The Science of Music with Josh Groban

Credit: Jeffrey Simons

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About This Episode

There’s more to a song than meets the ear, as Neil deGrasse Tyson finds out when he interviews singer/songwriter/producer Josh Groban. Josh shares how he got started playing his family’s electronic Casio piano while he was still in diapers, and whether he was a science geek in school. In studio, concert pianist and MIT Lecturer in Music, Elaine Kwon, and co-host Chuck Nice add their voices to the chorus to help us hear the science woven into the songs. You’ll learn how artists breathe life into their music, and about the qualitative difference between human generated and automated music. Explore the importance of the acoustics of a performance space, the effect music has on people, the difference between melody and harmony, the ranges the human voice is capable of, and which was more important, Charlie Parker’s personal style or his sax. Plus, Neil and Josh discuss “acoustic panty removers”, Chuck admits to singing first soprano in his church choir, and we find out whether Rachmaninoff really had “big hands” and what rubato means.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Science of Music with Josh Groban.

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  • Luan Delarion

    This is the right moment for Neil(and everyone else) starts listening to Yanni’s music

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Yes, Yanni is well known and he is good. But I have heard better musicians than him who are not so well know. Thank God we have YouTube (and other sites) for those brave and determined few who try to make their name in music.

      • Andy

        This reply would be more useful if you would have mentioned the names.

      • Visionary

        As Andy said, names please

        • Taxil Necrobane

          I did post names and links.

  • Siena Jackson

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Josh Groban! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Andy

    Whoever from this Website replied to my previous question replied it wrong.
    The last 2 episodes indicate that StarTalkRadio is INDEPENDENT of NGC StarTalk & not simply “delayed-by-a-week” audio version of the TV show.
    Audio from few TV episodes may land up here occasionally but otherwise, it seems, we are in for a dual treat!

    • Andy, this is Jeff, the StarTalk Social Media Director. The plan was that of our 50 radio shows/podcasts a year, 10 are filmed, and appear as a talk show on the National Geographic Channel one night a week. Now that we’ve been renewed for a second season of TV, and because that TV season will happen during Season 6 of StarTalk Radio, that will increase to 20 episodes. The schedule of when those episodes run, either on Sirius XM Insight radio, or on TV, or on our podcast, is determined by our producers. Sometimes, as with the first 3 episodes of the TV show, they will run during the same week. Other times, they will run on a different schedule.

  • Siba Moha

    finally.. thank you for the wonderful interview

  • Malcolm MacKellar

    I am surprised you all seem unaware that astronaut Ron McNair on the ill fated Challenger was to have recorded a saxophone piece in the shuttle. Following the disaster Jean Michel Jarre on his 1986 album Rendez-Vous recorded the piece down here on Earth as a tribute to the astronauts.

  • Maria

    Your interview really resonates with me! Please give my dad’s music a hear! I am a University of Miami graduate who recently uploaded my father’s music. MrOptimistic is a Classical and Crossover Jazz Musician from the 70s-80s. #OldSchool Jazz World Fusion Artist. Race to Space Inspired Musician!

  • Maria

    Notes between notes! Jazz = People! Song: Schizophrenic Clarity; Mr. Optimistic = composer and writer…

  • Maria

    Interstellar Sound Travel by Mr. Optimistic and Progeny

    Please give our radio podcast a listen. Spread the Science and Art behind music!

  • Maria

    Rap Fusion song “Rein” by Mr. Optimistic & Progeny; Music crosses cultures and we have rhythm in all of us. It is true.

  • Emily Menzel

    Um, just realized from the picture…. Neil has a bobble-head of himself in his office. That is fantastic. =P

    • Jeff Goss

      That’s great ! Glad you pointed that out.

  • Stacie

    They need to listen to technical instrumental metal in space. I’m feeling some Khuda or Animals As Leaders vibes (what I listen to when reading Neil’s books)

  • Joseph Belcastro

    great video about Elaine Kwon

  • Senior Pavo

    She sounded very interesting but they wouldn’t let her finish talking. She couldn’t finish any of her thoughts without being interrupted. I found it so annoying to listen to this podcast I had to stop listening to it.

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