Leonard’s Passion

Leonard Cohen releases his 12th album, Old Ideas. The troubadour and poet hasn’t always been popular, but he is always profound. Liel Leibovitz|January 31 Leonard Cohen releases his 12th studio album, the profoundly moving Old Ideas, today. None of his records has ever cracked the top 50, and his last album, 2004’s Dear Heather, peaked … Continue reading

Can Asians Save Classical Music?

Orchestras (and audiences) get more Asian-American every year. Michael Ahn Paarlberg … there is one group that still likes classical music and, what’s more, pays to hear it performed: Asians. Of Asian-Americans ages 18-24 responding to the same survey, 14  percent reported attending a classical concert in the past year, more than any other demographic … Continue reading

Pyongyang Rock City

Meet the hitmakers of the Hermit Kingdom. ISAAC STONE FISH PYONGYANG, North Korea — On the sculpted entrance to the East Pyongyang Grand Theater, a woman, graceful as a mermaid, played the flute as she floated through a sea of stars. Out in the parking lot, locals played tennis in the September sun on a … Continue reading

R.O.C.K. in the D.P.R.K.

What can we learn about the Hermit Kingdom from the amazing music videos it has on YouTube? SUZANNE MERKELSON Pop quiz: name one North Korean song. Fair enough, it’s not the easiest country to get to know. And vice versa. Between the country’s self-imposed isolation and an outdated communications infrastructure (not to mention one of … Continue reading

R.E.M.’s Revolution

How a post-punk band from Georgia changed rock ‘n’ roll forever. Bill Wyman R.E.M., now no more, sparked the indie revolution The world in which R.E.M. was created and came to artistic prominence was a much different one from today. They were a post-punk band, to be sure, but they sounded like the Byrds more … Continue reading

Moveable Feast

Susan Orlean I moved a lot in my post-college years, and the single biggest, heaviest, most exasperating thing to move besides my books was my record collection. I had at least ten or fifteen crates of LPs, and then, in later years, a bunch of cassettes, too, and most of my moving involved figuring out … Continue reading

The Transformative Paradoxes of Jean Sibelius

Leon Botstein Wildly popular a century ago as an icon of Finnish nationalism in a late-Romantic vein, Jean Sibelius was largely dismissed by music aficionados after World War II as something of a conservative lightweight. So why is the Bard Music Festival this month featuring his work in a series of concerts titled "Sibelius and … Continue reading

One More Reason (Some) Americans Don’t Care About Kate Bush

Ann Powers Evening Standard/Getty Images Kate Bush in 1978. Although the success she enjoyed in the U.K. didn’t translate stateside, her influence is palpable on both sides of the pond. When I was nineteen, I found two Kate Bush albums in a bin at my Catholic church’s annual rummage sale, alongside the debut from Siouxsie … Continue reading

Music Bloggers Hack Record Industry by Launching Indie Labels

Angela Watercutter Tom Krell of How to Dress Well records his EP for Love Letters Ink, the indie record label run by music video blog Yours Truly. (Photo: Nate Chan/Yours Truly) For Tom Krell, his latest record is extremely meaningful. Krell, who records as How to Dress Well, created the EP as a tribute to … Continue reading

Are Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player illegal?

Timothy B. Lee Amazon.com made waves in March when it announced Cloud Player, a new "cloud music" service that allows users to upload their music collections for personal use. It did so without a license agreement, and the major music labels were not amused. Sony Music said it was keeping its "legal options open" as … Continue reading

Hand-hacking plucks strings like a musical pro

Jacob Aron WANT to learn a musical instrument, but can’t find the time to practise? A device now under development can take control of your hand and teach you how to play a tune. No spirits of dead musicians are involved. PossessedHand, being developed jointly by the University of Tokyo, Japan, and Sony Computer Science … Continue reading

How Jason Mraz Crafts Tantalizing Tunes

Mario Aguilar Illustration: Peter Horride Love songs don’t have to be gooey, open-mic gaucheries. In canny hands, the amorous tune can be an elegant way to publicly express affection (or lure in your next conquest). Songwriter Jason Mraz is a master of the form: His folkie, reggae-inspired single “I’m Yours” has sold more than 5 … Continue reading

