In 1999, journalist, author, and novelist John Colapinto damaged his vocal cords while singing in a rock band without properly warming up. The incident sparked a decades-long investigation into the miracle of the human voice and its biological, sociological, and psychological implications.
Colapinto poured his research—which began with an article he wrote for The New Yorker, where he’s a staff writer, about vocal surgeon Steven Zeitels, who has worked with Steven Tyler, Cher, and Adele—into his book, This Is the Voice (Simon & Schuster), out this month in paperback, which tells the story of the human voice from its ancestral precursors in lungfish millions of years ago to its role as a powerful, efficient tool wielded by most people every day. He also explains how the voice can provide clues about a person’s age, sexual preference, and culture, and argues that humans’ physiological adaptations that developed to enable speech some 50,000 years ago are the evolutionary key that led to our role as earth’s dominant species.
Here, Colapinto talks about the voice as “acoustical lasagna,” and how it subconsciously informs our social interactions and tells people how we truly feel, even if that’s at odds with what we’re saying.
“The voice is the unifying thing that is of relevance to humans as a species. It’s how we collaborated and conspired against tougher, bigger, faster, more lethal animals. Noam Chomsky, other linguistics experts, and every evolutionary biologist you can think of will say that we rose to the top of the food chain because of language, because that’s the way that we organize ideas in our brains. But more specifically, we do it with our voices. And we were able to speak only because of highly specific evolutionary anatomical changes to our vocal apparatuses.
The development of those apparatuses fascinates me. Our voices come from an ancient lungfish, which was the first creature to emerge from oceans, where life began as single-cell organisms. It was through a refinement of the breathing apparatuses of these fish, which were eventually both land-dwellers and water-dwellers, that our vocal cords emerged. Our vocal cords are not like guitar strings, but are instead valves that we open and close when we want to speak, a coordinated system of throat buzzes and movement of tongue and lips. Every day we beam ideas into each other’s heads by making air molecules vibrate in particular ways.
Sometimes I talk about the voice as an ‘acoustical lasagna,’ because there are so many different layers of communication. One thing we pick up from someone’s voice is a linguistic layer: We hear a very precise and elegant vocabulary and think that that person might have gone to a fancy school, or has done a lot of reading. But we’re also getting a tremendous amount of information from the accent, the way people shape consonants and vowels. When we hear Bernie Sanders talk, we’re hearing that he says ‘New York’ and ‘car’ a particular way. He doesn’t include the ‘R’ sound. We know that that’s true of Woody Allen as well. All of this tells us that both of those guys come from Brooklyn, or the outer boroughs of Manhattan, from pretty early in the twentieth century. If you hear a voice that is pressurized and fast, a little on the edge, and jumping on the consonants, it may signify anger, or that someone is pent up. A voice like that of Donald Trump, another person from New York and in his seventies, sounds very combative.
There’s also the emotional channel of the voice. We’re communicating literally how we feel—hostile, afraid, excited, happy. Many fine gradations of emotion occur within the vocal channel that can be totally different from what we’re saying. People can pick up lies in voices, for example. In his books On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin talks about how this emotional signaling through voice emerges from animal voices. We see this in a dog that makes a low-pitched growling sound to suggest that it’s angry, or a high-pitched whining sound to signal that it’s submissive. Every animal on earth that has a voice uses exactly the same spectrum of sounds. Most people don’t know it, but if you intimidate certain birds, they respond in a low voice. Then they’ve got their high-pitched singing voice that demonstrates happiness. Cats do the same thing.
This is a type of signaling. What is it all about? A low-pitched sound suggests a big body—think of a cello versus a violin. It suggests a big resonating chamber. So it’s a bluffing sound. It’s literally an evolutionary adaptation in a threatening situation, to pretend you’ve got a bigger body. Even mice do this. When they’re threatened, their voice lowers, and when they’re trying to mate and elicit attraction, their voices go higher. I love that—and, like them, we’re doing the same thing, all the time.”
Though nearly six years have gone by since Leonard Cohen’s passing, the long shadow cast by his legacy as one of the 20tSuzanne,” to the high drama of “Hallelujah,” to the chilling minimalist and gospel juxtaposition of his swansong “You Want it Darker,” Cohen managed to constantly reinvent himself, leaving behind the rare achievement of a musical body of work whose mos
One episode begins with sputtering phonemes. Another plays back organized cries of dissent from the 2019 Hong Kong proteArtReview’s formally experimental podcast, Subject, Object, Verb.
