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How do you describe a teaspoon in music?

Tom Service explores how music is able to tell stories and create pictures in sound, from everyday actions to the most heartfelt emotions. With musicologist Kenneth Hamilton.

Can you describe a teaspoon in music? Why would you even want to? Tom Service explores how music is able to tell stories in sound

Tom is joined by musicologist Ken Hamilton for a journey through musical history to reveal music's ability to describe the most everyday actions and the most heartfelt emotions.

From Vivaldi and Beethoven, to the epic tone poems of Richard Strauss (which may or may not contain teaspoons), to Hollywood blockbusters - how does music paint those pictures in our mind, and do those pictures always look the same?

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears.

Available now

30 minutes

Music Played

  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Danse macabre - symphonic poem (Op.40) [with solo violin]

    Performer: Andrés Cárdenes. Conductor: Lorin Maazel. Orchestra: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
    • Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony/Tone Poems: Pittsburgh Symphony/Maazel.
    • Sony Classical.
    • 6.
  • Paul Dukas

    The Sorcerer's apprentice

    Performer: Simon Preston. Conductor: James Levine. Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Saint-Saens/Dukas: Symphony no.3 etc.: Berliner Philharmoniker/Levine.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 5.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Violin Concerto in G minor, RV 315, 'Summer' (3rd mvt)

    Performer: Nigel Kennedy. Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Vivaldi: Nigel Kennedy, Berliner Philharmoniker.
    • EMI.
    • 9.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    The Hebrides, Op 26

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.
    • Mendelssohn: Overtures: LSO/Abbado.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 7.
  • Joseph Haydn

    String Quartet in D, Op. 64 No. 5 'The Lark' (1st mvt)

    Ensemble: Amadeus Quartet.
    • Haydn: String Quartets: Amadeus Quartet.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 1.
  • Richard Strauss

    Don Quixote

    Performer: Los Angeles Philharmonic. Performer: Zubin Mehta.
    • Decca.
  • Richard Strauss

    An Alpine Symphony

    Performer: Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. Performer: Franz Welser‐Möst.
    • EMI.
  • Richard Strauss

    Sinfonia Domestica, op.53

    Performer: Los Angeles Philharmonic. Performer: Zubin Mehta.
    • Decca.
  • Claude Debussy

    De l'aube à midi sur la mer (La mer)

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • Debussy: La Mer etc.: Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • John Williams

    Theme From Jaws

    Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • 100 Greatest Film Themes.
    • Silva America.
  • John Williams

    ET theme

    Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • 100 Greatest Film Themes.
    • Silva America.
  • John Williams

    Raiders of the Lost Ark March

    Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • 100 Greatest Film Themes.
    • Silva America.
  • Arnold Bax

    Elegiac trio for viola, flute and harp

    Ensemble: Nash Ensemble.
    • Bax: Nonet/Elegiac Trio etc: The Nash Ensemble.
    • Hyperion.
    • 6.
  • Annie Lennox

    No More I Love Yous

    • Medusa.
    • BMG.
    • 1.
  • Denis King

    Galloping Home

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Stanley Black.
    • ITV Themes.
    • Pickwick.
    • 6.
  • Franz Liszt

    Mazeppa

    Performer: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Performer: Kurt Masur.
    • EMI.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Pohjola’s Daughter

    Performer: Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Osmo Vänskä.
    • BIS.
  • Richard Strauss

    Also sprach Zarathustra (Fanfare)

    Performer: SWR Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden and Freiburg. Conductor: François‐Xavier Roth.
    • Hänssler Classic.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony no. 6 (Op. 68) in F major "Pastoral" 1st mvt, Erwachen heiterer Gefuhle

    Orchestra: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • Beethoven: The Symphonies, John Eliot Gardiner.
    • Archiv Produktion.
    • 5.
  • Sir Harrison Birtwistle

    Earth Dances

    Performer: Ensemble Modern Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Harrison Birtwistle - Theseus Game / Earth Dances.
    • DG.
  • Napalm Death

    Private Death

    • From Enslavement to Obliteration.
    • Relativity.
  • Iannis Xenakis

    Jonchaies

    Performer: Lëtzebuerger philharmoneschen Orchester. Performer: Arturo Tamayo.
    • Timpani.
  • Francisco Tárrega

    Capricho arabe - serenata for guitar

    Performer: Carlos Bonell.
    • The Private Collection: Carlos Bonell.
    • Upbeat Classics.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    March Past of the Kitchen Utensils (The Wasps)

    Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: James Judd.
    • Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto.
    • Naxos.
    • 3.

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