Music Education

Planning a Long Set – What I Learned

A snapshot of my set on 10/1/2021

World College Radio Day was one of the craziest days of my life, and it came on the heels of a fever pitch of excitement at the station. Never have I been so excited about a holiday I had only heard of a week before it happened.

And in the midst of the hype, I decided to make a 5 hour set focused around dark techno and midtempo, which are genres I’m not exactly an expert in. Here are a few things I learned along the way for anyone who finds their set length exceeding the runtime of “Avengers: Endgame”. This is one for all the DJs out there.

  • Focus on the big picture. Have a set theme going into it, and having different subgenres within your overall set description. This is just personal preference, but you really don’t want to stick to one very specific niche for more than a few hours. If songs start to feel the same, you don’t want to be stuck having to play that same thing for an hour more than you want to. I wanted my theme to be a “descent into madness”, so I started with house music before going into techno and later into midtempo and dubstep, slowly getting darker while trying to make any given few songs feel like they should be in the same set.
  • Don’t worry about individual transitions that much, at least early on. 5 hours equated to around 90 songs for me, and that’s a lot to have to get in a hyper-specific order. Start by grouping songs into general categories like mood and tempo, which will narrow down the amount of ordering you have to do by a lot.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw in something off the wall. Putting a noise pop song by Black Dresses in the middle of a bunch of dubstep feels odd, but don’t sweat it. A change of pace after an hour of the same genre sounds a lot better than you might think.
  • Use your resources. In making this set I had to branch out a lot from my typical listening habits and ways of discovering music, Spotify radio stations of individual songs helped a lot with this. was also a great resource. This website lets you search an artist and showing a map of artists you’ll probably like if you like that artist, the closer together they are the more likely you’ll click with them. I came into this set liking Rezz a lot and wanted her style of midtempo music to be at least an hour of my set, so searching for Rezz on music-map let me find artists like Hlfmn and Whipped Cream whose songs became cornerstones of that time block.

And remember, don’t stress out too much. It might feel like a lot but doing a long set is about having fun and really getting to showcase a genre. If you’re genuinely enjoying the songs and how they’re flowing it’ll reflect in the end product. This is only my first set of this length and I definitely have a lot to learn, and that’s part of the fun of it, just scratching the surface of a new and exciting activity for me.


Blog Miscellaneous Music Education

Some of My Favorite Movie Soundtracks

I love movies. Who doesn’t? That being said, I took it so far that I’m now a film major, and I’m convinced I will make movies for the rest of my life. There’s an unbelievable amount of components and sheer work that go into creating a film, much less a good one, and one of those aspects is the soundtrack. Some films have songs made just for them and some curate from outside sources. Regardless, it’s usually very clear when soundtracks are good. Here are some of my favorites:

Good Will Hunting (1997)

1. “Between the Bars (Orchestral)” by Elliott Smith

2. “As the Rain” by Jeb Loy Nichols

3. “Angeles” by Elliott Smith

4. “No Name #3” by Elliott Smith

5. “Fisherman’s Blues” by The Waterboys

6. “Why Do I Lie?” by Luscious Jackson

7. “Will Hunting” (Main Titles)” by Danny Elfman

8. “Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith

9. “Say Yes” by Elliott Smith

10. “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty

11. “Somebody’s Baby by Andru Donalds

12. “Boys Better” by The Dandy Warhols

13. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” by Al Green

14. “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith

15. “Weepy Donuts” by Danny Elfman

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
***Composed by Dario Marianelli and performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano) and the English Chamber Orchestra.***

  1. “Dawn”
  2. “Stars and Butterflies”
  3. “The Living Sculptures of Pemberley”
  4. “Meryton Townhall”
  5. “The Militia Marches In”
  6. “Georgiana”
  7. “Arrival At Netherfield”
  8. “A Postcard to Henry Purcell”
  9. “Liz on Top of the World”
  10. “Leaving Netherfield”
  11. “Another Dance”
  12. “The Secret Life of Daydreams”
  13. “Darcy’s Letter”
  14. “Can’t Slow Down”
  15. “Your Hands Are Cold”
  16. “Mrs. Darcy”
  17. “Credits”

