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Brain MusicTime for a few aural calisthenics. We’ve gotten some great feedback from our audience in the past when we’ve posted about music, so it seemed fitting to bring this question to your ears. We’re still settling into our new name, Being, and as part of this evolution, we’re working with a composer to develop new theme music for the program.

We’ve gone through many iterations already and as we near the final theme, we thought it would be fun to hear from you. If you clicked on the player above, you probably recognized our existing theme. Below are three versions of the new theme we are working on. They are in slightly rough form as we’re still playing around with melodies and instrumentation. I’ve laid in Krista’s voice over portions of each since that is primarily how they will be heard. Turn up your headphones and let us know what you think.

Being Theme with Cello.
The first features a cello in the lead. Does this fit with the wide range of voices heard on our show? What if an acoustic guitar was the instrument out front? As you listen to this one, you’ll notice that the backing tracks like percussion and rhythm guitar are the same as the previous, but the instrument that carries the melody has changed.

Being Theme with Guitar.
Too folksy for you (or maybe not enough)? What if an electric guitar playing in a jazz style was featured? It’s a pretty similar melody to the acoustic version, but the tonality of the guitar gives it quite a different feel.

Being Theme with Electric Guitar.
Do you have a favorite? Does the instrumentation affect how you hear Krista’s voice? Or maybe you wish we would leave the theme alone? Curious to hear what you think.

Image courtesy of the Laboratory for Computational Neuroscience, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


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104 Comments

The first (Cello) piece seems to offer the widest and most nuanced embrace of the three. In other words, it is the best choice in my book since your show is such a panoramic conversation which is defined by a paradoxical, yet healthy, duality: "an intimacy that strives to encompass the universe" (to quote Jon Pareles writing in The New York Times in March 2009 about U2).

As a final aside, it is interesting to note that all three samples are with stringed instruments in the lead and I found myself wondering what a piano-lead version might sound like. Obviously you would need it to be very legato in places but a piano version could give you the option to create some interesting and quite meditative-like melodies that speak to a wide audience. The piano intro to Chet Baker's "Alone Together" as well as Chopin's Nocturnes (particularly as performed by Ivan Moravec) come to mind as examples of where you might begin when thinking about the possibilities of what a piano-lead theme might sound like.

Good luck!

Leif

Please go with the cello. The guitar makes it sound like everything else on public radio.

Hmm... I like the one with the cello best. And, listening to Krista, I find myself wishing you'd opted for "Meaning" instead of "Being" for the name of your new show = if you had to change it at all, of course. But that horse has left the barn... so -- cello.... more thoughtful, better feeling of contemplative pace, to my taste.

I also prefer the cello to the other two. In my opinion the cello is more in line with the level of conversation taking place. The two guitar-based themes seem more casual and, yes, folksy.

Cello is more inviting to me. Electric Guitar is a big no. It sends Being into the land of Echoes.

I'm a big fan of cello.

I really wanted to like the cello best, but ultimately liked the energy of the electric guitar and felt it best communicated the spirit of the new focus.

Cello, i suppose, if I must choose. But, truth be told, I don't find the music compelling. There is too much layering, too much complexity. A conversation needs to have open space for listening. The old theme was very minimal, and seemed to be a kind of opening friendly statement that invited a response. It seemed to ask a question. This new theme seems too self-assured and finished.

I enjoyed all of them very much, but to better qualify:

1st... Guitar (4 out of 4 stars) --- 2nd... Electric Guitar (3.5 stars) --- 3rd... Cello - (2 stars)

I like the cello theme!

I like the Guitar. Less jarring.

And since I listen to the show early on Sunday - before church - I don't like being "jarred".

Cello seems to reflect the energy of the show. I like all of them, but the cello seems more conducive to introspection and expansion.

The prefer the cello version. It seems to evoke the proper reflective feel of the conversation.

I'm not a fan of any. While Krista's voice projects a calm resonance, it is punctuated by near laughs and at times and audible wondering. The SoF conversations are measured and stimulating. Each of these three are far too relaxed to reflect this sensibility of wondering as well as joyous exploration with insights along the way. It needs percussion instruments.

Cello

I liked the cello best, then guitar. I thought that the electric guitar clashed against Kirsta's voice and distracted from her intro message.

I'm sorry, I don't care for any of them. Each of your new music choices sound like they have no form, no structure, nothing of real substance.....a little like the new title of your program "Being." I've always enjoyed the substance and varied conversations of "Speaking of Faith".... I wish you had gathered input on the name change.
Worrying about the intro music and asking everyone to kind of vote is really silly.
Good luck!

Cello is the best.

Cello

the cello is the best out of the bunch. I'm not jazzed by any of them.

hello, i love the name change. so often i've wanted to pass along a particularly meaningful piece or thought from your show to friends, only to be deterred by their response to the name of your show. 'faith' has been so usurped by certain ideologies to mean one definition of the word.
though of all the versions, i'd have to say i prefer the old theme :), i definitely prefer the cello lead in the new theme. there's a depth to it i miss in the other versions.

Cello always tends towards the ethereal...So sorry to hear of the name change..."Being" is just too broad, too ubiquitous, too lost in space.

The cello tends to sound more ethereal. So sorry to hear of the name change... "Being" sounds so ubiquitous, so nebulous, so lost in space.

Cello gets my vote

Cello, but the percussion is perhaps too bright/snappy with it. What about a tabla, since it already sounds silk road-ish?

Cello please...keep rockin Krista.

The cello has the more rich and resonant voice which I resume is what you are looking for in the show. It is definitely the better voice of the two types of sound. The guitars both have a thin quality that is annoying to listen to after a few seconds. It is jarring in contrast with Krista's voice. As to backdrop music, I echo the comment made earlier that it seems to lack coherence which would not be consistent with what I think you are looking for with the show. While I am sad about the name change of the show, I am grudgingly willing to trust the creator's vision for it.

the sound and text do not fit together well, regardless of the instrument sampled here. I do like the tonal quality of the guitar-it suggests brightness and curiosity. I think the cello is sad.

