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


Heroic Women In Strong Poses: Serena Williams, Amy Schumer In Pirelli Calendar

"Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman." — that's how comedian Amy Schumer sums up this year's Pirelli calendar.

High-Sodium Warnings Hit New York City Menus

The city is the first in the nation to require a sodium warning on menu items containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more. The rule applies to chain restaurants with 15 or more locations.

Congress Strikes Deal On 5-Year Transportation Bill

For the first time in a decade, congressional leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement on a long-term bill to fix, maintain and expand the nation's roads, bridges, rails and mass transit.
WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

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