Music Extra [world Service]

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Episodes

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A Symphony For Syria2016070220160703 (WS)

The story of how 50 Syrian musicians beat the odds to perform again together in Holland

A symphony for Syria is the story of how 50 Syrian musicians beat the odds to find their way to Holland to perform together. The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians first played with British songwriter Damon Albarn in 2008. Since then, a civil war has divided their country and forced many to rethink many aspects of their lives. Some have decided to live in Europe whilst others have stayed in Syria and continued to try and perform even as their compatriots have died and lost their homes around them.

Amy Zayed explores their lives through music in Syria and their newly adopted countries. And it puts their music in a rich tradition of Syrian performances dating back 3000 years. We share their emotions as Damon Albarn and Africa Express attempt to reunite his old friends in Amsterdam. Can all the members make it to Holland? Is there time to get the music together? And we follow their first concert and what they hope will be an enthusiastic and emotional reception from a European audience as they attempt to persuade them that Syria is not just about war but amazing musical culture as well.

Africa Express presents The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

Co-commissioned by Holland Festival and 14-18 NOW.

(Photo: Singer of British band Blur, Damon Albarn performs on stage during a concert with The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians in the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam. Credit: European Photo Agency)

A symphony for Syria is the story of how 50 Syrian musicians beat the odds to find their way to Holland to perform together. The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians first played with British songwriter Damon Albarn in 2008. Since then, a civil war has divided their country and forced many to rethink many aspects of their lives. Some have decided to live in Europe whilst others have stayed in Syria and continued to try and perform even as their compatriots have died and lost their homes around them.

Amy Zayed explores their lives through music in Syria and their newly adopted countries. And it puts their music in a rich tradition of Syrian performances dating back 3000 years. We share their emotions as Damon Albarn and Africa Express attempt to reunite his old friends in Amsterdam. Can all the members make it to Holland? Is there time to get the music together? And we follow their first concert and what they hope will be an enthusiastic and emotional reception from a European audience as they attempt to persuade them that Syria is not just about war but amazing musical culture as well.

Africa Express presents The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

Co-commissioned by Holland Festival and 14-18 NOW.

(Photo: Singer of British band Blur, Damon Albarn performs on stage during a concert with The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians in the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam. Credit: European Photo Agency)

is the story of how 50 Syrian musicians beat the odds to find their way to Holland to perform together. The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians first played with British songwriter Damon Albarn in 2008. Since then, a civil war has divided their country and forced many to rethink many aspects of their lives. Some have decided to live in Europe whilst others have stayed in Syria and continued to try and perform even as their compatriots have died and lost their homes around them.

Adrian Sherwood\u2019s Dub Theory2018063020180701 (WS)

Legendary producer Adrian Sherwood guides us through his dub inspired sound world

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Legendary British producer and founder of the On-U Sound record label Adrian Sherwood takes us on a personal journey through the experimental, mysterious world of his distinctive production style.

Producing and remixing tracks over the last 30 years by artists as diverse as Public Image Limited, The Slits, The Fall, African Head Charge, Tackhead, Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Sinead O'Connor and Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood's career has epitomised the inter-racial journey of so much UK music, helping to inspire a uniquely British fusion of reggae, post-punk, industrial and electronica.

London-born Sherwood's love affair with Jamaican music began in the late 60s when, as a child of 11, he would hang out at blues parties, dancing to the ska sounds of Prince Buster. It was the start of a passion that would define his career and change the UK's musical landscape forever. Sherwood's reputation as the pioneer of UK dub music has only grown with time, and in recent years, he's become a mentor to many of the leading UK dubstep producers, working with people like Mala, Pinch and Kode 9.

Hearing from his closest collaborators, we discover why Sherwood is such an important figure in UK music, and the continuing influence of his unique approach to production and mixing. Adrian himself takes us deep inside his studio in Ramsgate, deconstructing his brand new collaboration with Lee “Scratch” Perry and explaining first hand his ethos behind the creative streak that has gained him a cult and loyal following.

(Photo: Adrian Sherwood's DJ set at the Trinity Centre, BBC 6 Music Festival, Bristol, 2016)

Adrian Sherwood\u2019s Dub Theory20180630

Legendary producer Adrian Sherwood guides us through his dub inspired sound world

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Legendary British producer and founder of the On-U Sound record label Adrian Sherwood takes us on a personal journey through the experimental, mysterious world of his distinctive production style.

Producing and remixing tracks over the last 30 years by artists as diverse as Public Image Limited, The Slits, The Fall, African Head Charge, Tackhead, Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Sinead O'Connor and Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood's career has epitomised the inter-racial journey of so much UK music, helping to inspire a uniquely British fusion of reggae, post-punk, industrial and electronica.

London-born Sherwood's love affair with Jamaican music began in the late 60s when, as a child of 11, he would hang out at blues parties, dancing to the ska sounds of Prince Buster. It was the start of a passion that would define his career and change the UK's musical landscape forever. Sherwood's reputation as the pioneer of UK dub music has only grown with time, and in recent years, he's become a mentor to many of the leading UK dubstep producers, working with people like Mala, Pinch and Kode 9.

Hearing from his closest collaborators, we discover why Sherwood is such an important figure in UK music, and the continuing influence of his unique approach to production and mixing. Adrian himself takes us deep inside his studio in Ramsgate, deconstructing his brand new collaboration with Lee “Scratch” Perry and explaining first hand his ethos behind the creative streak that has gained him a cult and loyal following.

(Photo: Adrian Sherwood's DJ set at the Trinity Centre, BBC 6 Music Festival, Bristol, 2016)

Adrian Sherwood\u2019s Dub Theory2018063020180701 (WS)

Legendary producer Adrian Sherwood guides us through his dub inspired sound world

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Legendary British producer and founder of the On-U Sound record label Adrian Sherwood takes us on a personal journey through the experimental, mysterious world of his distinctive production style.

Producing and remixing tracks over the last 30 years by artists as diverse as Public Image Limited, The Slits, The Fall, African Head Charge, Tackhead, Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Sinead O'Connor and Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood's career has epitomised the inter-racial journey of so much UK music, helping to inspire a uniquely British fusion of reggae, post-punk, industrial and electronica.

London-born Sherwood's love affair with Jamaican music began in the late 60s when, as a child of 11, he would hang out at blues parties, dancing to the ska sounds of Prince Buster. It was the start of a passion that would define his career and change the UK's musical landscape forever. Sherwood's reputation as the pioneer of UK dub music has only grown with time, and in recent years, he's become a mentor to many of the leading UK dubstep producers, working with people like Mala, Pinch and Kode 9.

Hearing from his closest collaborators, we discover why Sherwood is such an important figure in UK music, and the continuing influence of his unique approach to production and mixing. Adrian himself takes us deep inside his studio in Ramsgate, deconstructing his brand new collaboration with Lee “Scratch” Perry and explaining first hand his ethos behind the creative streak that has gained him a cult and loyal following.

(Photo: Adrian Sherwood's DJ set at the Trinity Centre, BBC 6 Music Festival, Bristol, 2016)

Adrian Sherwood's Dub Theory2018063020180701 (WS)

Legendary British producer and founder of the On-U Sound record label Adrian Sherwood takes us on a personal journey through the experimental, mysterious world of his distinctive production style.

Producing and remixing tracks over the last 30 years by artists as diverse as Public Image Limited, The Slits, The Fall, African Head Charge, Tackhead, Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Sinead O'Connor and Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood's career has epitomised the inter-racial journey of so much UK music, helping to inspire a uniquely British fusion of reggae, post-punk, industrial and electronica.

London-born Sherwood's love affair with Jamaican music began in the late 60s when, as a child of 11, he would hang out at blues parties, dancing to the ska sounds of Prince Buster. It was the start of a passion that would define his career and change the UK's musical landscape forever. Sherwood's reputation as the pioneer of UK dub music has only grown with time, and in recent years, he's become a mentor to many of the leading UK dubstep producers, working with people like Mala, Pinch and Kode 9.

Hearing from his closest collaborators, we discover why Sherwood is such an important figure in UK music, and the continuing influence of his unique approach to production and mixing. Adrian himself takes us deep inside his studio in Ramsgate, deconstructing his brand new collaboration with Lee “Scratch” Perry and explaining first hand his ethos behind the creative streak that has gained him a cult and loyal following.

Back On Highway 612016013020160131 (WS)

Andy Kershaw re-examines the Bob Dylan album that changed his life and popular music

Beginning with the resounding hit of a snare drum, Like A Rolling Stone starts Bob Dylan’s first fully electrified album, Highway 61 Revisited. When he first heard the song in his mother’s car, Bruce Springsteen said it was “like somebody kicked open the door to your mind.” The album represents the birth of rock music, as opposed to the pop or beat music that preceded its release. It sounds as subversive now as it did over 50 years ago.

Besides revolutionising popular music, the album transformed the life of broadcaster Andy Kershaw. For him, nothing would be the same after Highway 61.

Andy travels to America to meet the surviving musicians and hear the extraordinary stories behind the recording sessions. Dylan was only 24 years old when he walked into Columbia Studio A in New York City to record the album in June 1965. For a masterpiece record, it is all the more remarkable that almost no preparation, and absolutely no rehearsal, went into it.

Al Kooper, who was brought in as an observer, tells how he mistakenly and fortunately found himself playing the organ on Like A Rolling Stone, discovering the song’s melody on the spot. Bassist Harvey Brooks talks about the patience that was required to work with the unorthodox Dylan. Legendary Nashville musician Charlie McCoy describes how he was accidentally brought in to play the memorable Spanish-sounding guitar on Desolation Row. And Keith Richards provides a surprising take on Highway 61’s legacy.

(Photo: American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan smiles during a meeting with the British press, 28 April 1965. Credit: H. Thompson/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Beginning with the resounding hit of a snare drum, Like A Rolling Stone starts Bob Dylan’s first fully electrified album, Highway 61 Revisited. When he first heard the song in his mother’s car, Bruce Springsteen said it was “like somebody kicked open the door to your mind.? The album represents the birth of rock music, as opposed to the pop or beat music that preceded its release. It sounds as subversive now as it did over 50 years ago.

Besides revolutionising popular music, the album transformed the life of broadcaster Andy Kershaw. For him, nothing would be the same after Highway 61.

Andy travels to America to meet the surviving musicians and hear the extraordinary stories behind the recording sessions. Dylan was only 24 years old when he walked into Columbia Studio A in New York City to record the album in June 1965. For a masterpiece record, it is all the more remarkable that almost no preparation, and absolutely no rehearsal, went into it.

