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Musicians in their own words

Series produced by David Schulman

Series image
Image by: David Schulman 

David Schulman's award-winning series of first-person musician portraits

Yo-Yo Ma plucks his cello with a hotel room key ... Cecilia Bartoli remembers her past life as a flamenco dancer ... Cyro Baptista takes us to his percussion garage, scats a samba rhythm, and swings a vacuum-cleaner hose over his head.

Moments of surprise, moments of insight — that's the idea behind Musicians in their own words.

It's the public radio project that brings listeners inside the creative lives of lyric sopranos, bassists, congueros, concert violinists, and more ...

The project, launched with CPB support, has created dozens of pieces for the NPR newsmagazines and other national broadcasters, including APM's The Story, PRI, and Hearing Voices. Many pieces also are designed specifically for station use, and work especially well in a station context when used to preview a local performance.

48 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Chris Foreman at the Hammond B3
Chris Foreman plays Sundays in Church. And every Friday night, he's at Chicago's legendary Green Mill — playing the funky Hammond B3 organ in a nig...

  • Added: Jul 06, 2016
  • Length: 04:21
Caption: Preyas Roy performs at the corner of Michigan and Randolph, in downtown Chicago
Preyas Roy has performed in famous venues like the Jazz Showcase. But he makes his living on a downtown Chicago street corner — despite the unwield...

  • Added: Aug 15, 2016
  • Length: 02:56
Caption: Olivia Block records a sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia in Chicago.
Olivia Block's compositions have been praised by the likes of The New York Times. But she really loves sounds that don’t often count as music — the...

Bought by WUNC

  • Added: Feb 02, 2016
  • Length: 05:17
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Olivia Block gathering audio in Chicago
The work of composer and sound artist Olivia Block has been described as "distinctive and individual" by The New York Times. She is happy enough wr...

Bought by WUNC and PRX Remix

  • Added: Feb 01, 2016
  • Length: 04:20
  • Purchases: 2
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The harpist talks about how he takes an instrument beloved of Colombian cowboys, and forged a place for it in American jazz.

Bought by WABE and PRX Remix

  • Added: Oct 17, 2014
  • Length: 04:53
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Mysterious detail from the funk-cloning electron microgramatoscope, Credit: Dr. Schulmanstein
If James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, George Clinton remains the undisputed Crown Prince of Funk. Parliament-Funkadelic. Flashlight. The Mothe...

  • Added: Mar 16, 2015
  • Length: 04:59
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Original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna remembers the DIY feminist punk scene she catalyzed in 1992 with Bikini Kill. (The band's first EP was re-releas...

Bought by KVNF, KFAI, WABE, KFAI, New Hampshire Public Radio and more

  • Added: Nov 19, 2012
  • Length: 04:40
  • Purchases: 6
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One of the world's elite concert violinists talks about improvising with Hauschka, who plays a piano doctored with duct tape and ping-pong balls. ...

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Jul 31, 2012
  • Length: 11:07
  • Purchases: 1
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Ron Carter is an icon of jazz. He has played his bass on more than 2000 albums. His name, however, is most vividly linked with Miles Davis. Carte...

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Mar 16, 2012
  • Length: 07:27
  • Purchases: 1
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He's a dobro player, folks. Who said anything about Jimi Hendrix?

Bought by PRX Remix, KMHD, WCMU, WNPR, KNAU and more

  • Added: Oct 20, 2014
  • Length: 04:45
  • Purchases: 8
Caption: Stephane Wrembrel live at the Birchmere, Credit: Jason Goodman
Stephane Wrembel isn't a conventional guitar hero. But his star is rising fast nonetheless. He wrote music for the last two Woody Allen films, incl...

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Feb 25, 2012
  • Length: 10:33
  • Purchases: 1
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The man who wrote some of the best known standards in jazz reflects on a career that included writing "Killer Joe," talking his way into the great ...

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Feb 27, 2012
  • Length: 05:46
  • Purchases: 1
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Cyro Baptista in his percussion garage ...

Bought by PRX Remix, KFAI, The Story, and KGLT

  • Added: Feb 04, 2008
  • Length: 07:06
  • Purchases: 4
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What do you do to warm up? With Gillian Welch, Lang Lang, Cecilia Bartoli, Albert Kuvezin, Yo-Yo Ma ...

Bought by KFAI, The Story, and PRX Remix

  • Added: Jun 18, 2009
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 3

  • Added: Jun 18, 2009
  • Length: 07:22
  • Purchases: 4
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One of the world's great operatic singers explores what it means to approach the human voice as an instrument -- like a trumpet or violin.

Bought by KVNF, PRX Remix, The Story, KGLT, Public Interactive and more

  • Added: Jan 26, 2004
  • Length: 04:11
  • Purchases: 10
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A late-career portrait of one of rock-and-roll's legendary creators.

Bought by PRX Remix, KGLT, KGOU, KCUR, and WKMS

  • Added: Jun 02, 2008
  • Length: 07:37
  • Purchases: 5
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Gillian Welch reconsiders the fate of a fallen American hero: Elvis Presley.

Bought by PRX Remix, The Story, KGLT, KMHD, WNCW and more

  • Added: Mar 29, 2004
  • Length: 02:45
  • Purchases: 6
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Even without a conga drum handy, a master of Latin Jazz finds a way to demonstrate the essence of the mambo.

Bought by PRX Remix, KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio, KCUR, Public Interactive, KMHD and more

  • Added: Mar 16, 2004
  • Length: 03:16
  • Purchases: 9
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Yo-Yo Ma describes how a 21st-century hotel key helps him create the right sound for a rustic piece called "Drunken Fisherman."

Bought by PRX Remix, Public Interactive, KMHD, and KNAU

  • Added: Apr 27, 2004
  • Length: 01:45
  • Purchases: 4