From shortbread tins to the Royal Mile, rugby games and highland weddings, the bagpipes have long been a symbol of Scottish identity: but where did they come from, what are they for, and who writes their music? With pipers Simon McKerrell and Brighde Chaimbeul Tom Service explores their history against the backdrop of global piping traditions from Sweden to Macedonia, Spain and Hungary. What's the difference between the ceol mhor and the ceol beag? Are modern pipes more likely to be made from goat or gore-tex? And how did they make their way into everything from ACDC to Eminem, and Berlioz to Bach? Tom is on the case...
How to compose music
So you want to write a piece of music? Where do you start? And then how do you carry on? How much music theory do you need to know? Or can you get away with knowing very little about music?
Tom Service offers encouragement with the help of composers Brian Irvine and Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
The Real Red Priest
Can we get beyond The Four Seasons? Was he really a priest? Did he write the same concerto several hundred times? Antonio Vivaldi wrote arguably the most famous piece of classical music of all time but his reputation has suffered as a result. Some accuse him of churning out the same concerto multiple times at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice where he taught music and performed alongside orchestras and choirs of female musicians, much to the titillation of travelling tourists of the day.
With the help of violinist Hugo Ticciati (who performs Vivaldi's works alongside those of rock band Metallica), and Vivaldi expert Susan Orlando Tom explores the joyfully physical realm of The Red Priest's music, how Vivaldi's music can teach us to listen in a whole new way and why Vivaldi's operas will soon be making a comeback.
Turn up the volume, dial up the drama
From loud to soft, even louder and even softer, dynamics are crucial to the dramatic effect of music.
Tom Service discovers just how loud and soft classical music can be, and pop music that is louder still. Is it all about loudness or are the quiet moments more evocative?
With the Royal College of Music’s Head of Composition, William Mival and BBC Sound engineer Matilda Macari gives an insight into just how loud the music that we're hearing through our radios is.
Produced by Calantha Bonnissent.
The Simple Truth
Isaac Newton's 'Truth is ever to be found in simplicity...' has often been echoed in music by many of the great composers down the ages. But during the 20th and 21st centuries, akin to movements in the visual arts, some composers have pared down their music to a few seemingly basic elements. But how difficult is it to achieve meaningful musical simplicity and what's the difference between that and mind-numbingly banal simple-is-as-simple-does?
With the help of composer Howard Skempton and Tate Modern curator Emma Lewis, Tom Service discovers the hard and often complex truths about simplicity.
David Papp (producer)