The Listening Service

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony2017022620181028 (R3)

Tom Service explores the finale from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

The Cowpat Controversy20181014

Calling 20th Century English music 'cowpat music' is just plain rude! And it's inaccurate.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

The Magical Forest20181021

Enter the magical musical world of the forest. Your guide is Tom Service

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

What counts as 'classical Music'?20181111

What do we actually mean when we talk about 'classical music'? What is or isn't it?

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

What's the Point of the Conductor?2017052120181104 (R3)

Tom Service explores the role of the conductor.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

01Beginnings20160501

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.So where do we start? This inaugural programme takes "Beginnings" at its theme - how do you begin a piece of music?

Tom looks at a cornucopia of opening bars - from classical to pop, to see how composers grab our attention, and go on to keep us listening. With thoughts from composer Anna Meredith on the terror of the blank page, tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service.

02Repetition2016050820161009 (R3)

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Today - repetition.

It's been estimated that in 90 per cent of the music that we hear in our lives, we're hearing material that we've already listened to before, And if you think about the music you love the most - it's often built on repeated patterns, phrases and riffs.

So why do we need our music to be so repetitive?

Join Tom - as he presses repeat on music from Bach to Beyoncé, Reich to the Rolling Stones, Stockhausen to Schubert - to find out why repetition is hard wired into our musical brains.

Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service...

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

Musicologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis is on hand as Tom finds out why repetition is hard wired into our musical brains.

So join Tom as he presses repeat on music from Bach to Beyoncé, Haydn to Herbie Hancock, Stockhausen to Schubert.

First broadcast in May 2016.

03What Is It About Mozart?2016051520161120 (R3)

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Today's programme asks "What is it about Mozart" - how have his life and music become the template for what a composer should be - a child prodigy, a virtuoso, a cultural monument, not to mention a confectionery industry... And is there anything that we can say is uniquely "Mozartean" - what makes his music so distinctive and why does it connect so readily with audiences? Explore Mozart's music with Tom and see what conclusions you come to.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

Tune in and rethink music, with The Listening Service..

04What's All That Noise?2016052220170312 (R3)

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Today - What's all that that Noise? Tom investigates - when is noise just noise, and when is it music? is it just sound in the wrong place? Tom finds that, though we resent noises in the concert hall, music needs some noise in it to give it character. He also investigates the contemporary genre of Noise Music at an avant garde club. He considers noise in our daily lives, and talks to Emily Cockayne, author of Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1600-1770; and to David Hendy, author of Noise: a Human History. We can't avoid noise, so can we learn to love it?

Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service.

05The Power Of Love Songs2016052920170212 (R3)

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Today Tom explores the enduring power of love songs. He talks to Ted Gioia, author of Love Songs: The Hidden History who explains that the very first traces of writing in human history are hymns to love. The tenor Ian Bostridge reflects on the inward-looking art of Lieder and what they tell us about true love in the romantic era. And Tom turns to the operatic stage for some of the ultimate expressions of love as a subversive and even revolutionary force, showing how Verdi and Strauss used thwarted lovers in their operas to shine a light on the hypocrisy and gender politics of their times.

Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service.

06How Do You Make A National Anthem?20160605

Tom Service on the music, meaning and occasional madness of the world's national anthems. How are they chosen, what are they for, and is the music any good?

He's joined by writer Alex Marshall, author of the book "Republic or Death, Travels in Search of National Anthems",and by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who looks at why some of them are easier to sing than others...

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

07How Do You Describe A Teaspoon In Music?2016061220170618

Tom Service explores music's power to describe, illustrate and tell stories in sound.

Can you describe a teaspoon in music? Why would you even want to? Tom Service explores how music is able to tell stories in sound

Tom is joined by musicologist Ken Hamilton for a journey through musical history to reveal music's ability to describe the most everyday actions and the most heartfelt emotions.

From Vivaldi and Beethoven, to the epic tone poems of Richard Strauss (which may or may not contain teaspoons), to Hollywood blockbusters - how does music paint those pictures in our mind, and do those pictures always look the same?

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears.

Can you describe a teaspoon in music? Why would you even want to? Tom Service explores how music is able to tell stories in sound

Tom is joined by musicologist Ken Hamilton for a journey through musical history to reveal music's ability to describe the most everyday actions and the most heartfelt emotions.

From Vivaldi and Beethoven, to the epic tone poems of Richard Strauss (which may or may not contain teaspoons), to Hollywood blockbusters - how does music paint those pictures in our mind, and do those pictures always look the same?

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears.

08Is Birdsong Music?2016061920170514

Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years.

Birdsong has fascinated composers for centuries, but is it really music as we understand it? Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years. He listens to music inspired by birdsong, made up from elements of birdsong and performed alongside birdsong - why does it have such a deep effect on the human psyche and how have the sounds of the natural world informed the development of human music?

With contributions from sound recordist, musician and ecologist Bernie Krause, Messiaen scholar Delphine Evans and naturalist Stephen Moss. Also archive material from Ludwig Koch, the pioneering sound recordist who made the first documented recording of a bird as an 8 year old in 1889.

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

Birdsong has fascinated composers for centuries, but is it really music as we understand it? Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years. He listens to music inspired by birdsong, made up from elements of birdsong and performed alongside birdsong - why does it have such a deep effect on the human psyche and how have the sounds of the natural world informed the development of human music?

With contributions from sound recordist, musician and ecologist Bernie Krause, Messiaen scholar Delphine Evans and naturalist Stephen Moss. Also archive material from Ludwig Koch, the pioneering sound recordist who made the first documented recording of a bird as an 8 year old in 1889.

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

09Beethoven - Hero Or Villain?2016062620170108 (R3)

Presented by Tom Service

Beethoven lived in an age of revolution and his music has long been associated with heroism. But does posterity's casting of Beethoven as a hero mean that we miss crucial things in the music of others, or even of Beethoven himself? Is he a musical hero or a musical villain? And what does Beethoven have to say about heroines?

Rethink music, with The Listening Service.

10Why Does Music Move Us?2016070320170416 (R3)

How can music make us cry?

Why does our favourite piece give us the shivers?

And why, when we're feeling down, do we enjoy nothing more than a good wallow in sad music?

Is it something in the music - or something in ourselves?

From Schubert to Stravinsky and Mahler to Miley Cyrus - Tom Service is joined by music psychology expert Dr Victoria Williamson to investigate how music can tug on our heartstrings like nothing else.

Rethink music, with The Listening Service.

11Chasing A Fugue2016071020171126

Tom Service looks at music in flight - the miraculous musical form that is the fugue, where melodies chase each other, work against each other and come together in a supremely logical and often exhilarating fusion. How does it work, why is it important and can we learn to love the fugue in the 21st century? Tom tries his hand at playing Bach's Fugue in C minor from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, a challenge to many a piano exam student, gets tips on tackling fugues from virtuoso harpsichord player Mahan Esfahani, and comes across a very contemporary take on the art of learning about fugue. Lady Gaga is involved.