Striking a False Note

A profound source of shared emotion, music can’t heal our bodies or reveal how our minds work. By RAYMOND TALLIS ‘Music is encoded in our brains and bodies," Elena Mannes writes. It is easy to see the attraction of this idea, which goes back to at least to the ancient Greeks. Claude Levi-Strauss famously described … Continue reading

Diplo on Island Parties in Trinidad and Tobago

A travel diary from Diplo, the musician and D.J., as he ventures through the Caribbean paradise during its famous party season. He shares his personal photographs and a travel-journal entry about how to survive Carnival, what the Justin Bieber of the islands is like onstage, and the sex-war paradox of soca-music dancing. By Diplo Photographs … Continue reading

The top internet radio stations

We take a look at the internet radio revolution and pick out a selection of the best internet radio stations. Listening online: we’ve gone ga-ga for internet radio Photo: GETTY By Emma Barnett, Claudine Beaumont and Tom Chesover An increasing number of people are abandoning their old radios and listening to their favourite stations via … Continue reading

Celebrating Bob Dylan at 70

with Photos from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue By Michael Hogan• Photographs by Ken Regan Seventy isn’t that old anymore. So why is it that Bob Dylan, who reaches that milestone on May 24, seems so positively ancient—a feature of the cultural landscape itself, whose age should be calculated in geological eons, not anything so … Continue reading

See Girl Talk, Lady Gaga Performed on Tesla Coils

By Angela Watercutter It’s so meta it hurts. First, mashup maestro Girl Talk deconstructed pop music into an entirely new art form. Now that art form is being deconstructed again through the wizardry of Tesla coils. The result is part hip-hop hooks and rock choruses, part lightning — and totally awesome. Girl Talk (aka friend-of-the-blog … Continue reading

Download New Girl Talk Album All Day for Free

Lewis Wallace All Day, the latest album from Girl Talk, is now available for free download. The album can be obtained as individual MP3 tracks or a single, seamless MP3. “All Day is intended to be listened to as a whole,” reads a statement on the Illegal Art website that’s hosting the download. “It is … Continue reading

National Jukebox now online, serving up hits from the early 1900s

By Matthew Lasar These days when a new music service launches itself, the sell is usually access to the latest cutting-edge content or classic pop genres. Count on the Library of Congress to offer something very different. The LOC’s just released online National Jukebox offers cutting-edge material for sure, but circa 1901 through 1925: 10,000 … Continue reading

Who Will Remember Paul Simon?

By JIM FUSILLI Los Angeles It’s been more than four decades since the rise of the singer-songwriters, and by now we can see who among them has created a body of work substantial enough to resonate well into the future. Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell seem safe bets, but what about Paul Simon, … Continue reading

Building the Guitar You’ll Keep

By Chuck Squatriglia James Nash didn’t pack a guitar when he went off to college, which in hindsight was a boneheaded move. Nash was 17 at the time and had been playing for about a dozen years. He was good. But he didn’t have any plans to “do music seriously” and didn’t think he’d play … Continue reading

Bob Dylan in China

His disappointing, hypocritical concert. Azar Nafisi In memory of Farah Ebrahimi. Times are indeed a-changing: Bob Dylan, who became an American icon by “speaking truth to power,” just gave a concert in China, one of the most repressive countries in the world. While there, Dylan not only failed to express solidarity with the Chinese dissidents … Continue reading

Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters

How did a drummer who never intended to make money from music end up as one of the biggest and wealthiest rock stars? By Carl Wilkinson Dave GrohlA group of record company executives, sitting down to sketch the perfect rock star, may well come up with someone a little like Dave Grohl. He has the … Continue reading

Sennheiser’s Bluetooth Cans Take Travel in Stride

Sennheiser MM 550 Noise-Canceling Headphones · $500 Reviewed by Christopher Jones Some headphones are built for kicking back on the couch and melting into the music. Others are built for the road, whether it’s a long flight or just cruising around the hood. Sennheiser’s travel-minded MM 550 wireless Bluetooth headphones fit the latter category — … Continue reading

Wall of Sound

The iPod has changed the way we listen to music. And the way we respond to it. By Nikil Saval Two years ago, at the nadir of the financial crisis, the urban sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh wondered aloud in the New York Times why no mass protests had arisen against what was clearly a criminal coup … Continue reading

On Tour . . . with the Beatles!