Al Kooper, who was brought in as an observer, tells how he mistakenly and fortunately found himself playing the organ on Like A Rolling Stone, discovering the song’s melody on the spot. Bassist Harvey Brooks talks about the patience that was required to work with the unorthodox Dylan. Legendary Nashville musician Charlie McCoy describes how he was accidentally brought in to play the memorable Spanish-sounding guitar on Desolation Row. And Keith Richards provides a surprising take on Highway 61’s legacy.

(Photo: American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan smiles during a meeting with the British press, 28 April 1965. Credit: H. Thompson/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Behind The Brel - The Story Of A Musical Genius2016040220160403 (WS)

Marc Almond\u2019s personal exploration of the life and work of singer-songwriter Jacques Brel

Marc Almond delivers a personal exploration of the music and unconventional life of singer-songwriter - Jacques Brel. He is considered one of the great French speaking singer songwriters of the 20th Century, whose lyrical content is poetically introspective and startlingly honest, tackling subjects such as love, death and many social issues.

His music has been translated by artists such as David Bowie, Scott Walker, Shirley Bassey, Joan Baez, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Rod McKuen, Terry Jacks, Nirvana and Vera Lynn.

(Photo: Jacques Brel, during the Cannes Cinema Festival, 1972. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Marc Almond’s personal exploration of the life and work of singer-songwriter Jacques Brel

Marc Almond delivers a personal exploration of the music and unconventional life of singer-songwriter - Jacques Brel. He is considered one of the great French speaking singer songwriters of the 20th Century, whose lyrical content is poetically introspective and startlingly honest, tackling subjects such as love, death and many social issues.

His music has been translated by artists such as David Bowie, Scott Walker, Shirley Bassey, Joan Baez, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Rod McKuen, Terry Jacks, Nirvana and Vera Lynn.

(Photo: Jacques Brel, during the Cannes Cinema Festival, 1972. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Bella Bellow - Beloved Songbird Of Togo2018010620180107 (WS)
20180602 (WS)
20180603 (WS)

Poised to become a superstar, she was tragically killed in an accident at the age of 27

Togo's best loved musician, Bella Bellow, had a voice comparable to African American Ella Fitzgerald.

Her talent was discovered when she was at school, and at 21 she was invited to perform at the Festival of Black Arts (Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, 1966) in Dakar – an event of great cultural significance which made her a household name across West Africa, where she went on tour. She was poised to become an international superstar when she was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 27.

Though she died at the tender age of 27 in 1973, she continues to influence the country, as well as musicians such as Angelique Kidjo, today.

Presented by BBC Afrique's music expert Ata Ahli Ahelba, who grew up listening to Bellow's music in his homeland, Togo.

Image: Street art depicting Bella Bellow, Credit: BBC

Togo's best loved musician, Bella Bellow, had a voice comparable to African American Ella Fitzgerald.

Her talent was discovered when she was at school, and at 21 she was invited to perform at the Festival of Black Arts (Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, 1966) in Dakar – an event of great cultural significance which made her a household name across West Africa, where she went on tour. She was poised to become an international superstar when she was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 27.

Though she died at the tender age of 27 in 1973, she continues to influence the country, as well as musicians such as Angelique Kidjo, today.

With music from Togo’s Bella Bellow choir, made up of 100 young women dedicated to keeping her songs alive.

Presented by BBC Afrique's music expert Ata Ahli Ahelba, who grew up listening to Bellow's music in his homeland, Togo.

Image: Street art depicting Bella Bellow, Credit: BBC

Bella Bellow: Beloved Songbird Of Togo2018010620180603 (WS)
20180602 (WS)

Poised to become a superstar, she was tragically killed in an accident at the age of 27

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Togo's best loved musician, Bella Bellow, had a voice comparable to African American Ella Fitzgerald.

Her talent was discovered when she was at school, and at 21 she was invited to perform at the Festival of Black Arts (Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, 1966) in Dakar – an event of great cultural significance which made her a household name across West Africa, where she went on tour. She was poised to become an international superstar when she was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 27.

Though she died at the tender age of 27 in 1973, she continues to influence the country, as well as musicians such as Angelique Kidjo, today.

Presented by BBC Afrique's music expert Ata Ahli Ahelba, who grew up listening to Bellow's music in his homeland, Togo.

Image: Street art depicting Bella Bellow, Credit: BBC

Poised to become a superstar, she was tragically killed in an accident at the age of 27

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Togo's best loved musician, Bella Bellow, had a voice comparable to African American Ella Fitzgerald.

Her talent was discovered when she was at school, and at 21 she was invited to perform at the Festival of Black Arts (Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, 1966) in Dakar – an event of great cultural significance which made her a household name across West Africa, where she went on tour. She was poised to become an international superstar when she was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 27.

Though she died at the tender age of 27 in 1973, she continues to influence the country, as well as musicians such as Angelique Kidjo, today.

Presented by BBC Afrique's music expert Ata Ahli Ahelba, who grew up listening to Bellow's music in his homeland, Togo.

Image: Street art depicting Bella Bellow, Credit: BBC

Carla Bruni: C\u2019est La Vie2018050520180506 (WS)

Carla Bruni, singer and former First Lady of France chooses her favourite songs

Carla Bruni plays her favourite songs in French and English on the subjects of love, sadness and joy. France's former First Lady recently released French Touch, her fifth studio album featuring her interpretations of songs by Depeche Mode, The Clash and AC/DC.

The Italian-born, globetrotting model's music career began in 2002, when she released Quelqu'un M'a Dit (in English, Someone Told Me), a surprise hit, which sold two million copies in Europe.

Recorded in Carla's hometown of Paris, in C’est La Vie, she recalls falling in love with her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy while he was President of France from 2007-2012.

Carla shares her stories of her unlikely love of heavy metal, meeting her hero Bob Dylan in Paris and her return to fashion's frontline, appearing alongside fellow supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen at Versace's Spring show at Milan Fashion Week.

With music from Francoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Barbara and Stromae.

(Photo: Carla Bruni performs live at the Gala event during the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience 2015. Credit: Luca Teuchmann/Getty Images)

Carla Bruni, songstress and former First Lady of France, shares with the World Service audience some of her favourite music.

In an hour of intimate conversation Carla will muse on the ideas of love and sadness and joy. She'll play songs in English and in French. Carla loves everything from rock to torch-song ballads, from Bob Dylan to Jacques Brel. With every song is a story from Carla's life, her thoughts about making and listening to music, about love and loss.

Carlos Gardel - Tango To The New World2017020420170205 (WS)

The power and emotion in the music of tango legend Carlos Gardel

Tango dancer Fabian Salas explores the nostalgia and drama in the music of Carlos Gardel. He is the most famous figure in Tango and yet, the story and music of Argentina's national hero is barely known outside Latin America. A hundred years ago, Gardel recorded Mi Noche Triste (My Sad Night), and for listeners who are Argentinian or Uruguayan, the song can stop time.

It is the first tango song sung with haunting beauty by the legendary Gardel. Before this song almost all tangos had been purely instrumental. With it Gardel captured the hope, loneliness and violence of life of the early European immigrants to Buenos Aires.
He soared to fame as a singer and then as movie star. He was the archetype Latin lover who established a new audience for this intense, passionate music in Argentina, and the wider world.

We hear how Gardel is still the beloved mascot of Argentina. Always pictured wearing an expensive suit, with a stylish hat - the suave singer was an immigrant who triumphed. His versatile voice and the dramatic phrasing of his lyrics made masterpieces of his three-minute tango recordings, which his fans describe as miniature operas.

Fabian talks to historians and musicians, including leading tango composer and bandoneon player, Marcelo Nisinman, Cultural Minister of Buenos Aires, Angel Mahler, tango singer Martin Alvarado, cultural historian and writer, Alicia Borinsky, president of the Tango Academy in Buenos Aires, Gabriel Soria, Argentinian entrepreneur Juan Fabri and El Arranque host, Luis Tarantino among others.

(Photo: Tango singer Carlos Gardel watching a bird in a cage, taken in 1930. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Argentinian dancer Fabian Salas discovers the power and emotion in the music of tango singing legend Carlos Gardel.

Cuba20170805

The first of six programmes over the coming year, which examine the interactions between music, identity and social change.

Why Cubans love their famous and irresistible music called “son?, and consider it a part of their identity and “the DNA of Cuban culture. This style of music, which spawned the likes of salsa, has been very popular in Cuba for a hundred years.
Musicologist Dr Lucy Duran, a specialist in Cuban music, returns to the island to ask why, and what the Cubans’ enduring passion for ‘son’ tell us about them.
She focuses on one particular song: Lagrimas Negras, “black tears? Composed in the 1920s by Miguel Matamoros, it’s universally known. Musicians can sing or play it on the spot. Some of them perform for Lucy’s microphone: from Buena Vista Social Club legends Eliades Ochoa and Omara Portuondo, to singer Anais Abreu and tres guitar virtuoso Pancho Amat.
They and many others from the pinnacle of Cuban music explain why son is a key part of Cuban identity. They describe how son evolved from the same mix as Cuban society: Africa (rhythm) and Europe (melody and harmony). Songs like Lagrimas Negras, constructed as a “smiling tragedy?, embody the Cuban philosophy of life: to face hardship with a sense of humour. The lyrics are about being left by your lover. But the insistence of the danceable chorus that “you want to leave me but I don’t want to suffer?, shows that son, like Cubans, turns difficult circumstances into something light-hearted. The song typifies how Cubans always find a way of smiling through their own misfortune.
This is the first of a series of 6 programmes to be transmitted over the coming year, which examine the interactions between music, identity and social change at key points in history.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius
(Image: Eliades Ochoa. Credit: BBC)

End Of Jazz2018020320180204 (WS)

How gentrification deleted San Francisco's jazz music scene

During the musical heyday of San Francisco's Fillmore District in the '40s and '50s, the area was known as the "Harlem of the West". It was a swinging place where you could leave your house on Friday night and jump from club to party to bar until the small hours of Monday morning. The black owned businesses boomed and the jazz was jumping.

Great musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, John Handy and Ella Fitzgerald found a sense of belonging in the area. But then the neighbourhood was targeted by city planners for urban renewal - where bulldozers reduced its soul to rubble, where a music scene came crashing down.

Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown Jr takes a look beneath the new apartment buildings and hip gentrified restaurants of today to see the soul of a community that once had music at its core.