Music put out by artists from the Nordic region—an emerging hotbed for progressive musicians such as the prolific singer
Holger Schulze runs the Sound Studies Lab at the University of Copenhagen, where scholars and artists gather to explore
Call it “free jazz,” “avant-garde,” or “the new thing.” Just don’t call it predictable. Founded in Chicago in 1965 and sAssociation for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) has long been an emblem of experimental, improvised jazz. As author Paul Steinbeck describes in his new book, Sound Experiments: The Music of the AACM (University of Chicago Press), this collective came together to play and promote fearlessly original, spontaneous music
Over the past year or so, to state the obvious, there’s been an explosion of artists and musicians wading into web3. NFTarena rockers to humble instrumentalists taking a crack at the NFT game, there’s been plenty of discussion about whether these tokens are just another tool for Bandcamp’s more patronage-oriented streaming model—for musicians to retain greater profits from the sales of their work.
At first glance, the term “deaf sound artist” might seem an oxymoron. The Berlin-based, Korean-American artist ChristineFace Opera II,” for example, features an all-deaf cast but no signing, upending the expectations of hearing viewers. For her recent pCaptioning the City,” Kim installed large-scale descriptions of various noises across Manchester, England, urging viewers to reconsider how
In the fall of 2020, when a conservationist and a film music supervisor both came to the conclusion that “the world needFor the Birds: The Birdsong Project” took root. The collaborators in question? Executive producer Rebecca Reagan, whose work includes the regenerative soilCarol, Skyfall, several Wes Anderson movies, and Boardwalk Empire, the latter of which earned him a Grammy Award. For The Birdsong Project, the two longtime friends bridged their wheelhou
On first glance, the German town of Halberstadt may seem like any other. Winding rows of timbered houses line cobbled st
Growing up in the Bronx, Jermaine Stone planned to become a rapper. His visions of hip-hop stardom weren’t far-fetched:
“African Americans have played a major role in creating the foundation for what we know as American food,” food anthropoDebra Freeman says on the trailer for Setting the Table, the podcast she hosts. “From soul food to barbecue and almost everything in between, African American cuisine has esse
Few musical genres capture the dizzying creative potential and sobering commercial realities of today’s moment quite likthe ever-bloating corpse of lo-fi beats playlists, or the number of times the word hyperpop entered a conversation in 2020), and federal disinterest in funding young musicians in any category beyond classical, o
On any visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a certain sense of abundance weighs. Works by Rothko, Calder, andRashid Johnson rest only a quick walk from rooms stuffed with the shadowy canvases of Caravaggio and Rembrandt, which spill into sun-sa lot to take in. And while trying to process this aesthetic overstimulation, one can be forgiven for looking past the many mImmaterial podcast. Hosted by writer and poet Camille T. Dungy, Immaterial takes up a different art material as the subject of itfirst episode alone, about paper, everything from comic books, to Gilded Age belly-dancing celebrities, to bespoke Valentine’s Day ca
For Brian Sweeny, the line between performance and religious experience is ambiguous to say the least. Starting in 2016,Ambient Church, he began renting churches for musicians to perform their interpretations of meditative, devotional, and minimal music,Body Actualized Center—a storefront he and his friends transformed, using found and Craigslist-sourced materials, into a yoga studio that morphed into a venue for events including raves,Along with the acoustic benefits and aesthetic backdrops that churches provide, what do they bring to the performances ySome music is really delicate, especially when performed indoors, and needs complete quiet to be enjoyed—no clinking of What draws you to ambient music? I tend to think of ambient as more of an adjective, describing a sound or approach to musical creation rather than a genre. I love all music, and fourth world.” Acts like Salamanda from Seoul, YAI from Brooklyn, and Carmen Villain from Oslo come to mind. You call these performances “community experiences,” and never “concerts.” What makes you draw this distinction? The concert is a cultural construct that Ambient Church certainly overlaps with, in that we feature amplified and unimagEric Epstein, who has been blowing audiences away with his visual artistry since the beginning of the project. How has your approach to Ambient Church shifted over time? The vision has changed mostly in terms of its inclusivity. In the early stages, the audience I was trying to attract was
