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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

Town Hall’s Arts & Culture series elevates the voices of local artists while bringing world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. The series celebrates music, photography, sculpture, philosophy, heritage, and traditions around the world that enrich our lives.

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Love Town Hall? Become an insider! In The Moment with Jini Palmer offers a slice of Town Hall culture and puts you in the room for exclusive behind-the-scenes conversations. Listen in as a rotating cast of prominent local voices, along with Chief Correspondent Steve Scher, get to know upcoming speakers before they visit our stages. Get an insider perspective you won’t find anywhere else—a bi-weekly snapshot of all things Town Hall.


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Jan 28, 2020

Pop music surrounds us—in our cars, over supermarket speakers, even when we are laid out at the dentist—but how often do we really hear what’s playing? Musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding brought us a masterclass in pop music, illuminating the essential musical concepts behind two decades of chart-topping songs. With insight from their book Switched on Pop, based on their eponymous podcast, Sloan and Harding gave us the tools we need to interpret our modern soundtrack. They revealed musical insights such as how a single melodic motif follows Taylor Swift through every genre that she samples, André 3000 uses metric manipulation to get listeners to “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” or Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee create harmonic ambiguity in “Despacito” that mirrors the patterns of global migration. Join Sloan and Harding and learn to engage with the timeless concepts within the music of today, and start listening to familiar tracks in new ways.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle. Recorded live in The Forum on January 21, 2020.