Creating a Classical Music Podcast
Listen to the audio version. With piano music by Lodewijk Muns.
For a number of years, I have been posting blog essays on this website – the oldest on a musical topic dates back to 2014. Often, and increasingly, these turned out too long and too academic for the blog format, not to mention the standards of SEO and readability that harass the internet writer. Unfriendly, sad and angry emojis have been my companions all the way. They don’t like to approach a subject indirectly. I do.
It seems time for me to experiment with another medium, that of the now immensely (and, to me, somewhat incomprehensibly) popular podcast. The spoken format does not offer a simple solution to the problem of addressing the scholarly and philosophical aspects of the subject in a non-academic way. But it does allow for more direct and personal communication, and a closer connection between the text and the subject, music.
The series should run for about two years, with some 26 episodes or more. To get used to the medium, I have started in my native Dutch and postponed creating an English version. The Dutch title, Voorbij de oren, doesn’t translate literally into English, and the alternative I have chosen for now, Beyond the Bony Labyrinth, is perhaps a bit too enigmatic. But at least it has a good rhythm – and alliteration, always a bonus in the publishing world.
Language, Memory, Imagination
In that abundant stream of talking over the internet, there is, to my knowledge, little offering of what I am proposing here, namely a discussion of music (not musicians), primarily classical music, and the ways it relates to the wider world of our emotional and intellectual experience.
‘Classical music’ is a confusing term that I have long tended to avoid, but it can be justified as denoting not a genre or period, but a tradition and practice, which is essentially a tradition of unplugged music making, involving written compositions, that can range in size from tiny to gigantic. A tradition, moreover, in which much music of the past is kept alive (or revived), and continues to serve as model, positively or negatively, in a continuous historical awareness.
However, my deepest interest is not classical music per se, but how music generally can have certain values and effects. My ultimate concern is therefore with the human mind and musical understanding.
The topics of the series will relate music to such concepts as: language, memory, and imagination. The subject of my most extensive research is the relationship between music and language. It is one of the main channels through which music relates to our general experience.
All this makes music a very attractive subject for a philosophical approach. By philosophy, I mean primarily aesthetics, the art of reasoning about certain values such as beauty. Aesthetics is also the study of how these values come about in our perception (the Greek ‘aisthesis’), a field that slowly is becoming more scientific, and less philosophical.
For me philosophy is also an attempt to calirfy, to dispel the smokescreens that inevitably even philosophical thought itself seems inevitably to produce.
Voorbij de oren is availabe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts etc.
Making this podcast takes some inspiration, a lot of enthusiastic work, a lifetime of experience and a little money. If you are interested, consider making a donation: