Music history / appreciation audio books / podcasts?
November 14, 2020 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a road trip and want to dive deep into music. Please recommend an audio book, podcast, or maybe even a class! Something like Ken Burns' jazz documentary, but preferably where they play full songs instead of clips.
posted by rebent to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The Ongoing History of New Music by Alan Cross comes to mind. It is available in podcast format. It's focus is more on alt-rock - it may or may not be your thing.
posted by patternocker at 2:22 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]

Not history per se, but Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour is a delightfully curated survey of recorded music. Full songs all. Check it out, it may be your kinda thing.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:30 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]

You could listen through the archives of the radio show American Routes. Great episodes that focus on music history.
posted by aka burlap at 2:30 PM on November 14

The podcast Strong Songs is a lot of fun!
posted by PussKillian at 3:12 PM on November 14

The Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast is often interesting.
posted by eotvos at 3:13 PM on November 14

Also, Song Exploder. (Which seems to be a video thing also now, but is a fun podcast.)
posted by eotvos at 3:17 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]

I love Hit Parade.
posted by rustcellar at 3:46 PM on November 14

Thanks for the reminder to go back to Hit Parade. I must’ve unsubscribed at some point, did they go to Slate plus listeners only for a bit?? At any rate I’m glad to get back to it.
posted by PussKillian at 6:42 PM on November 14

the burns documentary has a 5-CD soundtrack with complete tracks. it would have to be alternated with the documentary to get the explanations, but it is a good and goodly collection of music.

robert greenberg has lecture series, how to listen to and understand opera and how to listen to and understand great music, and some others. those two are lecture with illustrative excerpts, not full pieces. some of his other offerings may differ.

andrás schiff performed lecture recitals covering beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. i've listened to the lectures, which are beyond compare, and involve his performance of significant portions of each sonata, though with frequent interruption for explanation and maybe never a complete piece. shouldn't be hard to also find his performances of those sonatas sans lecture, should complete renditions be required. i am not certain how his interpretation may differ from other pianists as to the bulk, but his approach to the first movement of c-sharp minor op. 27 no.2 differs markedly -- in tempo and pedaling -- from the received version of the "moonlight" sonata i first learned to play and understand to be standard.

npr and the smithsonian produced 1994's wade in the water, a 26-part documentary "detailing the history of American gospel music and its impact on soul, jazz and r&b." it includes excerpts, incidental music and complete songs, to my best recollection, with substantial lecture and interview. also excellent.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:50 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]

Seconding Song Exploder, “where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.” At the end of each episode, after they've zoomed in on the parts of the song and the process of writing & recording it, they play the song in its entirety so you can hear it come together with the knowledge of how it was built. The podcast is approaching its 200th episode, so there's plenty to dig into.
And as eotvos mentioned, they're doing a sister show on Netflix. There are 4 episodes out now, with more coming in December.
posted by D.Billy at 5:27 AM on November 15

Switched on Pop is pretty great.
posted by umbú at 12:43 PM on November 15

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