A Minute with Miles

How did the piano get its name? Why can’t you “reach” a crescendo? Who invented opera—and why—and how do you pronounce “Handel”? These and countless other classical music questions are answered on South Carolina Public Radio’s A Minute with Miles.

Hosted by longtime NPR commentator Miles Hoffman, the segments inform and entertain as they provide illuminating 60-second flights through the world of classical music. (Photo: Mary Noble Ours)

PHOTO CREDITS: 123rf.com (purchased) and Pixabay.com

The Glockenspiel  | A Minute with Miles
The Glockenspiel | A Minute with Miles

Audio

When a percussionist says, “I’m playing bells in this piece,” he means he’s playing the glockenspiel. Glocke is the German word for bell, and Glockenspiel literally means “bell-play.” The modern...
The Double Bass | A Minute with Miles
The Double Bass | A Minute with Miles

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The double bass is the one member of the modern violin family whose roots are in the viola da gamba, or viol family. The next time you see a double bass, notice that its back is flat, like a viol’s...
The Trumpet  | A Minute with Miles
The Trumpet | A Minute with Miles

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The Trumpet is the highest pitched and most brilliant member of the brass family. Miles Hoffman discusses the history of the trumpet.
The Waltz | A Minute with Miles
The Waltz | A Minute with Miles

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When the dance known as the waltz first became popular in Europe in the late 1700's and early 1800's, it was considered by many to be the ultimate in lewdness and licentiousness.
The Harp  | A Minute with Miles
The Harp | A Minute with Miles

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Here's a little secret: harpist don't use their pinkies even though they have 47 strings to play. In today's episode, Miles Hoffman describes how the Harp is played.
Vibrato, Part 2  | A Minute with Miles
Vibrato, Part 2 | A Minute with Miles

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Yesterday I talked about vibrato, the technique that string players use—rocking the fingers of their left hands back and forth to create small oscillations in pitch that result in a warmer, more...
Violin Family I | A Minute with Miles
Violin Family I | A Minute with Miles

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Have you ever wondered how the violin came to play such an important role in the history of classical music? Well, it starts with singing. The invention of opera, in late 16th century Florence, marks...
Vibrato, Part 1  | A Minute with Miles
Vibrato, Part 1 | A Minute with Miles

Audio

When violinists play, their left hands always seem to shake. But it’s not because they’re nervous. Violinists, violists, cellists, and double bass players all use a technique called vibrato.
Vibrato, Part 3   | A Minute with Miles
Vibrato, Part 3 | A Minute with Miles

Audio

I’ve been talking this week about vibrato, the vibrato that string players use to warm up their sounds, and the vocal vibrato that’s the natural product of healthy singing. All vibrato consists of...
The Development of the Piano | A Minute with Miles
The Development of the Piano | A Minute with Miles

Audio

The harpsichord, the keyboard workhorse of the Baroque period, is an instrument with a problem: varying the touch on the keys has absolutely no effect on volume or tone quality. Depress a key gently...