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Pay to Play

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There’s a new target in music’s ongoing copyright wars: the small venue. Today, we’ll hear how churches, coffee shops, house parties, and other non-traditional performance spaces are under new pressure to pay for the right to present live music. Later, roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo tells us about his newest album, and indie-folk duo The Unthanks join us to perform live.

Music To Our Fears

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Film composers use certain sounds to trigger suspense and even terror, like the screeching violins in Psycho’s shower-murder scene or the relentless shark theme in Jaws. As these iconic scores mark major anniversaries this summer, guest host Elliott Forrest asks two experts why some music delivers the goose bumps. Also, live music from the sacred-steel star and New Jersey native Robert Randolph.

All the Good Band Names are Taken

Monday, June 28, 2010

No, seriously. We're running out of band names. The Wall Street Journal recently investigated the lack of catchy, original new band names in the age of MySpace and Google. They found that even the bassist from Led Zeppelin couldn't get his first choice for a name, Caligula, because it was taken. Also: Omara Portundo, the Latin Grammy-winning singer, and regarded as Cuba's Ella Fitzgerald, performs live in our studio. This is a repeat edition of Soundcheck.

The Sounds of Soccer Diplomacy

Friday, June 25, 2010

Our series Music of the World Cup looks at a famous World War I truce -- and the songs it inspired. Plus: we hear how relations among African nations have shaped the competition underway in South Africa.

New Releases in Hip Hop

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Drake is not your typical rapper: the biracial, half-Jewish MC grew up a child actor in a wealthy part of Toronto. But with his new album Thank Me Later, the 23-year-old may be poised for chart-topping success. Today on Soundcheck: new releases in hip hop, and a look at its changing climate. Plus: the struggle of Asian-American artists to be heard in American pop. And later: live music from jazz bassist and composer Stephan Crump.

The Beatles: Legends That Won't Die

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Beatles are a wellspring of urban legends, including the most famous: that Paul McCartney died in 1966. Plus: a new novel that casts the Fab Four as zombies. Finally, the classical-bluegrass group Punch Brothers performs live.

A Year Without Michael

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One year after the death of Michael Jackson, plenty of questions linger about the pop star’s estate, his family, and his death itself. But the earth-shattering effect of his music on the world remains undeniable. We look into stories of lives changed by Michael Jackson and other music icons. Also, jazz saxophone legend Jimmy Heath talks about his seven-decade career. Today's show features guest host Jeff Spurgeon of WQXR.

Live from the Greene Space

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bobby McFerrin is known to astonish audiences with his four-octave range and dazzling array of vocal effects. On today's show, McFerrin performs live in WNYC's The Greene Space. The show begins with live music from boundary-hopping jazz pianist Jason Moran and his trio.

Horn of Plenty

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our weekly series exploring the role of music in the World Cup continues. We’ll hear about the vuvuzela, the trumpet-like instrument that fans blow incessantly at South African soccer matches. Also: As his native country’s team battles its way through the World Cup, Ghanaian-American rapper Blitz the Ambassador joins us to perform live.

Herbie Hancock Dares to 'Imagine'

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two years ago, Herbie Hancock's tribute to songwriter Joni Mitchell earned Album of the Year honors at the Grammys. The jazz pianist and musical innovator joins us to talk about working with pop diva Pink, jam-band maestro Dave Matthews and others on his new album, The Imagine Project. And, a piano may be coming to a park, plaza or street near you. Plus, live music from the Irish indie act Villagers.

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What Is a Recording, Anyway?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last week’s segment on Robert Johnson’s recordings generated plenty of chatter on the Soundcheck website. Today, we’ll hear a different side of the Johnson story. Plus: we explore what constitutes a “good” or “faithful” recording in the age of auto-tune, mashups, and long-distance recording projects. Plus: local musician Sean Bones and Grammy winner Norah Jones discuss acting together in a new movie, and play live.

Rise of the Machines

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Technology has made plenty of jobs obsolete – could composers be next? Today, we’ll meet the creator of a computer program that analyzes existing classical works, then uses the data to create its own original pieces. Later, in our weekly Soundcheck Smackdown, critics debate the place of artificial intelligence in music. Plus, live music from singer and percussionist Pedrito Martínez.

The Making of Music City, USA

Monday, June 14, 2010

We’ll discuss the big winners at last night’s Tony Awards. And as Nashville rebounds from devastating floods, Soundcheck looks at WSM – the powerhouse Nashville radio station that jumpstarted the city’s music industry. Plus, live music from Brazilian singer Joyce Moreno.

Music from the Beautiful Game

Friday, June 11, 2010

Today marks the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa - and the beginning of a Soundcheck series on the role of music in the world's biggest soccer tournament. We'll explore the music of participating countries and sample team songs, official and otherwise. Plus: Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Fred Hersch plays live.

The Return of Sarah McLachlan

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sarah McLachlan has sold over 40 million records and founded the groundbreaking, all-female concert tour, Lilith Fair. This year, Lilith Fair returns and so does McLachlan. She joins us to talk about her upcoming album and her role in the revival of Lilith Fair. Also, Linfinity performs music from their delightfully eerie debut album live in the studio.

The Delta Blues at Full Speed

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Robert Johnson's “The Complete Recordings" is one of the most popular blues collections ever released, and is unquestionably the biggest-selling album ever by a pre-World War II bluesman. But new evidence shows we’ve been listening to his music at the wrong speed.

 

House Bands Have It Out

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Now in their second season on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots are poised to become the biggest band on late night TV. But they've got the old guard to contend with: Paul Shaffer of the Letterman show is still going strong after three decades. On today's Soundcheck Smackdown: the battle of the late night bands. Plus, opera soprano Renée Fleming talks about her controversial new indie rock album.

Crowning 2010's Song of the Summer

Monday, June 07, 2010

Every summer, one song seems to blast from every beach radio, car stereo, and headset around the city. Hear the candidates for the 2010 summer song and weigh in with your favorite. Also, organist Cameron Carpenter.

Music Under the Hood

Friday, June 04, 2010

From “Low Rider” to “Little Deuce Coupe,” plenty of songs have been inspired by cars. But sometimes the formula works in reverse. We'll find out how a snappy playlist proved instrumental in the design of the new Ford Taurus. And later, we'll hear how the Internet is changing car radio culture. Plus, live music from the adventurous saxophone ensemble Prism Quartet.

Musicians Divided over Arizona Boycott

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A coalition of musicians is boycotting Arizona to protest the state’s tough new immigration law. Hear why the music industry is sharply divided over the boycott and what steps are next. Also, Jace Everett.

The Sounds of the Big Bang

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The ancient Greeks talked about the “harmony of the spheres.”  Now, astronomers are discovering that the universe really does vibrate, and those vibrations offer us a peek into the universe’s earliest moments. Today: how the science of “big bang acoustics” is helping us understand the birth of the cosmos. Plus: live music from jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson and his trio.

Retired Rockers Try Again

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Last month, Soundgarden played their first show together in twelve years. The Seattle grunge rockers are among the many long-retired acts who are back in action this summer. For some fans, a reunion tour can be a godsend – others would prefer that their favorite bands’ legacies remain untouched. We’ll debate reunion fever in a Soundcheck Smackdown. Plus, Tony-nominated choreographer Karole Armitage talks about a new work inspired by physics.