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Culture / Podcast

The Power of Sound

We speak to various audiophiles – from musicians to wildlife recordists to sound engineers, who are at the top of their game – about the expansive nature of sound and its ability to recall memories, evoke emotions and blow our minds. Whether it’s an epiphany at a concert, a sound that brings back your childhood or a moment of clarity from a brilliant pair of speakers, we learn what good audio means to our guests and how it has shaped their lives and careers.

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Latest episode

Nainita Desai:

The composer Nainita Desai is a master of innovative thinking in scores for film, television and games. She is best-known for her documentary work – including music for the Oscar-nominated ‘For Sama’ and a new Sundance-winning documentary that’s soon to be released called ‘The Reason I Jump’ – but her career has been multi-faceted. Desai has a background in maths and has also worked as a sound designer, which gives her a unique approach. In this episode, Desai discusses the techniques she came up with to reflect the experiences of autistic teenagers in ‘The Reason I Jump’ (from water-filled clarinets to improvising on cellos), how working with Peter Gabriel early in her career inspired her and why her job is to manipulate a viewer’s emotions.

Latest episodes

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1211 Mar 2021
14 min

Nainita Desai: 

The composer Nainita Desai is a master of innovative thinking in scores for film, television and games. She is best-known for her documentary work – including music for the Oscar-nominated ‘For Sama’ and a new Sundance-winning documentary that’s soon to be released called ‘The Reason I Jump’ – but her career has been multi-faceted. Desai has a background in maths and has also worked as a sound designer, which gives her a unique approach. In this episode, Desai discusses the techniques she came up with to reflect the experiences of autistic teenagers in ‘The Reason I Jump’ (from water-filled clarinets to improvising on cellos), how working with Peter Gabriel early in her career inspired her and why her job is to manipulate a viewer’s emotions.

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114 Mar 2021
13 min

Emile Mosseri: 

Composer Emile Mosseri is a rising star in Hollywood. In the past few years he’s scored three major films: Joe Talbot’s drama ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’, Miranda July’s quirky heist movie, ‘Kajillionaire’, and most recently Lee Isaac Chung’s Golden Globe-winning ‘Minari’. Plus, on the small screen, he created the tense sound-world for the second season of Amazon’s ‘Homecoming’. In this episode he discusses the scores and sounds that he grew up with and how they filter into his music; the ways in which he has worked with different directors to bring their vision to life in sound; and how he keeps a thread running through his work.

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1025 Feb 2021
10 min

Arlo Parks: 

As she releases her debut album, ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ the London-based singer, songwriter and poet Arlo Parks reflects on how she defines her sound. She tells us about the music and poetry she was brought up on, why certain instruments speak to her and the effect that the spoken word has on her music.

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918 Feb 2021
15 min

Roderick Cox: 

Since graduating from Northwestern University in 2011, award-winning American conductor Roderick Cox has become a celebrated name in classical music. He served as associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra for three seasons before relocating to Berlin, where he is now based. He is also a champion of diversity in the industry and set up the Roderick Cox Music Initiative to help provide scholarships for young musicians of colour from underrepresented backgrounds. In this episode, Cox tells us what it is like to take to the podium and lead an orchestra: from thinking about the acoustics of a concert hall to the addictive feeling you get when you’re hit by the sound of a large ensemble. Cox discusses the works that drew him to conducting; why he needs more life experience before he tackles certain composers; and the power that music has to teach us about other cultures.

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811 Feb 2021
11 min

Ben and Max Ringham: 

Brothers Ben and Max Ringham are known for their immersive, 3D sound design for theatre shows such as ‘Blindness’ at the Donmar Warehouse last year, and ‘Anna’ at the National Theatre. They tell us about the power of binaural sound, how it can transport an audience through different scenes, and how they use everyday objects to build up sonic atmospheres.

