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Storytelling

Stuff from the B-Side

HowStuffWorks

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What is the story behind Stagger Lee? Why would astronauts need a DJ? Join Mark and John as they explore everything from the president's record collection to the future of digital music in Stuff From The B-Side, a podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
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27:30 | Dec 10th, 2009

Kraftwerk is a legendary German electronic music band that has actively influenced the development of modern popular music. In this episode, Mark and John trace the development of Kraftwerk, as well as its effect on other bands and musical genres.

22:08 | Dec 8th, 2009

In 1895, Stagger Lee killed William Lyons in an argument. Usually, a crime like this would disappear into the footnotes of history, but this event was different. Learn the true story behind one of America's most popular folk songs in this podcast.

17:27 | Dec 3rd, 2009

At over 380 years old, the Aedis Zildjian cymbal manufacturer is the world's oldest musical company. Learn more about this company -- and cymbals -- in this episode.

16:56 | Dec 1st, 2009

When American composer Harry Partch didn't enjoy the conventional 12-note scale, he created his own scale. He also built his own instruments upon which this scale could be played. Join Mark and John as they explore the musical pursuits of Harry Partc...Show More

13:26 | Nov 26th, 2009

A standard vinyl record is between 120 to 140 grams, but audiophiles often think this is too flimsy -- why? Join John and Mark as they explore the eccentricities of vinyl records and determine whether or not the weight of a record makes a difference.

13:33 | Nov 24th, 2009

During many concerts, bands return to the stage after their performance to crank out a few more tunes as the audience screams 'encore.' Explore the history of the encore -- and the philosophy behind the practice -- in this episode.

21:08 | Nov 19th, 2009

From the 1920s into the 60s, the Great American Songbook covers iconic music of the stage and screen. Yet there's no definitive list of the songs and songwriters involved. Learn more about the history of the Great American Songbook in this episode.

13:17 | Nov 17th, 2009

Everyone's familiar with the ear-wrenching screech that unexpectantly blasts from speaker systems during a public address -- but what exactly is it? John and Mark investigate the unpleasant phenomenon of feedback in this episode.

29:22 | Nov 12th, 2009

How do you feel about the seasons? Whether you're in love with winter, summer, spring or fall, odds are that certain tunes remind you of the turning seasons. Join John and Mark as they present a guide to the seasonal music in this episode.

18:25 | Nov 10th, 2009

Have you ever misheard a lyric? If so, then you've heard a mondegreen. Mondegreens are surprisingly common throughout musical history. Join John and Mark as they explore perplexing -- and humorous -- mondegreens in this episode.

17:35 | Nov 5th, 2009

As the oldest continuous radio show in the US, the Grand Ole Opry is a crucial part of country music's history. Listen in as Mark and John explore the history of the Opry -- including some controversial performances -- in this episode.

17:48 | Nov 3rd, 2009

For an astronaut in orbit, the sun appears to rise every 90 minutes. This extreme change disrupts the usual cycle of waking and sleeping. Luckily, NASA cooked up a creative -- and surprising -- solution. Tune in to learn more about DJ CAPCOM.

10:16 | Oct 29th, 2009

Tuning forks have been used since the 1800s, and are still common today. Yet tuning forks aren't just for music -- they're also used for watches and medical evaluations. Tune in and learn more about the rise of the humble table fork in this episode.

14:48 | Oct 27th, 2009

The term 'interval' refers to the distance or relationship between two notes. In this continuing series on the basics of music theory, the crew examines different types of intervals, as well as their respective roles in classical and modern music.

17:21 | Oct 22nd, 2009

Many people assume that most musical instruments require two hands. Yet after the famous pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm in World War I, he resolved to continue his career. Listen in and learn more about Paul Wittgenstein in this episode...Show More

12:25 | Oct 20th, 2009

Used for centuries by indigenous Australians, the didgeridoo was originally played as musical accompaniment to ceremonial functions. Join Mark and John as they explore the history of this unique instrument, from prehistoric times to the modern era.