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
***Composed by Tom Holkenborg a.k.a. Junkie XL.***

  1. “Survive”
  2. “Escape”
  3. “Immortan’s Citadel”
  4. “Blood Bag”
  5. “Spikey Cars”
  6. “Storm Is Coming”
  7. “We Are Not Things”
  8. “Water”
  9. “The Rig”
  10. “Brothers in Arms”
  11. “The Bog”
  12. “Redemption”
  13. “Many Mothers”
  14. “Claw Trucks”
  15. “Chapter Doof” (Extended Version)
  16. “My Name Is Max” (Extended Version)
  17. “Let Them Up”

Trainspotting (1996)

  1. “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop
  2. “Deep Blue Day” by Brian Eno
  3. “Trainspotting” by Primal Scream
  4. “Atomic” by Sleeper 
  5. “Temptation” by New Order
  6. “Nightclubbing” by Iggy Pop
  7. “Sing” by Blur
  8. “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed
  9. “Mile End” by Pulp
  10. “For What You Dream Of” (Full On Renaissance Mix) by Bedrock featuring KYO
  11. “2:1” by Elastica
  12. “A Final Hit” by Leftfield
  13. “Born Slippy .NUXX” by Underworld
  14. “Closet Romantic” by Damon Albarn

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
***All tracks performed by Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.***

  1. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss
  2. “Spartacus-Main Title” by Alex North
  3. “Ode to Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven
  4. “Women of Ireland” by Traditional
  5. “Sarabande”
  6. “Full Metal Jacket-Themes” by Abigail Mead
  7. “Surfin’ Bird” by Bob Harris (Performance feat. The Trashmen”
  8. “Main Title/The Robbery” by Gerald Fried
  9. “Murder ‘Mongst the Mannikins” by Gerald Fried
  10. “A Meditation on War” by Gerald Fried
  11. “Madness” by Gerald Fried
  12. “The Patrol” by Gerald Fried
  13. “March of the Gloved Gladiators” by Gerald Fried
  14. “The Shinning-Theme” by Wendy Carlos / Rachel Elkind
  15. “Midnight, the Stars and You (The Shining Blue Star)” (Performance feat. Al Bowlly
  16. “Lolita-Love Theme” Bob Harris
  17. “On the Beautiful Blue Danube”
  18. “The Bomb Run” by Laurie Johnson
  19. “We’ll Meet Again” by Hughie Charles / Ross Parker (Performance feat. Vera Lynn)

Here’s to music in movies (just not musicals),

Silya Bennai

Blog Miscellaneous Music Education Playlists

Oh, To Be At A Party

Parties. There’s nothing else like them. After a long week of classes, work, and stress, dancing and talking without having to put in much effort is a welcomed experience. Beyond the space, people, drinks, and lighting, one of the most important aspects of a party is the music.

I don’t claim to know how to make the perfect party playlist, but I do have a few ideas. First, make it collaborative. When there’s multiple people contributing to the playlist, you’re almost guaranteed that there’s going to be enough variety to satisfy everyone at the party at some point or another. Second, a good mix of electronic, grunge, throwback, and joke songs (that aren’t really joke songs because everyone loves them) makes for a great time. Finally, I’d recommend keeping the music loud enough that you can’t make out anyone’s conversation but your own, but quiet enough that you don’t get a noise complaint.

For some party playlist ideas, check out my playlist below (inspired by a real collaborative party playlist I recently made with some friends):

  1. “Bicep” by TR/ST
  2. “A.M. 180” by Grandaddy
  3. “Opus3” by dapurr, The Hellp
  4. “The Book Lovers” by Broadcast
  5. “Celestica” by Crystal Castles
  6. “Tu Tu Neurotic” by The Hellp
  7. “Rapp Snitch Knishes” by MF DOOM, Mr Fantastik
  8. “PHONKY TOWN” by PlayaPhonk
  9. “Miss Camaraderie” by Azealia Banks
  10. “Motion” by Boy Harsher
  11. “999” by PlayaPhonk
  12. “Go2DaMoon” by Playboi Carti, Kanye West
  13. “Linger” by The Cranberries
  14. “Idioteque” by Radiohead
  15. “What’s Important” by Beat Happening
  16. “Disparate Youth” by Santigold
  17. “Lake of Fire” by Meat Puppets
  18. “Hunker Down” by Corbin
  19. “EAST” by Earl Sweatshirt
  20. “Brick” by Alex G
  21. “Going Deeper” by Tree Threes
  22. “Melaleuca” by Yu Su
  23. “Call For Help” by Pearly Drops
  24. “Can You Feel It” by Mr. Fingers
  25. “vs Reality” by AYA GLOOMY
  26. “DotA” by Basshunter
  27. “Making Up” by Dead Mellotron