A composer, saxophonist, and flutist on the cutting edge of jazz since the ’70s, Henry Threadgill became one of only three jazz musicians to have received a Pulitzer Prize in 2016, for the radical stylings of his mastZooid. Meanwhile, artist McArthur Binion, having honed his craft of painting and drawing deceptively complex, minimalist patterns over several decades, rocketedModern Ancient Brown Foundation in Detroit, where he earned his B.F.A. at Wayne State University (and later, earned his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy oAir). “Back then, the city was very small, so everybody knew each other,” Binion says. “It was an amazing time.” Binion refat the same place [in our careers],” Binion says. To mark the occasion, he commissioned Threadgill to compose and conduct Brown Black X, which will be performed at the Detroit Orchestra Hall on June 24. The work will honor their abiding friendship as well as the Modern Ancient Brown Foundation and the elder Bfree, ticketed performance, Threadgill will bring together Zooid and several Detroit-based musicians to play his new score. Last week, Threadgill Ulysses, and the pace of the human heart have all been guiding influences in Threadgill’s previous compositions. This time, looking to Binion’s work for inspiration, Threadgill points to the wa“DNA” series, for example, in which paintings that appear from afar as simple, geometric patterns up close reveal themselves to be i
How can we develop a deeper, more human and multifaceted understanding of the past? Economist Rob Johnson (who was the guest on Ep. 22 of our At a Distance podcast) knows all too well that studying data offers some answers—but that it doesn't represent the full picture. “Analysis ofInstitute for New Economic Thinking, an interdisciplinary collective of economists and thinkers who develop inventive methods to better serve communities aEconomics & Beyond, which draws on his extensive knowledge of everything from the climate crisis to the impact of music on public policy. a heartfelt playlist for us that represents what Detroit means to him. “Detroit has been the seedbed of creation for so many songs,” he saysListen to Johnson’s Detroit “In Our Hearts” playlist on Spotify.
By its name alone, the podcast Crypto Island stands to entice just as many people as it’s likely to turn off. Don’t be fooled, though. The series isn’t some well-tr
A disembodied rubber tongue juts from a brass contraption upon a wall that links it with motors, tubes, and metal. ArtifWeird Sensation Feels Good: The World of A.S.M.R.” (through October 16), a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum.
Live music performances, with their visceral, multisensorial energy, can be a form of sonic regeneration and discovery. Hiya Live Sessions, a multicity program of concerts and club nights, draws on this reality by focusing on experimental works by female art
Virginia Heffernan is concerned. The seasoned journalist (who was the guest on Ep. 5 of our At a Distance podcast, in 2020) spent the better part of the last four years co-hosting Slate’s Trumpcast, a podcast dedicated to the Sisyphean task of preventing the normalization of the former president’s actions. During th
At the entrance of the Australian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, earplugs are handed out to visitors as a safeguaDesastres” (April 23–November 27), an immersive experimental sound project by artist Marco Fusinato that synchronizes stark sound
“We created rock and roll. We created swing,” says Terence Higgins, the veteran drummer of Louisiana’s legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band, in the new documentaTake Me to the River: New Orleans. (Beginning April 22, it will play at select theaters around the country.) Directed by Martin Shore, it captures accomplished musicians—all from within a 100-mile radius of the city—as they rTake Me to the River, created using a similar concept and centered on artists from Memphis, Tennessee; this time, the focus is on the Big Ea
What does healing look like, and in what ways does the American carceral system obstruct it? How can we care for each otThe Transformations Suite, a 2016 project that combined music, theater, and poetry to examine the history of resistance within communities of theBlack Spring, a 2020 collection of songs that took inspiration from ’60s protest music to address the current cultural and political
In his 1967 poem “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace,” the late author Richard Brautigan, a mascot of ’60s cou
“Quotations are signposts, a part of my sentimental education, part of the way I breathe in the world,” says Paul HoldenQuotomania, a project from Onassis Los Angeles (OLA)—at which Holdengräber serves as founding executive director—and the nonprofit radio station Dublab, Holdengräber
The English electronic musician and producer Jon Hopkins is widely known for his thumping dance music. His star began riSingularity in 2018. But on Hopkins’s sixth studio effort, Music For Psychedelic Therapy, released this past November, he changes direction. “It’s something very far away from a cosmic party or a set of festi
Throughout the 20th century, sculpture-making bubbled with experimentation, as practitioners explored various mediums, t
Poet, author, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib is a seasoned conductor of language. His writing—a blend of autobiography, social history, and pop-culture commentary—oObject of Sound, which unpacks how popular songs shape society; and runs the website 68to05, where he publishes essays and playlists of favorite albums recorded between 1968 and 2005. His 2019 book Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest explores the 30-year history of the hip-hop group and how its jazz-infused sounds and socially conscious lyrics influenA Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House), out next month in paperback, collects Abdurraqib’s thoughts on pivotal moments in pop culture—including
“Man-made artifacts could always be imitated by men,” philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1935 essay “The Work of A
In the womb, it is calm, quiet, and comfortable. We float about for our first nine months largely unbothered, with noiseSlowave, a New York–based ambient-music project that seeks to recreate the sonic landscape of our earliest days.