16:40 | Oct 15th, 2009

During the 16th century, European boys with good singing voices ran the risk of castration. Join Mark and John as they explore the bizarre world of castrated singers -- and the reasons behind the practice -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:59 | Oct 13th, 2009

Most people can easily hear the difference between an oboe or a sitar, even when the instruments are playing the same note. Join the hosts of Stuff From The B-Side as they explore the science behind the fascinating concept of timbre in this podcast.

09:36 | Oct 8th, 2009

As David Byrne biked through the urban landscape, he was struck with an enormous idea: Could an entire building become a musical instrument? Learn more about Byrne's idea -- and how he pulled it off -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:04 | Oct 6th, 2009

Join Mark and John as they look back through the history of opera and world records to find the highest and lowest notes ever reached by human voices. Learn more about the amazing range of the human voice in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

09:17 | Oct 1st, 2009

Planets are quirky things. They can have eccentric orbits, extreme temperatures and -- oddly enough -- make music. Listen in as John and Mark explore the symphonies of space in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

16:12 | Sep 29th, 2009

Joseph de Bologne, also known as the Chevalier de Saint-George, was born the son of a slave and rose to the heights of French society. Learn how this talented composer (and fencer) became known as the "black Mozart" in this podcast from HowStuffWorks...Show More

09:29 | Sep 24th, 2009

In this episode of a continuing series on music theory, Mark and John explore notation and pitch, two fundamental concepts for any budding musician. Listen in and learn more about notation and pitch in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

14:30 | Sep 22nd, 2009

In this episode of Mark and John's continuing series on Les Paul, the B-Side crew takes a look at Paul's inventive side. Learn how this musician developed the solid-body electric guitar in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

18:24 | Sep 17th, 2009

In honor of the legendary jazz musician's birthday, John and Mark take a look back on the technique of Lester Young. Listen in and learn how one of the world's most influential saxophonists changed the face of music in this podcast from HowStuffWorks...Show More

16:11 | Sep 15th, 2009

Building on last week's exploration of tempo, Mark and John break down the use of time signatures. Lend our resident audiophiles an ear and learn more about music theory in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

11:58 | Sep 10th, 2009

Today, recording studios across the globe use multitracking -- but it wasn't always this way. In their continuing series on Les Paul, Mark and John explore Paul's pioneering use of multitracking. Learn more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

18:10 | Sep 8th, 2009

Join Mark and John as they kick off a new series on the basics of music. This episode explores tempo, and how it works in a piece of music. Listen in and learn more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

15:18 | Sep 3rd, 2009

Before he was Les Paul, Lester Polsfuss wasn't the best piano student. But he went on to learn multiple instruments as a teenager, and ultimately changed the world of music. Take a look back on the life Les Paul in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com...Show More

16:34 | Sep 1st, 2009

Inspired by listener mail, Mark and John take a look at Auto-Tune, an audio processor that automatically corrects the pitch and tone of a vocal track. Has this practice gone too far? Learn why Jay-Z thinks so in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:48 | Aug 27th, 2009

Symphonies have been around for a long time, but everything has to start somewhere. Can Mark and John discover the father of the symphony? Tune in and find out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

09:50 | Aug 25th, 2009

When the Beatles toured the U.S. for the second time in 1965, the sound systems were terrible in many venues. That all changed in Atlanta, Georgia, however. Learn more about the first use of concert monitors in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:27 | Aug 20th, 2009

The sound of a babbling brook, an ocean tide and drizzling rain have all been called musical. Join John and Mark as they explore the music inspired by the natural sound of water in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

09:32 | Aug 18th, 2009

In the world of digital music, mp3 files are compressed audio files that shed the high and low ends of a recording to save space. Does this omission matter? Listen in and learn more about digital music files in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:09 | Aug 13th, 2009

You can often tell a lot about someone's personality by his or her taste in music. During the last election, each candidate's playlist became public knowledge. Learn more about the president's music in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:44 | Aug 11th, 2009

The iTunes Genius feature will create a playlist based on the content you're playing. But how does it work? More importantly, are these playlists any good? Listen in as Mark and John assess the iTunes Genius in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

18:35 | Aug 6th, 2009

During their workdays and long voyages, sailors sang sea shanties to pass the time. Join Mark and John as they take a look at the history and structure of sea shanties in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:42 | Aug 4th, 2009