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Here’s to Emma, Molly, and Gabe for their epic contributions,

Silya Bennai

Music Education

From Classical to Expirimental – Going Mainstream

This is the last part of a four-part series on the birth of avant-garde music. You can read this article alone or view part one here.

When we last left off, the modern experimental ethos had developed in classical spaces. But there’s still a missing connection. How do we go from this academic music to the experimental musicians of today? Well, the answer has to do with a few musicians who made the jump from one genre to another, but first, we need to talk about money.

Music Education

Things Get Weird- Classical to Experimental Pt.3

This is part three of a series on the birth of avant-garde music. You can read this article alone or view part one here.

Last time we covered some music that wasn’t very good, this week we’re going one further to discuss some music that isn’t very music. Yup, in the 1940s and 50s classical music lost its mind and the boundary between high art and experimental was all but erased. Hope you like four minutes of utter silence and naked people playing the cello with guitar picks, because it’s time to talk about John Cage and Fluxus.

So, my main criticism of modernism was that it didn’t untether itself fully from the classical tradition. This was a fairly common criticism, especially as early modernists like Schoenberg who retained some sense of harmony gave way to incredibly complex, mathematical composition methods like Stochastic Music and Markov Chains. Classical music was rapidly turning into a race to the bottom for who could create the most mathematically intricate yet aesthetically bankrupt composition method. A change was sorely needed.

Miscellaneous Music Education

How to Find New Music

Sometimes, I get in a rut and feel like I’m tired of all of the music I like. I know I’m not alone in this, so I’m going to share with you all of the different methods and mediums I use to find new music.

ONLINE is compatible with most streaming services and can keep track of all of your streams (or as they call them, “scrobbles”) across platforms.

The platform is pretty much designed to recommend different artists and bands to you. The home page suggests artists similar to the ones you listen to, and will even recommend specific tracks for you to listen to.

There are dozens of ways to find new music on, and I often use it as a tool to build sonically coherent sets as a DJ for WKNC.

CONS: The mobile app is glitchy and is not robust like the site is, however the site is compatible on mobile devices, so I would recommend just using the site rather than the app.


Spotify also is constantly recommending music to you. Whether it be via playlists like “Discover Weekly,” “Daily Mixes,” artist/song radios or genre-specific mixes, Spotify definitely leans heavily into recommending music to it’s users.

Even when making playlists, Spotify will recommend songs for you to add, based on the general vibe of the playlist you’ve set so far.

CONS: The algorithm can and will recommend a lot of the same songs over and over again. There have been many people online who note that Spotify recommends “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” by Carolina Polacheck over and over again.


There are a bunch of subreddits for specific genres, artists/bands, it’s just a matter of finding the right ones. This platform requires more digging than the previous two, but if you find groups that pique your musical interests, you should join them.

CONS: It takes some pretty active searching for subreddits that align with what you’re looking for.


At WKNC we pride ourselves on playing a variety of different music. If you like indie, rock, electronic, hip-hop, R&B and/or local music, then you’re in luck. DJs and Music Directors work hard to provide the best of the best for our listeners. If you’re interested in finding out when your preferred genre(s) are playing, check out the HD-1 and HD-2 schedules. You can tune into HD-1 and HD-2 on our web-stream and the Radio-FX app. HD-1 is available on all FM radios within range, and HD-2 is accessible via HD radio. 


Ask your friends

People listen to a lot of different music. I have found numerous different artists, bands, and songs just by asking for recommendations from my friends.

Pay attention to soundtracks

There have been many times I’ve discovered a song because it was played in a movie or TV show. If there’s a song playing in the background that show you love and it actually kind of rocks, use Shazam to find out what song it is.