Oceans are among the most sound-rich environments on the planet—but because the water’s surface keeps most noises from pEp. 127 of our At a Distance podcast.)
Human-rights activist and Pakistan native Saadia Khan had been living in the United States for more than a decade when t
From 1996 to 2018, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı worked her way up the ranks of her family’s business, Turkey’s Hürriyet newspaper publishing group, one of the largest media companies in the country. During that time, she helped lead the fi
Last year, when the pandemic put much of Sydney, Australia–based coder and user-experience designer Adrian Ciaschetti’s
In 1938, Italian architect Franco Albini received a traditional wood-encased radio as a wedding gift—and proceeded to taRadio in Cristallo, was unveiled two years later at Wohnbedarf’s modern furniture competition in Zurich, but was never put into production
Brian Eno, the British musician and ambient-music pioneer, spends a lot of time thinking about how he can impact the wor
British author and journalist Harry Freedman first conceived of the idea for his new book, Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius (Bloombsbury), while driving along the A40 highway in the United Kingdom, where he lives. Suddenly, “Hallelujah,” a sonVarious Positions that’s since become an often-covered secular hymn, came on the radio. “For some reason I listened more carefully than I
Artist Trevor Paglen has a talent for visualizing the invisible. He has photographed top-secret drones and bases used byEp. 49 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Each piece encourages viewers to ponder the unseen, often disturbing realities that quietly shape our everyday lives.
When Washington, D.C.–based electronic musician and sound engineer Yoko Sen fell ill and was hospitalized for multiple d
In 1977, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft into the sky with the initial goal of exploring the outer solar system. On
Kevin Beasley’s First Live Outdoor Performance Examines the Everyday Cacophony of a New York City Intersection
Kevin Beasley’s performances often push sound to the extreme. To witness one is to experience sonic vibrations as a viscnot hearing something, it’s because the matter that it’s moving through isn’t carrying it, and it gets dispersed,” he says Ep. 47 of Time Sensitive podcast. “And that shift—whatever that thing is, that’s either limiting it or amplifying that sound—there’s a major consequence
What is it about that one stirring album that makes a home in us? Tom Gatti, deputy editor of the British political and The New Statesman, investigates the mystery of such beloved recordings in his new book Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them (Bloomsbury). In it, he sets the stage by navigating the album’s material evolution, from the golden years of vinyl to
“David Bowie was the greatest artist in any medium from the 1970s onwards,” says philosopher Simon Critchley. His opinioTop of the Pops at age 12, Critchley, now in his 60s, often turns to him as a muse and a mirror. (Critchley makes music himself with his longtime collaborator, John Simmons.) In the midst of the pandemic this past January, five years after Bowie’sNew York Times op-ed titled “What Would Bowie Do?,” searching for answers in the dystopian worlds of his songs.
The arrival of autumn prompts many of us to layer up, and Japanese experimental musician Asuna follows suit—though with 100 Keyboards (September 30–October 2), an immersive audio presentation generated by overlapping tones, at the Brooklyn Academy of Mu
On the whole, a cover song rarely captures the sonic greatness of the original tune—but sometimes, such reinterpretationAmerikinda: 20 Years of Dualtone. It features Dualtone artists and alumni, who represent a who’s who of American heritage musicians, all covering one an
Podcasts are a powerful resource for those interested in learning about the singular, unimaginable tragedy of September Ep. 118 of our At a Distance podcast, out today, which features architect Daniel Libeskind, whose studio designed the original master plan of the new World
The façades of London’s historic buildings are often covered in decorative motifs. Among the most abundant is the cornuccornu copiae (“horn of plenty”), serves as a fitting emblem for “Sonic Bloom,” an outdoor installation by Japanese artist Yuri Suzuki that opened last week in Mayfair’s Brown Hart Gardens, near th
Hearing impairment can affect people at any age, especially musicians and fans who are regularly exposed to high-volume Crystal Guardian, aims to prevent.