When Joe Satriani listened to Coldplay's "Viva La Vida", he detected a familiar melody -- one so familiar, in fact, that he suspected an act of plagiarism. Listen as Mark and John compare the melodies in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

15:11 | Jul 30th, 2009

In 2003, researchers compared students' personalities to their music preferences. Could they predict a student's personality based on his or her favorite tunes? Learn the results -- which might surprise you -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

13:39 | Jul 28th, 2009

Bursting onto the scene in 1975, "Jaws" became the first blockbuster film. Much of the film's success comes from John William's score -- but why is the music so scary? Tune in as John and Mark figure it out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

28:32 | Jul 23rd, 2009

Stage names are a common practice in the world of entertainment. An alter ego is more complex, and can take over an entertainer's life. Learn more about the fascinating lives of musicians -- and their alter egos -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks....Show More

23:37 | Jul 21st, 2009

Blue Note is one of the most famous recording labels in history. This legendary jazz label has been home to the icons of music, from Miles Davis to Thelonious Monk. Learn how Blue Note was born in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

23:07 | Jul 16th, 2009

Although they may not all listen to the same genres, cultures across the world prize music. In modern times, this reverence translates into that most elusive of qualities -- coolness. Learn what makes music cool in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com...Show More

09:29 | Jul 14th, 2009

Music is an ancient human enterprise, and cultures across the world have played music since the dawn of civilization -- but which instrument came first? Tune in as Mark and John try to figure it out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

32:37 | Jul 9th, 2009

As the world reels after the death of Michael Jackson, fans across the planet pay tribute to the King of Pop. Join Mark and John as they ask why Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is the world's best-selling album in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

18:59 | Jul 7th, 2009

The formal, technical titles of classical music tunes are often hard to decipher -- so why do we use them? Tune in as Mark and John explain the method behind the jargon of classical titles in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:01 | Jul 2nd, 2009

A woman in Minnesota was recently convicted of downloading songs illegally and ordered to pay $80,000 per song. Tune in as John and Mark investigate how -- and if -- a song can be worth this much money in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

25:40 | Jun 30th, 2009

Dave Brubeck is a legendary American jazz pianist known for his use of unorthodox time signatures. Tune in as Mark and John take a closer look at the work of this unique jazz icon in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:33 | Jun 25th, 2009

In the late 80s, mixed tapes ruled the musical world -- and a company called Personics became the first on-demand, custom music service. Learn more about this early cassette version of iTunes in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

19:44 | Jun 23rd, 2009

In Mexico and the Southwestern United States, the cheery sound of drug ballads belies dark, explicit stories of drug lords and the cocaine trade. This popular genre is often accompanied by violence. Learn more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

14:39 | Jun 18th, 2009

Many iconic songs are preserved in the National Recording Registry. The Registry also preserves speeches and radio broadcasts -- but how exactly are these recordings chosen? Learn more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

19:13 | Jun 16th, 2009

Psychologists have determined that certain types of music can raise or lower stress levels -- but can this practice work in an airport? Listen in and learn more Stuff From the B-Side in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

16:07 | Jun 11th, 2009

The tabla is an extraordinarily popular percussion instrument in India, capable of producing a surprising variety of sounds. Tune in for a closer look at the history, techniques and modern use of the tabla in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

14:17 | Jun 9th, 2009

Music therapy is often used to soothe and calm people -- but some believe music can also be used to help individuals on the autism spectrum. Join Mark and John as they take a closer look at music and autism in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:12 | Jun 4th, 2009

Musicians are masters of memorization. Members of jazz groups and orchestras must often play long pieces that require a surprising level of concentration and recall. Tune in and learn more about music and memory in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com...Show More

28:41 | Jun 2nd, 2009

With digital sales becoming the new norm for music purchases, the compact disc is certainly endangered, and may become extinct. Join John and Mark as they pick a few CDs that music fans should hold onto in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:37 | May 28th, 2009

A good soundtrack can often make the difference between an above-average film and a cinematic masterpiece. Tune in as Mark and John review some of Hollywood's greatest film scores in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:38 | May 26th, 2009