Tom Service explores fugues. How do they work and why are they important?

Tom Service looks at music in flight - the miraculous musical form that is the fugue, where melodies chase each other, work against each other and come together in a supremely logical and often exhilarating fusion. How does it work, why is it important and can we learn to love the fugue in the 21st century? Tom tries his hand at playing Bach's Fugue in C minor from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, a challenge to many a piano exam student, gets tips on tackling fugues from virtuoso harpsichord player Mahan Esfahani, and comes across a very contemporary take on the art of learning about fugue. Lady Gaga is involved

12Transcendence20160717

Tom Service considers how music can be transcendent. From Wagner's sublime harmonies in Tristan und Isolde, to the hypnotic drumming of shamans, what is it about some kinds of music that can take us to a higher plane? He considers music for contemplation (such as church music by Messiaen, and Fauré's Requiem which you can hear in tonight's Prom); music for dancing to oblivion (the techno "Trance" genre, whirling dervishes); music evoking ecstasy (Scriabin, Gospel music); and he discusses the ancient practises of shamans in various cultures, with ethnomusicologist Keith Howard.

Presented in front of a live audience at Imperial College, London, before tonight's Prom.

13Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 220160911

The Listening Service returns after the summer break. Tom Service examines one of the most famous concertos in the piano repertoire. What is the secret of its appeal? Why does it have such emotional impact? Why did the critics hate it, yet why is it such a classical favourite in the world of popular culture - from Mickey Mouse to Marilyn Monroe to Muse? And what did Rachmaninov have to go through to compose it? With pianist Lucy Parham.

The whole concerto can be heard on Radio 3 tonight at 2330.

14Why Is Music Addicted To Bass?2016091820180225

Tom Service explores the intrinsic importance to humans of bass in music.

Can you imagine a piece of music without its bass line? Or going out dancing with no bass to move to?

Whether it's an epic symphony or a club classic - we love listening to the bass.

But what actually is 'bass'? How is it that we can often feel it as much as hear it? And why is it that every genre of music seems to need it.

Tom Service goes on a whistlestop tour of bass through the musical ages: from Bach to Boulez, via reggae to rock n roll, Stevie Wonder to Dizzee Rascal. He discovers what links whales and horror movies in the world of bass. And he enlists the help of neuroscientist Dr Laurel Trainor to find out how we're hardwired into the bass as humans and whether it might even be true that the bigger the bass, the more we like each other.

Can you imagine a piece of music without its bass line? Or going out dancing with no bass to move to?

Whether it's an epic symphony or a club classic - we love listening to the bass.

But what actually is 'bass'? How is it that we can often feel it as much as hear it? And why is it that every genre of music seems to need it.

Tom Service goes on a whistlestop tour of bass through the musical ages: from Bach to Boulez, via reggae to rock n roll, Stevie Wonder to Dizzee Rascal. He discovers what links whales and horror movies in the world of bass. And he enlists the help of neuroscientist Dr Laurel Trainor to find out how we're hardwired into the bass as humans and whether it might even be true that the bigger the bass, the more we like each other.

15Sound Frontiers: Listening To Recordings20160925

As part of Radio 3 live at Southbank Centre, London, Tom Service considers the strange art of recorded sound - how can a cardboard speaker cone sound exactly like all the different instruments in an orchestra? How has the availability of recording technology changed our ways of listening? What of the future, when all possible recordings seem freely available? Musician and writer David Toop joins Tom to discuss the uncanny aspects of listening to disembodied sounds.

16Tristan Und Isolde20161002

How do you listen to a four-hour opera? Tom Service considers the extraordinary impact of Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde, a medieval romance that became in Wagner's hands a highly-charged erotic drama of unfulfilled longing. It scandalised and over-excited early audiences in the 1860s, and it still has a profound effect on listeners. How come? Tom explores the influence of the philosopher Schopenhauer on Wagner's thinking, and how the composer's own love-life may have influenced this piece. And musicologist Kenneth Hamilton takes Tom through the radical musical structures in this piece, which somehow manage to remain unresolved over long stretches of music. Did one special chord really change music forever?

17Colour And Music2016101620180415 (R3)

Tom Service listens to the world in glorious technicolor as he investigates the link between music and colour.

We put music and colour together all the time. A piece of music can be 'dark' or 'bright' or we could be singing the 'Blues' - but what does that mean? Professor Jamie Ward - an expert in synaesthesia - is on hand to help. While Tom delves into a world of musical colour from Messiaen and Copland, Scriabin and Ravel to David Bowie and Beyoncé to discover whether music can ever be colourful.

Tom Service explores the link between music and colour. Can music be colourful?

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Tom Service listens to the world in glorious technicolor as he investigates the link between music and colour.

We put music and colour together all the time. A piece of music can be 'dark' or 'bright' or we could be singing the 'Blues' - but what does that mean? Professor Jamie Ward - an expert in synaesthesia - is on hand to help. While Tom delves into a world of musical colour from Messiaen and Copland, Scriabin and Ravel to David Bowie and Beyoncé to discover whether music can ever be colourful.

18Schubert's Dark Side20161023

Tom Service delves into the dark side of Franz Schubert - what can we hear in his music?

A provincial composer who died young, described as looking like a "little mushroom" - on the face of it Franz Schubert doesn't seem a likely candidate for deep insight into the human condition. But appearances are very definitely deceptive, and some of his music can seem deceptively straightforward as well. Join Tom Service for a journey into Schubert's psyche and discover what his music tells us about the man, and perhaps about ourselves.

With Dr Laura Tunbridge of OXford University.

19Cover Versions2016110620180715
20180708 (R3)

Tom Service ponders both composers' and audiences' never-ending commitment to orchestras.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

As the world's greatest celebration of orchestras and orchestral music that is the BBC Proms gets underway, Tom Service has some questions... When did orchestras begin and why? Who decided they should have standardised sections of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion? Why did they seem to get bigger and bigger as the 19th century turned into the 20th? Why have so many of the great composers spent so much of their time writing for them? Are they still relevant to today's composers and what's their future? And to find out what it's actually like to play in an orchestra, an individual working together with sometimes 100 others, Tom talks to Beverly Jones, double bassist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The Listening Service explores the art of the cover version: what happens when one composer 'covers' the art of another? Why was it common practice for baroque composers to recycle their own work and 'borrow' from their colleagues on a regular basis? And what of musical traditions like Folk and Jazz where key pieces or 'standards' are covered by multiple artists? Tom Service talks to baroque expert Berta Joncas and folk star Eliza Carthy to get some answers.

The Listening Service.

Tom Service explores cover versions from baroque to pop.

