It may seem counter-intuitive, but the history of world music proves that unfamiliar instruments and rhythms cross borders much more readily than vocal styles. There's no question that, starting in the late '60s, soul and then funk became very popular in sub-Saharan Africa. Decades of reissues show that a lot of players found their way into electric guitar, and that enriching the big beat of the West was a cinch for African percussionists.
During the years before the Civil Rights movement got underway, segregated American cities helped give birth to a touring circuit that provided employment for hundreds of black musicians and eventually brought about the birth of rock 'n' roll. Today, rock historian Ed Ward looks at two books, Preston Lauterbach's The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll and Fever, Susan Whitall's biography of Little Willie John, one of the Chitlin' Circuit's last stars.
Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli liked so many shows this year that he says he couldn't pick just 10 favorites. Instead, he split his favorites into several lists, including best documentaries and best scripted comedies/dramas.
Bianculli also highlights some of the worst shows to hit TV screens this year â€” including not one but two shows featuring Snooki.
Despite his Snooki misgivings, Bianculli says it was a banner year for TV.
"There is more good television on a weekly basis than there has ever been," Bianculli says. "I am absolutely certain of it."
If you were a New York teenager who played an instrument and wanted to be in a band, and all of a sudden British groups were coming to town and attracting rioting mobs of teenage girls, you might feel a certain urgency to get something together. Tom Finn had already had a band, The Magic Plants, when he ran into a guy named Steve Martin-Caro, a Spanish high-school student who recently arrived in the city, as they attempted to navigate the scene outside the hotel where The Rolling Stones' members were staying in 1965. The two became friends and decided to form another band.
When filmmaker David Fincher asked Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and his songwriting partner Atticus Ross to compose the music for his U.S. film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher had one request: for the music to sound 'textural.'
So Reznor and Ross, who won an Oscar for their score of Fincher's 2010 film The Social Network, experimented with sounds created by stretched-out bell tones, piano beds filled with nails and clothespins, and mixes of distorted instruments played imperfectly.