WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

What Makes It Great: Classical Music And Beyond With Rob Kapilow (Rebroadcast)

What if a pop singer suddenly stopped mid-beat and explained precisely which notes she had just sung, and why they sound good? Perhaps you don't need to know why a hit song works, but one man's exuberant commentary could prove you've never listened--really listened--to even the most familiar tunes. Rob Kapilow has been classical music's ambassador for nearly two decades, and he's game to take on all genres---jazz, rap, country--even the Kojo theme song.

Videos: Inside The Studio

Composer, conductor and commentator Robert Kapilow breaks down the musical elements and ideas behind the Kojo Show theme song, spotlighting what makes it a great piece. Kapilow credits composer Igor Stravinsky with saying that all composition comes down to a balance between unity and variety. "Too much repetition leads to boredom, but too much variety leads to chaos. And this theme is a perfect balance of unity and variety," Kapilow added. All great art at some point undermines the very world it has created, and Kapilow says the theme accomplishes this task.

Kapilow identifies what makes several well-known song introductions so great. Kapilow reviewed "Symphony No. 5" by Beethoven, Eminem's "Sing For The Moment," Handel's "Messiah" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles. He says anything that's considered great art changes our sense of what's possible in the universe.

The Kojo Nnamdi Show Theme Song: What Makes It Great?

Rob Kapilow deconstructs the Kojo Show theme song, describing it as a fantastic journey. He highlights the burst of attention-grabbing saxophone notes at the beginning, its incredibly fast notes throughout and an almost free rhythm as the song sizzles to its end.

Music That Makes You Go 'Hmmmm'

Kapilow explores the idea of "things that make you go hmmmm," which he describes as musical experiences that resonate with you and make you listen actively.

Green Eggs And Ham, An Opera

Kapilow composed a musical score based on the classic children's book by Dr. Seuss, "Green Eggs and Ham."

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The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

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