Hip hop has often been haunted by a reputation for violence, especially when it comes to the practice of beef, or conflicts between performers. Tune in and learn more about hip-hop's most notorious (and tragic) beef in this podcast from HowStuffWorks...Show More

15:36 | May 21st, 2009

Most people recognize the theremin as that weird noise during the chorus of the Beach Boys' song "Good Vibrations." Join Mark and John as they take a closer look at the strange sound of the theremin in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

14:56 | May 19th, 2009

A lawyer citing a song in court isn't as unusual as it might sound, and even a judge may quote Bob Dylan now and then. Tune in as Mark and John take a look at the use of music in the courtroom with this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

23:00 | May 14th, 2009

Billie Holiday was a pioneering jazz singer and tremendously influenced generations of musicians. Join the B-Side guys as they take a look at the life and career of the legendary Billie Holiday in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

19:37 | May 12th, 2009

Minimalist music is associated with artists and composers such as Philip Glass, John Adams and Steve Reich. Tune in and learn how this spare, striking musical genre arose in the 1960s with this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

13:56 | May 7th, 2009

Wizard rock -- or wrok -- is a is a type of music heavily based in the mythology of the Harry Potter series. Tune in as Mark and John break down the evolution of this movement in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:41 | May 5th, 2009

Originating during the 13th century, the Dies Irae is an old Latin hymn associated with the Biblical day of judgment. Join Mark and John as they explore the history and evolution of this hymn in popular culture with this podcast from HowStuffWorks.co...Show More

18:34 | Apr 30th, 2009

Pirate radio stations function illegally, broadcasting without a license. This isn't a new phenomenon, either -- tune in and learn more about the surprising history of pirate radio in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:32 | Apr 28th, 2009

With album sales tanking, many prominent musicians are pulling in more and more money from concert revenue -- so why is it often difficult to get a ticket? Listen in as Mark and John take a look at concert tickets in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.c...Show More

21:01 | Apr 23rd, 2009

Often associated with drugs and music that lasts all night, raves have generate worldwide attention -- and criticism. Join John and Mark as they take a look at the fact and fiction surrounding raves in this podcast from howStuffWorks.com.

16:48 | Apr 21st, 2009

Why do live performances move us more than MIDI files? Is there something fundamentally different about the way electronic music affects the emotional centers of our brains? Find out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

14:56 | Apr 16th, 2009

Historically, musicians have a penchant for drug use -- the old association of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll has a grain of truth. Check out this podcast as Mark and John, HowStuffWorks.com's resident musicologists, take a look at this phenomenon.

13:06 | Apr 14th, 2009

For decades, people have believed that listening to classical music makes a person more intelligent -- but is this actually true? Do genres of music affect our brains in different ways? Tune in and learn more in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

20:51 | Apr 9th, 2009

The evolution of the steel drum is inextricably tied to history of Trinidad and Tobago, where drumming was banned in the 1880s. Lend an ear as the B-Siders explore the amazing story of the steel drum in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

20:13 | Apr 7th, 2009

Music is an integral part of every culture, and folk recordings preserve folk or traditional music for posterity. Tune in as the B-Siders explore the history and future of folk recordings in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:04 | Apr 2nd, 2009

Leonard Cohen is an iconic musician, poet and novelist. After 5 years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, Cohen is returning to tour the US. Tune in and learn more about Leonard Cohen's music in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:02 | Mar 31st, 2009

Nerdcore is a special type of hip hop custom-built for nerds. Tune in as the B-Side team takes a look at the underground genre of nerdcore -- from the history to the rappers themselves -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

13:35 | Mar 26th, 2009

People who suffer from tone deafness have difficulties differentiating between one pitch and the next. Tune in as John and Mark explore the bewildering world of the tone deaf in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

20:40 | Mar 24th, 2009

At the crossroads between visual and aural art, sound sculptures can be almost anything using art or objects to create sound. Tune in as the B-Side crew explores the nature of sound structures in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

16:22 | Mar 19th, 2009

Across genres and over the course of centuries, the devil has become a recurring character in music and -- allegedly -- the lives of musicians. Tune in as the B-Side crew takes a look at the devil and music in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

17:44 | Mar 17th, 2009

Conductors lead groups of musicians in a simultaneous performance. Despite their prominent role, many people don't know what conductors actually do. Tune in and learn more about conductors in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

23:36 | Mar 12th, 2009

A field recording can be almost anything recorded outside of a studio. Tune in as our resident experts explore the different types of field recordings -- and uses for each -- in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

12:51 | Mar 10th, 2009

The iPod's shuffle function is meant to randomly move from one song to the next -- but how random can a random function actually be? Learn more in this podcast.

