Themes and Variation

Soundfly

Themes and Variation is Soundfly’s podcast about music and perspectives. In each episode, expert musicians and avid music lovers draw on their professional experiences and personal backgrounds to share unique insights and passionate opinions about songs they’ve selected based on their interpretations of a given theme. Of course, whether the panel’s discussing epic songs, songs that use the same sample, or classic wedding band requests, this is a show for anyone who loves music and has a desire to dig into it.

All Episodes

The term "one-hit wonder" evokes a certain notion of failure. It implies that the artists that get slapped with that label could never follow up the song that made them global sensations. The truth is, getting even just a single hit is a monumental achievement, and these hits were so big that they took on a life of their own.For the latest episode of T&V, Carter and Mahea sat down with songwriter/vocalist Lina Farah (aka Naheli) to dissect some of these songs turned phenomena. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Intro to Music Production in Ableton Live,  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs you love that use found sounds! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Dec 1

55 min 58 sec

Whether you consider yourself a morning person or not, the first thing you listen to can sometimes set the tone for the rest of your day. So what kind of song do you prefer to wake up to — something with a strong backbeat to shake you from your slumber or a tune with a gentle build to ease the way between dreams and reality?For the latest episode of Themes and Variation, Mahea and Carter sat down with Sarah Galdes, an incredible drummer and musical artist to discuss some songs that are perfect ways to start the day.Check out all of our courses including Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats here.Subscribe to all of Soundfly's premium course content here.Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs you wake up to! Add them to the community playlist for this episode. You can find the examples discussed in the episode there too.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Nov 17

50 min 13 sec

The concept of “groove” can be hard to pin down. That single word alludes to the rhythmic character of a composition, the feeling with which performers play their parts, and a certain ineffable something that catches the ear and sinks right into a listener’s core. Creating something that sits right in the pocket requires both swagger and comprehension.For the latest episode of Themes and Variation, Mahea and Carter sat down with the ever estimable drummer and producer, Efa Etoroma, Jr. to try to define the indefinable. Our conversation about runs the gamut of all things groove — from legendary virtuosity to beats that just feel good, this one's all about "Songs That Groove."Check out all of our courses including Beat Making in Ableton Live, here.Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats drops 11/10 at soundfly.comSubscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code EARLYBIRD20 before 11/9 to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite songs that groove! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Nov 3

47 min 19 sec

While we may not believe anyone should truly be ashamed of their taste in music, most of us have been in a situation where we felt the need to explain why a particular song was part of our music collection. Call it shame or guilty pleasure, but there are tracks we quietly enjoy, while convincing ourselves they're outliers that say nothing about who we are as listeners.Sometimes, that stems from a fear of what our peers might think. Sometimes, it has more to do with an internal voice that says we "should know better" than to like that song. Sometimes, it comes from the realization that our response to a certain song or style reveals something about ourselves that makes us uncomfortable.In the latest episode of the T&V, Mahea and Carter sat down with composer, producer, and Soundfly Mentor, Lavender Looi to discuss "Songs I'm Embarrassed to Admit I Love."Check out all of our courses including The Music of Boy Bands, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite boy band hits! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Oct 20

41 min 51 sec

As an art form, jazz can be passionate or mesmerizing, spontaneous or calculated, inviting or intimidating. It's a unique genre of music, in that it is somehow perceived to be both inclusive and exclusive. For some, it is little more than the soundtrack of their holiday shopping trips, but for others, it's something powerful that relentlessly beckons to their very souls.In the latest episode of our podcast, we sat down with Peter Martin, a phenomenal pianist, podcast host, and music educator to discuss "Gateway Jazz Songs."Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, & Production here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs that made you want to study music! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Oct 6

48 min 34 sec

There are certain songs we recognize almost instantly. Sometimes it's because of a particular lick in the intro. Then again, it could be the use of an incredibly unique sound or instrument. And, of course, there are some songs that quickly ring a bell because of our personal connections to them.For the most recent episode of our podcast, Mahea and Carter sat down with Brian Funk (musician, educator, and podcast host) to discuss "Songs You Can Recognize in the First Five Seconds." We also explored some of the reasons the first few bars of each of our selections left such major imprints on our minds.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs that made you practice! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!Check out these awesome links from Brian:Website: https://brianfunk.comAbleton Live Packs: https://brianfunk.com/packsFree Ableton Live Packs: https://brianfunk.com/free-ableton-live-packsMusic Production Podcast: https://brianfunk.com/podcast

