The Listening Service

The Listening Service

United Kingdom

Rethink music with The Listening Service. Tom Service presents a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works

Episodes

Transcendence  

Tom Service considers how music can be transcendent. From Wagner's sublime harmonies in Tristan und Isolde, to the hypnotic drumming of shamans, what is it about some kinds of music that can take us to a higher plane? He considers music for contemplation (such as church music by Messiaen, and Fauré's Requiem which you can hear in tonight's Prom); music for dancing to oblivion (the techno "Trance" genre, whirling dervishes); music evoking ecstasy (Scriabin, Gospel music); and he discusses the ancient practises of shamans in various cultures, with ethnomusicologist Keith Howard. Presented in front of a live audience at Imperial College, London, before tonight's Prom.

Chasing a Fugue  

Tom Service looks at music in flight - the miraculous musical form that is the fugue, where melodies chase each other, work against each other and come together in a supremely logical and often exhilarating fusion. How does it work, why is it important and can we learn to love the fugue in the 21st century? Tom tries his hand at playing Bach's Fugue in C minor from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, a challenge to many a piano exam student, gets tips on tackling fugues from virtuoso harpsichord player Mahan Esfahani, and comes across a very contemporary take on the art of learning about fugue. Lady Gaga is involved...

Why does music move us?  

How can music make us cry? Why does our favourite piece give us the shivers? And why, when we're feeling down, do we enjoy nothing more than a good wallow in sad music? Is it something in the music - or something in ourselves? From Schubert to Stravinsky and Mahler to Miley Cyrus - Tom Service is joined by music psychology expert Dr Victoria Williamson to investigate how music can tug on our heartstrings like nothing else. Rethink music, with The Listening Service.

Beethoven - Hero or Villain?  

Presented by Tom Service Beethoven lived in an age of revolution and his music has long been associated with heroism. But does posterity's casting of Beethoven as a hero mean that we miss crucial things in the music of others, or even of Beethoven himself? Is he a musical hero or a musical villain? And what does Beethoven have to say about heroines? Rethink music, with The Listening Service.

Is Birdsong Music?  

Birdsong has fascinated composers for centuries, but is it really music as we understand it? Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years. He listens to music inspired by birdsong, made up from elements of birdsong and performed alongside birdsong - why does it have such a deep effect on the human psyche and how have the sounds of the natural world informed the development of human music? With contributions from sound recordist, musician and ecologist Bernie Krause, Messiaen scholar Delphine Evans and naturalist Stephen Moss. Also archive material from Ludwig Koch, the pioneering sound recordist who made the first documented recording of a bird as an 8 year old in 1889. Rethink Music, with The Listening Service. Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

How do you describe a teaspoon in music?  

Can you describe a teaspoon in music? Why would you even want to? Tom Service explores how music is able to tell stories in sound Tom is joined by musicologist Ken Hamilton for a journey through musical history to reveal music's ability to describe the most everyday actions and the most heartfelt emotions. From Vivaldi and Beethoven, to the epic tone poems of Richard Strauss (which may or may not contain teaspoons), to Hollywood blockbusters - how does music paint those pictures in our mind, and do those pictures always look the same? Rethink Music, with The Listening Service. Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears.

How Do You Make a National Anthem?  

Tom Service on the music, meaning and occasional madness of the world's national anthems. How are they chosen, what are they for, and is the music any good? He's joined by writer Alex Marshall, author of the book "Republic or Death, Travels in Search of National Anthems",and by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who looks at why some of them are easier to sing than others... Rethink Music, with The Listening Service. Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

05 JUNE 2016: How Do You Make a National Anthem?  

Tom Service on the music, meaning and occasional madness of the world's national anthems. How are they chosen, what are they for, and is the music any good? He's joined by writer Alex Marshall, author of the book "Republic or Death, Travels in Search of National Anthems",and by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who looks at why some of them are easier to sing than others... Plus some special Podcast extras!

