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How To Be Smarter About...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 - 01:00 PM

This kid is studying up on his music theory. This kid is studying up on his music theory. (Shutterstock)

Let's face it: We've all been at some party where the conversation drifts to a topic you kinda sorta don't know anything about. You nod along, silently sipping your drink, hoping your pals don't call you out because you don't have a favorite proto-post rock band. Or worse, they ask if you prefer Italian, German or French augmented sixth chords. (The correct answer? Italian. C'mon.) Because ultimately, as much as we all know and love about music, everyone has at least some blind spots.

So here at Soundcheck HQ, we’re working on an upcoming series designed to help you become a more impressive conversation partner at cocktail parties and around the water cooler. It’s called How To Be Smarter About… -- and we need your help filling in those dots. When it comes to music, what do you want to be smarter about? Maybe you want to know more about bebop, or hip hop, or trip-hop. Maybe you want to better understand Captain Beefheart.

So would you like to be smarter about? Tell us here in the comments threads, reach out on Twitter at @Soundcheck, leave a voicemail at 866-939-1612.

Just to get you thinking, here are some suggestions we’ve received so far:

One listener, Shaloub, emailed us one word:


Here’s one from another listener, Christopher:

What does the word “classical” REALLY mean? Is it the style? Is it the time period? Couldn't classical mean it's just an older style of music that has been carried forward regardless of the geographical origin? Couldn't classical mean that today's rap is yesterday's griot? Can’t the meaning change? Please teach me. Thanks.

And Jonah wants to be smarter about Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention:

There is literally no other catalogue of music that is so intimidating in its breadth and depth. I need more access points and entryways, more route markers along the long and winding road that is Zappa's life and music.


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Comments [7]

Bryan from Saint Louis from Saint Louis, MO

Years ago, I really enjoyed the "Amazing Rhythm Aces" from Nashville. Their lead vocalist, Russel Smith could really sell a song. In fact, the Aces mixed country and rock in a manner that still sounds contemporary. I'd love to find out more about them. (their "hits" includes "Third Rate Romance", a perfect country tune about a drunken romantic evening!)


Aug. 19 2014 03:19 PM
student from NY

I think we should be smarter about how we listen to a conversation and add things to the conversation. You don't need to know everything to ask a good question or make an interesting connection between something new you're just now listening to and something you may know but the others speaking don't. We need to bridge the gap between being embarrassed about what we don't know and be more open to creating new connections with that which we do know to something we might not.

Aug. 11 2014 04:59 PM
Laura from Virginia

Music production and sound engineering - how it's done, how it can shape or change a song or album, how it has changed over time with new technologies, etc.

Aug. 09 2014 11:39 AM
Jim B from Queens

I used to be good at this but need help now. How to find my next favorite song ?

Aug. 09 2014 08:36 AM
DarrenMM from Paramus, New Jersey

"Astral Weeks" Van Morrison's greatly acclaimed and highly influential second album released in 1968: It consistently makes All Time Top 10 Rock Album lists - STILL after 45 years. Many great artists sing the album's praises. Now that Morrison's camp has allowed postings of his music on YouTube in the past year, it's easier to listen to "AW" and hear these beautiful deeply personal songs, but what is it about this album (and Van Morrison as an artist) that makes so many place this album at the very pinnacle and keeps its impact SO enduring? [I know you talked with Joe Levy on this a year or two ago, but I WANT MORE! ... please] Thanks.

Aug. 06 2014 12:01 PM
Adam from NJ

Harmony - what's the deal with that.

Aug. 06 2014 11:44 AM
jimmy from detroit

odd times, odd sounds, odd hours, metal, tuvan throat, pop, dub, jit, nightbus, witch house, pentatonic, diatonic, melancholic, free jazz, bad jazz, adult jazz, all of it.

Aug. 05 2014 08:19 PM

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