“Kendrick Lamar is my favorite rapper of the modern era,” says veteran pop-culture critic and fiction writer Miles MarshDAMN., Lewis began talking about the songwriter and record producer with his agents and editor, and eventually set about unpaPromise That You Will Sing About Me: The Power and Poetry of Kendrick Lamar (St. Martin’s Press), out next month, eloquently considers and contextualizes Lamar’s work, life, and lyrics through the
For Cathy and Peter Halstead, the co-founders of Montana’s sprawling Tippet Rise Art Center—the kind of awe-inspiring en
The greater our technological advances, the smaller our devices—or so it seems, at least, in the case of speakers. In thLumisonic, a wireless ceiling-mounted apparatus that combines superior audio with a dimmable LED light source for a singular atmo
The Ironic speaker, produced by the Brooklyn studio Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA), looks more like an abstract sculpture than a potent delivere
Spend a few hours with the Sounds of the Forest open-source library of woodland-area recordings, and you’ll be sure to see the forest for the trees. From the Alps to tEp. 114 of our At a Distance podcast), and one of our most spiritually beloved. Be they tropical or temperate, these dense ecosystems function as the world’
Before he began practicing and teaching Ashtanga yoga, New York native Eddie Stern searched for his identity in the city Ep. 43 of our Time Sensitive podcast. For even more, listen to him on Ep. 16 of At a Distance, as well.)
Amid last year’s travel restrictions and global lockdowns, Erkam Şeker, a Turkish graduate student studying in Munich, mDrive & Listen, a website that allows visitors to do exactly that. Enter the site, and high-resolution video footage (obtained from Yo
Artisans at the Tokyo-based homeware company Sugahara have been handcrafting gracefully curvy, minimal objects from glas
Brooklyn-based model, artist, and activist Chella Man received his first hearing aids when he was 4 years old. Eight yeajewelry collection that Man released earlier this year in collaboration with the New York fashion label Private Policy. Together with desishort film that featured himself, alongside model Rayly Aquino and dancer Raven Sutton (who are both also deaf), wearing the jewel
In West Africa, legendary tales have been passed down for centuries by griots, storytellers who are also poets, historians, genealogists, and musicians. A deeply respected speaker, the griot is tasked with memorizing and retelling—sometimes with the addition of new details that relate to the lives of a modern
British musician Jack Stafford likens his Podsongs podcast to the end credits of a movie, when the title song plays and keeps audiences in their seats, embodying the spirplaylist. “When I listen to other podcasts now, and there’s no song at the end, there’s this huge letdown,” Stafford says. “This
Wizened cork oak trees carpet the gently swelling highlands of Portugal’s Alentejo region, where Cédric Etienne, co-founStudio Corkinho, is transforming a cork farm into an alternative healing retreat that will open in 2024 under the Slow hospitality bann
Over the past decade, German D.J. and producer Christian Löffler has enjoyed a growing audience for his distinct blend o
Morning prayer. Children playing. Cooking dinner. Singing a lullaby. The quotidian sounds that form our everyday experiemahallas—tight-knit, multi-generational living quarters that feature shared amenities including kitchens and gardens—that are beMahalla: Urban Rural Living,” the pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, open today through November 21.
Late last year, park benches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens—each with a clear view looking west—were stamped with smThe End of the Day, a meditative public audio experience created by artist April Soetarman. Her voice gently guides listeners through a 10
Every music fan knows the roster of iconic artists who died young, particularly those who passed around age 27, and gain
The fallout from the climate crisis gives us plenty to fear: habitat destruction, extreme weather, and—in case you slept through the last year—global pandemics. But clinical psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon, foundeEp. 51 of our At a Distance podcast), believes that fear and other intense emotions are some of our best tools for pursuing meaningful climate action. “PasClimate Emotions Conversations, a digital forum for people to express their emotions out loud.
