When John Schaefer began broadcasting his WNYC present New Sounds in 1981, he was simply enjoying music he preferred from his private document assortment. On the time, WNYC had up to date music reveals that lined modernist atonal music, and one present hosted by critic Tim Web page that showcased minimalism, however Schaefer wished to play the genre-explorers like Laurie Anderson, the crossover artists like Brian Eno, and sounds that got here from locations everywhere in the globe. He wished to create a radio present that gave individuals an area to be curious listeners, to take them on a path that leads towards discovery.
“It’s all about opening doorways and alluring individuals in,” Schaefer says. “It’s not simply that there’s a door; there’s an entire hallway of doorways, and also you would possibly like what you discover in a few of them.”
That ethos has carried New Sounds from its early days as an operation born out of Schaefer’s document assortment right into a mainstay hub for open-eared listening. At its coronary heart, Schaefer says: “[New Sounds] is for individuals who suspect there’s extra on the market than what they know, and that bothers them. They don’t want to love it, however they no less than need to know what it’s.”
This 12 months marks the fortieth anniversary of New Sounds, which at the moment runs each night on WNYC at 11pm and hosts a 24/7 livestream on their web site. To supply the present, Schaefer works with Caryn Havlik, who’s been a part of this system for 20 years. Over the previous 4 a long time, New Sounds has broadcast music spanning eras, genres, kinds, and areas, giving its listeners enthusiastic, contextualized conversations concerning the music. Artists featured embrace individuals just like the Bang on a Can composers Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, and David Lang, composer and pianist Vijay Iyer, guitarist Yasmin Williams, and Indian sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar. Every episode focuses on a unique subject, like items that use the typewriter or songs that haven’t any phrases; others concentrate on areas or genres, like a latest African and Pan-African Brass-centric present.
In attribute New Sounds vogue, they’re celebrating the anniversary with explorative reside live shows. The second, which is slated for October 21, celebrates the lifetime of composer Ingram Marshall. Hosted by Schaefer, the night is a memorial tribute to the composer, who handed away this spring at age 80. Marshall’s work explored tape and digital delay, Indonesian gamelan, postminimalism, and hints of Romantic era-classical music, and is an instance of the type of eclectic music that may be heard on the present.
Lengthy earlier than Schaefer established New Sounds, he was absorbing the sounds of New York as a child taking subway rides to highschool and studying concerning the vibrant rap and punk scenes within the metropolis. His family wasn’t significantly musical, however he, just like the listeners he now imagines for his radio present, was at all times sure there was extra on the market than simply the traditional rock mainstays that emanated from document gamers and the favored radio stations.
Throughout highschool, a good friend launched Schaefer to the well-known downtown New York membership CBGB, which was a central location for punk and new wave music. This good friend had cousins and a brother who performed in The Shirts, a band who carried out at CBGB usually, and when Schaefer went to the venue for the primary time, one thing opened up within him. “There’s this sort of music that doesn’t care concerning the mainstream, that doesn’t care about getting business radio play, that was simply thoughts blowing to me,” he remembers. Then David Bowie launched his Berlin album, Low, which equally expanded Schaefer’s thoughts about what music might be.
There was an entire world of sound on the market that I had been listening to, however I had by no means listened to. That distinction between listening to and listening…that was only a second that I assume I’m nonetheless recovering from.
Whereas finding out at Fordham College, Schaefer stumbled upon the college radio station, WFUV, after taking what he thought was a shortcut on his approach to class. He’d by no means seen the station earlier than that day, however after he discovered it, he hardly ever left, spending most of his time in school in these studios. The scholars ran each a part of the station (aside from weekend reveals). So Schaefer was capable of get expertise from all angles. He hosted classical broadcasts, in a single day rock, morning pop, night information — he even found out tips on how to rig a mixing board into the mouthpiece of a payphone so they may broadcast hockey video games.
But it surely was selecting up the weekend gig as an engineer on the Indian music present that led Schaefer to his first paid radio job. It was fast-paced, involving sifting by means of quick tracks and listening to quite a few “ear-opening” sounds. He grew to become mates with the host, who’d later let him document episodes of New Sounds at his Inwood house when the WNYC studios had been closed for repairs.
Schaefer’s journey has been pushed by his persistent curiosity in actively taking in music. He has bother selecting his all-time favourite artists — however he can identify those which have “modified how he listens.” A kind of is David Hykes, a composer who based and leads the group Harmonic Choir, an ensemble that explores overtone singing. Schaefer knew about overtones when the group got here on his present, however when Hykes demonstrated the approach to him, he grew to become enthralled with it.
“There was an entire world of sound on the market that I had been listening to, however I had by no means listened to,” Schaefer says. “That distinction between listening to and listening…that was only a second that I assume I’m nonetheless recovering from.”
Whereas New Sounds has actually grown for the reason that starting, this system’s dedication to energetic listening has stayed the identical. What has modified is the present’s content material, which has developed with Schaefer, his listeners, and altering social currents in up to date music. Previously, Schaefer remembers needing to place in additional effort to verify his reveals instructed tales about individuals moreover white males. Now, he notices himself simply making playlists that characteristic artists from many various backgrounds. “I feel that’s been an enormous necessary change within the present, however just because it’s reflecting an enormous and necessary change within the music neighborhood, as nicely,” Schaefer says. And since he started the present, style traces have eroded — listeners aren’t as cloistered to the labels they see in document shops, which Schaefer sees as an energizing pressure for the long run.
As a lot as listening to New Sounds permits audiences house to search out music they haven’t heard earlier than, working this system requires Schaefer to unearth and be taught alongside the way in which, too. That’s what’s saved it alive all these years — the dream of at all times discovering some new chance, and of doing it collectively. “Individuals inform me ‘oh, I’ve found a lot music by means of your present,’” Schaefer says. “I’m proper there with you. I’m discovering these things, too. And that has been the factor, in all probability greater than the rest, that has pushed the present for therefore lengthy. There’s continually a discovery to be made.”
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