Sep 22

53 min 35 sec

Some of the best moments in music are the ones that defy expectations, breaking from conventional "rules" in pursuit of something unique or unpredictable. These are often the instances that catch our ears, leaving us wondering what just happened and how those artists got away with something you just don't do.That irregular something can be an abnormal chord progression, an unanticipated instrument choice, or a way of using an effect with little or no precedent. Of course, the quest to break free from mediocrity and presumption can sometimes result in work that is somewhat polarizing, but there's a lot to admire about an artist, writer, or producer who took that chance.For this episode, we sat down with favorite-of-the-show, Martin Fowler and the astounding artist, Lora-Faye Åshuvud (of Arthur Moon) to celebrate some tracks that take risks and color outside the lines.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, & Production here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs that made you want to study music! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Sep 8

47 min 56 sec

There are so many ways to "study music." You can do it by sitting down to practice your instrument, enrolling in a course online or in-person, or even breaking down a piece that you love in the context of a podcast you just so happen to host.For our first-ever livestreamed taping, Mahea and Carter sat down with author, educator, and doctoral fellow, Ethan Hein to discuss "Songs That Made Me Want to Study Music."In the episode, we talk about how great instrumentalists know how and when to play supporting roles, what discovering music was like in a world before the internet, how the world's highest earning musician made my co-host who she is today, and so much more.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.Check out Ethan's new book Electronic Music School: A Contemporary Approach to Teaching Musical Creativity here!We want to hear the songs that made you want to study music! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Aug 25

41 min 58 sec

Most music can heighten moods and toy with feelings, but what does it take for a song to truly send a listener on an emotional journey?Does it have to do with the instrumentation? What about the form, or the harmony? Does said journey need to feel like a rollercoaster of ups and downs, or can it be more subtle than that?To answer these questions, Carter sat down with his frequent podcast companion, Mahea Lee, as well as songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Max Swan. They discussed music by Simon Dawes, Armando Young, Laura Marling, and more in our quest to better understand "Songs That Are an Emotional Journey."Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including RJD2: From Samples to Songs, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite sample fodder songs! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Aug 11

54 min 40 sec

So what does it mean to do something truly amazing with a snippet of sound you've pulled from an existing song? And why have certain songs been sampled so many times? We dig into these questions and more in the latest episode of Themes and Variation, "Sample Fodder Songs."For the 25th episode of the show, Carter sat down with one of the greatest musical minds around, legendary composer and producer, Ramble Jon Krohn (who you may know under the moniker "RJD2") and his exceptionally talented and knowledgeable colleague, Martin Fowler (whose voice you may recognize from the episodes "Songs From The First Album I Ever Bought" and "Boy Band Songs").Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including the RJD2: From Samples to Songs, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite sample fodder songs! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Jul 28

1 hr 4 min

Have you ever found yourself singing along to a hit song at the top of your lungs, thinking "that can't be the line, can it?" It's a pretty common experience — one that typically ends with a shrug of the shoulders as you take in a deep breath in preparation for the next verse.If the melody's good and the groove is solid, somewhere between our thoughts of Sue Lawley and Jason Waterfalls, we just accept that Gene Simmons may have wanted to "rock and roll all night and part of every day," while longing for the kind of affection Elton John apparently felt for "Tony Danza."In the newest episode of Themes and Variation, Mahea and I sat down with Joseph Capalbo (composer, producer, and Soundfly Mentor) to discuss "Songs With Commonly Misheard Lyrics."Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including the The New Songwriter's Workshop, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite songs with misheard lyrics! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.Links related to "Louie Louie:"FBI song investigation recordsSmithsonian article

Jul 14

42 min 40 sec

What comes to mind when you hear the words "video game music?" Is it a vibrant series of retro-sounding bloops and bleeps a la our favorite princess-saving plumber, or a rich, orchestral landscape that might accompany an assassin exploring an open world?Making music for video games presents an interesting challenge. The composer must create something that fits a narrative as well as an aesthetic, in addition to providing a soundtrack that will keep the player motivated to work toward each target.In the latest episode of Themes and Variation, I'm joined by two brilliant minds from the world of video game music: Chase Bethea (composer) and Zac Zinger (composer, arranger, performer).Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including the Chiptune Crash Course series, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Jun 30

50 min 2 sec

There are certain songs that seem perfectly suited for stormy skies and drizzly days. In some cases, this can be attributed to sentimental lyrics, while in others, it's more about an incessant rhythmic figure or the presence of an instrument with a particularly delicate sound. Whatever the reason, it's as though you simply have to sit back and hit play to feel the raindrops dance across your skin.In the latest episode of our podcast Themes and Variation, Carter is joined by my frequent co-host, Mahea Lee and songwriter/producer/educator, Euan Gray. This time around, we're discussing "Rainy Day Songs."Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite rainy day songs! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Jun 16

