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A series of talks on music, nature, sound, and the world around us hosted by musician and writer David Rothenberg
Jan 24, 2024
David James Duncan: The East in the West, the West in the East
David James Duncan worked on his masterwork novel SUN HOUSE for nearly two decades, and it has now arrived. I met him last in the early days of the project, and now sixteen years later we sit down to talk about why the best things often take time, and why it was indeed that we all spent so much of our youth musing on distant spiritualities and philosophies. How to put all that effort into practice? This far-reaching novel gives us the answer.
1 hr 6 min
Jun 2, 2023
Sun Chung: Sonic Mystery
Sun Chung founded Red Hook Records after working for more than a decade at ECM Records in Munich. It's rapidly becoming a beacon for what a creative music label can be in our tumultuous times. In this extensive conversation, we discuss why it can take years to set up a recording session for improvised music, and why it then might take a few more years to get a project ready for release. Sun Chung, booked up with releases until 2025, explains his meticulous process.
Mar 6, 2023
Glen Moore's Bass: The Sound of Desire
A far-reaching conversation with one of the finest bass players of our time, Glen Moore, known for his work with the Paul Winter Consort and Oregon, he also recorded many albums on ECM and Intuition with the likes of Tim Hardin, Larry Coryell, Art Lande, Rob Scheps, Larry Karush, and of course Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott. Why is he now living in a remote town in the desert? Why has he started playing a brand-new tuning on the bass now that he's over 80 years old?
1 hr 5 min
Mar 28, 2022
Lisa Wells: It's a Beautiful F*cking World
Today I speak with the poet, activist, and environmental writer Lisa Wells, author of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World. We talk about the anger of youth, the fallibility of heroes, and the value of art and beauty in dark times.
Mar 15, 2022
Ben Neill: Mutation and the Groove
Composer-performer Ben Neill reveals the history of his invention the Mutantrumpet, and his work over the years with Jon Hassell, John Cage, and La Monte Young, along with new ideas on where music will go in the coming decades. It will still have a beat, but will be played and heard in ways we can only dream of.
1 hr 15 min
Dec 22, 2021
Matthew Aidekman: The Black Box of Cool
Today I speak with musician, software developer, sound experimenter Matthew Aidekman on what computers can and can't do for us in the world of audio, and why the search for surprising ways to transform music electronically will never end.
Dec 17, 2021
Erica Cirino: Getting Beyond a Plastic Life
Erica Cirino, science journalist, photographer, adventurer, discusses her new book THICKER THAN WATER (Island Press), on her journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the problem of plastics in our world in general.
Jul 23, 2021
Happy to be back in Berlin after an absence of more than two years, I was invited to guest host Bernhard Wöstheinrich's radio show THF Experience, which broadcasts from an old guardhouse at the entrance to the Tempelhof Airport Park. We tackled the theme of EMERGENCE: into nature, after this pandemic, with great guests including Monika Dorniak, Volker Lankow, Christine Kriegerowski, Lima Vafadar, and Ali Sayah. Music is interspersed with ideas....
1 hr 56 min
Jun 17, 2021
Kathleen Dean Moore: Grief, Not Despair, in the Earth's Wild Music
Today I speak with philosopher and nature writer Kathleen Dean Moore, whose new book celebrates the wild music of the natural world, in the hope that we can attune to its beauty and still clearly see the challenges our species faces in shaping a better place and way for us on this threatened planet. With music by Jane Rigler.
Apr 23, 2021
Hugh Raffles: A Journey through Rock and Stone
Today I talk to anthropologist and writer Hugh Raffles about THE BOOK OF UNCONFORMITIES: SPECULATIONS ON LOST TIME, his latest epic work, a journey across the globe through personal tragedy, cultural conflict, and the raw qualities of the Earth from Arctic outposts to the ancient histories of Manhattan and the Callanish stones. A book impossible to summarize, but fascinating to talk about.
Apr 12, 2021
Sam Lee: From Nettles to Nightingales
Today I speak with the great English folk singer, musical archivist, and activist on how he became obsessed with that fine singing bird, the nightingale. That makes at least two of us who go out into the forests to perform along with this magnificent wild musician. How did he get there?
1 hr 1 min
Dec 24, 2020
Jon Balke: The Music of Change
Jon Balke, master pianist, composer and bandleader, has blended the music of Africa and the Middle East with a uniquely precise and personal approach to improvisation, which sometimes blends his keyboard work with electronics and field recordings. I spoke to him online and blended his words with soundscapes from his entire career.