(Photo: Jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Clifford Brown Jr. looks at how gentrification deleted a San Francisco music scene.

During the musical heyday of San Francisco's Fillmore District in the 40s and 50s, the area was known as the "Harlem of the West". It was a swinging place where you could leave your house on Friday night and jump from club to party to bar until the small hours of Monday morning. The black owned businesses boomed and the jazz was jumping. Great musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, John Handy and Ella Fitzgerald found a sense of belonging in the area. But then the neighbourhood was targeted by city planners for urban renewal - where bulldozers reduced its soul to rubble, where a music scene came crashing down. Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown Jr. takes a look beneath the new apartment buildings and hip gentrified restaurants of today to see the soul of a community that once had music at its core.

Gabriela Montero: Improvisation Masterclass2017042920170430 (WS)

Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero takes us to the heart of her music

Gabriela Montero, the exhilarating Venezuelan pianist, is playing in Miami. She is renowned for her live improvisations, a form of classical music that’s rarely heard in concert halls today.

Her spontaneous compositions on stage are inspired by musical motifs, sung or hummed to her by a member of the audience, often drawn from the classical repertoire, but also from the local folk traditions of any given audience. She is increasingly recognised for her talent and the direct communication she creates with her audience in what is a breath-taking display of virtuosity and creativity.

Composer Llywelyn Ap Myrddin lets his classically trained hair down and travels to meet her and discover the life and work of this unusual and brilliant woman.

Montero is living in exile in Spain. It is partly a demonstration against the current regime, but also as we’ll hear, it’s simply too dangerous to live and work in Venezuela.

As a child prodigy in Caracas, she was invited to perform piano concertos with the famous EL Sistema youth orchestra - El Sistema’s motto translates as “social action through music”. It remains a country wide initiative that claims to take poor young people off the streets and inspire them through music. The concerts given around the world are renowned for their incredible vitality and colour in all the senses, but increasingly Gabriela and fellow Venezuelan musicians including Luis Julio Toro are critical, given that El Sistema is now controlled by central government and the strategic performances are being used as "a kind of Disney propaganda" to cover for the terrible failure of the present government.

With leading classical musician and improviser, Robert Levin, Venezuelan flautist Luis Julio Toro and British jazz musician Laura Jurd.

(Photo: Gabriela Montero. Credit: Shelly Mosman)

Exhilarating Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero, living in exile, takes us to the heart of her music.

Get Up, Stand Up: Reggae In Poland2017040120170402 (WS)

How Jamaican Reggae has become the music of protest in Poland

What makes the sweet rhythmical music of a Caribbean island so appealing to young people in the eastern European country of Poland? How did a reggae singer with dreadlocks come to win the TV show Poland's Got Talent? And why is Poland one of the biggest markets for reggae music in the world?

Bob Marley's biographer Chris Salewicz reports from the annual Ostroda Reggae Festival where ten thousand Poles gather for three days at a former communist army camp to hear artists and bands like Bednarek, Jah9, Damian Syjonfam and Nattali Rize celebrate the music of Jamaica.

Pioneers of Polish Reggae including Robert Brylewski from Poland's first reggae band Izrael and Tomasz Lipinski from the influential punk/reggae outfit Brygada Kryzys explain how the music took root during the 1980s as a vehicle for protest against martial law. London-based Jamaican Norman Grant describes his visits to Poland at that time to collaborate and make records with the traditional Polish mountain musicians Trebunie.

Backstage in Ostroda artists from Poland, Jamaica and around the world talk about keeping Bob Marley's spirit alive and discuss how reggae is now seen both as a voice for protest against Poland's current right wing government and as a means of propagating a fundamentalist Catholic message which is at odds with Marley's rasta ideology.

At the climax of the festival, reporter Chris Salewicz is invited on stage to act as one of the judges for the annual World Reggae Contest won by Dutch band The Dubeez.

(Photo: Polish Reggae artist Damian Syjonfam with presenter Chris Salewicz)

What makes the sweet rhythmical music of a Caribbean island so appealing to young people in the eastern European country of Poland? How did a reggae singer with dreadlocks come to win the TV show Poland's Got Talent? And why is Poland the second biggest market for reggae music in the world?

Bob Marley's biographer Chris Salewicz reports from the annual Ostroda Reggae Festival where ten thousand Poles gather for three days at a former communist army camp to hear artists and bands like Bednarek, Jah9, Damian Syjonfam and Nattali Rize celebrate the music of Jamaica.

Pioneers of Polish Reggae including Robert Brylewski from Poland's first reggae band Izrael and Tomasz Lipinski from the influential punk/reggae outfit Brygada Krysis explain how the music took root during the 1980s as a vehicle for protest against martial law. London-based Jamaican Norman Grant describes his visits to Poland at that time to collaborate and make records with the traditional Polish mountain musicians Trebunie.

Backstage in Ostroda artists from Poland, Jamaica and around the world talk about keeping Bob Marley's spirit alive and discuss how reggae is now seen both as a voice for protest against Poland's current right wing government and as a means of propagating a fundamentalist Catholic message which is at odds with Marley's rasta ideology.

At the climax of the festival, reporter Chris Salewicz is invited on stage to act as one of the judges for the annual World Reggae Contest won by Jamaican trio The Dubeez.

Heroes 40th Anniversary2017100720171008 (WS)

40 years after the release of David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, Florence Welch visits the Berlin studio where it was recorded.

Florence Welch, from the British band Florence + The Machine, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s seminal “Heroes” LP by exploring the personal and musical factors that influenced the album’s writing and recording in Berlin in 1977.

Florence will feature archive of the late David Bowie explaining why he chose to live and work in Berlin and the impact the city’s history had on the masterpiece he created. She’ll also meet the album’s producer Tony Visconti to get an insight to the unique recording techniques he employed to interpret Bowie’s creative vision and how the characteristics of the famous Hansa Studios, which are situated in a huge former chamber music concert hall, contributed to the album’s influential sounds. Iggy Pop, who was living with Bowie in Berlin during the recording of the album, recalls how a battle with drug addition, bankruptcy and a legal dispute with his ex wife for access to his son all provided inspiration for the album’s lyrics and Brian Eno, who collaborated with David throughout the LP’s recording, explains the unique musical structures he and David employed to compose the innovative songs.

Berlin’s radical cultural diversity had always fascinated Bowie and Florence will explain how the opportunity to live and work in the city during the turbulent political period prior to the fall of `the Wall’ provided the perfect austere environment for David and his collaborators to experiment with music inspired by several German techno bands of the 70’s, including Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can.

(Photo: British pop singer David Bowie in concert at Earl's Court, London during his 1978 world tour. Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

40 years after the release of David Bowie’s “Heroes? album, Florence Welch visits the Berlin studio where it was recorded.

Florence Welch, from the British band Florence + The Machine, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s seminal “Heroes? LP by exploring the personal and musical factors that influenced the album’s writing and recording in Berlin in 1977.

Florence will feature archive of the late David Bowie explaining why he chose to live and work in Berlin and the impact the city’s history had on the masterpiece he created. She’ll also meet the album’s producer Tony Visconti to get an insight to the unique recording techniques he employed to interpret Bowie’s creative vision and how the characteristics of the famous Hansa Studios, which are situated in a huge former chamber music concert hall, contributed to the album’s influential sounds. Iggy Pop, who was living with Bowie in Berlin during the recording of the album, recalls how a battle with drug addition, bankruptcy and a legal dispute with his ex wife for access to his son all provided inspiration for the album’s lyrics and Brian Eno, who collaborated with David throughout the LP’s recording, explains the unique musical structures he and David employed to compose the innovative songs.

Berlin’s radical cultural diversity had always fascinated Bowie and Florence will explain how the opportunity to live and work in the city during the turbulent political period prior to the fall of `the Wall’ provided the perfect austere environment for David and his collaborators to experiment with music inspired by several German techno bands of the 70’s, including Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can.

(Photo: British pop singer David Bowie in concert at Earl's Court, London during his 1978 world tour. Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Florence Welch explores the influence of David Bowie\u2019s seminal \u201cHeroes\u201d album

Florence Welch, from the British band Florence + The Machine, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s seminal “Heroes” LP by exploring the personal and musical factors that influenced the album’s writing and recording in Berlin in 1977.

Florence will feature archive of the late David Bowie explaining why he chose to live and work in Berlin and the impact the city’s history had on the masterpiece he created. She’ll also meet the album’s producer Tony Visconti to get an insight to the unique recording techniques he employed to interpret Bowie’s creative vision and how the characteristics of the famous Hansa Studios, which are situated in a huge former chamber music concert hall, contributed to the album’s influential sounds. Iggy Pop, who was living with Bowie in Berlin during the recording of the album, recalls how a battle with drug addition, bankruptcy and a legal dispute with his ex wife for access to his son all provided inspiration for the album’s lyrics and Brian Eno, who collaborated with David throughout the LP’s recording, explains the unique musical structures he and David employed to compose the innovative songs.

Berlin’s radical cultural diversity had always fascinated Bowie and Florence will explain how the opportunity to live and work in the city during the turbulent political period prior to the fall of `the Wall’ provided the perfect austere environment for David and his collaborators to experiment with music inspired by several German techno bands of the 70’s, including Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can.

(Photo: British pop singer David Bowie in concert at Earl's Court, London during his 1978 world tour. Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

How Brass Conquered The World2017123020171231 (WS)

It began with an attempt to prevent workers becoming preoccupied with politics

Brass bands were originally conceived during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain to prevent workers becoming preoccupied with politics during leisure time. Stephen Tompkinson, famous for his part in the classic British film Brassed Off in the 1990s, examines the origins of brass bands and looks at how they evolved and developed in different parts of the world.

By 1860 there were estimated to be around 750 brass bands in England alone. The brass band tradition eventually caught on in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, parts of America and countries in Northern Europe such as Holland, Belgium and Norway. Meanwhile, separate but connected traditions emerged in places like New Orleans where brass is used to create a distinctive jazz sound.

How Brass Conquered the World also looks at how brass band music has seeped into wider musical tastes. The genre is often featured in TV themes and film scores while popular classical pieces like Rodrigo’s Concierto De Aranjuez are regularly played by brass bands.

With music from one of the world's oldest brass bands, the Stalybridge Old Band (formed in 1809) who play a rendition of the First World War marching tune It's a Long Way to Tipperary (which was written in the English town in 1912), and music from the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band who provided the inspiration for the film Brassed Off.

