Stringing something together

Stuart Buchanan
4 min readNov 29, 2023

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” — Plato

I imagine that Plato dropped a sick beat right after spitting those bars.

Of all the things that humans have created during our fleeting time on this planet, perhaps one of the most positive, and most unique among life on Earth, is music. It’s one of the truly universal languages we speak, despite — or maybe because of — its extraordinary scope.

There are many ways that music is composed, but at a basic level, it’s made up of individual notes. You can combine certain notes and play them together, to get a richer, harmonic sound. This is how chords work.

I’ve played guitar — not very well, but at least enthusiastically — for most of my life, and it was the idea of six notes, strung together to make a pleasing harmony, that inspired the name behind a new music podcast I have launched.

Yes, it’s finally happened — as a thirtysomething white man, I am almost obligated at this point to start a podcast. It was certainly predictable, if not entirely inevitable. With fond memories of campus radio days, getting behind the mic is something I’ve missed. The final push to actually make this happen has come from discovering some really good podcasts on Spotify — so, to set the tone, let me talk about my inspirations:

60 Songs That Explain The 90s

A masterclass in music journalism. Rob Harvila sticks to a deftly-written script for half his show, then chats to a guest for the second half, about one song per episode, which then plays at the end. You will never listen to the songs covered here in the same way again. Probably my favourite podcast ever.

Bandsplain

Yasi Salek is also an experienced music journalist, but graciously brings on fans of different artists every episode to explain in their own words what they love about them, to walk us through their favourite songs (which are peppered throughout the episode) and provide some background for those who maybe don’t quite know where to start. Great whether you are learning about an unfamiliar band, or getting a new take on a fave.

Dissect

The music nerd’s music nerdery. Cole Cuchner is forensic is his dissection of music, focusing on a different album every season, but you’re guaranteed to learn more here than anywhere else about the songs covered — and you’ll learn to listen to music with a deeper appreciation, too.

TuneDig

Two friends listening to an album together and talking about it. Cliff and Kyle are not afraid to explore the rabbit holes that listening to one song can lead you down, and it makes the understanding of it all the more richer for doing so. They know their stuff, but they aren’t claiming to be the authority on anything — instead, they encourage you to make your own subjective, human interpretation. That’s always what has made music so important, and they’re here to celebrate that.

Other honourable mentions

So there we go — if it wasn’t for these excellent examples above, I would’ve never taken the leap to start my own music-based podcast. I can only hope mine can also be considered alongside these one day.

Introducing Strung Together

So here’s the concept: in each episode, I will string together a collection of six songs that are all connected by a common theme. That theme changes every episode. I’ll talk a little bit about each song as we go, and how it fits the theme. That’s it, really. Nothing ground-breaking, but something that I hope you’ll find enjoyable, easy to listen to, and perhaps even informative.

How to listen

Following the example of the shows listed above, this podcast is available exclusively on Spotify. This is because it is a combination of talky bits and actual music streams. This will happen automatically once you start playing an episode — so you can just hit play, sit back, relax, and the app will switch back and forth for you. It does mean you need a Spotify account, although I don’t think you need a paid subscription to access it. However, for the best possible experience, you don’t want ads or any weird issues blocking the songs from playing, so a paid-for subscription is recommended. ̶O̶r̶ ̶d̶o̶ ̶p̶i̶r̶a̶c̶y̶.

What to expect

I’ve been sitting on this project for about a year now. To use a series of music metaphors, I wanted to find my groove first, and get into a bit of a rhythm, before sharing it with the world. But I’m ready for people to hear it, and to hear what you think. So far it’s just been my song choices, but the more input the merrier! Themes, song suggestions and feature ideas are welcome. For now, join me as we discover:

  • which 17th century classical composer made it to the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997
  • what connects The Beatles to Sisqo’s Thong Song
  • which South African musician Jack Black’s parents used to line-dance to
  • why Psycho Killer by Talking Heads features French and not Japanese
  • what Nat King Cole sounds like singing in German
  • how Nile Rodgers unintentionally invented hip hop
  • why one obscure song from 1969 has been sampled 6000 times
  • what it sounds like when Vampire Weekend sings Beyonce
  • why nobody knew who actually wrote Wonderwall for a while
  • and a whole lot more…

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