What luck that Bob Bonis, who managed the Beatles in the mid-60s and organized their historic U.S. tours, had the foresight to bring along a Leica M3 camera. The resulting images, never published during his lifetime, shed intimate new light on John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s Stateside invasion. Text by Alex Bonis• Photographs by Bob … Continue reading

Lykke Li and the Rise of Porn Pop

David Hajdu There’s always a strain of porn in pop music—not just sexiness or sensuality, which are different things, of course, but an industrially strategic manipulation of words, music, and images to manufacture desire. Clever performers have exploited this, sometimes upending it to comment upon or to subvert that desire, since Josephine Baker petitioned for … Continue reading

Free Million-song dataset

By Matthew Lasar Online music developers and Pandora and Last.fm lovers, take note. The next phase in research on how to deliver smart music delivery systems is underway, facilitated by a Million Song Dataset just released by The Echo Nest music application company. The dataset is “freely-available collection of audio features and metadata for a … Continue reading

Lady Gaga: Born What Way?

David Hajdu   Like everything Lady Gaga does, the hype campaign for her new single, “Born This Way,” has been so grandiosely theatrical that it seems, simultaneously, like genius and a joke. Ever since the summer, she has been teasing concert audiences and interviewers about the record with the subtlety of a grindhouse mare, establishing … Continue reading

Free Nerdcore Now Compilation Offers Taste of the Genre

By Angela Watercutter For nerdy music lovers, there isn’t a much more exciting phase in the English language than “free digital download” — except, perhaps, when that phrase is accompanied by “nerdcore.” May we present Nerdcore Now Volume One, a free compilation available from community website Nerdcore Now. The record is meant to attract geeks … Continue reading

Can Music Be Too Intellectual?

So What If He’s Intellectual? David Hajdu Milton Babbitt, who died on January 29 at 94, produced some of his best-known music electronically, using the gargantuan, rudimentary computers of punch-card antiquity. Since there is no action footage of the work being created or performed, the clips of this music on Youtube are generally accompanied by … Continue reading

Where have all the music pirates gone?

By Nate Anderson Remember when music was cool? Back in the days of Napster, it was music that defined file-sharing; millions of people raced to listen to the most obscure artists found in the libraries of friends and strangers. But that was back when music came on CD, was sold only by the album, and … Continue reading

Turns out that music really is intoxicating, after all

By Matthew Lasar An "outburst of the soul," the composer Frederick Delius called music. The sounds associated with the form produce "a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without," observed Confucius. It is the art "which is most nigh to tears and memory," noted the writer Oscar Wilde. It turns out that these … Continue reading

Digging into Pandora’s Music Genome with musicologist Nolan Gasser

By Matthew Lasar Today, Gasser is recognized as the architect of the Music Genome—the extensive database of musical attributes that lets Pandora intuit from the songs and compositions you pick what other kinds of music would please your ears. I listen to Pandora all the time, and most of the channels I’ve created stream classical … Continue reading

Musical Thrills Are Explained as a Rush of Dopamine to the Brain

by Eliza Strickland  Those delicious chills you get as your favorite piece of music reaches its climax? They’re the result of a glorious spike of dopamine in your brain–that’s the same neurotransmitter that’s involved in reward, motivation, and addiction. In a nifty series of experiments published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers determined that music provokes floods … Continue reading

Library of Congress gets first big gift of major label music

By Nate Anderson The largest music company in the world has just given the largest audio-visual gift ever to one of the largest libraries in the world, the US Library of Congress. Universal will donate more than 200,000 master recordings from the 1920s-1940s to the Library, which will make this rare music available to the … Continue reading

Help Marian Call Win a Shorty Award!

