Hybrid Highbrow podcast #1 is out! Ta daaaaa!
The maiden episode focuses on the similarities between two early 20th-century “talking machine” singers: blues shouter Mamie Smith and opera star Enrico Caruso. Both sang in the middle ranges, alto and tenor, rather than the high or low registers. This made them perfect for acoustic recording. Both also knew how to project their voices over a small ensemble of musicians crowded next to a big old recording horn. Both sang about the same subject: the frustrations of love. And both produced some of the earliest hit records.
What is hybrid highbrow? It is a formats that eschews formats, that wants to understand how classical music collaborates or co-exists with other genres: jazz, folk, blues, and Broadway among them. For a long time I looked for a show or radio station that focused on this on a regular basis. Finally, the other day I decided that I’d just do it myself. To my amazement, as of this posting, episode number 1 is #6 on the Mixcloud blues show chart!
Hybrid Highbrow podcast #2 will celebrate a musical form called the “arabesque.” This kind piece riffs on a quickly rising and falling melodic pattern. It was championed by composers like Debussy and Schumann. But the concept was also served up by stride and jazz musicians like Willie “The Lion” Smith and Charlie Parker.
Any feedback on the production of the podcast would be welcome. I recorded it on a Mac with Audacity and I think my levels were a bit hot. Hopefully my tech chops will improve with subsequent episodes. Thanks to Paul Riismandel for encouraging me to do this.
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