The Listening Service explores the art of the cover version: what happens when one composer 'covers' the art of another? Why was it common practice for baroque composers to recycle their own work and 'borrow' from their colleagues on a regular basis? And what of musical traditions like folk and jazz where key pieces or 'standards' are covered by multiple artists? Tom Service talks to baroque expert Berta Joncas and folk star Eliza Carthy to get some answers.

20Improvisation20161113

Tom Service considers the art of musical improvisation. When pianist Lenny Tristano first recorded free improvisations in 1949, his record company didn't want to release them. Today, Free Improvisation is a well-established genre. But can improvising ever be "free"? Tom discusses with musician and writer David Toop and improvising bassist Joëlle Leandre.

Improvisation is a fundamental part of music-making - it even has a place in Western classical music, such as the freely invented cadenza in a piano concerto. Other musical traditions are fundamentally based in improvising, such as the classical Indian tradition, and jazz. In the 1950s, Free Improvisation developed from experiments in extending jazz, as an attempt to make music spontaneously with no reference to any style or tradition. David Toop has written a book about improvising, and Joelle Leandre has had a long career as a free improviser, playing with a wide variety of musicians around the world. But, she says, "we cannot be free...".

21The Semitone2016120420180107

Tom Service on what can be done with the semitone, the smallest interval in western music.

Tom Service considers the semitone. Music's most fundamental building block, it can mean sorrow when it falls, triumph when it rises, but also provoke fear (in the theme from Jaws). It can become a glittering decoration when repeated as a trill. Tom talks to mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly about the tragic falling semitones of Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas, and also to musicologist Sarha Moore about the varied significances of the semitone in musical traditions of the Middle East and India, and its special effect in the riffs of Heavy Metal rock music.
In the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sang "Tee - a drink with jam and bread - that will bring us back to Doh" - but what makes that "tee" note pull us so inexorably back (by a semitone) to "doh" - the tonic? Tom calls the semitone "the piquant spice that drives the change from one key to another" - powerful effects from a little interval.

Tom Service considers the semitone. Music's most fundamental building block, it can mean sorrow when it falls, triumph when it rises, but also provoke fear (in the theme from Jaws). It can become a glittering decoration when repeated as a trill. Tom talks to mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly about the tragic falling semitones of Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas, and also to musicologist Sarha Moore about the varied significances of the semitone in musical traditions of the Middle East and India, and its special effect in the riffs of Heavy Metal rock music.

In the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sang "Tee - a drink with jam and bread - that will bring us back to Doh" - but what makes that "tee" note pull us so inexorably back (by a semitone) to "doh" - the tonic? Tom calls the semitone "the piquant spice that drives the change from one key to another" - powerful effects from a little interval.

Tom Service considers the semitone. Music's most fundamental building block, it can mean sorrow when it falls, triumph when it rises, but also provoke fear (in the theme from Jaws). It can become a glittering decoration when repeated as a trill. Tom also talks to musicologist Sarha Moore about its varied significances in musical traditions of the Middle East and India, and also its special effect in the riffs of Heavy Metal rock music.

22Background Music2016121120180128

Tom Service considers what is background music and how it functions in our lives.

Tom tunes into the background, exploring what background music really is; telling the surprising story of the Muzak corporation, and discovering that there's a range of background functions that music can have: from the 'furniture music' of Erik Satie to the Stimulus Progression albums used in Lyndon B Johnson's White House. Daniel Barenboim, Julian Lloyd-Webber and Brian Eno help explain the power of and problems with background music.

Tom tunes into the background, exploring what background music really is; telling the surprising story of the Muzak corporation, and discovering that there's a range of background functions that music can have: from the 'furniture music' of Erik Satie to the Stimulus Progression albums used in Lyndon B Johnson's White House. Daniel Barenboim, Julian Lloyd-Webber and Brian Eno help explain the power of and problems with background music.

23The Bells, The Bells...20161225

Tom Service on the mystery, magic and music associated with bells

For thousands of years human life has been accompanied by the sound of bells - calls to prayer, driving away evil spirits, marking the hours and seasons of life - births, marriages, deaths, alarm bells, peace bells, sleigh bells and Christmas bells. Tom looks at the meaning and magic of the sound of bells, and listens to the interpretations and reverberations of bells in music.

24Breaking Free: Tom Service On The Second Viennese School20170101

Breaking Free - the minds that changed music. Tom Service explores how to listen to the Second Viennese School - music that exploded with expressive feeling in the early years of the 20th century, and then gradually rebuilt harmony into a new system, using the 12-note series. He explains how the music developed from Arnold Schoenberg's early expressionist ventures into atonality, to the cool jewel-like precision of his pupil Anton Webern. In conversation with art historian Lisa Florman, he finds parallels in the painter Wassily Kandinsky's journey towards abstraction and his theories of shapes and colours. (Kandinsky was a friend of Schoenberg). And composer George Benjamin describes the intricate structures of Webern's music, which greatly inspired his own compositions.

25Whatever Happened To The Waltz?2017011520171022

Tom Service presents waltzes from history, and discovers why it swept across the world.

Why did the waltz sweep through the musical world - and then what happened to it? Why do we love to dance in three time? Tom Service gives it a whirl.
Long Desc
A hotbed of vice, immorality, and social meltdown... or a musical embodiment of gilded nostalgia and conservatism...

The sounds of an empire at whirling play in Vienna... or the final soundtrack to the end of a musical and political world order...

Tom Service invites you to dance through history in three-time, and whirl through waltzes both wonderful and weird.

With dance historian Darren Royston and dancing queen Katie Derham.

A hotbed of vice, immorality, and social meltdown... or a musical embodiment of gilded nostalgia and conservatism...

The sounds of an empire at whirling play in Vienna... or the final soundtrack to the end of a musical and political world order...

Tom Service invites you to dance through history in three-time, and whirl through waltzes both wonderful and weird.

With dance historian Darren Royston and dancing queen Katie Derham

26Virtuosity20170122

: what does it mean to be good? Really, really good? If you're a virtuoso pianist, violinist, cellist, does that mean you can play faster than everybody else - or better? From Liszt to Paganini, Horowitz to Lang Lang, what does it mean to be a virtuoso? Are you in league with the devil, as 19th-century critics said about the violinist Paganini, or are you able to communicate more movingly, more emotionally, more humanly than other players?

With Tom Service.

27What Makes A Song?20170129

Tom Service considers what makes a good song work - verse, chorus, a good tune and...? Is a pop song using fundamentally the same structure as an art song or Lied? From the timeless pop of Burt Bacharach to the gigantic "song-symphonies" of Gustav Mahler, Tom examines what you can do with a few verses, perhaps a chorus, and maybe a "middle eight". He's also joined by songwriter and pianist Richard Sisson to consider the genius of Robert Schumann's songcraft.

28What You See Is What You Hear?2017020520180610 (R3)

Tom Service asks if the pictures we see of composers influence the way we hear their music

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Tom Service asks whether the way we see composers depicted in art influences the way we hear their music.
With particular reference to three pictures that you can see on the Listening Service page of the Radio 3 website for this programme - Hildegard of Bingen, Bach and Beethoven.
Rethink music with The Listening Service.

