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Mid-Century Modern Music on Air

Eames House

Monsanto House of the Future

David Garland, host and producer of the WNYC radio music show Spinning On Air, has produced a show that will be of particular interest to designers. He calls it part one of “a sort of quest to find the musical equivalent of mid-century modern design.” It airs this Sunday, April 17, at 8 pm on WNYC FM 93.9 yet is currently online for all to hear. I recently asked him to talk about this special show and the intersection of design and sound:

What prompted this show on mid-Century Modern music?

Several things prompted the show: I love the mid-century design aesthetic; the philosophies behind it; the encompassing, integrated way designers like Alvin Lustig and the Eamses tried to view the world; and the magical

Since there is a sound track for most eras. How do you define this postwar- through late sixties period?

The music of the postwar era was very varied. The era’s usually characterized by examples such as Elvis, doo-wop, Patti Page, and Lawrence Welk. But there were also John Cage and others radically deconstructing music; Cool and

Why was music so integral to the mid-Modern aesthetic?

The modern-ness of modern music in the mid 20th Century was pretty obvious. Things were getting radical in terms of parting from tradition, and new music could certainly provide a conducive soundtrack for new thoughts and perceptions.

Here’s the playlist for my Mid-Century Modern Music radio show:

John Cage – In a Landscape (1948); Stephen Drury, piano – In a Landscape: Piano Music of John Cage

George Russell – Knights Of The Steamtable (1956) – The Complete Bluebird Recordings

Jim Hall – Piece For Guitar And Strings – John Lewis Presents Jazz Abstractions (1961)

Jimmy Giuffre – The Sheepherder – The Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet (1956)

Miles Davis & Gil Evans – Blues For Pablo – Miles Ahead (1957)

Miles Davis – Max is Making Wax – performed on WNYC, February 18, 1950

Elmer Bernstein – House: after five years of living (1955) – Music for the Films of Charles & Ray Eames

Monsanto Plastic’s Home of the Future – Disneyland

Jim Henson and Raymond Scott – Limbo: The Organized Mind (1966) – Manhattan Research Inc.

Stan Kenton/Robert Graettinger – Modern Opus (1952) – City of Glass

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