Composing Music For Stories On This American Life

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Listen to “Composing Music For Stories On This American Life”

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” so the saying goes. The idea being you can only understand music by listening to it.

Jonathan Menjivar says the same holds true for talking about music. Music defies language.

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Listen to “Music is the other language we use”

Despite that, talking about music is Jonathan’s job. In addition to producing stories, he oversees the music This American Life uses to score stories. He works with composers who make music for the show, even though Jonathan’s not a musician himself. Fortunately, the composers he works with don’t seem to mind.

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Listen to “They’re used to it”

Musician Matthias Bossi agrees.

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Listen to “It’s part of the job to interpret producer speak”

Matthias collaborates with Jonathan. He is a touring and studio musician who plays drums and piano and he’s worked with Tom Waits, The Mekons, and St. Vincent. My favorite band he’s played in is Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. He also composes music for This American Life with his band Stellwagen Symphonette.

On this episode, Matthias and Jonathan talk about the music This American Life looks for and how they work together. Fortunately, they don’t just talk about the music, we get to hear it, too.

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