NPR Music

Clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, a brilliant jazz improviser who devised many paths for his instrument following its peak popularity in the swing era, died Dec. 24, his website announced. He was 91.

In the mid-20th century, whale populations were dwindling. More than 50,000 whales were killed each year by commercial whalers.

But then in the 1960s, a song — or rather, many songs — sparked a movement.

It started with some underwater equipment that, for the first time, captured the sound of humpback whales.

Composer-Poets

At his home in Vermont, biologist Roger Payne plays the audio that was discovered back then. He points out themes in the whales' song, and how they evolve over time.

This week on All Things Considered, NPR's Robert Siegel spoke with some of film's most thoughtful and high-profile composers — plus an up-and-comer — about what it means to tell a story with music, and how a score can enhance a scene.

We've collected five conversations that you can listen to below. You'll hear about the magic of the Wizard of Oz score, how 5/4 time inspired Halloween's terrifying theme, and why a Canadian says he's become to the go-to composer for films requiring South Asian-inspired soundtracks.

Over The Rhine On World Cafe

Dec 26, 2014
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As always, we have a lot of news to cover today. But on this holiday, we thought it was worth devoting a good bit of time to some Christmas music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS")

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

All this week, we're hearing about the music behind the movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF VARIOUS MOVIE THEME SONGS)

SIEGEL: We've been hearing from composers across the genres. And today, we add screams.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HALLOWEEN")

TV On The Radio waited a few years between album releases, and with their last record, Seeds, it's clear that the group has returned energized and inspired. At an intimate show in Santa Monica, Calif. for KCRW's Apogee Sessions, the Brooklyn-based band rolled through new songs with influences from punk to dance, all with precise harmonies and intricately layered production. Check out the album's first single, "Happy Idiot," live from KCRW.

SET LIST

The Thistle & Shamrock: Nollaig

Dec 24, 2014

Enter the spirit of a traditional Scottish, Irish and Welsh Yuletide this week with Fiona Ritchie and special guest Cerys Matthews. The Welsh singer-songwriter and broadcaster has recorded "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas to mark the poet's centenary year. Matthews tells Fiona about the project, set to music she co-wrote with Mason Neely, and narrates excerpts from this timeless holiday classic. You'll also hear a set of reels played by fiddler Eileen Ivers, including "Christmas Eve."

Pages