40 min 45 sec

In celebration of our new course, The Music of Boy Bands, we dedicated an entire episode of the podcast to some of music history’s favorite heartthrobs. After all, despite the inarguable commercial success of groups like *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, boy band music has rarely been given the academic and analytical attention we feel it deserves.In addition to Mahea Lee (Carter's frequent co-host and the guiding voice of The Music of Boy Bands), he was joined by estimable producer, composer, and fellow bassist, Martin Fowler — returning to the show for the first time since he appeared in our inaugural episode.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Music of Boy Bands, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite boy band hits! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

Jun 2

46 min 3 sec

The one where Carter shares some exciting news...Check out all of our courses including Modern Pop Vocal Production here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

May 26

1 min 48 sec

It's our 20th episode! And to celebrate, we're taking a deep dive into three very fun, very playful, Whimsical Songs.Joining Carter on this episode filled with whimsy are his frequent podcast co-pilot Mahea Lee, and Soundfly Founder/CEO, Ian Temple. The three of them discuss the seriousness of Hall and Oates, the DIY mastery of the band Vulfpeck, and much more! Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Unlocking The Emotional Power Of Chords, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs that you find whimsical! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.

May 12

54 min 23 sec

This week’s of Themes and Variation is full of intrigue, excitement, and unanswered questions. What else would you expect from a theme like “Mysterious Songs?”For this one, Carter was joined by his co-producer and frequent co-host, Mahea Lee (composer, arranger, music educator) and one of our favorite people on the face of the planet, the inimitably wonderful trumpet player, singer, and songwriter, Rhys Tivey. Together we discussed the music and mystery of a timeless jazz ballad, a transcendent indie rock song, and a track responsible for countless internet conspiracies. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs you find mysterious! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? Drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com or reach out on Twitter.Mysterious resources and links we mentioned during the episode:r/TheMysteriousSongPart 1 of Justin Whang's YouTube series on the Most Mysterious Song on the InternetCover versions featured in the medley:Tomi MalinenMike Millspois alt homoMegaraptorW&N Covers

Apr 28

53 min 8 sec

Music can affect us in so many interesting ways. It can toy with our perception of time when someone on the other end of a phone line puts us on hold. It can motivate us to keep up the pace and push through the last leg of an early morning run. It can even say everything we’ve been failing to articulate, providing something that makes sense in the midst of a mind boggling year.In the newest episode of Themes and Variation,  Carter is joined by two marvelous members of the Soundfly community, Carrie Herbert (composer, doctoral candidate, singer/songwriter) and returning guest Sırma Munyar (artist, producer, course instructor) to discuss the theme “Songs That Got Us Through the Last Year.”Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Modern Pop Vocal Production, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear about the songs that got you through the last year! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Apr 14

56 min 21 sec

J Dilla (aka James Dewitt Yancey) was, without a doubt, one of the most creative and influential musicians of his or really, any era of music. He was a true producer, possessing not only the technical skills required to make incredible music, but also the taste and artistry needed to create the kind of work that will forever be imitated, but never replicated.In the latest episode of Themes and Variation, Carter is joined by returning guests Julian “JSWISS” Caldwell and Charles Burchell, who you may recognize from last year’s “Songs That Use the Same Sample,” The Art of Hip-Hop Production, or their own incredible musical projects.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Art of Hip-Hop Production, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear your favorite Dilla songs. Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Mar 31

54 min 19 sec

Vocals are often the component of a song listeners most naturally seek out, sometimes without even realizing we’re doing it. It’s as though our instinctive connection with the sound of another human helps it cut through all the other noise — so much so that we expect the voice to be a focal point.How is it then, that some tracks manage to surprise, delight, and move us through the inspired ways they use and treat their vocals?In this episode of Themes and Variation, Mahea and I are joined by the extraordinary singer, songwriter, producer, and exceptional artist, Kimbra, to discuss “Songs Dominated by Vocals.”Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear your favorite songs dominated by vocals! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Mar 17

57 min 22 sec

Cleverness can be demonstrated through the use of acrobatic word play, or through the specific ways someone might pair music and lyrics. We see it at work in the profound musings of writers who are introspective and empathetic.In the newest episode of Themes and Variation, the panelists discuss songs they feel exemplify the word “clever.” In addition to my colleague and frequent co-host, Mahea Lee, I’m joined by Chris Lindsey, a Grammy-Nominated songwriter and extremely insightful individual who hosts the Pitch List podcast.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Intro to Music Production in Ableton Live,  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs you think are incredibly clever! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Mar 3