By Matt Blum Photo by Brian Adams … If you’ve not heard Marian Call, you’ve missed what may very well be the finest voice ever to grace a geeky song. Go ahead and listen to some of her music for free (and buy some of it so you can listen to it later), and we … Continue reading

Make Your Ears Happy With These High-End Cans

By Michael Calore  LAS VEGAS — This year’s CES produced a bumper crop of heavenly headphones. We tested a bunch of models on the show floor, and we’ve gathered up the cream of the crop here. We stayed away from noise-canceling and wireless tech, earbuds and models made for the commuter set. Instead, we sought … Continue reading

Altec-Lansing Speakers Will Toss Your Tunes 100 Yards

By Michael Calore LAS VEGAS — We’ve seen more than a few “wireless boomboxes” that can stream music from your computer to a set of remote speakers. Few promise as much as the inMotion Air from Altec-Lansing. Announced here at CES Wednesday, this unit seemingly has all the bases covered. It can stream your music … Continue reading



Is Music for Wooing, Mothering, Bonding—or Is It Just "Auditory Cheesecake"?

Older than civilization, music fosters communication, wellness, and bonding across all cultures—but where it comes from is disputed. by Carl Zimmer iStockphoto When Charles Darwin listened to music, he asked himself, what is it for? Philosophers had pondered the mathematical beauty of music for thousands of years, but Darwin wondered about its connection to biology. … Continue reading

Custom Boomboxes Fashioned from Vintage Suitcases

By Charlie Sorrel Mr. SiMo makes BoomCases, beautiful speakers hand-set into old thrift-store suitcases. The cases have been treasure-hunted and are then gutted and re-filled with electronic goodness, ready to be hooked up to any music source with a jack-socket. The cases can be specced with a variety of speakers to make a 50-Watt or … Continue reading

Dulcet Downloads

Tired of crummy MP3 sound? A new device will make your digital music truly sing. By Fred Kaplan  Furutech GT-40 USB DAC A revolution is happening in the world of hi-fi—one that, contrary to the other audio upheavals of the last 30 years, combines technological innovation and better sound quality. In the 1980s, the warm, … Continue reading

German Eurovision Champion to Compete against Herself

Lena vs. Lena   DPA Lena Meyer-Landrut will be representing Germany once again at the Eurovision Song Contest. Germans fell in love with Lena in 2010 when she emerged victorious from the extravaganza of pop mediocrity which is the Eurovision Song Contest. This spring, they are sure to get their fill. Lena will defend her … Continue reading

Before iTunes, who sold The Beatles online? This guy

By Nate Anderson The Beatles famously kept their music off digital download services until coming to iTunes only weeks ago—but that didn’t prevent numerous creative attempts to offer the valuable songs. Norway’s state broadcaster even released the music in podcasts in early 2009 before having its experiment shut down over licensing issues. Hank Risan But … Continue reading

The Age of Music Piracy Is Officially Over

Paul Boutin Illustration: Brock Davis Mark down the date: The age of stealing music via the Internet is officially over. It’s time for everybody to go legit. The reason: We won. And all you audiophiles and copyfighters, you know who fixed our problems? The record labels and online stores we loved to hate. Granted, when … Continue reading

Velvet Revolutionary

Joshua Keating Musician John Cale poses after he was awarded his Officer of the British Empire (OBE) medal from the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, November 19, 2010 in London. http://passport.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/19/friday_photo_velvet_revolutionary

The Best Defense list of the top 10 songs for heading into combat

Thomas E. Ricks 1) Drowning Pool, "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" 2) Anything by Metallica, but especially  — "Enter Sandman," "Disposable Heroes," "All Nightmare Long," "Don’t Tread on Me," "Ride the Lightning" and "Whiskey in the Jar." (I found the last one tolerable.) 3) AC/DC, lots of songs, but especially "Thunderstruck" (here’s a version … Continue reading

The soundtrack for going into combat

Thomas E. Ricks I said that I am not a particularly big Paul McCartney fan, but I liked to listen to "Let It Be" at 4:00 a.m. before covering something likely to be rough. But two combat vets in the conversation said, Tom, that’s because you were not gearing up to pull the trigger. They … Continue reading

Pierced Fans, Stiff Cadres and Hip Rock

Matthew Niederhauser/INSTITUTE, for The New York Times Security guards watched fans at the Zhenjiang Midi Music Festival earlier this month in Zhenjiang City, China. By ANDREW JACOBS  ZHENJIANG, China — A curious thing happened this month at the Midi Music Festival, China’s oldest and boldest agglomeration of rock, funk, punk and electronica. Performers took musical … Continue reading