Tom Service asks whether the way we see composers depicted in art influences the way we hear their music.

With particular reference to three pictures that you can see on the Listening Service page of the Radio 3 website for this programme - Hildegard of Bingen, Bach and Beethoven.

Rethink music with The Listening Service.

29In Space No-one Can Hear You Sing...2017021920180923 (R3)

Space. A place few men or women have gone before... but plenty of composers have. The universe has inspired musicians for hundreds of years and consequently we all know what space music sounds like. Or do we?

From Holst and David Bowie to John Williams via Ligeti, Thomas Ades and the Beastie Boys, Tom Service dons his spacesuit on a mission to explore why cosmic-inspired music sounds the way it does, and discovers how space science is just as inspired by music as musicians are by space.

En route to the stars, space scientist Lucie Green is on hand to tell Tom the reality of sound in space, while mathematician Elaine Chew helps him uncover the music of the spheres.

Tom Service explores why space-inspired music sounds the way it does.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Space. A place few men or women have gone before... but plenty of composers have. The universe has inspired musicians for hundreds of years and consequently we all know what space music sounds like. Or do we?

From Holst and David Bowie to John Williams via Ligeti, Thomas Ades and the Beastie Boys, Tom Service dons his spacesuit on a mission to explore why cosmic-inspired music sounds the way it does, and discovers how space science is just as inspired by music as musicians are by space.

En route to the stars, space scientist Lucie Green is on hand to tell Tom the reality of sound in space, while mathematician Elaine Chew helps him uncover the music of the spheres.

30Beethoven's Ninth Symphony20170226

Tom Service explores arguably the most famous piece of music in the world: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It's a piece which has been appropriated by everyone from the European Union, to the writer Anthony Burgess, who used it as an unsettling counterpoint to the murderous exploits of the characters in his novel A Clockwork Orange. Tom asks whether Beethoven's original vision of a musical utopia has actually turned out to be far more dangerous than the composer could ever have imagined.

31Deep Listening: Pauline Oliveros20170305

Tom Service immerses himself in Deep Listening, a practice created by composer Pauline Oliveros. It's a kind of sonic meditation, a way of approaching music with more sensitivity that anyone can practise. In exploring this concept, Tom also explores the music of Oliveros, one of the most influential composers of the late twentieth century. She was a pioneer of electronic music, working with tape machines and early synthesizers in the 1060s in California.

She wrote: "Deep listening for me is learning to expand the perception of sounds to include the whole space/time continuum of sound - encountering the vastness and complexities as much as possible.".

32Music - It's About Time20170319

A programme recorded earlier this afternoon at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead, in which Tom goes on a journey into musical time and space. Find out what connects Wagner and minimalism, Anna Meredith and rollercoasters, speed metal and slow movements - and how you can transform the fastest music in the world into the slowest, right in front of your ears.

34Who Wrote The First Folk Song?20170402

It's an age old question, these tunes that everyone knows which have been passed down from generation to generation... Where do they come from?

Enlisting the help of ethnomusicologist and folk singer Dr Fay Hield and folklore expert Steve Roud, Tom Service embarks on a quest to the very origins of music. It's a journey that takes him back in time from modern-day folk clubs to the origins of the species (via rural Lincolnshire in the early 20th century).

35Brahms - Behind The Beard20170423

Tom Service considers whether Brahms had the most famous beard in classical music.

The most famous beard in classical music? Perhaps. And if so, what does Johannes Brahms's abundant facial hair have to do with his music? Tom Service looks at four contrasting compositions for clues: the First Piano Concerto, the Second Sextet, the choral piece 'Gesang der Parzen' (Song of the Fates) and the A-major Intermezzo.

The most famous beard in classical music? Perhaps. And if so, what does Johannes Brahms's abundant facial hair have to do with his music? Tom Service looks at four contrasting compositions for clues: the First Piano Concerto, the Second Sextet, the choral piece 'Gesang der Parzen' (Song of the Fates) and the A-major Intermezzo.

36Breaking Free: Martin Luther's Revolution20170430

Tom Service explores the power and politics of communal singing.

As part of Radio 3's Breaking Free: Martin Luther's Revolution, The Listening Service asks where the idea of communal singing, especially in religious contexts, came from in modern Europe. It seems natural to us today but the practice of congregational singing was once a radical, revolutionary idea that brought religion and politics together. And - what do the football chants heard on the terraces share with the hymns we sing in church? Tom talks to Bach scholar John Butt and the Reverend Lucy Winkett to find some answers. Rethink music with The Listening Service.

37Endings20170507

Tom Service explores how pieces of music end, asking what endings mean.

Tom Service looks at how pieces of music end, and asks what endings mean. Are they mere framing devices, or can they suggest weightier thoughts of triumph, or conversely, of death? And what of the fading away so prevalent in pop music? From Beethoven's insistent affirmations to Tchaikovsky's bleak despair, from Haydn's witty farewells to Human League's intimations of eternity, the ways that music ends are as various as music itself.

38What's The Point Of The Conductor?20170521

Tom Service explores the role of the conductor.

The Listening Service had a question from a listener :

"When I see the musicians playing, they seem to be looking at their sheet music, not the conductor. Can an orchestra not function perfectly well without a conductor? If I'm intensely moved by a piece of orchestral music, is it not the musicians which moved me? Why must I applaud some arbitrary conductor, who never touched a single instrument throughout the entire performance?"

Tom Service rises to the challenge and looks at the role of the conductor - is it all about their ego, their clothes, their ability to beat time or their emotional outpouring onstage - or it is something else entirely? Rethink music with The Listening Service.

39Good Grief?20170528

Tom Service explores what makes music an essential part of mourning.

Tom Service wonders what makes music an essential part of mourning and how composers straddle the divide between private and public grief. Divided by three centuries what does the music for Queen Mary's 1695 funeral and the funeral for Princess Diana have in common? Why do some pieces become associated with mourning, despite their composers' intentions? And delving into how funeral music became integrated in abstract musical forms, he uncovers the private grief behind one of Bach's most famous works, the D minor Chaconne for solo violin.

40Hay Festival 201720170604

In a special edition from 2017's Hay Festival, Tom Service explores setting words to music

In a special edition of The Listening Service recorded live at this year's Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Tom is joined by the composer Richard Sisson (at the piano), and poet Gillian Clarke to discuss the art of setting words to music. From the thwarted romance of Lieder to the game-changing musicals of Stephen Sondheim and the era-defining pop songs of Jarvis Cocker, finding the perfect synergy between written word and musical note is an elusive art. Tom and his guests explore just how it's done and by the end of the show they'll have created their own setting live in front of the eyes and ears of the Hay audience.