Image: A close-up of brass instruments, Credit: Getty Images

How Sgt Pepper Changed The World2017052720170528 (WS)

The 1967 Beatles album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and its impact on culture

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which was released on 1 June 1967, we examine the cultural impact of the album regarded by many social historians as the most important and influential LP ever released.

The album was the spark that ignited the most creative period in modern music when artistes fueled by psychedelic drugs produced music that had a seismic impact on art, fashion, dance, theatre, literature, film, architecture and design. It inspired changes in prevailing political, social and religious attitudes - borne from the ideology of peace, love and true respect for one another.

Music has always been a potent force for social change; it serves as both catalyst and sound track for social justice movements throughout time and in 1967, Sgt Pepper’s provided one of the most powerful musical cornerstones to the now legendary `Summer of Love’. It became an inspiration for a new generation of free thinking activists to oppose the social and political norms at the time, triggering dramatic cultural changes. And 50 years after its release, the album is still providing inspiration for a new generation of artists.

(Photo: The Beatles (clockwise from top left: Ringo Starr, George Harrison (1943 - 2001), John Lennon (1940 - 1980) and Paul McCartney) pose for a photocall to promote Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credit: John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images)

How Sgt. Pepper Changed The World20170527

An examination of the cultural impact of the acclaimed 1967 Beatles album ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Hugh Masekela - Words And Music2018012720180128 (WS)

The BBC\u2019s Audrey Brown pays tribute to South Africa\u2019s Father of Jazz - Hugh Masekela.

The BBC’s Audrey Brown pays tribute to one of the best known trumpeters in the world - Hugh Masekela. Known affectionately as Bra Hugh, Masekela was a man whose personality was as big as the sound he blew through his trumpet.

Masekela’s love affair with music started very early in life. He picked up his first trumpet at the age of 14, a gift by the British anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston. In 1956, Huddleston arranged for another trumpet to be given to the young Masekela. It was from another musical giant Louis Armstrong – and, as Masekela said, that small gesture changed his life and helped launch a career that spanned over 50 years and took him all over the world. But life was struggle. He spent three decades in exile – unable even to return to apartheid South Africa to bury his mother. And his music became one of the sounds of the struggle to overthrow apartheid. We look back at his life – the struggles, the sorrows, the passions and the joys – through his own words and music.

Producer: Penny Dale

(Photo: Hugh Masekela (centre) Marcus Miller and Guillaume Perret perform at the International Jazz Day 2015, Paris. Credit: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)

The BBC’s Audrey Brown pays tribute to South Africa’s Father of Jazz, Hugh Masekela.

The BBC’s Audrey Brown pays tribute to one of the best known trumpeters in the world - Hugh Masekela - South Africa’s Father of Jazz.
Known affectionately as Bra Hugh, Masekela was a man whose personality was as big as the sound he blew through his trumpet.

Masekela’s love affair with music started very early in life. He picked up his first trumpet at the age of 14, a gift by the British anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston. In 1956, Huddleston arranged for another trumpet to be given to the young Masekela. It was from another musical giant Louis Armstrong – and, as Masekela said, that small gesture changed his life and helped launch a career that spanned over 50 years and took him all over the world. But life was struggle. He spent three decades in exile – unable even to return to apartheid South Africa to bury his mother. And his music became one of the sounds of the struggle to overthrow apartheid. We look back at his life – the struggles, the sorrows, the passions and the joys – through his own words and music.

Producer: Penny Dale

(Photo: Hugh Masekela (centre) Marcus Miller and Guillaume Perret perform at the International Jazz Day 2015, Paris. Credit: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)

John Lennon: Verbatim2015121920151220 (WS)

John Lennon's extraordinary life and career told in his own words

We mark what would have been the iconic Beatle’s 75th year with a special programme incorporating rarely heard archive interviews, poetry readings, studio out-takes and alternative recordings of some of his most acclaimed compositions. It is a personal insight into the creative genius of one of the 20th Century's most diverse artistes.

Long before public figures mastered the art of the sanitised sound bite to protect their privacy, Lennon always spoke openly and honestly about his art and his personal life, whether talking about his earliest childhood memories, the highs and lows of The Beatles or his solo career. Lennon loved radio because he found it more relaxing than coping with the confrontation of a television film crew, so his radio sessions were often very revealing and entertaining.

Collated from conversations recorded between 1962 and 1980, it is an opportunity to hear, in John’s own words, the honesty and passion that fuelled his genius.

(Photo: John Lennon of the Beatles plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris, 1964. Credit: Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

We mark what would have been the iconic Beatle’s 75th year with a special programme incorporating rarely heard archive interviews, poetry readings, studio out-takes and alternative recordings of some of his most acclaimed compositions. It is a personal insight into the creative genius of one of the 20th Century's most diverse artistes.

Long before public figures mastered the art of the sanitised sound bite to protect their privacy, Lennon always spoke openly and honestly about his art and his personal life, whether talking about his earliest childhood memories, the highs and lows of The Beatles or his solo career. Lennon loved radio because he found it more relaxing than coping with the confrontation of a television film crew, so his radio sessions were often very revealing and entertaining.

Collated from conversations recorded between 1962 and 1980, it is an opportunity to hear, in John’s own words, the honesty and passion that fuelled his genius.

(Photo: John Lennon of the Beatles plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris, 1964. Credit: Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Khebez Dawle: The Road From Damascus2017093020171001 (WS)

Khebez Dawle, a Syrian indie band, adapts to a new life in Berlin after fleeing Damascus

Anas Maghrebi is the lead singer of Syrian indie band Khebez Dawle. With his band mates he fled Damascus for Beirut after the Arab Spring. As the war intensified, in August 2015 they sold their instruments to pay smugglers and set out in a dinghy across the Mediterranean. When they landed on the Greek island of Lesbos they handed out copies of their debut album to tourists on the beach and quickly attracted the attention of the global media.

The band now resides in Berlin, having been granted asylum. Since their arrival in Germany, Khebez Dawle have toured the country and received hundreds of thousands of plays online. But as its members adapt to a new life in Europe, coming to terms with what they have left behind is hard. Often billed as “refugee rockers,” Anas worries that the band’s dramatic story could eclipse their music and speaks about his struggles in accepting their rapid success.

In an emotional and revealing portrait recorded over a year, we join Khebez Dawle on their last show in Hanover, at work in their home studio and at the opening of a new performance space for Syrian art in Berlin. Will they make it from international news curiosities into an ambitious band existing on their own terms?

(Photo: The Syrian band Khebez Dawle pose for photo prior to their concert in Zagreb, Croatia, 2015. Credit: Jure Makovec/AFP)

Khebez Dawle, a Syrian indie band, adapts to a new life in Berlin after fleeing Damascus following the Arab Spring.

Anas Maghrebi is the lead singer of Syrian indie band Khebez Dawle. With his band mates he fled Damascus for Beirut after the Arab Spring. As the war intensified, in August 2015 they sold their instruments to pay smugglers and set out in a dinghy across the Mediterranean. When they landed on the Greek island of Lesbos they handed out copies of their debut album to tourists on the beach and quickly attracted the attention of the global media.

The band now resides in Berlin, having been granted asylum. Since their arrival in Germany, Khebez Dawle have toured the country and received hundreds of thousands of plays online. But as its members adapt to a new life in Europe, coming to terms with what they have left behind is hard. Often billed as “refugee rockers,? Anas worries that the band’s dramatic story could eclipse their music and speaks about his struggles in accepting their rapid success.

In an emotional and revealing portrait recorded over a year, we join Khebez Dawle on their last show in Hanover, at work in their home studio and at the opening of a new performance space for Syrian art in Berlin. Will they make it from international news curiosities into an ambitious band existing on their own terms?

(Photo: The Syrian band Khebez Dawle pose for photo prior to their concert in Zagreb, Croatia, 2015. Credit: Jure Makovec/AFP)

Lead Belly - A Secret History Of Rock And Roll2015112120151122 (WS)

Eric Burdon examines the life and legacy of US folk singer Lead Belly

Eric Burdon examines the life and legacy of US folk singer Lead Belly.

(Photo: Leadbelly. Credit: International Centre of Photography)

Light And Hope In The Revolutionary Era2018030320180304 (WS)

The world's only blind female orchestra described as 'Egypt's Miracles'

In Cairo there is a 44-strong orchestra known as Al Nour Wal Amal (Light and Hope), the only one of its kind in the world. It is made up entirely of blind and visually impaired women from underprivileged backgrounds, between 20-40 years of age.

All the women musicians are now educated (many with degrees and one at the doctoral level) and a few are married - some with children. Waiting in the wings is a junior orchestra of girls from 8-20 years of age.

And yet, although the Al Nour Wal Amal Institute was founded in 1961, going on to build a compound in the Nasr City District of Cairo (with a kindergarten, a boarding school and a call centre that facilitates employment for the blind) and despite staging regular monthly concerts, annual international tours and attracting multiple donors, the organisation is struggling to secure a viable future.

Sarah El-Rashidi, who has written about the orchestra in the pre-and post revolutionary era, returns to find out how it is coping now. She discovers how the individual members learn everything by heart without being able to see the notes, let alone the conductor. She explores how their lives as visually impaired female musicians in Egypt have changed in the years since the 25 January Revolution, and what their aspirations now are. And she attends their rehearsals as they prepare for a special concert in the shadow of the Giza Pyramids.

(Photo: Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra about to perform)

Malaco Records Story2016022020160221 (WS)

The story of Malaco Records of Jackson, Mississippi - the last soul record company

Malaco Records, based in the deep south of Jackson Mississippi, is one of - if not the - last old fashioned record companies. It is a label, it's a studio, it's a distribution centre and in this internet age it is an insanely tightly focused soul and blues label dedicated to serving an intensely loyal local audience. If one of its releases becomes a huge hit - like Fern Kinney, Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue or My Toot Toot - then that is a bonus but its not the be all and end all.
Shaun Escoffery looks at how Malaco survives and thrives, but also at the rich heritage of Mississippi music that sustains and supports it.

(Photo: Vinyl record player. Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Malaco Records, based in the deep south of Jackson Mississippi, is one of - if not the - last old fashioned record companies. It is a label, it's a studio, it's a distribution centre and in this internet age it is an insanely tightly focused soul and blues label dedicated to serving an intensely loyal local audience. If one of its releases becomes a huge hit - like Fern Kinney, Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue or My Toot Toot - then that is a bonus but its not the be all and end all.

Shaun Escoffery looks at how Malaco survives and thrives, but also at the rich heritage of Mississippi music that sustains and supports it.

