This Justin

If you are a fan of Jusint Bieber or even if you’re simply interested in the key ingredients of catchy songs, then scroll to 28:00 of this edition of Broadcasting House.

Paul Mason discusses chords, keys etc. with the fantastically names Clemency Burton-Hill. Paul Mason’s guitar playing might just make you think that your own is not so bad.

More poignant is an article on ‘radio silence’ just before at 21.35 featuring poet Stewart Henderson. Harold Pinter gets a mention.

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Google Translate

Have you ever used Google Translate and wonder how it works? Kenneth Cukier (@kncukier), The Economist’s Data Editor and author of Big Data describes something of it in this episode of Start the Week – scroll forward to 25′ 15″

Sliding in at the back

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in an orchestra? This fun feature gives some insight into the life of orchestral trombonists.

Alexei Sayle

Although I’ve pretty much given up on the stand-up industry (why outsource your humour to strangers, when many of your pals are funnier?) I made an exception for the renaissance of Alexei Sayle at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh’s York Place. It was his first tour in 17 years and it was a great night!

In this episode of Front Row he discusses what’s changed during all those years. Despite ‘accusations’ of mellowing, there remains more than a hint of the old 80s bile.

Also, there is a short piece on The Traverse Theatre which celebrates its 50th birthday with fifty 500-word plays this weekend.

Lutosławski

Of all the composers I remember coming across at music college for the first time, the one who sticks out is Witold Lutosławski. This year being the centenary of his birth he is enjoying a high profile.

This Music Matters special includes conversation with his step-son. I often find that there are contradictions housed within many interesting people and Lutosławski is no exception.

Toddlers and Telly

There’s much more to this Life Scientific interview than the title of my post suggests, but consideration of the topic is typical of Annette Karmiloff-Smith‘s common sense approach to developmental psychology. She explains lucidly why the problem is less to do with content than the fact that most activity is restricted to the centre of the screen. Bespoke infants’ programmes would encourage more tracking, along with more intelligent use of colour and sound, including music and changes of voice.

Katharina Wolpe

I’m no expert but I’d imagine that not many festivals have been based on a single book – about music. The Rest is Noise, running all this year at London’s South Bank Centre, was inspired by music critic Alex Ross’ book of the same name

The book spans the 20th century as does the festival. It was fitting that the interval of a concert broadcast live from the festival featured an interview with a musician whose life was dramatically affected by the century’s turbulent events – beginning with the arrival of German troops in Vienna.

Martin Handley interviews pianist Katharina Wolpe. Her story is remarkable and she tells of the many cultural figures she met along the way. For example, Humphrey Bogart put up the money for her to secure a gig at London’s Wigmore Hall.

Scroll to 14:18 of this link to listen.

40,000-year history of music

I’ve always admired Howard Goodall as a great communicator and evangelist for music. However, he comes across as slightly reactionary in this Start the Week discussion. He is discussing his new book/TV series Story of Music.

John Adams, in my humble opinion, gives a better account of himself and has some interesting opinions on mp3s and the problem of distractions when listening to music on computer.

The excellent dramatist, Stephen Poliakoff discusses his forthcoming Dancing on the Edge.

Singer Barb Jungr keeps it real from the point of view of making a living as a performer.

Howard Goodall’s series begins on BBC2 on Sat 26 Jan.

Raymond Tallis

It’s interesting to hear a scientist caution against ‘scientism’ but Raymond Tallis puts the case well during this chat on Belief with Joan Bakewell. Of course, he’s much more than a scientist: philosopher, novelist, poet, playwright….

You’ll have to be quick, though. According to the BBC it’ll only be available for 85 years.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Every time I come across Stuart Maconie I’m impressed by his enthusiastic and honest-sounding take on life.

Here he is on Radio 4’s Great Lives discussing that most English of composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.