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74 Feb 2021
13 min

Grant Kirkhope: 

Composer Grant Kirkhope has written the soundtracks for some very successful video games, including ‘GoldenEye 007’, ‘Civilization’, and ‘Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle’. He tells us about his career highlights and the importance of music to the game-playing experience: from transporting people to new worlds to knowing that you are responsible for writing music that will be part of a fan’s childhood. Music ‘Oven-Fresh Day’ and ‘Slow-Baked’ are copyright Rare Ltd

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628 Jan 2021
13 min

Midori Komachi: 

Violinist Midori Komachi has been performing as a professional soloist since the age of 12. She specialises in British and Japanese classical music, which she says are intrinsically linked; she is particularly interested in the music of Frederick Delius, about whom she has translated books into Japanese. Komachi tells us about the unique way she found herself drawn to the violin, the physical connection she has with her instrument and the depth and complexity of sound in one note, as well as how her relationship with Delius began. Komachi has lived all around the world and describes how a sense of place influences her music, particularly her own compositions about cities, nature and architecture.

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514 Jan 2021
13 min

Johnnie Burn: 

Throughout his career as a sound designer, editor and mixer, Johnnie Burn has worked on iconic TV commercials for clients such as Guinness; created the sounds you hear every time you log onto Skype; and developed the sound world for films including Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘The Lobster’ and ‘The Favourite’ and Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’. In this episode, he discusses how he makes sound choices to enhance a film’s narrative – and why less is sometimes more; how his obsession with audio extends to the musicality of everyday objects; and the childhood trauma that temporarily deafened him and sparked his interest in sound.

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47 Jan 2021
18 min

The Power of Sound: Susan Rogers: 

When Susan Rogers started out as an audio technician she had no idea that she would eventually contribute to some of the biggest pop hits ever made. She is best known for being Prince’s sound engineer on seminal albums including ‘Purple Rain’, but she has also worked with the likes of David Byrne, KD Lang, Barenaked Ladies and Tricky as an engineer and producer. These days the Californian has turned to education. Rogers currently teaches at the famed Berklee College of Music where her interests lie particularly in psychoacoustics. Rogers tells us about her unexpected path into recording, some mind-blowing moments in the studio and, of course, a few tales about working with Prince.

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317 Dec 2020
10 min

The Power of Sound: Jamie Cullum: 

Grammy-nominated jazz star Jamie Cullum tells us about the making of his first ever Christmas album, ‘The Pianoman at Christmas’. He discusses the keys and chords that make classic Christmas songs, the festive music he was brought up on and why this is also a time of year for the spooky and the melancholic.

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210 Dec 2020
15 min

The Power of Sound: Hannah Peel: 

This week we speak to musician, composer and artist Hannah Peel. Renowned for her work in electronica, sound design and scoring for the screen, Peel is also interested in the intersection of music and science. In her solo work she has explored ideas of memory, neurology and sound, as well as composing a seven-movement odyssey for analogue synths and brass orchestra. Her work for TV and film is Emmy-nominated and most recently she composed the soundtrack for Channel 5 thriller ‘The Deceived’. She talks to us about the role that sound has played in her life: whether that’s recording creaky old houses, the rush of a live concert or the way that sound can trigger some of our oldest memories, even in people whose minds are fading.

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13 Dec 2020
13 min

The Power of Sound: Chris Watson: 

Award-winning sound recordist Chris Watson is one of the leading documenters of the natural world, having recorded wildlife across all continents. Watson is also a musician and was a founding member of experimental group Cabaret Voltaire in the early 1980s. His compositions can be heard across radio and TV, including in the HBO series ‘Chernobyl’ and David Attenborough’s ‘Life’ and ‘Frozen Planet’, and he has been exhibited in the National Gallery and The Louvre. In this episode he talks about where his passion for sound came from, and some of the experiences it has offered him, recording everything from blue whales in Baja to hedgehogs in his Northumberland garden. Plus: we hear recordings from his album ‘Stepping into the Dark’.

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