The cello piece is lovely. I wish some of the percussion of the original theme could be saved instead of the one underlying the strings, and maybe some woodwind to expand the sound?

I am a guitar player, but I like the cello best here. The cello has a deeper, broader tonality appropriate to the show. The backing tracks feel noisy rather than supportive of the conversation. If the cello's melody is thought of as one voice in the conversation, the backing tracks don't sound like they are in conversation. I have played in many venues, and it feels like the cello is more of the performer playing in a lounge while others are talking and drinking, rather than the cello as an integral voice in an arrangement with other musical voices, or as an instrument taking a turn in a suite or a recital. I don't think the music is strong or focused enough. It does not feel like thoughtful reflection.
As for the name, I think it is a step sideways but not a helpful step forward. The idea of "Being" is so ambiguous in the public arena today. It might have been catchier to call it "Speaking of Ontology" if you want to suggest a not-so-specifically-religious direction. At least "Ontology" (like Faith) might get people to ask questions. "Being" is not provocative enough in a world where people do not think in terms of categories like ontology and metaphysics. "Being" feels bland.
I LOVE Krista's work and "On Being" doesn't seem worthy of her distinctive and excellent work.

I like cello of the 3 the best, then electric guitar

I prefer the guitar, What really needed to change was the piano sequence that accompanied the initial introduction to the shows subject for the week. I always found that jarring.

My vote is most definitely for the Cello version.

The cello is best of the three, although it didn't really hit me. I really don't like the guitar options (not that they aren't good but I don't like them for this show), because they sound too American in a way that I think the show isn't. The broader reach of "Being" is lost with a sound that is so regional, not as whole world inclusive. I love change, so I don't think the current theme is the best and can never be topped, but I don't feel like any of these three really hit the spot.

I vote for the cello version.

I listen to SOF on the iPod because our local station does not broadcast it. So the music is very important to me because it is harder to ignore. This music is too bland - it needs a little sparkle or energy, like the show, understated and significant at the same time. Usually I would prefer the cello, but I think that electric guitar gave a little of the sparkle, so I prefer that one.

Cello, cello, cello - definitely. Not even a close second. The guitars just are too intrusive - to the voice, to the thought and to the suggestion that we are entering a program where it matters that you spend some thing really thinking - not just listening. I usually love guitars and was really looking forward to hearing them, but I must admit that I didn't even want to listen to the entire cut -- I vote for the cello version!

Liked Electric Guitar best of the three. Would prefer something lighter - along the lines of Simple Gifts. Speaking of which....name change is a big disappointment. Very new-agey, and loses sight of what has been central to the show - Faith - doh!

All three are beautiful but my personal preference is the cello version. Any chance that you might be able to rotate through them periodically? Great work!

Just an aside. I "discovered" SOF on itunes because of the name and I am so glad that I did. I would never have considered exploring a podcast titled "Being."

I like the texture and timbre of the cello best -- it has a more 'vocal' quality than either of the two guitar sequences.

The accoustic guitar. The cello version is too sleepy and the electric guitar comes to the front too much. The accoustic has a nice modern feel without competing with Krista's voice.

The cello is smooth, lilting and less staccato than the other options, which sounds to me like a second voice in the music. It evoked a little more emotion from me than either of the guitars.

In order of preference;
Cello
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar

If you have to change your music (and I've already told you I wish you wouldn't), my vote is for the cello.

These all seem bland compared to the old theme. I don't care for any of them. The existing theme is as distinctive as the old name. Since you are seeking the level of pablum with the new name, why not with the theme as well?

While I like the old theme much more, if the team is set on a new theme to accompany the name change, I think the cello is by far and away the best choice.

I much prefer the Cello to the other two.

I must say, I have no problem at all for the name change - while I felt Speaking of Faith was appropriate, it was also a barrier to entry for some people. And frankly, as long as the content and interviews continue to be amazing, I hardly care what it's called, and I have faith that the team will continue to craft amazing, inspiring work. The world evolves; I can embrace this change.

(Also, I won't be sad to lose the old theme - I never minded it, but certainly didn't love it. I did really like the quiet but driving piano riff that went under the show introductions, so I'd love to hear that continue, but if not... life goes on.)

Of the three, I prefer the cello, though the tune is not very inspiring. Did you try other instrumentation -- piano? clarinet? Whatever the choice, I want to focus on what Christa is saying. I wish you had asked earlier about the name change before making the decision. I loved the richness and complexity of "Speaking of Faith"; the manifold layers of meaning in the title mirrored the complexity and richness of the show. "Being" is neither rich nor layered, merely ambiguous; it would never draw me to try the show.

I've listened to each sample a few times now. To my way of listening, the cello version seems most inviting...the best complement of the three to Krista's voice-over, I feel. (And I'm a guitarist.) The original SOF theme seemed fine, yet this seems a reasonable change--some new aural wallpaper, perhaps? I do hope the tweaking continues a bit more; the appoggiaturas in the cello seemed a bit trite, cutesy in relation to the rest of the musical expression, to my ears. There's my two cents worth. Thanks for inviting us in to the woodshed on this one.

My 9 year old son and I agree: old theme more interesting! I don't care for any of the new themes. And I'm not just being nostalgic. The xylophone is fresh yet timeless, nuanced, allows for multiple interpretations. The three others just don't do that.

Re: the title, I understand some folks are put off by the word "Faith". Oh well. Hope Being draws them in, bc it's a GREAT show and will certainly help benefit humanity.

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