(Photo: Vinyl record player. Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Martin Morales\u2019s Peruvian Roadtrip2018040720180408 (WS)

Peruvian chef and record producer Martin Morales looks at the link between food and music

Peruvian-born chef and record producer Martin Morales heads back to his homeland to explore the inherent link between food and music in Andean culture.

Martin starts his journey at the famous La Chomba restaurant in Cusco, where musicians queue to serenade the diners, and then heads to the tiny village of Lamay where the local delicacy is guinea pig on a stick.

He then visits the Centre for Native Arts in Cusco where food and music come together with a dance about the Oca potato. Providing the soundtrack to the dance is the legendary violinist Reynaldo Pillco.

Martin also meets singer Sylvia Falcon who enchants with a song that highlights the importance of the Coca leaf in Peruvian cuisine and culture. And, he talks to Peruvian music legend Manuelcha Prado aka the “Saqra” of the guitar – or the devil of the guitar. Plus, talented travelling musician Carlos – whose lack of teeth does not affect his ability to connect the with his appreciative audience.

(Photo: Martin Morales. Credit: Dave Brown)

Peruvian-born chef and record producer Martin Morales heads back to his homeland to explore the inherent link between food and music in Andean culture.

Martin starts his journey at the famous La Chomba restaurant in Cusco, where musicians queue to serenade the diners, and then heads to the tiny village of Lamay where the local delicacy is guinea pig on a stick.

He then visits the Centre for Native Arts in Cusco where food and music come together with a dance about the Oca potato. Providing the soundtrack to the dance is the legendary violinist Reynaldo Pillco.

Martin also meets singer Sylvia Falcon who enchants with a song that highlights the importance of the Coca leaf in Peruvian cuisine and culture. And, he talks to Peruvian music legend Manuelcha Prado aka the “Saqra ? of the guitar – or the devil of the guitar. Plus, talented travelling musician Carlos – whose lack of teeth does not affect his ability to connect the with his appreciative audience.

(Photo: Martin Morales. Credit: Dave Brown)

My Madonna20181103

Exploring the drive behind Madonna\u2019s evolution from ambitious young dancer to pop icon.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Out Of The Shadows2017030420170305 (WS)

The story of grime, from Caribbean roots to global domination

Grime is the sound of the inner city - deep basslines, industrial soundscapes and cheeky social commentary. It grew out of garage and jungle to become the sound of London's tower blocks and disenfranchised youth. The first young stars such as Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah and Chipmunk were unafraid to be pop but the scene was too new to sustain the spotlight. Returning to the underground the sounds grew dirtier and the lyrics more intense. In 2017 grime’s time has come with Brit Award nominations for Stormzy, Skepta and Kano, a Mercury Award for Skepta and the likes of Drake and Kanye West lining up to work with grimes leading lights. Grime is no longer about a postcode in London - through social media and DIY attitude the scene is spreading across the world and this time it is ready for anything.

DJ and grime ambassador Sian Anderson takes the story of grime back to its origins in the sound-system culture of the Caribbean. She visits Jamaica with reggae heroes Toddla T, Seani B and Sir David Rodigan to hear how the DIY ethics, MC battles and dubplate clashes, have travelled over to the UK with the grime scenes' parents and grandparents to mutate into the sound of 21st Century youth. We follow her story as one of the scenes early supporters through the pop success of 2002 back into the underground and finally to critical acclaim and a growing worldwide fanbase.

Along the way we discover where the name ‘grime’ even comes from and what it really means for the people who make it and love it from London’s East End to Japan, Europe and beyond.

(Photo: BBC 1Xtra DJ Sian Anderson outside Tuff Gong studio in Jamaica. Credit: Alex manzi)

As grime is set to go global DJ Sian Anderson explores the name, the pluck, the humour and the sheer creativity at its roots.

Paradise Blues2016100120161002 (WS)

How the lost stars of Mauritius' Sega music are winning fans - on and off the island

Ever since the music of East African and Malagasy slaves became fashionable at colonial parties in early 20th Century Mauritius, Sega, with its distinctive 6/8 rhythm, has provided the beat for constant experimentation by the island's musicians.

Sega's evolution has always had one eye on international trends, and a pop synth strain of Sega now dominates the island's airwaves. But outside Mauritius, the re-discovery and re-releases of a trove of recordings from the 1970s is belatedly introducing the world to a golden age of Sega.

Inspired by these re-discovered classics, one Mauritian is planning to reunite the stars of that golden age on stage - and wake all Mauritians to the value of their own unique musical heritage.

Percy Yiptong, has spent his life in Sega music, discovering, mentoring and managing artists, promoting gigs and tending to the music of his island. Now he is preparing to stage a grand reunion concert. But are the audiences of today’s Mauritius ready to take the stars of the 1970s to their hearts? Can singers in their 70s and 80s still command the stage? In Paradise Blues, we will find out.

Along the way, Percy Yiptong tells the story of Sega, taking us to visit a suburban bungalow jammed with a lifetime's collection of African and Madagascan percussion instruments, introducing the preacher and masseur who invented soul Sega, as well as remembering the lost creator of Sega reggae (or Seggae).
On the beach where the music originated, we meet the young Mauritians trying to learn the oldest form of Sega, while on stage, we find the creators of the newest forms of Sega, who blend jazz and Indian classical music with that unstoppable Sega beat.

(Photo: Percy Yiptong (with mic, centre) Ti Lafrique (with mic, right) on stage at the JJ Auditorium, 21 May, 2016. Credit: Luke Clancy)

Percy Yiptong discovers how the lost stars of the Sega music of Mauritius are winning fans, on and off the island.

Ever since the music of East African and Malagasy slaves became fashionable at colonial parties in early 20th Century Mauritius, Sega, with its distinctive 6/8 rhythm, has provided the beat for constant experimentation by the island's musicians.

Sega's evolution has always had one eye on international trends, and a pop synth strain of Sega now dominates the island's airwaves. But outside Mauritius, the re-discovery and re-releases of a trove of recordings from the 1970s is belatedly introducing the world to a golden age of Sega.

Inspired by these re-discovered classics, one Mauritian is planning to reunite the stars of that golden age on stage - and wake all Mauritians to the value of their own unique musical heritage.

Percy Yiptong, has spent his life in Sega music, discovering, mentoring and managing artists, promoting gigs and tending to the music of his island. Now he is preparing to stage a grand reunion concert. But are the audiences of today’s Mauritius ready to take the stars of the 1970s to their hearts? Can singers in their 70s and 80s still command the stage? In Paradise Blues, we will find out.

Along the way, Percy Yiptong tells the story of Sega, taking us to visit a suburban bungalow jammed with a lifetime's collection of African and Madagascan percussion instruments, introducing the preacher and masseur who invented soul Sega, as well as remembering the lost creator of Sega reggae (or Seggae).

On the beach where the music originated, we meet the young Mauritians trying to learn the oldest form of Sega, while on stage, we find the creators of the newest forms of Sega, who blend jazz and Indian classical music with that unstoppable Sega beat.

(Photo: Percy Yiptong (with mic, centre) Ti Lafrique (with mic, right) on stage at the JJ Auditorium, 21 May, 2016. Credit: Luke Clancy)

Paul Mccartney - Mastertapes2016090320160904 (WS)

Paul McCartney joins John Wilson and an invited audience to discuss songwriting

Paul McCartney joins John Wilson to discuss song writing, his solo career in the years after The Beatles and to answer questions from the audience. He also reflects on his recent collaborations with Kanye West, as well as recalling working with George Martin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and - inevitably - John Lennon.

(Photo: Paul McCartney performs live at the Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, 2015. Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Paul McCartney joins John Wilson to discuss song writing, his solo career in the years after The Beatles and to answer questions from the audience. He also reflects on his recent collaborations with Kanye West, as well as recalling working with George Martin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and - inevitably - John Lennon.

(Photo: Paul McCartney performs live at the Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, 2015. Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Rocking The Stasi2017070120170702 (WS)

Did music help bring down the Berlin Wall? Chris Bowlby reports

Did music help bring down the Berlin Wall? If that sounds far –fetched you may think again once you’ve heard this programme. Yes, there was politics, of course, but this is the extraordinary and moving story of how music helped change history.

Since the former East German Police, The Stasi’s, archives in Germany have opened; they are yielding more and more secrets. And one of the most remarkable to emerge is how the East German regime – and its police – were obsessed with resisting and clamping down on Western music.

In 1969, just a rumour of a Rolling Stones concert in on a tower block next to the Wall sent the East German Government authorities into meltdown. In the 1970s and 80s a bizarre alliance between East German punks and local churches was seen by the regime as a pernicious challenge. When David Bowie played a gig in the West, across the fearsome Wall, and listened to by crowds assembling in the East caused the Stasi no end of angst. And when the East German Government finally relented and allowed Bruce Springsteen to play in East Berlin in 1988, he used the chance to pump out anti-regime messages, seen as a hugely important moment in hastening the collapse of Communism there.

Chris Bowlby uncovers this unheard part of Cold War history. For the first time, we hear recordings from the Stasi sound archives of secret meetings in which Stasi chief Erich Mielke discussed the threat of punk and heavy metal.

Against the backdrop of a stellar soundtrack we hear from those who organised secret and illegal concerts in the East and from a former member of the Stasi who tried to stop them.

It is a story of obsession, now scarcely believable, and about the role that music played in the Cold War and the people who lived this first hand.

Producer: Jim Frank

(Photo: Original East German military telecommunications equipment lies in the Bunkermuseum Frauenwald near Suhl, Germany. Credit: Getty Images)

Did music bring down the Berlin Wall? Chris Bowlby uncovers the role that music played in the Cold War in East Germany.

Steve Earle\u2019s Songwriting Bootcamp2016123120170101 (WS)

Legendary country singer Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song

Legendary country singer-songwriter Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song. Every year he runs a four-day intensive training session in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Journalist and aspiring songwriter Hugh Levinson joined around 100 other would-be balladeers to see what they can learn from Steve and his fellow teacher, Shawn Colvin.

Everyone comes for a different reason. Ange Leech travelled all the way from Kalgoorlie in Australia, saying "I want to learn how to really tell a story simply but effectively - pass on a message or ideas through words". Karen Dahlstrom from Brooklyn came looking for "hints, tricks, magic… Steve sets the bar really high and I want to approximate something close to what he does". Steve tells Hugh that he "can't make anyone a song writer who wasn't a song writer before they got here - but they will be better song writers when they leave". And he rebuts the theory that you have to live a life like his – which includes a serious heroin addiction, a spell in prison and eight marriages – to become a great songwriter.

