyone.
Oakland, California-based producer and musician Russell E.L. Butler is a Moog fanatic. In the first episode of Moog's Sonic Origins, Russell talks the island of Bermuda, how it inspires his music, and how it brings it to the masses using their analog synths. Listen to more of Russell's work at his Soundcloud page.
What started as a stunt to get the Foo Fighters to play a concert in Cesena, Italy, has become the biggest band in the world. 1,000 musicians — singers, guitar players, bassists, drummers — got back together in July of 2016 for a concert of their own. Here is this gigantic rock band playing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
Father John Misty recently released the single "Pure Comedy" from his latest album, his first new music since 2015's I Love You, Honeybear. He's followed that up with a 25-minute short film about making the new record, showing Josh Tillman playing new songs in the studio and driving around a burning Los Angeles. Pure Comedy is out April 7, 2017 on the Subpop label.
Six long years. That's how much time has passed since the last release from the Gorillaz. Out just in time for Trump's January 20th inauguration, "Hallelujah Money" is a scathing critique of politics as usual and the influence of money that flows through every aspect of society. Featuring vocals by Benjamin Clementine, this haunting track takes a bleak look at the future of democracies the world over.
Making music videos sounds like a dream job — until you have to deal with the talent. Young Thug had an idea — lots of ideas, actually — for the video to his single "Wyclef Jean". Pomp&Clout was set to direct the video. Everything was ready to go for the shoot, except for one critical detail: Young Thug didn't show up. And when he did, he wouldn't leave the car. "Co-Director" Ryan Staake recounts the hilarious series of events that led up to the music video that never happened, in a story that's almost too surreal to be believed.
Every year for the last 56 years, The Recording Academy has handed out a little award for the music industry called the Grammy. The iconic statuette represents the gramophone, which remained basically unchanged as the major format for recorded music. The Recording Academy put together this retrospective, showing how the formats for storing and playing music have changed since the Edison wax cylinder.
Marking what would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday, the EP No Plan was released on January 8th, 2017. Originally recorded during the sessions for his final album Blackstar, "No Plan", "Killing a Little Time" and "When I Met You" are also part of the Broadway musical Lazarus, which premiered less than a month before his death.
Korean gayageum shredder Luna has a musical range like few others. From the traditional songs to modern rock, Luna can play anything. Now she's back with this cover of Nirvana's "Lithium", from their hit 1991 record Nevermind.
Remixer extraordinaire Pogo went in a completely different direction for his latest work. Known for remixing Disney and kid-friendly fair into pumping club hits, Pogo used the ultra-violent Oliver Stone-penned film Scarface as the basis for his latest electronic composition.
Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" is the only recent Christmas song to join the pantheon of classic Christmas hits. And there's a good reason for that. The song shares a chord with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" —' one of the best-selling songs of all time — that might be the chord that makes Christmas music so deliciously Christmassy.
Charles Brown's "Please Come Home For Christmas" has given the holidays a soulful touch since its 1960 release. Before her passing, Sharon Jones recorded her own version of the Christmas classic with her band for their album It's a Holiday Soul Party. The song gets a touching tribute, courtesy of this 3,200-shot claymation stop-motion. The single will be followed up by the Netflix documentary Miss Sharon Jones!, streaming January 7, 2017.
2016 has been the year that nearly all the music died. But for all we've lost, it's important to remember that there's still a lot here — and still as vital as ever. Gimme Danger is the story of one of music's most influential acts. Iggy Pop and the Stooges are nearing fifty years of raucous and defining music, with no slowing down in sight.
4.2 seconds. That's exactly how long it took to film the entire video for OK Go's latest single, "The One Moment". The eclectic band takes the combination of math and music to the next level, using slow-motion video to stretch a brief moment into a four minute long music video.
The original theme from Netflix's 80s-drenched horror series Stranger Things featured the glorious sounds of vintage synthesizers. Arranged by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, the theme was as much responsible for the success of the show as the show itself — it was the perfect setup for the feel and tone of the show. The talented Nicholas Dyee and his cello superfriends Adam Caulfield and Katherine Pernal perform an excellent arrangement of the theme, which easily rivals the original in capturing the mood of the series.
Traditional instruments can make beautiful music, but they can also put a unique twist on a modern song. Doing just that, Luna Lee and her Gayageum are back to add her ancient sound to another rock anthem. For this cover, she tunes her traditional Korean instrument for Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall."
The Roots and Metallica just made the collaboration no one saw coming. Adding a xylophone and a kazoo to the 1991 hit "Enter Sandman", the two bands cram into Jimmy Fallon's music room to turn the heavy metal staple in to a classroom classic. You may love it, you may hate it, but you will respect the way Lars throws down on the mini cymbals.
2016 is the year the music died. Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, Prince, Scotty Moore — and that isn't even a complete list of who we've lost this year alone. On November 7th, Leonard Cohen passed, one of the greatest songwriters to hold a pen. With a flair for dark and haunting melodies and lyrics that read more like poetry than songs, Mr. Cohen will be sorely missed. But his music will live on.
The eerie player piano vibes of the Westworld theme song have already put it on the list of iconic TV title sequences. So to tribute Ramin Djawadi's score, guitarist Eric Calderone decided to take those old-timey notes and replace them with a little electric guitar. The heavy metal cover fits right in with the images of those creepy host constructions from the original.
With his sexist and racist remarks, Donal Trump has made himself an easy target for a Russian feminist-punk band. Being no stranger to political controversy, it's not surprising that Pussy Riot has some thoughts on the matter. The group puts the GOP candidate on blast by imagining the days following the election with him as president. Not a pleasant sight. The single ifsthe third to come off their xxx EP, due out this Friday.