Part of Radio 3's week-long residency at Hay Festival, with Lunchtime Concert, In Tune, Free Thinking, The Verb and The Listening Service all broadcasting from the festival.

41The Power Of Three20170611

Tom Service asks why we love to harmonise in thirds and why sometimes thirds go rogue.

From medieval English music to the Everly Brothers - what is it about the musical interval of the third that sounds so attractive? Why does a major third tend to feel positive, and a minor third tend to feel sad? Nature or nurture? And what about their dark cousin, the tritone - the so-called "Devil in Music" - what on earth is that sinister about a couple of notes?
Tom Service is joined by Dr Adam Ockelford to try and find some answers.

42I Got Rhythm20170625

Tom Service discovers why we find rhythm irresistable as humans.

Ever gone out dancing? Or found your fingers and toes tapping along to your favourite tune? We find rhythm irresistible as humans.

But what is rhythm? How do we feel that beat - and do we need it to enjoy music? Tom Service explores rhythm in music from Bach's courtly dances to Steve Reich's clapping hands, finds out what puts the rhythm in RnB and discovers music that has no rhythm at all.

Meanwhile musical neuroscientist Dr Jessica Grahn is on hand to show us how rhythm affects our brains and together they find out the beat really does go on throughout our human lives.

43Drones20170702

Tom Service explores the variety of music based on a drone.

Tom Service discovers endless variety in music based on a drone - from rustic dance music to mystic religious ecstasy. Medieval Christian music used a drone to provide support for their liturgical chants; old country dances went with a swing to the drone of bagpipes and hurdy gurdy. Much Indian classical music builds elaborate melodic variations over a drone. Minimalist composer Lamonte Young has a never-ending drone piece playing in his loft in New York; and rock band The Velvet Underground brought psychedelic drones into the pop scene of the late 1960s.
Tom talks to Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell about the drones on her bagpipes, and to American Minimalist composer Phill Niblock about his use of microtonal drones in his music.

44Extreme Voices20170709

Whether it's an eye-wateringly high soprano or profoundly low bass, lightning quick rappers, the star castrati of the 18th century, the screamers, the growlers, the robots or the singers that can produce two notes at once - there are a lot of extreme voices out there.

Tom Service takes a trip through the many purveyors of vocal pyrotechnics from Mozart and Rachmaninov to Stockhausen, Tom Waits and Daft Punk, has a lesson in throat singing from overtone singer Michael Ormiston, and finds out whether we're all extreme singers at heart.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service.

45Revolution And Protest20170903

At The BBC Proms, The Listening Service discusses the music of revolution and protest.

Across the globe, music has been an essential rallying-cry of revolution and social change: from the Marseillaise to Strange Fruit, from classical symphonies to hip-hop, music has accompanied some of the most vital changes to our world. How does music do it? Peggy Seeger, folk music icon and protest-song-writing genius, tells us how her life in music has been a clarion call for political and social activism, and writer and broadcaster Kevin LeGendre charts the story of music's role in the Civil Rights movement, from the 1960s to today. And through the music of Shostakovich and Prokofiev, we hear what happens when revolutionary fervour curdles into something darker: when does music protest a regime, and when does it support tyranny? A century and more of musical protests and revolutions on The Listening Service at the BBC Proms presented by Tom Service.

46Codes, Ciphers, Enigmas20170910

Tom Service delves into codes, ciphers and hidden messages in music.

The Listening Service returns to its regular slot now the Proms are over, and chooses one of the BBC's "Ten Pieces III", Elgar's "Enigma Variations", to look at codes, ciphers and hidden messages in music.
What might be the "dark saying" or mystery tune that the Enigma Variations are based around? Which other composers were keen on the use of codes and ciphers in their music?
And if we can't crack the codes, does it matter?
With Tom Service and Prof. Marcus du Sautoy.

47Music For Mourning20170924

Tom Service asks why music has always been an essential part of mourning.

Tom Service asks why music has always been an essential part of mourning. With the help of cognitive neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday, he compares the music of two royal funerals separated by three centuries, and by tracing the development of funeral music into abstract art music he uncovers the private grief behind Bach's great D-minor violin Chaconne. And before ending with a Top Ten countdown of today's UK musical funeral favourites, he ponders why some music, never intended to be mournful, becomes indelibly associated with grieving.

Producer David Papp.

48Why Is Opera So Ridiculous?20171001

Tom Service considers opera - capable of great profundity, why is it also ridiculous?

Tom Service considers opera - capable of the greatest profundity and beauty, why is it so often also ridiculous? From Mozart to Birtwistle, Tom explores the highs and lows of this dramatic genre, and talks to two expert witnesses - the acclaimed comic writer Armando Iannucci, who is an opera-lover who sees the absurd side of it; and international soprano Lore Lixenberg, star of the high-camp Jerry Springer: The Opera, who recently opened a singing café in Berlin called Pret A Chanter where customers must sing rather than speak.
Pret A Chanter is a post-internet real-time opera that seeks to blur the boundaries between art and life. Anyone who steps over the threshold must abide by the rules of the opera. The main rule is: No Speaking. Only Vocalisations other than speaking are allowed.

49Silence!20171008

Tom Service ponders silence as an integral part of music, from Haydn to James Blake.

All music begins and ends in silence and often there's a bit in the middle, too. Some pieces skirt silence as they hover at the edge of audibility; in others the performers are completely silent. Tom Service ponders silence's fundamental importance to music and how composers have made it an integral part of their works, from classical concert hall to today's avant-garde, from indie pop to techno dance floor. And as he asks if we, as listeners, can ever actually experience real silence, he's joined by composer Michael Pisaro to hear about the implications of silence for him and his audience.

50Why Music? The Key To Memory: Earworms20171015

Tom Service unearths the maddening musical secrets behind earworms.

Remember the last tune you had stuck in your head? It's probably back there now... sorry about that... Whether it's Ravel's Bolero or Lady Gaga's Bad Romance we've all had them. But why and how can certain songs or pieces lodge themselves in our musical memory and refuse to budge.

In a special edition live from the Reading Rooms of Wellcome Collection, Tom Service is joined by singer and broadcaster Jarvis Cocker to unearth the maddening musical secrets behind earworms as they pick some of their 'favourites', try to create an earworm out of the most unlikely music possible, and hear from music psychologist Kelly Jakubowski on the science behind it all.

Part of Why Music? The Key to Memory, a weekend of live events, concerts and discussions exploring the implications of music's unique capacity to be remembered, produced by Radio 3 in partnership with Wellcome Collection.

51Can Music Scare Us?20171029

Tom Service discovers the darker side of music. With Halloween director John Carpenter.

Tom Service discovers the darker side of music in a Halloween edition of The Listening Service.

From Berlioz and Ligeti, to Don Giovanni and Psycho - there are some frankly terrifying pieces of music out there. But what is it about them that makes them scary - is it something in the music, or something in ourselves....