Early American colonists mistook cicadas, compact insects with dark exoskeletons, glistening red eyes, and big wings, fo
Creating immersive environments that tell stories using music is second nature to London-based sound artist Peter Adjaye. He’s used his skills as a DJ-producer, musicologist, and composer to collaborate on a wide range of interdisciplinary Dialogues, which explores the connection between music and architecture.
Numero Group is that rare music label with levels of passion, curiosity, and risk-taking equivalent to the artists it represents. Fr
Last week, the emerging Los Angeles folk duo Junaco released its latest single, “Weight of the World,” which they wrote after listening to Ep. 20 of our Time Sensitive podcast featuring fashion designer Jesse Kamm. (Pakistani singer Shahana Jaffer, who started the band three years ago with drumBlue Room, in June.
In colloquial Levantine Arabic, عفكرة roughly translates to “on second thought” or “come to think of it.” Pronounced afikra, the term is a fitting name for the grassroots movement social entrepreneur Mikey Muhanna founded in 2014, dedicated to cultivating curiosity about Arab history and culture. U
“Studies have shown that listening to the sound of beavers enthusiastically munching on white cabbage can temporarily retweeted last fall. (The account is maintained by the family of the late children’s book author, who wrote the story that inspired the criBabe). The post, accompanied by a video of a rodent enjoying a cabbage buffet, went viral and was clearly untrue—but nodded
The sounds of Legos poured out of a toybox, dropping to the floor, and clicking together are recognized all over the wor“White Noise” playlist. Made using only the sounds of Lego bricks and pieces, “White Noise” is a score of seven tracks made to produce calming
More than two decades in the making, the National Museum of African American Music opened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through its seven galleries and the some 1,50
Dominated by companies such as Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose, which leverage technology to make ever-smaller components, thestimated $28.5 billion by the end of this year. On the flip side, there are proudly D.I.Y. audio designers like Devon Turnbull, who with his brand Ojas creates high-end sound systems from his basement and a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By hand-building speakers th
It’s been a tough year for musicians and DJs, as the pandemic continues to make traditional revenue streams for performiYoung Turks (which counts FKA twigs, Sampha, and The xx among the musicians on its roster), the absence of in-person performances ia playlist of uplifting songs for us that have “amplified the best parts of my year,” he says, “and distracted me from some of the worst.” There’s so
Sound designer Perry Brandston grew up plugging away in New York institutions such as CBGB and Fillmore East in the 1970Oda, a speaker system that was originally designed in 2016 as a means for the American musician Phil Elverum to broadcast l
Nestled in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park comprises 1,583 square miles of scenic wilderness—
When Teenage Engineering released its OP-1 portable synthesizer, in 2011, the device received glowing reviews from an arOB-4, a Bluetooth speaker system that it’s billing as a “magic radio.” The term isn’t too far off: The mobile, four-speaker
“We love radio, but it’s become so dependent on information and story,” says Chris Hoff, who, with Sam Harnett, producesThe World According to Sound, a podcast comprising minutes-long episodes that tell tales with sounds in lieu of language. “There’s not a lot of spac
In 2014, Nick Quah launched Hot Pod, a newsletter focused on the art of podcasting. Today, the Malaysia native also serves as a podcast critic for New York magazine’s culture and entertainment website, Vulture, and hosts Servant of Pod with Nick Quah, a podcast on the craft and culture of podcasting. We recently phoned Quah at his home in Idaho for an off-the-cuff con Podcasts can adapt to a wide array of topics. Is flexibility their greatest asset?
