There are so many ways to “study” music.
You can do it in any level of school or by hiring a private tutor outside of school. You can do it by committing to practice your instrument for several hours a day or week. You can read scores or music history books to learn about composers and composition. You can study music right here on Soundfly, online with a course or with a coach…
In this latest episode of our podcast (yet another way to veritably study music), we wanted to get to the bottom of how and why great musicians and musical thinkers engage in a “study” practice. We also talk about how great instrumentalists know how and when to play supporting roles, what discovering music was like in a world before the internet, and how the world’s highest earning musician made my co-host who she is today.
And we do all that with Ethan Hein, author, educator, and doctoral fellow (and author of the new book Electronic Music School: A Contemporary Approach to Teaching Musical Creativity), in our first-ever livestreamed taping! Listen to Themes and Variation’s 27th episode below:
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Episode 27 Highlights
1. Carter on the brilliance of Joni Mitchell’s first verse.
Carter: “The thing that stands out to me of course is Joni’s verse. The first verse, Don Alias playing drums and complimenting everything that she’s playing and like so rhythmically and melodically. But her, her verse man its totally unaccompanied other than the drums, there’s no harmonic accompaniment and she’s spelling out the changes, that’s a perfectly written melody. When you hear a really good solo you can hear the changes without the comping of the piano or the walking bass line. You go back to the cello suites, you listen to any of the Bach cello suites, you hear harmony through a single line and that always is absolutely incredible. Juts listen again just to her, this verse, unbelievable.”
2. Ethan on what it means to “study” music.
Ethan: “I think it just means to like pay attention to it and try to like, imaginatively participate in it and you can do that, like I mean the track that I’m gonna talk about, there was no way to study that kind of music formally at all until real recently. Like the people who made it learned how to do that just by sitting there with their gear and figuring it out and I honor that method.”
3. Mahea on Andrew Lloyd Webber copying himself.
Mahea: “So I did say earlier that Andrew Lloyd Weber sometimes gets criticized for more or less writing the same thing over and over again. You’re writing in musical theater within a show, you’re forgiven for that in my book. Like, it’s a theme coming back and it keeps us in the narrative. I’m not okay with the fact that this happened though. Carter can you play the Placido Domingo track?”
Carter: “Oh you bet I can, this is awesome, here we go…”
Join Our Collaborative Playlist
Every time we launch a new episode, we create a collaborative Spotify playlist in order to share every song mentioned in this episode and explore many others that fit the theme. And you can add to it! We want to hear the songs that made you want to study music, so go ahead and add them to the playlist yourself below!
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]!