Tom enlists the help of the 'Halloween' director John Carpenter, who also composed its iconic eerie synthesiser score, and neuroscientist Nathalie Gosselin to unearth the fear factor in music.

Find out... if you dare...

5220171105

Ahead of Radio 3's 'Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture' season, Tom Service unlocks the mysteries of Shostakovich's baffling late masterpiece, his Symphony No. 15. Why does Shostakovich create a nightmarish toy shop soundscape in the opening movement? What compelled him to include musical quotations from Rossini and Wagner? And how does that final movement represent perhaps the greatest act of nihilism in musical history? To answer these questions Tom is joined by this week's Listening Service witness, the music historian David Metzer.

Tom Service unlocks the mysteries of Shostakovich's baffling Symphony No 15.

53The Synthesizer. Hannah Peel, Peter Zinovieff20171112

Tom Service investigates the rise of the synthesizer. How did this initially crude assemblage of electrical components develop in a few decades to become one of the most ubiquitous and flexible of musical instruments? He consults Peter Zinovieff, inventor of the first British commercially-available synthesizer (the VCS3, made in his garden shed in Putney); and also young composer/performer Hannah Peel, who likes to work with the sound of vintage analogue synths.

Tom Service investigates the rise of the synthesizer, now a common musical instrument.

54Classical Music Hoaxes20171119

Tom Service ponders the motivation and aesthetic value of musical hoaxes.

Tom Service invites you to take stroll around a rogues' gallery of musical musical fakers, from the perpetrators of innocent pranks, to calculating fraudsters' deliberate deceptions. As well as the satisfying sight of seeing musical experts consuming humble pie, what are the motivations behind musical hoaxes? How can aesthetic value shift when work, once thought to be by a musical giant, is discovered to be a forgery or a by a much lesser figure? To help answer these and other questions, Tom is joined by Frances Christie, Sotheby's Head of Modern British Art, and author of An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin, Rohan Kriwaczek.

55Bad Music20171203

Everyone loves good music but when is music bad? Tom Service brings out the worst!

Everyone loves good music, but when is music bad? Can we objectively define bad music - are there any rules to help - or is it a matter of taste and fashion? What music was once thought good but we now regard as bad? (And vice versa.)
Join arbiter of taste Tom Service as he dispenses judgment, both considered and otherwise.

56Mahler20171210

Tom Service discovers how Mahler was the first 'non-classical' classical composer.

Mahler's music - Huge eighty minute long symphonies, enormous orchestral forces, it should be thought of as the epitome of a complex cerebral classical music culture, surely?

Not if Mahler has anything to do with it.

Tom Service discovers how Mahler is the first non-classical Classical composer, how he happily harvested his tunes from everwhere from folk songs and children's rhymes to the landscape and nature, and how we as listeners are the most crucial part of them all and why he wanted every one of us to hear his music differently.

57The Joy Of Bach20171224

For Radio 3's 'Spirit of Bach' season, Tom Service celebrates The Joy of Bach.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

58Style Counsel20171231

Tom Service dispenses music history Style Counsel - how to tell what you're listening to.

Tom Service dispenses Style Counsel - what are the different eras in music history, and how can you tell them from each other? How did they come about and grow and change? And as Radio 3 is about to launch its New Year New Music season, is there an overarching distinguishing style in music today? Tom is joined by composer and writer Neil Brand at the piano for some answers.

59Bartok20180114

Tom Service explores the unique music of Bela Bartok, including his piano music.

Tom service explores the extraordinarily original music of Bela Bartok. This Hungarian composer, who was a contemporary of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, managed to avoid the direct influence of these two giants of modern music and created his own musical style, partly inspired by the folk music that he discovered (and recorded onto wax cylinders) in the Hungarian countryside before the First World War. His six string quartets are unmatched for their intensity and invention, and as a concert pianist himself, he wrote much groundbreaking piano music, including three concertos. Bartok's pedagogical series of pieces called Mikrokosmos is still much used by students of the piano, and Tom discusses the composer's piano music with another virtuoso pianist, Cédric Tiberghien.

60From The New World?20180121

Tom Service examines Dvorak's New World Symphony.

Tom Service examines Dvorak's Symphony No 9, "From the New World", one of the BBC's current "Ten Pieces III". Dvorak told the New York Herald in 1893 that "a serious and original school of composition should be established in the United States of America" which he hoped would have at its foundation black composers, like those he met, taught, and whose music he promoted at the National Conservatory of Music of America. Alongside Dvroak's Symphony "From the New World', Tom explores the lesser known Symphonies of three black composers: William Grant Still, Florence Price and William Dawson and how they realised Dvorak's dream for American music and used the symphony to create new languages and communities of listeners.

61I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues20180204

Tom Service discovers 'the Blues' from its earliest origins to its widest influence.

We all think we know what 'The Blues' means - whether it's feeling down in the dumps or a musical genre that links Muddy Waters through to the Rolling Stones.

But what is it really? What makes The Blues the Blues? And where did it come from? Tom Service is joined by jazz pianist Julian Joseph to discover its earliest African-American origins right up to current day Blues music and its influence on classical musicians.

Whether we're talking Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, classical composers using 'Blue' notes or that feeling of melancholy - the Blues has often found its way onto the concert stage too. Tom looks back across classical music history to find that actually music has had a bad case of the blues for many centuries.

62Sonata Form - Or There And Back Again20180211

In this edition of The Listening Service Tom Service tells stories in sonata form.

Tom Service tells stories in sonata form.

This word sonata originally meant simply a piece of music. But over the course of music history "sonata form" came to mean something very specific and laid the foundations for over two hundred years of sonatas, string quartets, symphonies and concertos.

In this edition of The Listening Service Tom explores sonata form - according to the revision guides it's all about Exposition-Development-Recapitulation. But its so much more than that - the template is just the bare bones of a three act drama - lyrical, exciting and compelling musical stories are told in sonata form. How can you hear them? How is it done?

With David Owen Norris at the piano, with his Sonata of the Prodigal Son.

63Debussy The Impressionist?20180218

Tom Service considers whether Claude Debussy was an Impressionist or not. He is often said to have composed Impressionist music - in such popular works as Claire de Lune and La Mer. But Tom argues that Debussy's music has quite a different character to that of the Impressionist painters - and to prove it he discusses the techniques of those painters with art historian Anthea Callen. Debussy, Tom argues, was a modernist, an abstract composer and also (in his opera Pelléas et Melisande) a creator of nightmares.

64The French Horn Unwound20180304

The French horn, elemental and atavistic, noble and heroic, has long held a special place in composers' affections. Just think of the horn writing of Bach and Handel, at once earthy and sophisticated, the concertos and chamber music of Mozart, the horns of Beethoven symphonies! Not to mention Schumann's supercharged Konzertstuck for four horns, or the central role the horn plays in Wagner's epic Ring - and in the orchestra of Brahms, Strauss and Mahler. And then there are today's composers...