29:26 | Mar 5th, 2009

Music sparks profound emotions in listeners. However, this passion can occasionally override reason and lead to violence. Learn more about music and riots in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

28:43 | Mar 3rd, 2009

For five decades Miles Davis molded the sound of American Jazz. Today, he remains one of America's most influential musicians. Listen in and learn more about the signature sound that made Miles Davis a star in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

18:11 | Feb 26th, 2009

Unlike vinyl, which usually plays for less than half an hour on each side, a compact disc can play for 74 minutes. Listen in and learn the story behind the creation of CDs in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

10:05 | Feb 24th, 2009

Are you tired of hearing snippets of music and spending hours tracking it down? A new service called Shazam will figure out the artist and title for a song, based on a short song sample. Learn more about Shazam in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

21:38 | Feb 19th, 2009

Campaign jingles are a memorable part of almost any large-scale campaign. Tune in and learn more about the history of campaign jingles in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

17:49 | Feb 17th, 2009

Music therapy is an increasingly accepted form of therapeutic treatment, similar to other types of creative therapy. Listen as the B-Side team takes a look at music therapy in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

14:41 | Feb 12th, 2009

When compact discs emerged critics saw the technology as the end of vinyl records. Yet as CD sales tank and vinyl records sales increase, music lovers and music makers are reconsidering the role of records. Learn more this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

13:20 | Feb 10th, 2009

Although music fans have been selling used records and CDs for years, very few people have considered buying used digital music files. Learn more about digital music files and the first-sale doctrine in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

14:35 | Feb 5th, 2009

Tribute bands exclusively play the work of earlier, more well-known groups, and this imitation isn't restricted to music alone. Learn more about the history of tribute bands in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

08:48 | Feb 3rd, 2009

When renowned musician Bernie Krauss recorded bird song, he noticed something strange -- the animals seemed to synch with one another, forming a phenomenon similar to a musical score. Learn more about bioacoustics in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

14:11 | Jan 29th, 2009

Today, the guitar is one of the world's most well-known and popular instruments -- but where did it come from? Tune into this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the history and evolution of the guitar.

17:22 | Jan 27th, 2009

From physical assault to deep psychological trauma, torture can take many forms.

16:40 | Jan 22nd, 2009

Bootleg records can be officially released live recordings or alternate versions of songs. Most bootlegs are traded rather than sold, yet record companies consider these recordings piracy. Learn more about bootleg recordings in this HowStuffWorks pod...Show More

15:38 | Jan 20th, 2009

Music in video games draws you deep into a virtual world and sets the tone for your experience. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to hear some old-school video game music and discover the difference between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds.

10:47 | Jan 13th, 2009

Until Bjork popularized the reacTable, it was the brainchild of Spanish Ph.D. students. Designed for everyone from children to professional musicians, the reacTable may change the future of music. Tune into this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more.

11:37 | Jan 6th, 2009

By attaching a key board to a synthesizer, Dr. Robert Moog pioneered and popularized the devices that would come to be known as moogs. Tune in as the B-Sides team takes a look at these unique and memorable instruments in this podcast from HowStuffWor...Show More

08:49 | Dec 30th, 2008

Laser turntables use a beam of light to play traditional records, avoiding the wear and tear of a conventional turntable stylus. Learn how this technology can be used to play damaged, warped or broken records in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.

09:03 | Dec 23rd, 2008

In the world of violinists, a Stradivarius is considered the epitome of craftsmanship, lauded across the globe for its unique sound. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn why these violins are still considered the best in history.

19:53 | Dec 13th, 2008

Tune in as the B-Side team compares notes on the nature of debut albums -- from what makes a superb debut to their personal top three picks. Check out this podcast from HowStuffWorks to learn more about debut albums.