Find out if Hugh managed to write a song good enough to perform at one of the camp’s nightly open mic shows. And listen in for stories of dreaming, methadone, guns, jail, death and betrayal.

(Photo: Steve Earle)

Steve Earle’s Songwriting Bootcamp2016123120170101 (WS)

Legendary country singer-songwriter Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song. Every year he runs a four-day intensive training session in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Journalist and aspiring songwriter Hugh Levinson joined around 100 other would-be balladeers to see what they can learn from Steve and his fellow teacher, Shawn Colvin.

Everyone comes for a different reason. Ange Leech travelled all the way from Kalgoorlie in Australia, saying "I want to learn how to really tell a story simply but effectively - pass on a message or ideas through words". Karen Dahlstrom from Brooklyn came looking for "hints, tricks, magic… Steve sets the bar really high and I want to approximate something close to what he does". Steve tells Hugh that he "can't make anyone a song writer who wasn't a song writer before they got here - but they will be better song writers when they leave". And he rebuts the theory that you have to live a life like his – which includes a serious heroin addiction, a spell in prison and eight marriages – to become a great songwriter.

Find out if Hugh managed to write a song good enough to perform at one of the camp’s nightly open mic shows. And listen in for stories of dreaming, methadone, guns, jail, death and betrayal.

(Photo: Steve Earle)

Legendary country singer Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song

Sweet Mother2017062420170625 (WS)

DJ Edu traces the story of Prince Nico\u2019s multimillion-selling hit Sweet Mother

Prince Nico Mbarga and Rocafil Jazz’s 1976 recording Sweet Mother is estimated to have sold 13 million copies in markets and record shops across Africa – that is more than The Beatles’ biggest-selling single I Want To Hold Your Hand. Yet outside the continent, it’s barely recognised.

On the 20th anniversary of Prince Nico’s early death in 1997, DJ Edu tells the incredible story of this one-hit wonder. Hearing from musicians and producers, as well as Prince Nico’s friends and family, he visits the town that Nico called home and the label where he recorded his masterpiece, after it was turned down by others for being ‘too childish’.

DJ Edu traces how a Nigerian artist, born to Nigerian and Cameroonian parents and schooled in Zairian rumba, came to craft a truly African anthem – a homely message in pidgin English lyrics and rhythmic staccato guitars. He finds out how pockets of West African communities outside Africa still hold the song close to their hearts. How is it possible for a song that sits comfortably in the top 20-selling singles of all time to remain so little-known outside the region it came from?

(Photo: A statue of Prince Nico in rural Nigeria)

DJ Edu traces the story of Prince Nico’s multimillion-selling hit ‘Sweet Mother’.

Symphony Of The Stones2017120220171203 (WS)

How our ancient forebears made music and how ancient sites affected sounds of their time

Ancient history was not silent, so why is our study of it? The oldest-known musical instruments – bone flutes found in southern Germany – date back a little over 40,000 years. But how long humans have been making music in one form or another is a matter of great speculation. What did ‘music’ mean in the context of our Palaeolithic and Neolithic forebears? And, how did the human voice, archaeological artefacts and ancient sites themselves affect the sounds of their world.

Travelling from Stonehenge and West Kennet in the United Kingdom to Cueva de la Pileta in Spain and on to Little Black Mountain in the United States, archaeologist and musician Miriam Cooke, witnesses how the techniques of archaeoacoustics – the study of sound in archaeological contexts – can help connect us to the past. She attempts to recover the soundtrack of our ancestors and then write a song about it.

Contributors include professor Rupert Till from the University of Huddersfield, sound artist Oliver Beer, psychoacoustician Chris Kyriakakis, Native American cultural historians Ernest Siva and Walter Holmes, Prehistory of Music author Iain Morley, and Steven J Waller, who researches the links between rock art and the sound of the spaces they inhabit.

(Photo: Stonehenge at sunset, Wiltshire, England. Credit: Getty Images)

Syrena Songs2018080420180805 (WS)

Monica Whitlock tells the story of Poland's Syrena Records, a label that defined a nation.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Syrena Records was created in 1904. Selling millions of discs to new audiences hungry for shellac delights. Opera singers, Cantors, political humour & Yiddish theatre. Success allowed founder Juliusz Feigenbaum to invest in state of the art recording technology. By the time independent Poland was reborn in 1918 Syrena was well placed to shape the sound of a new nation. Hot tango and jazz were performed by superb musicians and singers, mostly Jewish, mostly of a generation breaking away from the old world and facing the new. Adam Aston, Hanka Ordonka, Henryk Wars, Micheslaw Fogg and others cut disc after disc before playing in the elite night clubs of Warsaw. Some 14,000 records by artists at the top of their game. Outpourings of Yiddish tango, slinky foxtrots, romantic ballads. Records in Hebrew, Yiddish, & Polish. Songs such as The Last Sunday and Donna Clara went international.

In 1939, invasion & war ended Syrena and the Polish nation. Its factory and archives destroyed, its artists murdered or scattered in exile. But there was one last tune to play. Henryk Wars, former musical director at Syrena, formed an orchestra that became the soundtrack of Poles in exile and in military uniform. From Tehran to Palestine to the fortress of Monte Cassino, those musicians and singers that had once been the heart of Syrena now played songs of a lost nation, creating the anthemic Red Poppies of Monte Cassino. Monica Whitlock tells Syrena's story and travels to Warsaw to hear from a new generation of musicians recreating Syrena's sound.

Syrena Songs20180804

Monica Whitlock tells the story of Poland's Syrena Records, a label that defined a nation.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Syrena Records was created in 1904. Selling millions of discs to new audiences hungry for shellac delights. Opera singers, Cantors, political humour & Yiddish theatre. Success allowed founder Juliusz Feigenbaum to invest in state of the art recording technology. By the time independent Poland was reborn in 1918 Syrena was well placed to shape the sound of a new nation. Hot tango and jazz were performed by superb musicians and singers, mostly Jewish, mostly of a generation breaking away from the old world and facing the new. Adam Aston, Hanka Ordonka, Henryk Wars, Micheslaw Fogg and others cut disc after disc before playing in the elite night clubs of Warsaw. Some 14,000 records by artists at the top of their game. Outpourings of Yiddish tango, slinky foxtrots, romantic ballads. Records in Hebrew, Yiddish, & Polish. Songs such as The Last Sunday and Donna Clara went international.

In 1939, invasion & war ended Syrena and the Polish nation. Its factory and archives destroyed, its artists murdered or scattered in exile. But there was one last tune to play. Henryk Wars, former musical director at Syrena, formed an orchestra that became the soundtrack of Poles in exile and in military uniform. From Tehran to Palestine to the fortress of Monte Cassino, those musicians and singers that had once been the heart of Syrena now played songs of a lost nation, creating the anthemic Red Poppies of Monte Cassino. Monica Whitlock tells Syrena's story and travels to Warsaw to hear from a new generation of musicians recreating Syrena's sound.

Syrena Songs2018080420180805 (WS)

The story of Poland's Syrena Records, a label that defined the sound of a new nation

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Syrena Records was created in 1904. It sold millions of discs to new audiences hungry for shellac delights - opera singers, cantors, political humour and Yiddish theatre. Success allowed founder Juliusz Feigenbaum to invest in state of the art recording technology. By the time independent Poland was reborn in 1918 Syrena was well placed to shape the sound of a new nation.

Hot tango and jazz were performed by superb musicians and singers, mostly Jewish, mostly of a generation breaking away from the old world and facing the new. Adam Aston, Hanka Ordonka, Henryk Wars, Micheslaw Fogg and others cut disc after disc before playing in the elite night clubs of Warsaw. Some 14,000 records by artists at the top of their game. Outpourings of Yiddish tango, slinky foxtrots, romantic ballads. Records in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. Songs such as The Last Sunday and Donna Clara went international.

In 1939, invasion and war ended Syrena and the Polish nation. Its factory and archives destroyed, its artists murdered or scattered in exile. But there was one last tune to play. Henryk Wars, former musical director at Syrena, formed an orchestra that became the soundtrack of Poles in exile and in military uniform. From Tehran to Palestine to the fortress of Monte Cassino, those musicians and singers that had once been the heart of Syrena now played songs of a lost nation, creating the anthemic Red Poppies of Monte Cassino. Monica Whitlock tells Syrena's story and travels to Warsaw to hear from a new generation of musicians recreating Syrena's sound.

(Photo: Syrena star Hanka Ordonówna. Credit: Syrena Record Company, Warsaw)

Syrena Songs20180804

The story of Poland's Syrena Records, a label that defined the sound of a new nation

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

Syrena Records was created in 1904. It sold millions of discs to new audiences hungry for shellac delights - opera singers, cantors, political humour and Yiddish theatre. Success allowed founder Juliusz Feigenbaum to invest in state of the art recording technology. By the time independent Poland was reborn in 1918 Syrena was well placed to shape the sound of a new nation.

Hot tango and jazz were performed by superb musicians and singers, mostly Jewish, mostly of a generation breaking away from the old world and facing the new. Adam Aston, Hanka Ordonka, Henryk Wars, Micheslaw Fogg and others cut disc after disc before playing in the elite night clubs of Warsaw. Some 14,000 records by artists at the top of their game. Outpourings of Yiddish tango, slinky foxtrots, romantic ballads. Records in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. Songs such as The Last Sunday and Donna Clara went international.

In 1939, invasion and war ended Syrena and the Polish nation. Its factory and archives destroyed, its artists murdered or scattered in exile. But there was one last tune to play. Henryk Wars, former musical director at Syrena, formed an orchestra that became the soundtrack of Poles in exile and in military uniform. From Tehran to Palestine to the fortress of Monte Cassino, those musicians and singers that had once been the heart of Syrena now played songs of a lost nation, creating the anthemic Red Poppies of Monte Cassino. Monica Whitlock tells Syrena's story and travels to Warsaw to hear from a new generation of musicians recreating Syrena's sound.

(Photo: Syrena star Hanka Ordonówna. Credit: Syrena Record Company, Warsaw)

The House Of The Windy City2016110520161106 (WS)

DJ Dave Pearce tells the story of Chicago House music

Almost 40 years ago an after hours space opened its doors and gave House music its name. In the segregated city of Chicago the Warehouse became a place for all sexes and races to dance from midnight to noon the next day. Today a re-edited version is a multi billion pound industry where DJ’s command six figure sums for a couple of hours work. DJ and presenter Dave Pearce travels to Chicago to talk to those musical pioneers.