Tom Service unwinds this 12-foot metal tube to discover its continuous appeal over three centuries with the help of natural horn virtuoso Anneke Scott and self-confessed French horn superfan Oliver Knussen, whose very personal concerto for the instrument was inspired by family and friendship, as well as the great horn writing of the past.

David Papp (producer).

Tom Service on the enduring appeal of the 12-foot metal tube that is the French horn.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

65The Listening Service At Free Thinking20180311

Tom Service explores the idea of polyphony - many voices, of equal importance, independent of each other and yet essential to the greater whole. A musical democratic utopia? Or are some voices always going to be more equal than others?
Taking the theme of this year's festival "the one and the many", Tom asks what singing together as one, and yet in different parts and voices, tells us about ourselves and our relationships with each other.
Live at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead with the festival house choir, "Voices of Hope".

Tom Service explores the idea of polyphony live at the Free Thinking Festival.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

66Searching For Paradise20180318

The Listening Service investigates music's divine journeys as part of the BBC's Civilisations season.

Humanity has used music to commune with the sacred for as long as we have been human: from the caves of Chauvet, tens of thousands of years ago, to the churches, temples, and synagogues of today, we have sung and hymned and played our connection with our God(s).
Something else has happened in modern Western society: as organised religion has waned, a cult of music has developed, in which we don't just use music to worship, but worship music and musicians as carriers of a divine spark. With the help of Keith Howard, Emeritus Professor of Music at SOAS and The Reverend Lucy Winkett, Tom explores how music has sounded the sacred and itself become sacred.

The Listening Service joins the BBC's Civilisations season to sound the divine in music.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

67Orientalism And The Music Of Elsewhere20180401

Tom Service unpicks western music's debt to the exotic, from Mozart to Ligeti and beyond.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

In the second of three companion programmes to BBC TV's Civilisations series, Tom Service unpicks western music's debt to the exotic and ponders the allure of western music for other cultures.

Reflecting contemporary attitudes and trends in fashion and the arts, the exotic has long cast its spell on western composers. Mozart catered to the 18th-century Viennese craze for all things Turkish; in 19th-century France the exotic stretched east to Indonesia and Japan. More recently, the music of Africa has attracted the likes of Steve Reich and György Ligeti. And 150 years ago, as Japan opened up to outside influences, western culture became suddenly desirable in the east, with profound and lasting consequences. But what does it take to make the exotic in music more than a titillating and imperialist added extra?

Including contributions from composer Unsuk Chin, and cultural historian of Japan, Jonathan Service.

David Papp (producer).

68Drums20180408

Tom Service considers drums - ancient instruments, yet capable of great sophistication.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Tom Service considers drums - one of the most ancient and primitive instruments, yet capable of great sophistication in the context of the classical orchestra or a jazz band. He discusses contemporary composition for drums with percussionist Serge Vuille, and looks at non-western drum traditions with Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale.

69Is Music A Universal Language?20180422

Tom Service asks whether music really is a universal language.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

What is music good for? In our concluding link with the BBC's Civilisations season, The Listening Service asks one of the most fundamental questions we can about music, a claim often made on the art-form's behalf in a list of reasons why it's an essential good: is music a universal language?

It's a seductive idea, that music's primal activation of the world of our emotions, bypassing the rationalising parts of our brains, means that it has an essential communicative function that carries across cultures in the way that no other phenomenon of the human imagination can. Music binds us together, because Beethoven and the blues sound the same and mean the same whether you're listening in Oklahoma or Osaka.

It's a nice theory, but on The Listening Service, we'll reveal the limits of these claims to the universal. And we'll suggest that music separates and defines us just as much as it brings us together. Not giving the game away, but music isn't a universal language: it's much, much more powerful than that - as we'll discover!

70How Does Video Game Music Work?20180429

Tom Service looks to discover the secrets behind our favourite video game music.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Bleep... bleep.... bleeeeep

It's amazing how a few electronic bleeps can tell us so much about what's going on in a video game without us even being aware of it

But music in video games has come a long way from the arcades, from the bleeps and bloops of Space Invaders and Super Mario to epic orchestral scores of the Legend of Zelda and Bioshock, Tom Service goes on an interactive odyssey to discover the secrets behind our favourite video game music. Along the way he meets composer Jessica Curry and video game expert Tim Summers who tell us what's really happening in the music when we're playing, the composer tricks of the trade and how video games can get new audiences closer to classical music.

bleeeeeeep... GAME OVER.

71The Sea20180506

Tom Service explores why and how the sea captured the imaginations of so many musicians.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Join Tom on a Listening Service voyage across our oceans to discover why music has long been inspired by the sea - from Sibelius and Mendelssohn to John Luther Adams and the Beatles. Meanwhile he discovers music that is literally created by the sea itself and marine biologist Helen Scales reveals the true sound of our oceans.

Join Tom on a Listening Service voyage across our oceans to discover why music has long been inspired by the sea - from Sibelius and Mendelssohn to John Luther Adams and the Beatles - how have composers tried to capture the ocean in their music? Is it even possible?

Meanwhile, Tom discovers music that is literally created by the sea itself from Blackpool to the Arctic, and dives down into the sounds of coral reefs with the marine biologist Helen Scales to hear the noisy vibrant reality of life under the waves, from snapping pistol shrimps and angry damsel fish to singing whales.

72What Does Ancient History Really Sound Like?20180513

What did the music of Paleolithic caves or Roman arenas actually sound like?

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

From Paleolithic caves to Roman arenas, we know that music was made, and even what instruments were played - but what did the music sound like? Tom attempts to find out, with help from flautist Anna Friederike Potengowski, composer Neil Brand, and media historian David Hendy. Journey with them from the prehistoric to ancient Rome, via the "modern stone age" town of Bedrock.

73Syncopation Syncopation Syncopation20180520

What is syncopation? An off-beat edition of The Listening Service. With Tom Service.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

What's the secret musical ingredient that music from salsa to Saturday Night Fever, from Charlie Parker to George Gershwin, from Johann Sebastian Bach to Leonard Bernstein, from ragtime to funk and disco, not to mention baroque sarabandes, has in common?

The answer is that they all swoon to the sounds of syncopation: to rhythms that dance against, as well as with, the beat - to make us tap our fingers and toes, to get us dancing.

On today's The Listening Service: what are the secrets of syncopation: what defines these rhythms in our music, and in our brains and our bodies, in the physiological and psychological ways that we process them?

Tom Service goes off beat! (And tries his hand at Cuban percussion).

