Looking Back on Another Year of Themes & Variation: a Clip Show!

Grid of faces, guests of the podcast.

Grid of faces, guests of the podcast.

In 2021, our podcast released 24 bimonthly episodes, each of which centered around a unique and fun musical theme, and paired with the perfect guest to discuss those themes as they pertain to three chosen songs.

Some of our themes were pretty clear cut (like “Songs That Used Found Sounds” or “Dilla Songs”), while others were more abstract (like “Whimsical Songs” or “Mysterious Songs”), but they were all up for interpretation; by the guest, by us, and by you!

Throughout the year, we heard insights from 30 different panelists, each of whom brought a unique musical perspective to the show. This year’s guests included performers, producers, video game music composers, songwriters, educators, students, theorists, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists. We talked to some of our favorite Soundfly course instructors, some amazing Soundfly Mentors, and even some students too, about their love for music and the weird and wonderful things that jumped out about every one of the songs we covered.

So, for this final episode of the year, Mahea and I look back on the last 12 months of the show, revisiting noteworthy moments along the way. We chat about how Themes and Variation has impacted my listening habits, and Mahea puts my memory to the test via some trivia questions — you can find them below if you’d like to challenge yourself too!

On behalf of myself, Mahea, and the rest of the Soundfly team, happy holidays and thank you for a wonderful year of Themes and Variation. Listen to Episode 35 in its entirety right here:

We’ll be taking a short break during the holidays, but to get all of our biweekly episodes right on your phone, head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere else you get your podcasts to subscribe and download.

*If you’d like to help us keep the show going, please consider leaving us a 5-star review to help spread the word! It would mean a lot to us.

Podcast Trivia

During the second half of the episode, Mahea asked me some tough trivia questions about the show this year. See if you can answer the questions below. Play the clips if you’d like to check your answers!

How many of the episode themes in 2021 did not begin with the word “songs?”

Carter: “This has to be a total guess. I’m going to play the percentages and bet that the majority of them started with ‘songs.’

Mahea: Absolutely.

Carter: So I’m going to say… there’s 24 episodes.. I’m going to say five of them didn’t start with ‘songs.’

Mahea: You’re not way off, but…”

Although the covers episode went up last year, there was one episode in 2021 in which 2 of the 3 featured tracks happened to be covers. Which episode was it?

Carter: “What did I even do for that? 

Mahea: Yours was a very different direction. You picked a Paul Anka cover of…

Carter: Oh, of course! ‘Black Hole Sun!’ Yes… God, I listen to that record so much now.

Mahea: Soooo much.

Carter: (singing) Black hole sun!

Mahea: So what was the episode’s theme? ‘Cause they were both kind of weird choices that got justified eventually.

Carter: Oh man. Um, mm. Uh, oh, of course. Um, my, one of my favorite themes…”

There was one episode this year in which all 3 of the featured songs had one-word titles. Which episode was it?

Carter: “There’s no way I’m gonna know this.

Mahea: It makes sense. So break it down a little bit. What kind of genres would you expect to have one-word titles, given that a one-word title is an easy thing to search, an easy thing to say, and an easy thing to remember.

Carter: I honestly can’t even, uh, it’s gotta be like a dance or like pop related thing and I, I got nothing. So just tell me…”

Join Our Collaborative Playlist

Every other week, and with every episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new collaborative Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in the episode, as well as crowdsourced additions from YOU!

This week however, we have a special treat. We’ve pulled every single song that was broken down on the podcast over the past year and plopped them all into today’s playlist to revisit the last year of listening all at once. Enjoy.

We’ll see you in the new year with new themes, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!

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