Both Bryce and I have been listening a lot of podcasts lately. The number of fantastic programs available around the internet for free is growing faster than we can keep up with. Besides super popular podcasts like This American Life, Serial, and Freakonomics (which are all excellent) there are a ton of well produced independent shows. Here’s our list of music related podcasts that we both enjoy:
Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, Song Exploder explores how music is created by interviewing composers, musicians, and bands about their recording process. Each podcast, which is usually only about 10-15 minutes, breaks down the layers and layers embedded in a song, narrated by the group that recorded it. Every show is fascinating and I always learn something new, whether the guest is a classical movie score composer or a punk rock band. You gain an appreciation for the recording process and figure out all sorts of tricks to try in future albums in just a few minutes.
If you enjoy well crafted stories about music, this is the podcast for you. From stories about writing music in your sleep to actresses learning to play piano, kids creating music at bus stops and the appeal of karaoke, this show has everything. Unfortunately they have only created 2 seasons with 14 total episodes so far, but every episode is excellent and well worth listening to.
Much like Pitch, this is another podcast that only has a few episodes. However, the 5 episodes in their first season were incredible. Meet the Composer interviews living classical music composers about their craft and approach to music. Each hour long episode dives into the world of a composer, playing some of their music while they describe how it was created. I will admit that going in there were parts of modern classical music I did not understand or enjoy listening to, but after listening to this podcast I’m a fan. My favorite one so far was with Caroline Shaw. Her approach to creating vocal music by assuming nothing about what a choir should sound like was fascinating. I imagine if some handbell composers approached their work this way, handbells could sound completely different.
Brought to you by NPR, All Songs Considered is probably the most main stream podcast on this list. Hosts Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen bring you new music from all over the world every episode. If you ever wonder where most of the random music we cite here on the blog comes from, most of the time it’s this show. From folk to classical to thai-psycadelic, they play everything that’s new. They also host a Tiny Desk Concert series where famous musicians come and perform at their desk, giving viewers an intimate experience with musicians you usually see from a far.
This is one I just recently discovered. On this short weekly podcast pianist and composer Bruce Adolphe takes one piece of music and writes it in the style of another. Callers then have to guess the song and the style. So far I have heard classical and pop and TV themes in the few weeks I have been listening. This is one I’ll definitely be keeping up with.
Other Random Shows
If you are curious, here are some of my other favorite podcasts that aren’t music specific.
- 99% Invisible – a beautifully crafted weekly podcast about design. Many of the episodes are about things right in front of you that you never considered.
- Reply All – a show about the internet. This show has only been out for a few months now, but every episode is well produced and provides an interesting look at the internet’s effect on our lives.
- How To Do Everything – As the name implies, this weekly show is very random. You never know what your going to get each week, but it’s always educational and always entertaining.
What is a Podcast? How Do I Listen To Podcasts?
For those who have never listened to podcasts, a quick explanation. Podcasts are audio files that you download and listen to on your phone or media player or stream over the internet. If you are an Apple user, you can easily download podcasts to your iPod or iPhone using iTunes. For my Android phone, I have been using an app called Podcast Republic to manage all my podcasts. The app is quick and easy to use, and it pulls suggestions from the iTunes store when you are looking for new podcasts to explore. Also, you can find lots of other podcast apps doing a quick search in any of the app stores.
Whether you’re looking to kill time on a long drive, or occupy yourself while doing the dishes, I would highly recommend checking out these podcasts. Do you have any favorites that I left out? Let us know in the comments below!