In Chicago we hear how a country traditionally resistant to dance music, finally got it. The US invented it and then ignored it. Today Electronic Dance Music is estimated to be a $20 billion industry. What do those who started Chicago House in the early 1980s think of this new scene?

We hear from Robert Williams who started the legendary Warehouse club, where the scene got its name. He brought in Frankie Knuckles to DJ. He would create his own edits to keep the crowd dancing all night.

In Chicago Dave Pearce tracks down Rocky Jones, founder of DJ International, who put out some of the very first records. With contributions from The Pet Shop Boys, Disclosure, DJ Marshall Jefferson and DJ Pierre, we hear how the sound of Chicago topped the charts in the UK. But what is its legacy in Chicago?

(Photo: (L) Howard Lawrence, (C) DJ Dave Pearce, (R) Guy Lawrence)

Almost 40 years ago an after hours space opened its doors and gave House music its name. In the segregated city of Chicago the Warehouse became a place for all sexes and races to dance from midnight to noon the next day. Today a re-edited version is a multi billion pound industry where DJ’s command six figure sums for a couple of hours work. DJ and presenter Dave Pearce travels to Chicago to talk to those musical pioneers.

In Chicago we hear how a country traditionally resistant to dance music, finally got it. The US invented it and then ignored it. Today Electronic Dance Music is estimated to be a $20 billion industry. What do those who started Chicago House in the early 1980s think of this new scene?

We hear from Robert Williams who started the legendary Warehouse club, where the scene got its name. He brought in Frankie Knuckles to DJ. He would create his own edits to keep the crowd dancing all night.

In Chicago Dave Pearce tracks down Rocky Jones, founder of DJ International, who put out some of the very first records. With contributions from The Pet Shop Boys, Disclosure, DJ Marshall Jefferson and DJ Pierre, we hear how the sound of Chicago topped the charts in the UK. But what is its legacy in Chicago?

(Photo: (L) Howard Lawrence, (C) DJ Dave Pearce, (R) Guy Lawrence)

The Roots Of American Music2016060420160605 (WS)

through the archives of Studs Terkel

Over a 50-year-career, the Chicago broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel met and interviewed some of the greatest names in 20th Century American music. He was fascinated by the roots of popular music in America, and especially the development of folk, gospel, blues and jazz.

Among the musicians who he interviewed on programmes like The Wax Museum were bluegrass singer John Hartford, New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, legendary blues men Memphis Slim and Big Bill Broonzy, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and jazz legends Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. And, in 1963, Studs interviewed “a young man who I think could change the face of American music”. That man was Bob Dylan.

Woven together they paint a fascinating portrait of the birth of modern American music.

(Photo: American jazz musician Louis Armstrong during a concert in Paris, 5 June 1965. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Over a 50-year-career, the Chicago broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel met and interviewed some of the greatest names in 20th Century American music. He was fascinated by the roots of popular music in America, and especially the development of folk, gospel, blues and jazz.

Among the musicians who he interviewed on programmes like The Wax Museum were bluegrass singer John Hartford, New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, legendary blues men Memphis Slim and Big Bill Broonzy, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and jazz legends Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. And, in 1963, Studs interviewed “a young man who I think could change the face of American music? That man was Bob Dylan.

Woven together they paint a fascinating portrait of the birth of modern American music.

(Photo: American jazz musician Louis Armstrong during a concert in Paris, 5 June 1965. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Secrets Of Songwriting2016050720160508 (WS)

Some of the world\u2019s greatest musicians answer a simple question: how do you write a song?

How do you write a song? Lamont Dozier said to his girlfriend when she threatened to leave him: “Stop! In the name of love!” Followed shortly by: “Did you hear that cash register?” Later that day the legendary Motown songwriter went into the studio and turned that moment of romantic strife into the title of a classic single.

That is just one of the amazing songwriting stories collected by Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor, two Liverpool musicians collectively known as Sodajerker. On their hit podcast, they quiz their subjects on everything from the instruments they use and where they write to whether they thrive under deadline pressure. Their stellar list of interviewees includes Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (who have written dozens of hits, including You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling); Jimmy Webb; Joan Armatrading; Adele’s songwriter Dan Wilson; Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows and many more.

Simon and Brian distil what they learned about songwriting from the stories they gathered. They probe their subjects to find out where they get their ideas, who they like to work with, and how a jumble of words and notes becomes a finished tune. Along the way they get a unique insight into the craft, inspiration and luck that lie behind the soundtracks of our lives.

(Photo: Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor, also known as Sodajerker. Credit: Matt Thomas)

Some of the world’s greatest musicians answer a simple question: how do you write a song?

How do you write a song? Lamont Dozier said to his girlfriend when she threatened to leave him: “Stop! In the name of love!? Followed shortly by: “Did you hear that cash register?? Later that day the legendary Motown songwriter went into the studio and turned that moment of romantic strife into the title of a classic single.

That is just one of the amazing songwriting stories collected by Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor, two Liverpool musicians collectively known as Sodajerker. On their hit podcast, they quiz their subjects on everything from the instruments they use and where they write to whether they thrive under deadline pressure. Their stellar list of interviewees includes Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (who have written dozens of hits, including You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling); Jimmy Webb; Joan Armatrading; Adele’s songwriter Dan Wilson; Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows and many more.

Simon and Brian distil what they learned about songwriting from the stories they gathered. They probe their subjects to find out where they get their ideas, who they like to work with, and how a jumble of words and notes becomes a finished tune. Along the way they get a unique insight into the craft, inspiration and luck that lie behind the soundtracks of our lives.

(Photo: Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor, also known as Sodajerker. Credit: Matt Thomas)

The Song House2016102920161030 (WS)
20171104 (WS)
20171105 (WS)

Scottish musician Ken Hyder explores the dwindling tradition of Gaelic psalm-singing

It is hard to believe that the strange, exuberant sound of Gaelic psalm-singing is a European, let alone British form of worship. It has been likened by some to Ethiopian Orthodox chant and cited by others as the root of gospel music.

Yet beyond the handful of congregations that keep this centuries-old tradition alive, Gaelic psalm-singing is little known. Even drummer Ken Hyder, musically curious and growing up in Scotland, only discovered it years later while in London. The sound of a hundred-strong congregation, each individual ornamenting the psalm tune in their own way, in their own time, blew him away.

Hyder visits the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The tradition is strongest here - but even so, congregations for Gaelic worship often struggle to reach double figures. Travelling between kirk, croft and seashore, he hears the stories of the few remaining parishioners that remember a time when Gaelic psalm-singing was a fundamental part of daily life – families worshipping at home every morning and evening, and the fishermen out at sea, singing psalms in the twilight. Ken meets those fighting the tide of Anglicisation in an attempt to preserve a form of worship that he has always believed is one of the seven musical wonders of the world.

(Photo: Back Free church, Isle of Lewis. Credit: Chris Murray)

It is hard to believe that the strange, exuberant sound of Gaelic psalm-singing is a European, let alone British form of worship. It has been likened by some to Ethiopian Orthodox chant and cited by others as the root of gospel music.

Yet beyond the handful of congregations that keep this centuries-old tradition alive, Gaelic psalm-singing is little known. Even drummer Ken Hyder, musically curious and growing up in Scotland, only discovered it years later while in London. The sound of a hundred-strong congregation, each individual ornamenting the psalm tune in their own way, in their own time, blew him away.

Hyder visits the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The tradition is strongest here - but even so, congregations for Gaelic worship often struggle to reach double figures. Travelling between kirk, croft and seashore, he hears the stories of the few remaining parishioners that remember a time when Gaelic psalm-singing was a fundamental part of daily life – families worshipping at home every morning and evening, and the fishermen out at sea, singing psalms in the twilight. Ken meets those fighting the tide of Anglicisation in an attempt to preserve a form of worship that he has always believed is one of the seven musical wonders of the world.

(Photo: Back Free church, Isle of Lewis. Credit: Chris Murray)

The Song House20171104

Scottish musician Ken Hyder explores the dwindling tradition of Gaelic psalm-singing

It is hard to believe that the strange, exuberant sound of Gaelic psalm-singing is a European, let alone British form of worship. It has been likened by some to Ethiopian Orthodox chant and cited by others as the root of gospel music.

Yet beyond the handful of congregations that keep this centuries-old tradition alive, Gaelic psalm-singing is little known. Even drummer Ken Hyder, musically curious and growing up in Scotland, only discovered it years later while in London. The sound of a hundred-strong congregation, each individual ornamenting the psalm tune in their own way, in their own time, blew him away.

Hyder visits the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The tradition is strongest here - but even so, congregations for Gaelic worship often struggle to reach double figures. Travelling between kirk, croft and seashore, he hears the stories of the few remaining parishioners that remember a time when Gaelic psalm-singing was a fundamental part of daily life – families worshipping at home every morning and evening, and the fishermen out at sea, singing psalms in the twilight. Ken meets those fighting the tide of Anglicisation in an attempt to preserve a form of worship that he has always believed is one of the seven musical wonders of the world.

(Photo: Back Free church, Isle of Lewis. Credit: Chris Murray)

Too Much Fighting On The Dance Floor2016031920160320 (WS)

Why was British music in the late 70s so tribal and violent?

Thirty years ago if you went to a music gig in Britain, there was every chance your evening would be marred by violence. Back then fighting was endemic - in pubs, on the streets, on the terraces, and in music venues up and down the land - as fighting erupted between tribes divided by music, fashion and by political preference. Looking back, what is so bizarre is that this all seemed perfectly 'normal' - you expected to see violence on a night out, so deeply ingrained was it in our culture. But why?

With a memorable soundtrack of the era, Adrian Goldberg retraces the days when pop, not postcodes, divided the nation’s youth. What did this say about our culture, about what it was like to be young and growing up in Britain in the late 70s and 80s?

We hear from Pauline Black of The Selecter; Neville Staple of The Specials, Clare Grogan from Altered Images, Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order and music fans and journalists.

(Photo: A police officer arresting a punk rocker, with a British flag in the background)

Thirty years ago if you went to a music gig in Britain, there was every chance your evening would be marred by violence. Back then fighting was endemic - in pubs, on the streets, on the terraces, and in music venues up and down the land - as fighting erupted between tribes divided by music, fashion and by political preference. Looking back, what is so bizarre is that this all seemed perfectly 'normal' - you expected to see violence on a night out, so deeply ingrained was it in our culture. But why?

