John Newton was a press-ganged sailor, a slave, a slave-ship captain, an Anglican priest, an abolitionist, and the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
Mozart’s famous piece Ein kleine Nachtmusik has four movements – but in his personal catalogue, Mozart recorded five.
On March 31, 1913, a concert performance in Vienna ended with a riot and a famous slap.
The 1956 novelty song “The Flying Saucer” was one of the first mashup records. The words of the first spaceman ever to land on Earth? “A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom!”
Gated reverb drums, one of the core sounds of 1980s rock music and most famously played in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” were the result of an accident in the recording studio.
The Dutch win the prize for most disturbing Christmas song, 1978’s Flappie by Youp van ‘t Hek.
The Portsmouth Sinfonia was founded on one simple principle: why leave orchestras to the professionals?
Steve Reich’s piece Piano Phase involves two pianos playing the same melody simultaneously at slightly different speeds.
In 1324, Pope John XXII issued a papal bull condemning the excesses of modern popular music.
Slim Gaillard had one of the more remarkable lives of the 20th century: when he wasn’t inventing words or writing songs about cement mixers he was jamming with Charlie Parker, running bootlegged whiskey in a hearse, or wowing Jack Kerouac in On the Road.
The Parents Music Resource Center was formed to fight obscenity in popular music. The parental warning labels were their doing. Musician and notorious non-conformist Frank Zappa fought back the only way he could: with music.
In 1922 violinist Lev Tseitlin founded an orchestra according to Soviet principles of collective responsibility: it had no conductor.
King Gustav III of Sweden was warned of assassins at his masquerade ball. He went anyway.
The hymn Amazing Grace was set to its current tune more than fifty years after it was written. Because it was written in common metre, it can also be sung to Mack the Knife, Sympathy for the Devil, the Pokemon theme, and the Gilligan’s Island theme.
What does an American accent sound like to an Italian? The Italian song Prisencolinensinainciusol will show you.
Clicks are used in several languages of southern and eastern Africa, most famously in Xhosa. The sounds make Xhosa songs and tongue twisters sound amazing.