Themes and Variation S2E05: “Songs About Science”

“An energetic and scholastic throwback theme. A captivating piece of experimental sound art. And an alt-rock ode to one of humanity’s most celebrated minds…”

What does one of Martin’s favorite ’90s cartoons have in common with a creative genius in the world of sound art? What’s the shared link between Frasier, Philip Glass, and the Counting Crows? Is John Mayer a shameless pre-chorus thief?

In the latest episode of Themes and Variation, we dig into these questions and more. Join me (your humble podcast host, Mahea Lee), Jeremy Young, and Martin Fowler as we embark upon a journey to the center of the theme: “Songs About Science.”

This episode is centered around track selections from the catalogs of Peter Lurye, Tristan Perich, and the Counting Crows, with a special shout out to the work of celebrated composer Philip Glass and acclaimed pianist Vicky Chow. As ever, the discussion touches on topics like theory, production, and music history — along with opinions and anecdotes from the panel here and there.

If you’re looking for your next small step in the direction of musical knowledge and entertainment, listen to the episode below or on the podcast platform of your choice.

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Episode 205 Highlights

1. Martin on the epic way the Magic School Bus theme ends.

Martin: “One thing I particularly love about it is there’s no qualms about where we’re landing. We are landing at home with that. There’s the main melody, “Da da da da da ba ba ba!” And then the harmony above it is all… it’s all major thirds. So you land on this big, fat major chord with the major third on the top. And it’s just like… we are home now. No question about it.”

2. Jeremy on the creative versatility of Tristan Perich.

Jeremy: “Tristan Perich, I think, is somebody that crosses over into so many different realms because of his multi talents — like, you know, math, computer science, music, sound, visual art, everything… But there’s something that is so alive about this piece and it’s so organic and it really feels like something that Philip Glass would have composed.”

3. Mahea looks at science and music from a new perspective.

Mahea: “There’s way more songs about science than I expected… is mostly… my big takeaway. Like I thought this was going to be really hard and then I got to thinking and I was like, ‘Well, not to be that person, but isn’t everything about science? Therefore all music is about science?’”

Episode Playlist

With every new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in this episode and more. Here’s this episode’s Spotify playlist!

We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a line at [email protected] or find us on Twitter.

Com Truise: Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk

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