The Power of Love Songs  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. Today Tom explores the enduring power of love songs. He talks to Ted Gioia, author of Love Songs: The Hidden History who explains that the very first traces of writing in human history are hymns to love. The tenor Ian Bostridge reflects on the inward-looking art of Lieder and what they tell us about true love in the romantic era. And Tom turns to the operatic stage for some of the ultimate expressions of love as a subversive and even revolutionary force, showing how Verdi and Strauss used thwarted lovers in their operas to shine a light on the hypocrisy and gender politics of their times. Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service.

29 MAY 2016: The Power of Love Songs  

Tom explores the enduring power of love songs. He talks to Ted Gioia, author of Love Songs: The Hidden History who explains that the very first traces of writing in human history are hymns to love. The tenor Ian Bostridge reflects on the inward-looking art of Lieder and what they tell us about true love in the romantic era. Cathy Dennis talks about the power of love in Pop Songs. And Tom turns to the operatic stage for some of the ultimate expressions of love as a subversive and even revolutionary force, showing how Verdi and Strauss used thwarted lovers in their operas to shine a light on the hypocrisy and gender politics of their times.

What's All That Noise?  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. Today - What's all that that Noise? Tom investigates - when is noise just noise, and when is it music? is it just sound in the wrong place? Tom finds that, though we resent noises in the concert hall, music needs some noise in it to give it character. He also investigates the contemporary genre of Noise Music at an avant garde club. He considers noise in our daily lives, and talks to Emily Cockayne, author of Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England 1600-1770; and to David Hendy, author of Noise: a Human History. We can't avoid noise, so can we learn to love it? Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service...

22 MAY 2016: What's All That Noise?  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. What's all that that Noise? Tom investigates - when is noise just noise, and when is it music? is it just sound in the wrong place? Tom finds that, though we resent noises in the concert hall, music needs some noise in it to give it character. He also investigates the contemporary genre of Noise Music at an avant garde club. He considers noise in our daily lives, and talks to Emily Cockayne, author of Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England 1600-1770; and to David Hendy, author of Noise: a Human History. We can't avoid noise, so can we learn to love it? Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service...

What Is It About Mozart?  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. Today's programme asks "What is it about Mozart" - how have his life and music become the template for what a composer should be - a child prodigy, a virtuoso, a cultural monument, not to mention a confectionery industry... And is there anything that we can say is uniquely "Mozartean" - what makes his music so distinctive and why does it connect so readily with audiences? Explore Mozart's music with Tom and see what conclusions you come to. Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively. Tune in and rethink music, with The Listening Service..

15 MAY 2016: What Is It About Mozart?  

Tom Service explores the essence of Mozart and why his music continues to make an impact.

Repetition  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. Today - repetition. It's been estimated that in 90 per cent of the music that we hear in our lives, we're hearing material that we've already listened to before, And if you think about the music you love the most - it's often built on repeated patterns, phrases and riffs. So why do we need our music to be so repetitive? Musicologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis is on hand as Tom finds out why repetition is hard wired into our musical brains. So join Tom as he presses repeat on music from Bach to Beyoncé, Haydn to Herbie Hancock, Stockhausen to Schubert. Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service... Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

08 MAY 2016: Repetition  

Tom Service finds out why repetition is hard wired into our musical brains.

Beginnings  

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works. Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb. How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them? When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively. So where do we start? This inaugural programme takes "Beginnings" at its theme - how do you begin a piece of music? Tom looks at a cornucopia of opening bars - from classical to pop, to see how composers grab our attention, and go on to keep us listening. With thoughts from composer Anna Meredith on the terror of the blank page, tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service..

01 MAY 2016: Beginnings  

Tom looks at a cornucopia of opening bars - from classical to pop, to see how composers grab our attention, and go on to keep us listening. With thoughts from composer Anna Meredith on the terror of the blank page, tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service..

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