48 min 7 sec

Whether you’re familiar with the term “found sound” or not, it refers to a concept you’ve almost definitely had some experience with during your music listening lifetime, possibly in one of these tracks!In the latest episode of Themes and Variation, Carter and Mahea are joined by Soundfly Mentor and incredible producer, Sam Friedman. The panel breaks down three of their favorite found sound-laden tracks for a truly immersive listening experience. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Intro to Music Production in Ableton Live,  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs you love that use found sounds! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Feb 17

54 min 43 sec

Music can fill so many important and unique roles in society. It can provide entertainment or emotional catharsis. It can help us preserve history or keep up with the times. It can be a means of self-expression or a way to unite strangers around the issues that matter most.In the newest episode of Themes and Variation, the panel contemplates “Songs to Inspire Change.” For this one, I was joined by two talented artists and profound individuals: Speech Thomas and Keenan the First. We discussed some crucial subjects in this episode, making it perhaps the most important one we’ve released yet.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.We want to hear the songs that you feel inspire change! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!Check out Speech's film, 16 Bars here!

Feb 3

1 hr 8 min

It's time to hit the woodshed!On the latest episode of Themes and Variation, Carter and Mahea are joined by their good friend Ian Barnett to break down some tracks that made them want to get better.Ian is the touring drummer for both Betty Who and Marlon Craft and he makes his own music under the name Mallow. He is also a Soundfly Mentor, so if you'd like to learn to produce like he does, drop us a line.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs that made you practice! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!Check out these resources on the incredible genre known as Footwork:https://pitchfork.com/features/starter/9444-footwork/https://www.passionweiss.com/2016/06/21/i-still-have-so-much-to-learn-and-digest-an-interview-with-cakedog/https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/footwork-music-guide-and-historyChicago's Footwork Music And Dance Get A Transatlantic Lifthttps://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jun/30/fancy-footwork-how-chicagos-juke-scene-found-its-feet-again

Jan 20

48 min 53 sec

New year, new themes!We've got a special one for our first episode of 2021. On this episode of T&V, Carter and Mahea tackle Songs Defined By Their Solos.And they have the perfect guest for this deep dive into some incredible solos and the songs they defined in Kirk Hamilton. Kirk is a writer, musician, and the host of one of our all time favorite music podcasts, Strong Songs. Be sure to check out his podcast as he's probably uncovered something even you didn't know about your favorite song.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs you feel are defined by their solos! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Jan 6

53 min 14 sec

It’s here again: That time of year when the charm and nostalgia of our favorite holiday songs have just about worn off even though the lights are still twinkling brightly and at least a few gifts have yet to be wrapped. It’s hard to appreciate the comfortable familiarity of a wintry carol when it’s been worming its way into your ears for weeks.Fortunately,  we've got an episode to shake you out of the musical monotony of the holiday season.This time around, our panel includes the ever-astute and equally entertaining, Zoe Young, as well as my colleague and collaborator in both business and married life, Mahea Lee. Together, we attempt to make sense of three incredibly… Unexpected Holiday Tracks.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Songwriting for Producers  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear your favorite unexpected holiday songs! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Dec 2020

50 min 24 sec

What kind of music did your parents listen to when you were growing up? Did they listen to yacht rock classics? What about something a little more uplifting? Or maybe they listened to... the most popular band of all time.In this episode, our panel dusts off some heirloom LPs and takes a deep dive into their parent’s record collections to uncover some gems that have impacted their own musical tastes. And today, I’m joined by producer, songwriter, keyboardist and good buddy, Hughie Stone Fish. Hughie is an incredible talent that you may know from his own music and his work as 1/3 of the comedy supergroup Lewberger!Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The New Songwriter's Workshop  here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear your favorite songs from a parent's record collection! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Dec 2020

46 min

Is it necessary for elements of its composition to defy musical convention? Should it incorporate ideas and technologies in ways listeners are unlikely to expect? Could it instead be largely a musical symbol of artistic independence and creative empowerment? In the latest episode of our podcast, “Themes and Variation,” our three-person panel discusses some examples of how Taylor Swift, T-Pain, and Radiohead have contributed to the world of pop music. For this episode, I was joined by Switched on Pop’s Charlie Harding, a musician and music lover who has an astounding grasp on the ins and outs of popular songs and songwriting (he quite literally wrote the book on it not too long ago), as well as my co-producer and frequent episode companion, the ever-insightful, Mahea Lee.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Modern Pop Vocal Production here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear which songs you feel changed pop! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Nov 2020

