Music

When you think about punk music, you might picture some very thin, pale young guys with mohawks. But Brooklyn's Afropunk Festival is out to prove that punk is much more than that.

The young Canadian rocker Sate was one of the up-and-coming acts at Afropunk, which took place Aug. 27 and 28 this year. I met her right before she hit the stage. She was wearing a cut-off Fishbone shirt, and she says the black punk band inspired her.

In the mid-19th century, Shakers practiced their faith in farming communities from Maine to Kentucky. Numbering 6,000 at their peak, they gave up worldly possessions, marriage and sex, instead devoting themselves to prayer and work. They also wrote songs, thousands of them — including "Simple Gifts," which endures in popular culture despite dating back to the 1840s.

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with professor Christian Herbst, who was part of the team that released a study that explores the science behind Freddie Mercury's amazing voice. This story originally aired on April 25, 2016 on All Things Considered.

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"That's frickin' sick!"

Do you know that feeling when a song moves you so much, you just feel like you have to add your own voice? Mexican culture has an answer to that: a cathartic, joyous yell called a grito.

Legendary Mexican performer Vicente Fernández, aka "Chente," performs the crazy tragic love song "Volver, Volver." "It's one of the most iconic mariachi songs of all time, performed by the most popular Mexican mariachi vocalist ever," says alt.latino's Felix Contreras. "And there is a championship grito at the top of the song."

Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans, the Belgian-American musician who cut a singular path as a jazz harmonica player, died in his sleep Monday in his hometown of Brussels. He was 94.

The wait for a new Frank Ocean album is over — sort of. Late Thursday night, the reclusive singer unveiled Endless, a starkly minimal multimedia project that does indeed feature new music, but leaves many other questions unanswered.

Any musician can tell you that there is a profound connection between the breath and making music. There's the physical action, of course — one makes the other possible — but there are also the metaphysical bonds between breathing and creating.

Thursday night, singer Frank Ocean released a long-awaited new work: Endless, available exclusively — at least for now — as a 45-minute film on Apple Music.

This is Ocean's first studio project since his Channel Orange was released in 2012, the musician's breakout year as a solo artist after his days as a member of the Odd Future collective and, prior to that, as a songwriter for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy.

Natalie Maines took one look at the wildly cheering fans in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night and knew just what to say. "I like what you're wearing," she coyly remarked. It felt as if the singer could see every Southwestern-print skirt, pair of fringey ankle boots and vintage "Cowboy Take Me Away" t-shirt in the packed arena.

Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

Many stylistic winds blow through the repertoire of The Westerlies. The unconventional brass quartet from New York (Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler, trumpets; Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch, trombones) embraces jazz, classical, new music and dance — and in this case, puts a new spin on an old British ballad.

Obama Releases His Summer Music Playlist

Aug 15, 2016

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Yesterday in New York, something very big happened outside Lincoln Center: One thousand people gathered to sing a new piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. Entitled the public domain, it was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mostly Mozart festival.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Miles Salerni, a 25-year-old percussionist, is one of this year's elite instrumental Fellows at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. But it took him a while to get there — five tries, to be exact.

Many audition for this prestigious training program, but few are selected. When Salerni got rejected for the third time, he knew he had to find another way to get to Tanglewood.

"They killed my mother in the doorway." How's that for an opening line?

We're talking opera — specifically, the aria "La mamma morta" from Umberto Giordano's 1896 French Revolution thriller Andrea Chénier. The soprano is Anna Netrebko.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Congress is in the midst of a review of the copyright laws to make sure they're up to date. Some of the recording industry's biggest stars, among them Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Paul McCartney, recently signed a letter urging lawmakers to make reforms.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

David Bromberg is best known as a guitar virtuoso, who has collaborated with Bob Dylan and George Harrison and fronted his own band. But he's also a collector of American violins, and his collection is such that the Library of Congress has announced its intention to acquire it.

Summer is a time for music festivals around the world, with thousands of people gathering to enjoy their favorite bands and musicians. But a dark current underlies some of these events: In Sweden, police say there were more than 50 cases of rape and sexual assault at two major festivals there last month. Sexual violence has been reported for decades at large outdoor concerts, including here in the U.S. And now in the U.K., some county officials are trying to do something about it.

This summer marks my 25th and final season as music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, Calif. What an amazing adventure this has been, working with living composers and being at the center of so many new creations.

There have always been many fronts on which the battle to crown the song of the summer is fought. The biggest song on pop radio isn't always the song that sells the most. The lyric that lends itself to the season can sometimes be overwhelmed by a hook that sounds best coming out of a car window.

Let The Games Begin: A Playlist For Rio

Aug 5, 2016

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach is essential, like air and water, for many classical musicians. Pianist András Schiff starts every day with Bach — sometimes before breakfast. "It's like taking care of your inner hygiene. There's something very pure about it," he says.

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