1 hr 4 min
Dec 23, 2020
We've Been Involved with Organisms Forever: Stephen Nachmanovitch and David Rothenberg
I am honored to present this live duo concert and discussion with the great Stephen Nachmanovitch, author of the books FREE PLAY and THE ART OF IS—improvisor, teacher, thinker. We converse through music and words, presenting our shared fascination with the beautiful sounds of birds, sped up, slowed down, and transformed beyond recognition into a window from the human to the natural worlds.
Nov 20, 2020
Hanna Mattes and David Rothenberg: Take Me to That Landscape
Unable to see, hear, or meet each other in the real world, Hanna and David try everything to break through the ‘meaninglessness' of nature to find truth, beauty, and contact in a world where invisible species are constantly trying to lure us beyond our mere humanity. Released in cooperation with Montez Press Radio in New York and the 3hd Festival Berlin...
Nov 20, 2020
Is a Truck Passing By Music? John Cage Reconsidered
Professor David Rothenberg’s electronic music class at the New Jersey Institute of Technology is introduced to John Cage, and they are not pleased. As they ask themselves and their friends some of Cage's famous questions about what music is and is not, they come to change their tune.
May 24, 2020
Carl Safina: Just Pick One Bird
Today I interview the great environmentalist and nature writer Carl Safina, discussing his new book Becoming Wild, which introduces culture in the world of animals, from sperm whales to macaws to chimpanzees. We discuss how his work moved from science to writing and activism, and why it was that legendary editor Jack McRae told him to write a book on just one bird.
Mar 31, 2020
William Helmreich: The New York No One Else Knew
A walk through Queens with William Helmreich, a man who has walked every street in all the boroughs of New York City, not once but twice. We walked together in November 2017. In 2020 Helmreich became yet another casualty of the COVID-19 global pandemic. No one know the city the way he did, because he took the time to walk, to engage with people, and to take the time to discover things he never knew he would find.
Feb 5, 2020
Daniel Kelly: Rakonto
A conversation with jazz pianist and composer Daniel Kelly, where we discuss his unique series of pieces called "Rakonto," that combine storytelling with original music, created in communities all across America.
Aug 19, 2019
What Makes a Good Sound with Bernhard Wöstheinrich
The great German synth player Bernhard Wöstheinrich, founder of Iapetus Media and Centrozoon, here reveals his secrets for what makes a good electronic sound. He and I experiment with some sounds he likes, some he dislikes. Together we learn to listen to and to shape the unknown.
1 hr 21 min
Jul 23, 2019
Elliott Sharp and David Rothenberg with Jem Finer
Elliott Sharp and David Rothenberg discuss their new books, IRRATIONAL MUSIC and NIGHTINGALES IN BERLIN, with sound artist Jem Finer, at Iklectik Arts, London, June 12th 2019.
May 25, 2019
Fleinvaer Where You Listen
We travel to the Arctic Hideaway, or Fordypningsrommet, on the Arctic archipelago of Fleinvær, invited by Nordic Music Days 2019. With Tine Surel Lange, Bjarne Kvinnsland, Håvard Lund, Gyrid Nordal Kaldestad, Leif Haglund and Espen Tversland, with everyone introducing some of their favorite sounds. The snipe hunt is real...
Jul 19, 2018
Talking ECM 2 with Jacob Young and David Rothenberg: This One Goes to Eleven
Once again David and Jacob talk through some of their favorite ECM tracks, now all streaming everywhere except ONE mystery song, one of the earliest recordings Paul Motian ever made... You can only hear it here! Otherwise we've got Sinikka Langeland, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Zakir Hussein, Lester Bowie, Valentin Silvestrov, Craig Taborn and more. Whole playlist we talk about is here: https://tinyurl.com/ycqq6hj9
1 hr 4 min
Jun 8, 2018
Tunnel to Bridge
In this episode we listen and walk through a quarter-mile graffiti-covered subway tunnel, up an elevator to a park full of birds, and down under the George Washington Bridge to hear the darkest sound of all.
Mar 27, 2018
Listening to Brooklyn with Anna RG
In this episode, I wander from Long Island City to Greenpoint with Anna Roberts-Gewalt of the folk group Anna and Elizabeth, and we talk about how turning the volume of the city UP sometimes makes all the more sense.
Jan 28, 2018
Talking ECM with Jacob Young and David Rothenberg
At the end of 2017 ECM Records, long a holdout against streaming, finally released its entire catalog online. Two ECM artists, guitarist Young and clarinetist Rothenberg, picked ten lesser-known tracks from the vast assembly of jazz, improvisation, and world music releases on the label to share with listeners and to discuss. Is there a definite ECM sound? Is that a myth? How does this music fit into our contemporary oversaturated landscape?
1 hr 8 min