74The Listening Service Recorded Live At Hay Festival20180603

The Listening Service recorded live at this year's Hay Festival.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

In this special edition of The Listening Service recorded live at this year's Hay Festival, Tom Service explores the parallels between great children's literature and music written for young people. From Debussy to Prokofiev, Bizet to Britten - childhood has fascinated some of the greatest composers. How does their approach compare to the likes of Lewis Carroll, Judith Kerr and Michael Morpurgo? And how 'childish' are some of the most complex works of music and literature? Joining Tom to answer those questions at the piano, is the composer and pianist Richard Sisson who wrote the score for Alan Bennett's The History Boys at The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Goodnight Children Everywhere.

In this special edition of The Listening Service recorded live at this year's Hay Festival, Tom Service explores the parallels between great children's literature and music written for young people. From Debussy to Prokofiev, Bizet to Britten - childhood has fascinated some of the greatest composers - how does their approach compare to children's writers and illustrators? What can we learn from music written by youngsters themselves and what lessons can be learned from music, pictures and words created for children? Joining Tom to answer those questions at the piano, is the composer and pianist Richard Sisson who wrote the score for Alan Bennett's The History Boys at The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Goodnight Children Everywhere; and the award-winning author and illustrator Ed Vere, creator of Mr Big, Max the Brave and Bedtime for Monsters.

75Igor Stravinsky: Understood Best By Children And Animals20180617

Tom Service seeks the essence of Igor Stravinsky's seemingly ever-changing musical style.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

"My music is best understood by children and animals," pronounced Igor Stravinsky, no doubt with a twinkle in his eye. According to his critics (and jealous colleagues), Stravinsky's composing consisted of picking up any old musical baubles like a restless musical magpie, sometimes having the effrontery to leave them virtually unchanged. Most annoyingly of all, audiences seemed to lap it up. To make matters worse, when it came to explaining his music, Igor liked nothing better than to hide behind contradictory and gnomic statements, as bewildering and frequent as his changes of musical style.

Neither child nor animal, Tom Service nonetheless attempts to reveal the essence of Stravinsky, at once one of the greatest yet most elusive 20th Century composers. Including contributions from playwright Meredith Oakes and Stravinsky biographer Jonathan Cross.

David Papp (producer).

76Truck Driver Modulation20180624

Tom Service on the art of the sudden key change - and our love-hate relationship with it.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Today on The Listening Service Tom gets into gear for the truck driver modulation - crunching from one key to another, and not worrying overly about the musical synchromesh.
There's not too much attention paid to the proper rules of harmony in today's programme, which celebrates the emotional and dramatic impact of the well-placed sudden key change. From Bruckner to Bon Jovi, Mahler to Michael Jackson, and less alliteratively, from Schubert to Bill Withers via Barry Manilow, we may love to hate this technique, but join Tom as he stands up for the key change (like Westlife).

77The Fifth20180701

Tom Service savours the sound of the fifth - an interval with many meanings.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Tom Service savours the sound of the fifth - an interval with many meanings, from mystic drone to military bugle call. He's joined by Early Music expert Jeremy Llewellyn who explains the significance of the fifth in medieval music, related to The Music of the Spheres and used to invoke the Almighty in religious chant; and by composer David Bruce, who describes how composers today find fresh uses for this primal sound. Tom finds the open, ringing sound of the fifth in all sorts of music, from a Buzzcocks guitar solo to a Mahler symphony, providing the thrill of adventure in the Star Wars theme and underpinning the reels of Scottish bagpipe music.

Tom Service savours the sound of the fifth - an interval with many meanings, from mystic drone to military bugle call. He's joined by Early Music expert Jeremy Llewellyn who explains the significance of the fifth in medieval music, related to The Music of the Spheres and used to invoke the Almighty in religious chant; and by composer David Bruce, who describes how composers today find fresh uses for this primal sound. Tom finds the open, ringing sound of the fifth in all sorts of music, from a Buzzcocks guitar solo to a Bruckner symphony, providing the thrill of adventure in the Star Wars theme and underpinning the reels of Scottish bagpipe music.

78Orchestral Manoeuvres20180715

Tom Service considers composers' and audiences' never-ending commitment to orchestras.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

As the world's greatest celebration of orchestras and orchestral music that is the BBC Proms gets underway, Tom Service attempts to shed some light on three centuries of orchestral manoeuvres... When did orchestras begin and why? Why do they have standardised sections of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion? Why did they seem to get bigger and bigger as the 19th century turned into the 20th? Why have so many of the great composers spent so much of their time writing for them? Are they still relevant to today's composers and what's their future?

And to find out what it's actually like to play in an orchestra, an individual working together with sometimes 100 others, Tom talks to Beverley Jones, double bassist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

David Papp (producer).

79Devilish Musical Pacts20180722

Tom Service signs his soul to the devil to explore the Faust story in music.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, Tom Service signs his soul in blood as he explores musical versions of the Faust story - including Mahler's epic setting of Goethe's Faust in his eighth symphony. Guest Matthew Sweet lends his devilish expertise on Faustian films, from Bedazzled to The Witches of Eastwick.

Recorded earlier today at Imperial College, London, as a prelude to tonight's Proms performance of Mahler's Symphony No.8.

80Maxing Out On Minimalism20180916

Minimalism in music - is less really more?

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

Less really is more on today’s The Listening Service: we’re maxing out on minimalism, that most popular but also most divisive and most misunderstood of all 20th century musical movements. Music that either makes you bliss out or brings you out in hives - it's the sound of that rhythmic repetitive music by a quartet of American composers - Steve Reich, Philip Glass, LaMonte Young, and Terry Riley, who have defined the movement, the style, even the genre of minimalism. Take a chord, a pattern, a handful of notes - and repeat them - and repeat again…and again...

What is Minimalism in music and why should you listen to it?

81Technical Mastery20180930

Music and technology - what do you do when everything is possible?

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

From the dawn of human music-making, all instrumental music has been made via technology, whether bone flutes, violins, pianos, tape or synthesisers. Is new musical technology driven by the needs of composers and musicians or are they dazzled by its possibilities before they can really get to grips with it? How has cheap technology impacted on music, now that laptops have done for expensive studios and choosy producers. Do the infinite possibilities of today's digital technology limit musical imagination?

To help answer these and many other questions, Tom is joined by Maggie Cole, player of keyboard-based technologies from the clavichord to the synthesiser, and by composer, producer, and surfer of today’s digital technological Utopia, Jono Buchanan.

82Speed20181007

A rollercoaster of a show as Tom experiences how music gets our hearts racing.

An odyssey through the musical universe, presented by Tom Service

A rollercoaster of a show as Tom experiences how music gets our hearts racing. How do composers from Bach to Jarvis Cocker manipulate speed in music? How can a slow movement by Sibelius be 'faster' than 'speedcore' dance music? Tom takes us inside the mechanics of speed, and discovers that Sibelius controls our heart rate in symphonic music in the same way that a DJ in Ibiza does as their set unfolds. Just to put his theories to the test, Tom rides a roller coaster with the composer Anna Meredith who explains how those mighty rides do much the same thing as she does when writing the music designed to get our pulse rate up.