Live music

If there are venues by you that you know you love to go to, check out who’s playing there soon. Tickets for smaller artists are usually cheap, and you never know, they could be your next favorite band. If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to go to live-shows all the time you can use this tip as a search-engine of sorts. Find out who’s playing at your favorite venues, and then stream their stuff to see if you like it.

At the end of the day, music is everywhere, we just have to keep an eye out for it.

Until next time,


Music Education

Modernism: From Classical to Experimental

This is part two of a series on the birth of avant-garde music. You can read this article alone or view part one here.

Alright, so we spent part one introducing the topic, now it’s time to get into some specific music. Today we’re going to look at the earliest precursors to modern noise music: modernism. These composers still thought of themselves as part of the classical canon but listening to their music….well let’s just say it’s a little “out there.”

Modernism is a term used in art history a lot. Now I didn’t pay very much attention in high school English, and in visual art I have the taste of toddler, but Wikipedia confirms my vague recollection that modernists sought to replace old forms of art with newer and more exciting forms that reflected a modern, industrial world. This resulted in some notable artists like Pablo Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O’Keeffe. In literature, this resulted in writers like Virginia Woolfe and James Joyce, who I’m sure some psychopathic English major actually enjoys.

So, with these beloved figures of art and literature attached to the word modernism, surely there are some fondly remembered musicians from this period? Well, no. Modernist music was roundly rejected by literally everyone. Audiences routinely rioted at modernist concerts and even through today no one actually likes it.


Okay, that might be a little harsh. A more accurate way to put it would be that audiences don’t really know what to do with modernist music. The composers associated with the era, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Satie, Shostakovich, wrote very difficult music that eschewed tonality and easy-to-digest sounds, opting instead for novel forms of composition that pushed the boundaries of what music could be.

The result is that modernism is the oldest Western music that doesn’t feel like classical or folk music. It’s so unconventional that it just kinda sounds like, well, noise. Take Schoenberg for example. Schoenberg didn’t like classical harmony, and he wanted to write music that lacked a key and favored no particular note as a harmonic center. To accomplish this, he organized all 12 notes of the chromatic scale in a random order called a set, and then layered the different notes backward and forwards in different octaves and on different instruments to create something that could, arguably, be referred to as music. His masterpiece, the opera Moses und Aron, is absolutely terrifying, as exemplified by this production featuring an underwear Moses for some reason.

However, you would never really mistake Schoenberg for modern avant-garde music either. He still composed for orchestra, piano, and operatic voices, it still features conventionally defined notes, and there aren’t really any of the mechanical banging and scraping sounds that typify noise. It’s too rigid and formal to be genuinely fascinating, but too weird to be good on its own. This is what I mean when I say no one really likes modernism. Classical musicians end the common repertoire right before modernism, and experimental pop listeners don’t find it edgy or daring enough. Modernism, in my opinion, is best approached as a historical document, and a demonstration of how hard it is to push the envelope of music. When you’re steeped in a certain musical tradition, the boundaries of the system can start to feel natural, rather than limiting, and the formation of experimental music took genuine imagination and work. Your toddler might be able to make experimental music, but you might struggle.

The exceptions to this rule are Russolo and Satie, the only modernists who I can enthusiastically recommend. Luigi Russolo, who was associated with the Futurist movement in Italy, made straight-up noise music. Like it would sound completely normal released today—he just tried to impersonate the sounds of steel mills warming up. Futurists were not merely extending the classical cannon like Schoenberg; they were rebelling against it. Satie, by contrast, wrote tranquil piano music that sounds beautiful, but had such a simplistic and amateur quality that his music anticipates the ambient and minimalist movements of the 60s and 70s, which we will get into later. If you want to hear the very earliest inklings of musical rebellion, these are the two artists I would recommend.

Music Education

From Classical to Experimental Pt. 1

So, I’ve been on a personal mission to get back in touch with classical music. This doesn’t normally apply to the popular music covered by WKNC, but for the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some musical history that might interest you, even if classical music isn’t really your thing. The subject in question is experimental music, and how it came to be the way it is.