With a memorable soundtrack of the era, Adrian Goldberg retraces the days when pop, not postcodes, divided the nation’s youth. What did this say about our culture, about what it was like to be young and growing up in Britain in the late 70s and 80s?

We hear from Pauline Black of The Selecter; Neville Staple of The Specials, Clare Grogan from Altered Images, Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order and music fans and journalists.

(Photo: A police officer arresting a punk rocker, with a British flag in the background)

Up Close And Personal20170506

The art of crooning and how Rudy Vallee, Al Bowlly and Bing Crosby ignited passions

Actor and singer Clarke Peters follows the croon and practitioners of the art, including Rudy Vallee, Russ Columbo, Al Bowlly and Bing Crosby. He discovers how their romantic style of singing made the ladies swoon but inflamed the critics.

In the '20s and '30s, electric microphones and amplifiers enabled singers with soft, untrained voices to finally be heard. Vocalists no longer needed to project - they could get closer and deliver heartfelt performances - just like whispering in a listener's ear. They became the Justin Biebers of their day - commercial stars whose radio shows and public performances ignited passions across the US.

Their flirtatious style was not to everyone's taste, however, and they were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church for leading women astray. The slushy, sentimental style of singing also did not go down well with the press who criticised the singers for their lack of artistic value... and the crooners' good looks and stylish clothes led to accusations of effeminacy - these guys just could not win.

Clarke Peters hears from Rudy Vallee's nephew about how his uncle regarded his own sex appeal - let's just say Rudy was not the bashful type. He also talks to Lenny Kaye, writer, and long time guitarist with the Patti Smith Group and fellow crooner devotee, about their place in American music history.

(Photo: Clarke Peters)

Clarke Peters follows the croon and practitioners of the art including Rudy Vallee, Russ Columbo, Al Bowlly and Bing Crosby.

Van Morrison And Me20170121

How has Van Morrison\u2019s music influenced people\u2019s lives?

John McCarthy explores how Van Morrison’s music has influenced people’s lives.

Led by his personal connection with the music of Van Morrison, the former Beirut hostage John McCarthy explores the way the Irish musician affects the lives of other fans, musicians and writers around the world. He looks at Van’s lyrics and his ability to move people through his music at important junctures in their lives.

The programme includes an extended interview with Van Morrison in his home town of Belfast.

Van talks about growing up in a working class part of Belfast, how he created his seminal album Astral Weeks, what inspires his music and the challenges of performing into his '70s.

Author Ian Rankin describes how Van inspired him when he reached a cross-roads in his life as he started to become a famous writer.

Irish musician Glen Hansard performs Van songs in a Dublin pub for the programme and describes their power.

And, John McCarthy and fellow former hostage Brian Keenan describe how in the dark cells of their imprisonment, somehow they returned to the city where Brian and Van grew up to walk the streets of Cyprus Avenue and along the Beechie River.

(Photo: Belfast born, British musician Van Morrison performs at the 40th Jazzaldia festival in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian. Credit: Getty Images)

John McCarthy explores how Van Morrison’s music has influenced people’s lives.

Led by his personal connection with the music of Van Morrison, the former Beirut hostage John McCarthy explores the way the Irish musician affects the lives of other fans, musicians and writers around the world. He looks at Van’s lyrics and his ability to move people through his music at important junctures in their lives.

The programme includes an extended interview with Van Morrison in his home town of Belfast.

Van talks about growing up in a working class part of Belfast, how he created his seminal album Astral Weeks, what inspires his music and the challenges of performing into his '70s.

Author Ian Rankin describes how Van inspired him when he reached a cross-roads in his life as he started to become a famous writer.

Irish musician Glen Hansard performs Van songs in a Dublin pub for the programme and describes their power.

And, John McCarthy and fellow former hostage Brian Keenan describe how in the dark cells of their imprisonment, somehow they returned to the city where Brian and Van grew up to walk the streets of Cyprus Avenue and along the Beechie River.

(Photo: Belfast born, British musician Van Morrison performs at the 40th Jazzaldia festival in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian. Credit: Getty Images)

Where Stars Are Born: The Harlem Apollo2017090220170903 (WS)
20180217 (WS)
20180218 (WS)

The legacy of Harlem's Apollo theatre where stars Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown began

Over 80 years since its doors first opened, 'Mr Apollo' Billy Mitchell reveals how the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York became one of the world's most celebrated music venues, launching the careers of stars like Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5 and James Brown.

Shortly after the Apollo opened in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald became the first female to win their renowned Amateur Night talent contest when she was only 17. The popularity contest has since proven an effective measure of star potential, becoming a launch-pad over the decades for some of the nation's greatest entertainers like Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and D'Angelo.

James Brown will be forever associated with the Apollo, having regularly performed there to sold-out audiences throughout his career. When the 'Godfather of Soul' proposed the idea of recording a live album at the Apollo with no new songs, his label refused. Undeterred, Brown funded the album himself and Live At The Apollo (1963) went on to spend 66 weeks on the album charts, selling so fast that record stores failed to keep up with demand.

As an epicentre of black culture, the list of artists whose careers were elevated by the Apollo is truly remarkable. Listen as The Jacksons, Martha Reeves, Solomon Burke and Smokey Robinson, among others, help Billy shine a spotlight on this musical institution.

Producer: Neil Kanwal

(Photo: A James Brown concert poster from the Apollo Theater is seen at an auction preview. Credit: Getty Images)

'Mr Apollo' Billy Mitchell reflects on the legendary New York theatre and it's musical legacy

Over eighty years since it's doors first opened, 'Mr Apollo' Billy Mitchell reveals how the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York became one of the world's most celebrated music venues, launching the careers of stars like Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5 and James Brown.

Starting out as an errand boy in 1965, Billy is now the Apollo's historian, ambassador and tour director. For over fifty years he has seen and heard it all, working with the household names that have graced it’s stage. Through his own memories and interviews with those who have shaped it’s history, the BBC World Service explores the story of this legendary theatre, a springboard for so many African American artists from the thirties to the present day.

Shortly after the Apollo opened in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald became the first female to win their renowned Amateur Night talent contest when she was only seventeen. The popularity contest has since proven an effective measure of star potential, becoming a launch-pad over the decades for some of the nation's greatest entertainers like Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and D'Angelo.

James Brown will be forever associated with the Apollo, having regularly performed there to sold-out audiences throughout his career. When The Godfather of Soul proposed the idea of recording a live album at the Apollo with no new songs, his label refused. Undeterred, Brown funded the album himself and Live At The Apollo (1963) went on to spend 66 weeks on the album charts, selling so fast that record stores failed to keep up with demand.

As an epicentre of black culture, the list of artists whose careers were elevated by the Apollo is truly remarkable. Listen as The Jacksons, Martha Reeves, Solomon Burke and Smokey Robinson, among others, help Billy shine a spotlight on this musical institution.

Where Stars Are Born: The Harlem Apollo20180217

Over 80 years since its doors first opened, 'Mr Apollo' Billy Mitchell reveals how the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York became one of the world's most celebrated music venues, launching the careers of stars like Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5 and James Brown.

Shortly after the Apollo opened in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald became the first female to win their renowned Amateur Night talent contest when she was only 17. The popularity contest has since proven an effective measure of star potential, becoming a launch-pad over the decades for some of the nation's greatest entertainers like Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and D'Angelo.

James Brown will be forever associated with the Apollo, having regularly performed there to sold-out audiences throughout his career. When the 'Godfather of Soul' proposed the idea of recording a live album at the Apollo with no new songs, his label refused. Undeterred, Brown funded the album himself and Live At The Apollo (1963) went on to spend 66 weeks on the album charts, selling so fast that record stores failed to keep up with demand.

As an epicentre of black culture, the list of artists whose careers were elevated by the Apollo is truly remarkable. Listen as The Jacksons, Martha Reeves, Solomon Burke and Smokey Robinson, among others, help Billy shine a spotlight on this musical institution.

Producer: Neil Kanwal

(Photo: A James Brown concert poster from the Apollo Theater is seen at an auction preview. Credit: Getty Images)

The legacy of Harlem's Apollo theatre where stars Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown began

World Service at the Oxford Literary Festival2018070720180708 (WS)

Discussion, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

An hour long programme of debate, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival. Presenters Anu Anand and Will Gompertz are joined by Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, American breakthrough writer Tara Westover and the violinist Min Kym. The programme will also discuss the significance of the #Metoo and Time’sUp campaigns for women around the world.

World Service at the Oxford Literary Festival20180707

Discussion, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

An hour long programme of debate, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival. Presenters Anu Anand and Will Gompertz are joined by Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, American breakthrough writer Tara Westover and the violinist Min Kym. The programme will also discuss the significance of the #Metoo and Time’sUp campaigns for women around the world.

World Service At The Oxford Literary Festival2018070720180708 (WS)

Discussion, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival.

Selected BBC music documentaries drawn from across the world.

An hour long programme of debate, conversation and music from the Oxford Literary Festival. Presenters Anu Anand and Will Gompertz are joined by Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, American breakthrough writer Tara Westover and the violinist Min Kym. The programme will also discuss the significance of the #Metoo and Time’sUp campaigns for women around the world.

Yevgeny Murzin: Master Of The Synthesiser2018033120180401 (WS)

Built in secret with little access to electronic parts, the ANS was a labour of love

Due to the political climate in Soviet Russia of the day, Yevgeny Murzin was forced to build his synthesizer in secret with little access to electronic parts. Over next two decades (pre and post war), the ANS as it was known, was a self-financed, largely secret labour of love; Murzin had to work on it in his spare time over two decades with help from a like-minded, tight-knit circle of composers and technicians.

Murzin finally completed construction of the ANS in 1958 and it was subsequently used by a number of pioneering 20th Century Russian composers such as Stanislav Kreichi, Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and Edward Artemiev. The unearthly tones of the ANS were perfectly suited to the era of Soviet space exploration, and became the soundtrack instrument of choice for a series of classic Russian sci-fi films, the most famous being Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris released in 1972.

Meet those who knew Murzin and saved his instrument from obscurity: Eduard Artemiev (celebrated soundtrack composer and Tarkovsky collaborator), Stanislav Kreichi (composer and de facto guardian of the ANS), Andrei Smirnov (Theremin Institute Moscow). Other synthesiser pioneers contribute including Suzanne Ciani (US composer) and Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory (Russian synth collector) as well as current synthesiser aficionados Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.

Presented by keyboard player and long-standing Russophile, Jon Ouin.

Image: Yevgeny Murzin

A celebration of Yevgeny Murzin, the creator of the A.N.S. - one of the very first synthesisers in the world.