The middle of a pandemic may seem like an odd time to launch a podcast about road trips—but maybe it’s ideal, as unexpecGreetings from Somewhere, a show about how travel affects us; how we affect the places we visit; and, to date, how the pandemic changed everythi
Malcolm James, a senior lecturer in media and cultural studies at England’s University of Sussex, examines the relationsSonic Intimacy: Reggae Sound Systems, Jungle Pirate Radio, and Grime YouTube Music Videos (Bloomsbury). It’s a thoughtful, scrupulous study, demonstrating how technology, politics, and perception have influenc
Music is art, according to Los Angeles–based musician and sound engineer Dan Alexander, who, since 1967, has bought and Dan Alexander Audio: A Vintage Odyssey (Rowman & Littlefield), a lyrical, emotive study of classic audio equipment. The 440-page tome comes with all the geeke
Elliott H. Powell Traces the History of Black Musicians Engaging with South Asian Culture and Sounds
By analyzing examples from the 1960s to today, Elliott H. Powell, a scholar of race, sexuality, and pop music, traces thSounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press). “In the end,” Powell says, “the book is about illustrating what the political stakes a
Don’t be fooled by the no-frills appearance of this device—it’s actually something of a shape-shifter. Created by the ItCity Radio (available in the U.S. through Uncommon Goods) lets users pick from 18 international radio libraries with a few flicks of the finger: Simply download the gadget’s ap
Keith Abrahamsson is the founder of the independent record label Mexican Summer, which operates out of New York and London and counts the likes of Cate Le Bon, Ariel Pink, and Photay among the artistEp. 3 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Launched in 2008, his venture has grown to include a reissue label, Anthology, and a book publishing arm, Anthology Editions. In an effort to soothe anxious, isolated souls, Abrahamsson put together a playlist of transporting tunes for us. “It’s culled from material both in and outside my orbit—songs I work with directly or have connected to as a co “Love Is A Jungle,” Peter Ivers “For Lise,” Matchess “Rectifiya,” keiyaA “Stay Sane,” Pink Siifu “Charlotte's Thong,” Connan Mockasin “Infinitamente Nu,” Sessa “Min
An international pandemic may seem like an unusual time to kick-start a podcast called The Art of Travel. But for Olivia Lopez, a Filipina fashion blogger whose pre-Covid life entailed constant globetrotting, being stuck at the first episode of the podcast, which she launched over the summer. Through the project, Lopez hopes to provide a “temporary escape for listeners, whiYOLO magazine founder Yolanda Edwards, who talks about an unforgettable trip to Greece; Life House Hotels founder Rami Zeidan, who discusses how to make travel more meaningful; and perfumer Frédéric Malle, who explains how to travel via the senses. The conversations have been a balm for Lopez, who, like all of us, has been missing the excitement of everyday life. “
Music fans missing a regular calendar of gigs will find a lifeline in Iris Flow, headphones made to mimic the sound qualIris, which is backed by Queen drummer Roger Taylor, the device features a patented algorithm that restores complex spatial
In 2015, German-born British composer Max Richter wrote an epic eight-and-a-half-hour-long musical cycle titled “Sleep,” with the intention of it being the soundtrack to one night’s snooze. It consists of 31 tracks that each last about halfRichter said ahead of the piece’s U.S. premiere. “It’s a political work in that sense. It’s a call to arms to stop what we’re doing.” Recently, with the help of the Bean app of the same name. Divided into three sessions—Sleep, Meditate, and Focus—users can set timers for the music to play according to a chose
In the early 1970s, the nonprofit educational program Creative Music Studio (CMS) opened in Woodstock, New York, with an unconventional aim: invite artists—regardless of their musical ability, soTime Sensitive podcast.) Martin recently unveiled Creative Music Workshop, an online platform that builds on CMS’s legacy with free masterclasses and an ever-growing library of archival footageMedeski Martin & Wood (MMW), of which Martin is the drummer, called “Inside the Minds, Outside the Lines.” “Our general philosophy is to continuously reinvent ourselves,” Martin says of MMW, which plans to detail strategies fo
The Black Music History Library is here to bless—and educate—your ears. Launched this past August by New York–based music journalist Jenzia Burgos, thean episode of the Heat Rocks podcast as well as a list of preeminent musicologists, historians, and scholars. To those open to pure exploration and discovery, Burgos offers a roll-the-dice folder that randomizes selections from
Reporting on the climate crisis is a balancing act, where journalists must convey a sense of urgency without provoking dHot Take and How to Save a Planet, forgo the subject’s usual doom-and-gloom approach in favor of storytelling, where emotion and calls to action engage l
An activist, M.C., artist, and the first-ever hip-hop ambassador to the U.S. State Department, Toni Blackman—who runs hip-hop meditation workshops—describes her passion-driven role as being “more of a mindfulness educator, and lea playlist of her favorite tracks that help center her. “I was totally unaware of how much music was inside of my head and heart. Some of these songs I play on repeat every oEp. 55 of At a Distance earlier this year. “In between tears and mourning and political frustrations, I am enjoying my journey!”