Filed Under:

Richard Reed Parry Turns Musicians Into Metronomes

Play associated audio

Richard Reed Parry is famous for making music sound big. As a core member of Arcade Fire, the Grammy-winning indie rock group from Montreal, he wields multiple instruments to help create deep, layered textures in which strings and synthesizers, slow ballads and disco dance tracks are all at home.

Parry's first solo album is a departure even from that broad sound. It's a collection of classical compositions featuring Nico Muhly, the yMusic sextet and the Kronos Quartet. The album is called Music for Heart and Breath, and as Parry tells Weekend Edition Sunday, the title advertises the daring concept that holds the album together: the musician's body as metronome.

"Every note, and everything that any of the musicians plays, is played either in sync with the heartbeat of that player, or with their breathing, or with the breathing of another player," Parry explains. "You have a stethoscope and you have an Ace bandage. The Ace bandage is wrapped around your chest, and it presses the stethoscope to your heart."

From there, the players do their best to keep track of their internal rhythms with one ear and their instruments with the other — quite the challenge, Parry says, especially in live performance, wherein simply stepping on a stage tends to speed a performer's pulse.

"It's definitely an un-intuitive way of playing music," he says. "Which is funny, considering that it's in some ways it's the most intuitive musical reference point that anybody could have."

Hear the full interview with NPR's Arun Rath at the audio link.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Baskets' Takes Zach Galifianakis From French Clown School To The Rodeo Ring

The comic, who plays a rodeo clown in his new FX comedy series, says he is "not creeped out by clowns." Galifianakis is also the creator of the Emmy Award-winning web comedy series Between Two Ferns.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
NPR

How Hillary Clinton Is Actually Winning In N.H., Even Though She Lost Big

Thanks to the way Democrats pick their nominees — and despite her whopping 20-plus-point loss to Bernie Sanders — Clinton looks like she might wind up with the most delegates out of New Hampshire.
NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.