51 min 28 sec

In the latest episode of Themes and Variation, our three-person panel discusses a trio of songs that feature vocal performances deemed “memorable” for a variety of reasons.For this conversation, Carter sits down with the astoundingly talented and highly accomplished artist, Sırma Munyar (vocalist, songwriter, Soundfly Mentor) and his frequent podcast companion, Mahea Lee (composer, arranger, educator).They talk about groundbreaking artists, arguably the most incredible vocal arranger of all time, an interesting treatment of the human voice, and so much more. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Modern Pop Vocal Production here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs you feel feature memorable vocal performances! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Nov 2020

44 min 13 sec

We decided this year somehow wasn't quite scary enough. This spooktacular episode is sure to be spine-tingling and chill-inducing, just in time for Halloween!Joining Carter for this deep dive into some spooky tracks are his frequent co-host Mahea Lee and their friend, Actor/Producer/Musician, Ari Stidham. You may know Ari from his work as Sylvester on the CBS series "Scorpion" or from the music he releases as Dr. Television.  They dive deep into three terrifying tracks and even decide on which Halloween treat best accompanies each song. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs that give you the chills! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Oct 2020

51 min 54 sec

What makes a great cover song? Is it playing every note as close to the original as possible? Or does a great cover require a reimagining of the source material? Whatever your feeling is, this episode will dig deep into some of our favorite covers and unearth what makes a great cover so special.In this episode, Carter sits down with frequent co-host and co-producer Mahea Lee and their co-worker and Flypaper editor-in-chief, Jeremy Young to listen to and break down some of their favorite covers!Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear your favorite cover songs! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Oct 2020

52 min 28 sec

What songs come to mind when you think of iconic or memorable synth sounds? Do you think of massive dance hits? What about reverb-drenched dream pop? Maybe something edgier?In this episode, Carter sits down with Neara Russell and John Hull, two incredible musicians and experts in the world of synths and music synthesis. Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Art of Hip-Hop Production, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs you feel feature the most iconic synth sounds! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Sep 2020

53 min 44 sec

What comes to mind when you think of an epic song? Is it virtuosic guitar shredding? Ear-piercing vocal performances? Maybe it's simply the sheer length of the track that invokes a certain epic quality. Whatever your criteria, we've got you covered with this episode.For this episode, Soundfly team member Carter Lee is joined by Soundfly's CEO and Founder, Ian Temple, as well as Soundfly's VP of Curriculum/Composer, Mahea Lee. We dive into everything from what might be the first effective use of a vocoder, to how using masterful orchestration can stretch a single melody to the brink. We also learn a lot about each other and our tastes in music, oh boy...Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Art of Hip-Hop Production, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear the songs you consider epic! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Sep 2020

43 min 37 sec

Whether you think sampling is the highest form of creativity or something more akin to audio theft, you have to admit it's had a big impact on how music is made today. It has been a tool for producers in many genres, but is particularly woven into the legacy of hip-hop. No matter where you stand when it comes to sampling, we'd like to open your minds and ears to the creative possibilities available through the use of this powerful technique.For this episode, Soundfly team member, Carter Lee sits down with MC/lyricist, JSWISS and bandleader/producer, Charles Burchell to break down some of their favorite songs that sample The Isley Brothers mega hit, "Footsteps in the Dark."Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including The Art of Hip-Hop Production, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear your favorite songs that use the same sample! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Sep 2020

50 min 1 sec

Do you remember trying to peel away the cellophane wrapper of a CD, or dropping the needle on your first vinyl album? If you're younger than that, perhaps the only music you've bought didn't come in a tangible form. Whatever the shape of your first record, this episode will help you rediscover the joy you had purchasing music for the first time.For our very first episode, Soundfly team member Carter Lee sits down with producer/SF team member Martin Fowler and songwriter/V.P. of Curriculum at Soundfly, Mahea Lee. The three of them rediscover and break down songs from the first albums they ever bought.Themes and Variation is presented by Soundfly, a music education website changing the way we build our creative skills :Check out all of our courses including Unlocking The Emotional Power of Chords, here.Subscribe to all of our courses here and use the discount code THEMES to take 20% off!Sign up to work one-on-one with one of our incredible mentors here.And check out our free Themes and Variation companion course for writing prompts and additional resources.We want to hear what songs were on the first record you ever bought! Add them to the community playlist for this episode.Have questions or comments? Want to suggest a theme for a future episode? drop us a line at podcast@soundfly.com!

Aug 2020

38 min 1 sec

Have you ever wondered what the best song for a cross country drive is? Or, how Thom Yorke knows exactly how you feel? Enter Themes and Variation, a podcast about music and perspectives presented by Soundfly!

Jul 2020

1 min 34 sec