From Corsican polyphony to Jacob Collier, 50s rock and roll and global hit TV series Glee, close harmony runs through music traditions around the world: but nowhere is it more important than in Barbershop, famous for its striped waistcoats, bow ties, and comedy parodies. But today over 70,000 singers of all ages and genders participate in barbershop societies around the world, coming together to compete and perform in quartets and larger choruses, enjoying its exuberant and expressive performance style, and revelling in its magical 'overtones'.
With Brian Lynch from the Barbershop Harmony Society in Nashville and members of the BBC Singers, Tom explores what makes it so unique, from it's vocal setting to its use of 'just intonation', and discovers the roots of its history, far from the exclusive Ivy League world it's thought to represent.
The music of Kaija Saariaho
Tom Service takes an introductory journey through the beguiling sound world of Kaija Saariaho.
Finnish-born, Paris-based Saariaho's music, at once dark and dazzling, immediate and sensual, has ensured her position as one of the world's leading living composers. From operas which explore the big human themes, to orchestral and instrumental works which fuse electronic and acoustic sounds, her voice is completely distinctive and instantly recognisable, a triumph of extraordinary imagination and determination over an unpromising family background.
David Papp (producer)
More than the score
Are the 100s of recordings of each Beethoven symphony (and the thousands upon thousands of live performances over the years) really so very different from each other? Can one interpretation be better than another? What is interpretation and why is it apparently so central to Western classical music? Why do we keep coming back for more? With the help of music critic Fiona Maddocks and pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Tom Service is on the case.
David Papp (producer)
Sad songs say so much
In 1649, a month after the execution of King Charles I, the distraught composer Thomas Tomkins wrote a piece of music called "A sad pavan for these distracted times".
And in our own confusing times, is sad music what we need - or not? Tom Service looks at music's power to heal, to build community and to redefine historical events. With Associate Professor at University College London, Dr Daisy Fancourt, and author of "Singing in the Age of Anxiety", Laura Tunbridge.
The String Quartet
Why is a chamber ensemble of two violins, viola and cello the most popular in all of music? The string quartet has inspired - and instilled fear into - composers like no other ensemble, and has been used in pop songs from the Beatles to Bjork. Tom Service explores the string quartet, from Haydn's epic 68 works for the medium, to Beethoven's heroic and tortured late masterpieces, to Shostakovich's 15 soul-bearing 20th Century works. Tom's guests are composer Dobrinka Tabakova, who takes inspiration from the wealth of quartets written before her, and one of the best quartets in the business - the Brodsky Quartet who, besides the great classical cannon, have played with pop artists including Elvis Costello, Sting and Paul McCartney in their nearly 50-year existence.