“Dedicated to the Proposition that All Musics are Created Equal”
For over 15 years, Schickele Mix explored Duke Ellington’s maxim that “if it sounds good, it is good”, in more than 175 episodes, combining such seemingly diverse music as Ravel, the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, and Cole Porter into suites that demonstrate how these pieces unexpectedly share a similar musical technique or idea such as, in this example, glissandos. The highly regarded Schickele Mix, distributed by Public Radio International, won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 1993 and also received the Gold Award for Programming Excellence from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that same year.
The first episodes of Schickele Mix were broadcast in January of 1992. Mr. Schickele first introduced his concept with a suite of music by Gershwin, Webern, and Mozart, followed by a suite of music by Philip Glass, Lenny Tristano, and Frédéric Chopin. The first year of programs covered music from patter songs to melismas, techniques such as parallel motion and singing in the cracks, and song topics from birthdays to death, all illustrated with different types of music from all over the map and Mr. Schickele’s unique and insightful commentary.
The program was originally produced with funding provided by the American Public Radio Program Fund, whose contributors included the Ford Foundation. Such funding is designed to be gradually replaced by contributions from corporate sponsors, but obtaining sponsorship for the program proved difficult, and ultimately it became impossible to produce new programs after funding ran out in the late 1990’s. Public Radio International continued distributing the program, allowing the episodes to be rebroadcast in order to reach new listeners. Considering that there was only a limited number of programs available to be rebroadcast, PRI kept distributing Schickele Mix for an impressively long time, even as some public radio stations stopped broadcasting the program figuring that after repeating some episodes five times that most of their listeners must have already heard them. It became necessary for PRI to stop distributing the program in June of 2007 after 169 different programs, 12 listener support specials, and 810 weekly broadcasts.
Over the years, many listeners have asked about obtaining CD’s or podcasts of this program. Unfortunately, this has not been possible because of the large amount of copyrighted music used on the program, which is much more difficult and expensive to license for use in recordings than for radio broadcasts. Other listeners have followed the instructions at the end of the program to write for a playlist giving information about all of the music on the program “with record numbers and everything,” or have found the information in this Web site’s searchable database. The Schickele Mix playlist database is still available using the links below—the database might be much less useful with the program no longer on the air, but it can still serve as a scholarly resource or a lasting tribute to the program that coined the phrase it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that certain je ne sais quoi.
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