To begin, let’s talk about what these two genres are, and what they have to do with each other. Experimental music is a loosely defined genre of popular music that features unusual or unconventional elements in a way that will be challenging but accessible for a general audience. The related to interchangeable term “avant-garde” means basically the same thing, but is generally less accessible and more out there.

“Classical music,” while it is a term with a technical meaning among musicians and academics, has come to be a catch all term for written music from the European tradition prior to World War II. This typically includes music composed for orchestra, piano, solo stringed instruments, and ensembles.

These two genres seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is rigid, formal, and based in traditional Eurocentric traditions, while the other is defined by experimentation and challenges to rules and has often been embraced by those in the margins. However, this has not always been the case. Most classical musicians today pull from an era known as the “Common repertoire,” while includes everything from Bach to Debussy (roughly 1580-1910), and is generally conservative in taste and inoffensive. However, orchestra and piano composers didn’t just stop writing music after 1910.

After 1910, classical music started getting really weird. Unmarketably weird, and while you might not recognize many songs from this era, the influence of 20th century classical on experimental rock, jazz, metal, and by extension mainstream pop, is massive. Noise, atonality, drone, synthesizers, many of these innovations have some roots in this era. Additionally, many famous indie musicians including the Velvet Underground, Pharoah Sanders, and the Sonic Youth have backgrounds in 20th-century classical music. So, it’s worth taking a look at this era to see what popular music borrowed and what it added.

[Also, I just bought a book on this topic and I feel like I need to justify that purchase somehow.]

I’ll be back in a few weeks to discuss modernism, but if you want some light previews of what’s to come, here’s some recommendations from modern day backwards:

  1. Lingua Ignota- Caligula; contemporary music fusing classical back with noise
  2. Glenn Branca- The Ascension; an interesting touchstone for noise rock and alt rock
  3. Steve Reich- It’s gonna rain; an early use of electronic tapes in composition
  4. Terry Reily- In C; a pretty famous piece of minimalism, precursor to synthesizer music
  5. Elaine Radigue- Trilogy de la Mort: early inspiration of drone music
  6. Karlheinz Stockhausen- a Young Person’s Guide to Music; the definitive precursor to noise
Music Education

Lilith Fair Retrospective

So, 90s nostalgia is officially back in swing. Pop radio is playing non-stop 90s throwback sets, rock is getting grungier by the day, and, call it a premonition, but I smell a new boy band on the horizon. So, to celebrate the long-overdue death of synthpop revival, let’s take a look at one of the more low-key trends of the Clinton era: Lilith Fair.

Lilith Fair was a series of annual concerts from 1997 featuring entirely female solo artists and female-led bands. Founded by singer-songwriter Sarah McLaughlin (more on her later), the concerts were ostensibly open to woman from all genres and backgrounds, but the phrase “Lilith Fair” has come to be used as a neutral to negative descriptor for female acoustic alt-rock and folk. Artists like Fiona Apple, Jewel, the Indigo Girls, Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole, and several others had top 40 hits with styles that could conceivably be called Lilith Fair. However, the artists biggest stars, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, and Alanis Morrissette steered clear of any association with the phrase. How did such an influential series with such big names attached come by such a stigma?

Music Education

Industrial 101

I’ve had a long term suspicion that many people are interested in noise and industrial music but intimidated by where to start. “Heavy” music has a kind of adolescent fascination to it, with everyone racing to find the most brutal and unforgiving music so they can say they like it. I’m not above this, adrenaline seeking is an excellent pastime, but I expect many people get turned off from these styles by the machismo of that culture, which is a shame because there’s some nuanced and even beautiful music underneath.

However, there isn’t a lot of easily accessible information on how to get into industrial and noise music. The best I could find when I went through my noise phase was this Pitchfork article. While it does a good job of highlighting industrial’s roots in the queer community and addressing some of the style’s faults, it does little to give you an entry point, as it puts some of the heaviest albums available next to party music, with little guidance as to where to start. There is another guide published a few months ago, but I think it’s a little rigid in its definition of noise and lacks diversity, so I’m making my own.

I’m going to give you a number of different paths into industrial music that suit a wide variety of tastes. Look for the one that meets your listening habits best and give these albums a try. Start with the first bullet point and work your way down each list, as they’re sorted by accessibility.