Words and Music (Updated)

March 8, 2015

Composer Stephen Sondheim does it and so does hip hop poet MK Asante.  They combine words and music to make art.  So how do they do it?   We explore the neuroscience of rap, and hear how jazz composer Maria Schneider sets poetry to music. 

  1. Hip Hop Poet - MK Asante

    Poet MK Asante recounts his tough childhood in Philadelphia and the sad story of his beloved older brother, and also how the rhythms of hip hop evoke the sensibility of his generation.

    Average: 4.4 (7 votes)
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  2. Neuroscience of Rap - Charles Limb

    Is there a science of rap?  Pioneering neuroscientist Charles Limb has put freestyle rappers inside brain-scanning machines, and he's seen an explosion of neural activity.

    Average: 5 (6 votes)
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  3. Music & Poetry - Maria Schneider

    Sometimes making music new is as simple as adding a few new elements. For ground-breaking jazz composer Maria Schneider, that meant adding words to her work.

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  4. Stephen Sondheim - Art of the Musical

    Stephen Sondheim is the reigning genius of musical theater, with credits ranging from West Side Story and Gypsy to Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods.  Sondheim gives Steve Paulson a few pointers on how to write both music and lyrics.

    Average: 3.7 (3 votes)
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  5. Dangerous Idea: Abolish Debt

    Writer and activist Astra Taylor calls for a Jubilee to buy and abolish debt.

    Average: 5 (3 votes)
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  6. On Our Minds: Policing the Police

    Inspired by stories of police brutality and the Rodney King beating, civil rights attorney Connie Rice says she declared "war" on the LAPD in the 1990s. These days, she trains and supervises 50 officers in one of Los Angeles' toughest communities.

    Average: 5 (5 votes)
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