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An end to discord

a radio feature produced by Michael Shirrefs


Music is music, right? But through the middle of the 20th Century, our evolving appetite for innovation took us on some pretty weird detours, especially in the world of classical music. Composers, performers and music departments suddenly went all experimental and seemed to abandon traditional ideas of melody and harmony. And audiences had to come to terms with performances that sounded more like they’d been hatched in science labs.

We’ve become far more used to technology being a crucial part of music, but in post-war 1950s, strange electronic noises were quite alarming.


So, what was it about that period that changed our sonic landscape?


This is a tale of powerful crescendos, fear of fascist passion, CIA intrigue … and a woman called Nadia.

CANADA – MAY 13: When avant-garde composer John Cage who writes works for electronic equipment Turns on, anything can. Garbled voices, rumbles, howls and piercing screams all reaching a hideous crescendo . . . and then, sometimes, the toilet paper flies (Photo by Reg Innell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Listen to the program here …

EarshotAn end to discord


Prof. Jeanice Brooks—Professor of music at the University of Southampton in England

David Conte—American composer and teacher

Peter Engelbert—American composer

Christian Henson—English composer and co-founder of Spitfire Audio

Paul Thomson—English composer and co-founder of Spitfire Audio



Further Information

Spitfire Audio




Producer—Michael Shirrefs

Sound Engineer—Carey Dell